Tampa Bay Symphony’s Heller prepares for finale after 25 years

Posted on: April 13, 2011

In Wednesday’s (4/13) St. Petersburg Times (Florida), John Fleming writes, “ ‘Let’s go on, everybody. Mahler is calling.’ Jack Heller, seated at a podium in a meeting room at St. James Methodist Church, shouted for the 70 or so musicians around him to settle down and get ready to play through Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. … For 25 years, Heller has been coaxing music from the amateur players of the Tampa Bay Symphony, but last week he was preparing his finale. The centerpiece of the program is Gustav Mahler’s symphony called the Titan, an ambitious work that would test the mettle of any orchestra, much less one made up of volunteers that include car mechanics, physicians, lawyers, ministers, homemakers and students. They come from all over the bay area, and the orchestra gives concerts in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater. ‘It really is grand,’ said Heller, 78, who retired nine years ago as a music professor at the University of South Florida. ‘This is what music should be all about. People come together because they love to do it.’ … Heller’s swan song also includes a movement from the Grieg Piano Concerto, with the solo part played by the winner of the orchestra’s young artist competition, Maxwell Grossman, a senior at Stetson University.”

Posted April 13, 2011