As life-long lovers of the arts, my husband and I were drawn to Sarasota because of the varied and vast arts scene. Serendipitously, our neighbor works for several box offices and has been known to slip a few tickets under our door. Last year we saw renowned pianist and conductor Murray Perahia at the Van Wezel, Sarasota’s majestic performance hall located directly on the Sarasota Bay.
A recipient of the Frank Lloyd Wright Performance Foundation, the theater itself is an opulent and a grand experience. We took our seats in the almost-full house and settled into our second foray away from the Stones, Beach Boys, or Bob Dylan. We were to see chamber music on this night –the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, “the world’s foremost chamber orchestra.” With 71 albums and several Grammys, the musicians were sure to impress. And in fact we were captivated by the richness of the orchestra and the warmth of the chamber ensemble. Some pieces were familiar — Haydn and Mozart — others not so much. The highlight of the evening, however, was the pianist, Khatia Buniatishvili, who occasionally threw her arms by her side and swayed on her bench as the orchestral strings swept through her.
If chamber music isn’t your thing, the Van Wezel showcases all sorts of talent. Coming soon are opportunities to see The Book of Mormon, Michael Feinstein, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, the Joffrey Ballet, Sophia Loren, and Mamma Mia — And that’s just a partial listing! Sarasota is the consummate city to expand your horizons and enjoy the myriad talent that arrives here.
The Sarasota Spectator
Our Sarasota Spectator is Betsy Miller, a retired high school teacher and college professor. Originally from Columbus, Betsy has fallen in love with the Gulf Coast of Florida, especially Sarasota. Blogging about the area has been a creative outlet for the writer, opening up an avenue of exploration. You may find the bon vivant enjoying happy hour at a tiki bar, shopping on historic Main Street, or seated at a concert or show at a local theater. Chances are you also might find her buried in a book on one of our beautiful beaches. Asked to give one word about her feelings for Sarasota, Betsy replied, “Smitten.”