On Saturday, January 25, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and The Plaza Live hosted “Party at the Plaza,” a fundraiser at The Plaza Live Theatre (425 N. Bumby Ave, Orlando), featuring 5 stages of live music. Over 400 people were in attendance, and the event netted over $70,000, more than any of the orchestra’s past three galas. Money raised will help fund the orchestra’s general operations in 2013-2014, which includes continued operation of the Plaza Live Theatre. This was the first year the event was held.
David Schillhammer, the Philharmonic’s Executive Director, said the orchestra wanted to do something different from their typical “gala” this year.
“In years past, we focused on providing a concert-like atmosphere for guests, featuring the full orchestra on stage with a seated dinner,” he said. “But we learned that patrons wanted to socialize more, move around, and choose their own experience, so that’s the atmosphere we tried to create with Party at the Plaza.”
Tickets at past galas were as high as $250, but this year, Party at the Plaza tickets started at $95. Partygoers had their choice of over 14 live musical performances ranging from opera and chamber music to bluegrass, funk and rock and roll, plus 8 food vendors, beer and wine bars, interactive photo booth, and a silent auction, all spread out over 5 areas of the building.
Artists included Michael Andrew & The Atomic Big Band, Flat Mountain Band, Central Florida Community Choir, Strange Culture, The Olga Ferroni Jazz Trio, Jackson Creek String Band, funkUs and guests, Joseph Martens, Samantha Barnes Daniel, Dottie Clendenin, Wes & Evan Hamrick, Orlando Philharmonic Concertmaster Rimma Bergeron-Langlois, Keiko Andrews, and string, brass, woodwind and percussion ensembles composed of orchestra musicians. The performance stages were sponsored by Walt Disney World Resort, Certified Financial Group and Orkin Pest Control, with additional sponsorship by the Bryce L. West Foundation, Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed, Orlando Health, Orlando Magic, Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, P.A., Sonny’s Franchise Company and Steinway Piano Galleries.
Hors d’oeuvres were donated by Arthur’s Catering, Chick-fil-A, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Houlihan’s Restaurant, Meiner’s Catering / Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que of Alafaya Trail, Rosen Shingle Creek / Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Tolla’s Italian Restaurant and Sprinkles Custom Cakes. Beer and wine were donated by Orlando City Beverages and Southern Wine & Spirits.
Additional sponsors included The Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly and PhotoMingle.com
Schillhammer said the orchestra is overwhelmed by the success of the event.
“We are very grateful to all our sponsors, artists and attendees for coming out to support not only the orchestra, but all kinds of live music in Orlando,” he said. “We hope to throw an even bigger event next year, and hope Party at the Plaza becomes an annual tradition.”
Built in the 1960s as a dual-screen movie theater, The Plaza Live has been a popular live music venue in Orlando since the early 2000s, presenting over 100 rock, jazz, alternative and comedy events per year. The Orlando Philharmonic purchased the venue in August 2013, and plans to renovate the building to include office, rehearsal, and performance space for the orchestra, while continuing to present the Plaza Live’s schedule of live music events. Renovations are projected to begin in Spring 2014.
Now in its 21st season, the Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s resident professional orchestra, composed of accomplished musicians recruited from around the world. With more than 125 performances each year, the orchestra provides captivating musical experiences to people of all ages, provides enriching education programs for students and adults, and helps build a rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in the Central Florida community. Learn more at www.orlandophil.org.
Photos by Orlando Philharmonic