About
the Orchestra

Come as you are. Leave different.

Since 1949, Sarasota Orchestra has inspired and entertained music-lovers across the region and visitors from around the world. A cultural leader in a city known for its vibrant arts community, Sarasota Orchestra’s threefold mission is dedicated to exquisite performance and first-class musical education.

As the oldest continuing orchestra in the state of Florida, each year the 76-member Orchestra performs more than 100 classical, pops, chamber music, and community outreach concerts.

Sarasota Orchestra's acclaimed music education program includes the Sarasota Youth Orchestras, established in 1959 and currently supporting eight student ensembles, as well as the annual Summer Music Camp. Sarasota Orchestra also offers music lessons for students of all ages and abilities and sponsors multiple outreach programs. An annual tradition since 1953, the Orchestra’s Young Person’s Concerts brings the joy and wonder of a symphony orchestra performance to nearly 10,000 Sarasota and Manatee County fourth- and fifth-graders every fall.

Sarasota Orchestra is the parent program of the world-renowned Sarasota Music Festival, founded in 1965. Each June the Sarasota Music Festival welcomes 60 pre-professional fellows from around the globe and 40 faculty artists representing the top conservatories, music colleges, and classical music ensembles for three weeks of intensive study and public performances.

Mission Statement

The mission of Sarasota Orchestra is to engage, educate, and enrich our community through high-quality, live musical experiences.

History

1948

1948

Ruth Cotton Butler works with George Gibbs, Sam Hill and Dr. W.D. Sugg, to fulfill her dream of creating a community orchestra in Sarasota and Manatee.

1948

1949

1949

Florida West Coast Symphony performs its first public performance in collaboration with the Manatee River Choral Club of Bradenton.

1950

1950

Dr. Lyman Wiltse conducts first orchestral concert for the Florida West Coast Symphony on January 19 in the Manatee County High School Auditorium.

1950

1951

1951

Alexander Bloch succeeds Wiltse as the second music director of the Florida West Coast Symphony.

1953

1953

1,500 children attended the Children's Concerts program to give children their first taste of orchestral music. Today, the program is called Young Person's Concerts and is performed for 10,000 children.

1953

1955

1955

The Florida West Coast Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal Hall was completed in November.

1957

1957

Lota Mundy founded the Symphony Women’s Association, to “foster, promote and increase the musical knowledge, education and artistic appreciation of the community”.

1957

Dec 1958

1958

The New York Times calls the beginning of the Florida West Coast Symphony season the beginning of the music season in all of Florida.

1959

1959

The Youth Orchestra Program was founded through sponsorship of the Symphony Women's Association.

1959

1961

1961

Paul Wolfe began his tenure as the third music director.

1964

1964

Wolfe founded the Sarasota Music Festival at New College.

1964

1977

1977

The Florida West Coast Symphony introduced its Summer Music Camp.

1984

1984

The Sarasota Music Festival was designated by the Florida State legislature as the, ”Official teaching and performing Festival of the State of Florida.”

1984

1985

1985

The Sarasota Music Festival merged with the Florida West Coast Symphony.

1990s

1990s

The Florida West Coast Symphony evolved into a fully paid professional orchestra.

1990s

1997

1997

Leif Bjaland was appointed as the fourth music director.

1999

1999

Beatrice Friedman makes a $1 million gift to ensure successful completion of an endowment campaign.

1999

2001

2001

Executive Director Gretchen Serrie retired, and Joseph McKenna becomes administrative leader of the Florida West Coast Symphony.

2002

2002

The Florida West Coast Symphony was unionized under the American Federation of Musicians.

2002

2004

2004

First Pops subscriptions are offered.

2005

2005

Virginia Toulmin gifts $10 million to significantly increase the organization’s endowment.

2005

2008

2008

Youth Philharmonic debuts in Carnegie Hall.

2008

2008

The Florida West Coast Symphony rebranded, taking the name Sarasota Orchestra, and launching new series and innovative concert formats.

2008

2013

2013

Sarasota Youth Orchestra expands making a total of 7 ensembles within the Sarasota Youth Orchestras.

2013

2013

An international search results in the appointment of Anu Tali as fifth music director of Sarasota Orchestra.

2013

Give to the
Annual Fund

Gifts to the Annual Fund ensure that Sarasota Orchestra can continue to share the gift of music with our community through concerts, education and outreach programs. Please join us by making a donation today. Together, we can keep the music playing, now and always.

Don't Miss These
Special Events

Deepen your connection and make great memories with Sarasota Orchestra at these delightful happenings.


Side-By-Side Brunch
November 13, 2022

Discoveries Dinner
December 19, 2022

Pops Dinner
January 19, 2023

Special Concert and Gala featuring Yo‌-‌Yo Ma
March 2, 2023

Masterworks Dinner
March 28, 2023

Contact Us

 Address

709 N Tamiami Tr, Sarasota, FL 34236

 Phone

Box Office: 941.953.3434
Administration: 941.953.4252

 Box Office Hours:

Our staff is here to help by phone, email, or in-person Monday-Friday from 10am-4pm.

Box Office Information
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About Us

Our mission is to engage, educate, and enrich our community through high-quality, live musical experiences.

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