The Jacksonville Symphony Gala Raises Funds to Support Music Education

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Steven B. Libman, President and CEO of the Jacksonville Symphony

On March 4, 2023, the Jacksonville Symphony will launch its eighth Gala. The Honorary Chair for the Gala is Florida Blue Market President Darnell Smith. Florida Blue is also the Symphony’s partner and sponsor of our Classical Series. The Jacksonville Symphony is deeply grateful to Darnell and Florida Blue for their continued commitment to symphonic music and especially their devotion to music education.

While each Gala has had a unique theme, collectively, they serve to highlight the extraordinary accomplishments of the Jacksonville Symphony’s robust music education programs and to raise funds to support these programs. To date, over $700,000 has been raised.

This season’s event will begin with a cocktail party replete with many silent auction items that range from dinners at some of Jacksonville finest restaurants to a wine tasting in Napa. The live auction items are very special and consist of other exclusive experiences including trips to  Tuscany, New York City, dinner with Music Director Courtney Lewis, the opportunity to conduct a Holiday Pops concert, dinner (and private concert) with Concertmaster Adelya Nartadjieva and many other fun experiences.

After the cocktail party, guests are escorted into the Moran Theatre for a gourmet dinner prepared by Biscotti’s. The dinner, live auction and presentation take place on the Moran Stage, creating a wonderful and rare opportunity to enjoy the festivities from a “behind the scenes” perspective. A unique feature of the dinner will also include a performance by members of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestras (JSYO).

Following dinner and the Live Auction, guests will then leave the Moran Theatre and enter Jacoby Symphony Hall. The next phase of the evening will feature the musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony in a pops-style concert spotlighting the soundtracks of classic spy films performed by the musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony along with vocalists Tamika Lawrence, Jessica Hendy, Scott Coulter and John Boswell.

Two-time Grammy Award®-winner Tamika Lawrence began her musical career on Broadway almost 10 years ago and has starred in The Wiz Live! on NBC, Book of Mormon, Come From Away, RENT, Caroline, or Change and the world premiere of Black No More.

Jessica Hendy is widely recognized as one of Broadway’s best singers. Her numerous Broadway credits include starring roles in CATS (as Grizabella), Elton John’s AIDA (as Amneris) and AMOUR. She has toured the U.S. and Canada in both CATS (as Grizabella) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (as the Narrator). Hendy just closed the recent Broadway revival of CATS. She is the only person that has the distinction to have been in the original Broadway production of CATS, the national tour and the Broadway revival.

Scott Coulter is one of New York’s most honored vocalists for his work in cabaret. His biggest honor is from musical theater lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz who once said, “One of the greatest things that can happen to a composer is to have his music interpreted by Scott Coulter.”

John Boswell’s recent concerts with symphonies have included Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert, Blockbuster Broadway!, Sheena Easton and Scott Coulter: The Spy Who Loved Me and Music Of The Knights. Boswell has been heard singing in the shows Three Men And A Baby Grand, Cinema Toast, Broadway Today, Wiseguys and the New York cult hit Cashino. Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Crazy For You, The Secret Garden, LIZA! Steppin’ Out At Radio City Music Hall, Back To Bacharach And David and The Kathy And Mo Show: Parallel Lives.

Following the performance, guests will then make their way into the Uible Lobby for an evening full of dancing and fun. The Symphony’s “After Party” is also designed to cater to a “young professional” audience.

All proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Symphony’s prestigious music education programs that reach over 35,000 students each year. JSYO serves over 220 students at all levels and is often the introduction to music for many students. We are especially pleased that several of our JSYO graduates have gone on to internationally renowned schools such as Julliard in New York City, and many have achieved great success as professional musicians. In addition to creating a pipeline for students who can then develop careers in music, JSYO provides essential life building skills such as self-discipline, teamwork, collaboration, cooperation and a strong sense of self-worth. The music education programs also serve many Title I schools in the Jacksonville area through music lessons the Symphony teaches, ensemble performances by professional Symphony musicians and complimentary tickets to performances.

Funding from the Gala also creates scholarship opportunities for economically disadvantaged students and allows the Symphony to digitally stream classes.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience symphonic music, as a student who wishes to learn to play an instrument, or one who simply wants to attend a concert. And when students join our JSYO ensembles, they enter a world that will positively affect them for the rest of their lives. The Jacksonville Symphony Gala creates the pathway that leads to transformational experiences for 35,000 young learners each year, and this season, we strive to reach more students and enrich more lives than ever before.

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