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Music Lovers Rejoice: Two South Florida Symphony Premieres

March 22, 2024

South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO), led by Sebrina María Alfonso, presents an enthralling March Masterworks program that will take audiences on an epic journey through a Russian fairytale to a sensuous Spanish tavern to the streets of 1940’s Times Square all the way up to a modern stirring elegy for 9/11. The region’s foremost symphony will premiere two first-time performances of Bernstein’s “Three Dance Episodes” and modern composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Clarinet Concerto featuring David Shifrin plus popular favorites Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite and Ravel’s Boléro at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 25th, at New World Center in Miami Beach and Wednesday, March 27th at The Parker in Fort Lauderdale. A pre-concert chat with Dr. Alan Mason illuminating the works and composers will take place 30 minutes prior to the New World Center concert, only.

“The composers featured in this concert all paint vivid stories that seem to dance in the mind,” says Maestra Alfonso. “Imagine…in Zwilich’s Clarinet Concerto, we revisit the shock and sorrow of 9/11, which ends on a more hopeful note. In Bernstein’s jazzy ode to New York City, we recall the frivolity of youth while Ravel’s rhythmic Bolero pulsates with sensuality. Then, Stravinsky takes us into a legendary folktale that bursts with magic and life. This concert wonderfully demonstrates how music can provide a welcome escape from our daily lives, and we look forward to our audiences joining for the adventure."

Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky’s (1882 - 1971) The Firebird Suite, based on the Russian fairy tales of the Firebird and the blessing and curse it possesses for its owner, was first performed at the Opéra de Paris in 1910 and was an instant success, catapulting him to international fame. The memorable neoclassical work embodying good and evil has been described as a work of genius.

Maurice Ravel’s (1875 - 1937) Boléro was commissioned by Dancer Ida Rubinstein in 1922, and was a raving success when it premiered at the Paris Opera in 1928, Instantly recognizable, the popular, Spanish-influenced rhythmic earworm remains one of the most romantic and well-known classical pieces in his canon.

Leonard Bernstein (1918 – 1990), America’s Famed Composer and Conductor, takes his concert suite "Three Dance Episodes" from the hit musical On the Town, a wartime romantic comedy about three sailors with 24 hours’ shore leave in New York City. Composed in 1944, this popular, Jazzy piece was Bernstein’s first composition for Broadway. This work is a South Florida Symphony Premiere.

Another South Florida Symphony Premiere is Pompano Beach-based Pulitzer Prize-Winning Composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Clarinet Concerto featuring the equally award-winning talents of Clarinetist David Shifrin (original performer of the piece). Zwilich had already begun her Concerto for Clarinet (commissioned by the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund) by the time the 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks occurred. In his review of the 2003 world premiere performance of the piece in 2003, Peter G. Davis of New York Magazine observed: “Like everyone else, composers were badly shaken by 9/11, and their musical responses are beginning to be heard. (This work) would surely have turned out to be quite a different piece had not the fatal date arrived just as she was about to start work on the second movement. That inevitably became an elegy, and the subsequent two movements grew from there.”

Winner of the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, David Shifrin has long been one of the most highly respected American Clarinetists for his work as Orchestral Soloist, Recitalist, Chamber Music Collaborator and Educator. He has appeared with the nation’s foremost symphonies and internationally with orchestras in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. A much sought after chamber musician, he has collaborated with such distinguished ensembles and artists as the Guarneri, Tokyo, Emerson, Orion, Dover and Miro String Quartets, Trumpeter and Composer Wynton Marsalis, and Pianists Emanuel Ax, André Previn and André Watts. He has served as Principal Clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra (under Stokowski), the Honolulu, Dallas and New Haven symphonies, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the New York Chamber Symphony. Shifrin joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music in 1987 and since 2008, has been the Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Yale and Yale's Annual Concert Series at Carnegie Hall. In January 2022, he was named the Samuel S. Sanford Professor in the Practice of Clarinet. He has also served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Hawaii. He has received three Grammy nominations, is the recipient of a Solo Recitalists' Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Concert Artist Guild Virtuoso Award, among many other prestigious honors.

Following its highly acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season, including sold-out shows and a celebrated performance accompanying Award-Winning Alt-Rock Indie vocalist Natalie Merchant, South Florida’s largest symphonic orchestra is continuing its musical journey of excellence inspiring audiences of all ages.

Upcoming concerts include masterworks from Tchaikovsky and Bruch plus popular music performances including Maestra Alfonso conducting SFSO in a live performance of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ™ In Concert on April 5th and April 6th and the Classical Mystery Tour: A Symphonic Tribute to The Beatles on May 11th, both at Broward Center for the Performing Arts (separately ticketed events).

Single tickets for this program begin at $15 for the Parker in Fort Lauderdale and $25 for New World Center in Miami Beach.

For tickets and additional information, visit: - call: (954) 522-8445. Or email:

The South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO)
Founded in 1997 in Key West by Music Director Maestra Sebrina María Alfonso, the now Wilton Manors-based South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO) is celebrating its 26th Season. SFSO is dedicated to providing enriching cultural music experiences to residents and visitors in Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Guided by the belief that music is pivotal to thriving communities, SFSO brings vibrancy and engagement with the arts via innovative programming and transformative educational initiatives. A pioneer in its commitment to symphonic music for underserved communities, its Symphony in the Schools program has touched the lives of 100,000 students since its inception in 1997. SFSO was recently named the first Partner in the Arts for The Parker by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and has been recognized by the Broward County Cultural Division as a “Major Cultural Institution,” one of only a handful of organizations to be so honored. For a performance schedule and season tickets, visit: Call: (954) 522-8445. Or email:

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