Posted by Jay Bertolet on October 24, 1999 at 17:31:25:
In Reply to: Question for Jay Bertolet posted by DOC on October 24, 1999 at 14:37:15:
The Florida orchestra scene has always fascinated me in its complexity. Here is what I know about the current state (no pun intended!) of things.
There are basically 5 professional orchestras in the state that are really doing full time work. Those are the Florida Philharmonic, the Florida Orchestra, the Florida West Coast Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, and the Jacksonville Symphony. I play with the Florida Philharmonic which is based in Ft. Lauderdale. You probably left before this orchestra started as it was created in 1984 by the merger of the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra and the Boca Raton Symphony. The Florida Orchestra, based in Tampa, has Bill Mickelson as its tubist. Was he teaching at SFU when you were there as he does now? The Florida West Coast Symphony (formerly known as the Gulf Coast Symphony) is based in Sarasota and the last I heard Jay Hunsberger was their tubist. The Jacksonville Symphony is based in Jacksonville and has James Jenkins as its tubist. The Naples Philharmonic is based in Naples but I don't know who their tubist is. It was James Jenkins until he moved to Jacksonville and I haven't heard yet who ended up with that job.
One orchestra you probably do remember that isn't listed above is the Florida Symphony which was based in Orlando. They went bankrupt a few years back and never started up again. I never did hear what happened to the tubist there, Russ Ward. Of course, there are several smaller orchestras that work around the state but none of them, to my knowledge, are really full time situations.
And no, I'm not from Florida originally as is the case with most of the residents here in South Florida. I'm from Michigan, from around the Detroit area. As you can imagine, it wasn't a hard decision to trade Michigan winters for the climate in South Florida!
The scene really hasn't changed too much since the 80's other than that the orchestras that have survived are just now starting to pay realistic salaries. Our salaries have quadrupled since I came here in 1985. But one thing that constantly bothers me about this area is the almost constant financial instability of the major institutions. Over the last 20 years, just about every ensemble here has experienced some sort of major financial crisis and it can get a little unnerving to be constantly wondering about the financial fortunes of the orchestra you play for. As was the case with the Florida Symphony, some don't survive the problems and I'd hate leaving here alot. Hopefully, none of us will have to face that situation.
I hope that wasn't more information than you were looking for!