The South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO), conducted by Key West native Sebrina María Alfonso, will perform the world premiere of composer — and Key West resident — John Gottsch’s “Princess Yurievskaya,” followed by Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” as part of its Masterworks III series. The concerts occur Wednesday, Jan. 19 in Fort Lauderdale; Thursday, Jan. 20 in Miami; and Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Tennessee Williams Theatre at the College of the Florida Keys. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
Alfsonso told the Keys Weekly that she met Gottsch, a doctor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and a lifelong composer, when he wrote to her and asked her to listen to one of his original scores, “Sunset,” which the symphony ultimately performed and recorded.
“I liked his music and he’s very passionate as a composer,” said Alfonso, who launched the symphony in her hometown 24 years ago. “With John’s current piece and Tchaikovsky’s in this upcoming performance, it’s going to be a beautiful, passionate concert. People are going to need a cigarette afterwards.”
“Gottsch’s ‘Princess Yurievskaya’ charts the love story about Tsar Alexander II and his mistress, Catherine Dolgorukova from their first meeting and eventual marriage to his assassination. The violin is the voice of the mistress and the cello is the tsar,” Alfonso said, adding that the musical narrative is full of exciting dances and torrid romance with evocative orchestral solos.
Gottsch was born in New Orleans, then moved to Florida with his family. He spent his youth in the lake country of the Sunshine State. His explorations of Florida gave him an enduring love for its beauty and wildlife. He has been a lifelong composer and a number of his compositions reflect his deep appreciation of the outdoors. Gottsch, a full-time doctor, now splits his time between Baltimore and Key West.
The program concludes with a work Tchaikovsky considered his best. In the last few months of his life, Tchaikovsky composed his haunting Symphony No. 6 in B minor, which made its premiere just nine days before his death.
He called it “The Passionate Symphony,” using the equivalent Russian word that the French mistranslated into “Pathétique” (meaning “evoking pity”) after his death.
The symphony season runs through April 28; the orchestra will return to Key West in March, Alfonso said.
Tickets for Masterworks III: Tchaikovsky & Gottsch start at $25 for the Tennessee Williams Theatre at the College of The Florida Keys, 5901 College Road, Key West.
Tickets for all three venues are on sale now at southfloridasymphony.org/masterworksiii. Additional health and safety concert attendance protocols can be found on the site. Student tickets and group rates are also available by calling 954-522-8445 or emailing [email protected].
About 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 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. Its Symphony in the Schools program has touched the lives of more than 85,000 students since 1997.