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A night of music under the Apopka stars coming in May

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Opinion

By Suzanne Kidd

Something wonderful is coming to Apopka on Saturday evening, May 13th, so here's hoping you still have that night free. For lovers of beautiful music, it will be an evening to savor, a truly special, first-of-its-kind musical event, the Apopka debut performance of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Sponsored by The City of Apopka, "Symphony Under the Stars" brings this iconic orchestra to the Apopka Amphitheater for its inaugural concert and dinner event. Located at 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway at the Northwest Recreation Complex on Ponkan Road, the amphitheater is fast expanding its entertainment offerings to the delight of local residents.

Ticket prices are unquestionably modest too. Unlike the Philharmonic's outdoor concert at Longwood's "The Springs," where $45 is the norm, the Apopka tickets cost just $10 in advance at the City's website (www.Apopka.net) or $15 at the gate. The 800 amphitheater seats under the protective canopy will be available at no additional charge on a first-come basis. But many couples and family groups may prefer the more romantic or spacious experience of dining "al fresco" while relaxing on a blanket, spread out on the ample grassy slopes. In fact, the City encourages attendees to "bring your blanket, chairs, and picnic basket--alcohol permitted" for those 21 and older. If you crave a more formal dining experience, the ticket site offers you the option of reserving a linen-covered table for 10 with seating. Just bring your decor, candles, food and beverages. If food prep isn't your thing, selected food and beverage vendors will be on site providing specialty cuisine, wine, champagne, drinks, and desserts. Whatever your dining pleasure, a truly magical meal by starlight is in store!

For those newcomers to Pops or Classical music, "Orlando Phil," as the orchestra is lovingly referred to by its legions of fans across Central Florida, is the fourth jewel in Orlando's cultural crown, taking its place alongside Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera and the Orlando Museum of Art. Under the direction of longtime Pops conductor Albert George Schram, known throughout the midwest and south for his spirited, fun-loving approach to classical music, the orchestra has planned a family-friendly program of musical favorites from the 1950s through the 1990s with a particular emphasis on music from the movies. Joining the Philharmonic on vocals are jazz singer Michael Andrew and veteran musical theater artist Natalie Cordone. Both have performed extensively in the Orlando area.

Of course, the other big "Star" of the evening is our very own Apopka Amphitheater. Easily Central Florida's best-kept secret, this night, in a way, is its debut too. As Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer put it, "Bringing the Orchestra to Apopka will bring attention to the Apopka Amphitheater like we've never seen before. We're getting a chance to show how beautiful and how special our amphitheater is to an audience who may not even know we have this wonderful facility." If the amphitheater is to live up to its potential as a regional events venue, gaining exposure to fans of a wide diversity of performance genres is critical. "Symphony Under the Stars" is a fabulous next step on that path.

The concert itself begins at 7:00 pm but gates open at 5:30 pm and parking is free. Come early (5:30 pm - 6:30 pm) and let the kids experience various musical instruments at the Symphony's innovative "Instrument Petting Zoo." Although the City has arranged to have Orange County spray for mosquitoes ahead of time, prudent concert goers might still want to bring along bug prevention. Where mosquitoes are concerned, the old adage certainly applies.." an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

A few caveats: no tents or pets allowed, no refunds for bad weather, and the concert goes on rain or shine. That said, get ready for a one-of-a-kind, super-special evening under the stars. See you there!

Suzanne Kidd is a former 30-year public school educator and design professional. During her sixteen years as an Apopka resident, she has been an active participant in her homeowners’ association and Apopka civic affairs, attending City Council and Planning Commission meetings and serving on several City committees, most recently chairing the City’s Visioning Steering Committee. She is currently involved with Habitat for Humanity in bringing affordable housing to Apopka.

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