Culture Worthy of Your Calendar - September 2009

by Josh Garrick / Aug 29, 2009 / 0 comments

Culture Worthy of Your Calendar by Josh Garrick     

Beethoven’s Greatest … 
Let the applause begin NOW for the Orlando Philharmonic’s decision to begin the Fall Season with the BIGGEST and possibly the greatest piece of music ever written – Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.  That symphony – which includes the monumental choral finale – the “Ode to Joy,” sells out the hall whenever and wherever it is performed, so call and get your tickets early. 

 The Philharmonic is justifiably proud to kick off the new season with a program that features Beethoven's revolutionary blockbuster.  Conducted by Music Director Christopher Wilkins, the Philharmonic will begin the program with Brahm's triumphant orchestral work, “Variations on a Theme of Haydn,” after which the program will continue with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. 

In his notes for the program, David Glerum writes, "Arguably the most iconic work in Western art, Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony is a colossal and towering masterpiece against which all subsequent symphonies have been measured."  Over 200 voices will join the Philharmonic musicians from the combined choruses of the former Orlando Opera directed by Robin Stamper, the University of Central Florida, directed by David Brunner, and The Orlando Chorale, directed by Gregory Ruffier

This spectacular program will take place on Saturday, September 26 at 8:30 pm at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. Subscriptions and single tickets are available, but keep in mind, I wrote about this early so YOU could still get tickets.  This is the first “not-to-be-missed” performance of the Fall season. Phone the Philharmonic’s box office at 407-770-0071, or visit



Maitland’s New Photographic History Book
I don’t think we can ever know too much about the area where we live and raise our families, so it is a special pleasure to look through the pictures of a new book created by the Maitland Historical Society with local writer Leslie Kemp Poole.  The newly released picture book gives us a tour of Maitland’s history through hundreds of photos and drawings from the Society’s archives. 
Maitland, known as Fumecheliga by the native Seminoles, drew settlers who raised cattle and planted “Florida gold” (citrus groves) in the rich soil and warm climate. Today the citrus industry is replaced with subdivisions, office centers, and a cultural corridor, but the lakes and historic homes serve as reminders of Maitland’s rich history.

Written for the Images of America Series, which celebrates the history of towns and cities across the country, the book begins with the 1884 Waterhouse residence, which – thanks to the Historical Society – has been lovingly restored and furnished for us to visit today. It’s fascinating to see the faces and learn about the personalities of those folks who lived here long before us and created the Maitland we know.

The book is available for purchase at the Waterhouse Residence Museum at Lake Lily Park, the Historical Museum on Packwood Avenue, and in local stores. You can even have your book signed when Leslie Poole offers a lecture and book signing on September 9th at The Cottage at Lake Lily. To rsvp for the lecture, or for more information, call 407-644-2451.



A Tony-Award Winning Spelling Bee
The enterprising folks at the Mad Cow Theatre (Downtown Orlando) will open their Fall Season with a Tony-Award winning musical with the unlikely theme and title – The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Yes it is a hit Broadway musical (it opened in 2005), and yes, it IS about a real spelling bee and the group of young, dorky (sorry, had to say it) over-achievers who are striving for their moment of victory in a local spelling competition.  Somehow it all comes out heart-warming AND funny.

The cast of singer/spellers create some of the inherent fun by playing parts much younger than their true age and include many new faces to the Mad Cow Theater. They include Brent Wakelin, Anthony Ferguson, Sara Catherine Barnes, Regina Fernandez, and Eric Bridges, as well as Orlando favorites Melissa Mason, Jay T. Becker, Priscilla Bagley, and Trevor Nicholas. In addition, you’ll want to be careful where you sit, because at each performance, four audience members will be selected as contestants in that evening’s competition!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is directed by Rob Anderson with Robin Jensen serving as Musical Director. The musical runs from September 11 to October 18 at the Mad Cow Theatre, 105 South Magnolia Avenue in Downtown Orlando. Call for tickets at 407.297.8788 or on-line at



Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins Opens Fall Exhibitions
Two new fine art exhibitions are set to open on September 12 at the beautiful Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Rollins College.  

The first will certainly enhance Central Florida’s growing reputation for exhibiting fine art photography. André Kertész: On Reading will present a collection of 104 photographs by the man considered one of the most influential fine art photographers of all time.  Photographs taken in Hungary, France, and the United States from 1925 to 1950 capture people immersed in the act of reading. Representative of his unique sense of composition and playful observation, the works re-enforce Henri Cartier-Bresson’s quote, “Whatever we have done, Kertész did first.”

            The second exhibit comes to us from Michael Phillips who spent the past year as a Winter Park Institute scholar-in-residence.  An authority on the poet/engraver William Blake (1757-1827), Phillips has reproduced Blake’s centuries-old technique of printing on copper plates, down to the exact dyes and paper used by Blake so long ago. Phillips’ contemporary reproductions offer us a rare glimpse into Blake’s engraving process.

            Andy Warhol Personalities, which opened June 5, will continue on view.
Exhibitions open on September 12, 2009 and run through January 3, 2010. The Galleries are open from Tuesday through Sunday.  Call 407-646-1595.



The Orlando Shakespeare Theater Brings Us ‘The Big Bang’
Imagine finding yourself invited to a New York City apartment where two zany, but well-meaning guys try to talk you into investing in the biggest, most lavish Broadway musical ever written.  That’s the premise behind “The Big Bang” which is a small musical about what could be a huge musical.

Running from September 16 to October 11, The Orlando Shakespeare Festival will open its season with 90 minutes of tuneful fun in the form of a make-believe backer's audition.  The two would-be producers have to raise $83 million dollars !!! for their musical called, The Big Bang!, and we are all part of the musical, because WE are the folks they’re coming to for the money to back their show!!!

On-stage – playing hundreds of parts – in the musical-within-the-musical that takes us through the history of Western civilization – are two over-enthusiastic actors who convert the furniture of the apartment (and themselves) into props for the performance.  Much of the charm of this musical journey is in the quick changes made in full view of the audience and the simple props that create a scene (a foot-stool becomes a stone pushed by slaves to the Pyramid), and the silly humor that comes from these two as they assume roles as varied as Tokyo Rose or the Empress Josephine.
As their story reaches the 1960s, they make their pitch to "invest now!"  The good news is that we only need to invest 90 minutes of our time to get a return of an evening full of laughter. For tickets, visit or call 407 447 1700.



Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators.