Jacksonville Symphony reaches out to Beaches in effort to expand audience


As part of its “Vision 2020” campaign to further grow and develop its audience, the Jacksonville Symphony is kicking off the new year by reaching out to Jacksonville’s Beaches.

“The Vision 2020 campaign is our announced effort to substantially put the Symphony on a strong financial footing,” said Gilchrist Berg, member of the Jacksonville Symphony Board of Directors and co-chair of the campaign. “We have a world-class concert hall, we have one of the best symphonies in the Southeast and this is a jewel in the First Coast area. The problem is, especially with all the traffic Downtown, it’s harder to get to the Symphony. The Vision 2020 Campaign includes reaching out to people of other venues, one of which is the Beaches community.”

The purpose of the initiative, according to Jacksonville Symphony CEO and President Robert Massey, is to expand the Symphony’s presence throughout the Greater Jacksonville area in keeping with its overall mission.

“Basically, our mission is to enhance the quality of life through symphonic music, and we really see that our role is to bring excellent symphonic music to our very broad community,” Massey said. “We have incredible programs that we do in our home hall of Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center Downtown, but we also spend about a third of our season performing out of our hall, taking the music to the people. And whether that’s in schools, or churches or different performing arts centers throughout Florida, it is a big part of connecting music to our community.”

The Symphony will start off its outreach initiative with its “Hooked on Classics” concert Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Lazzara Performance Hall on the University of North Florida campus. According to Massey, the venue was chosen specifically for its proximity to the Beaches in the hopes that it would remove some of the barriers preventing would-be patrons from attending concerts Downtown.

“One thing that we really focus on is accessibility, and we understand that even though there is a large percentage of our patron base that comes from the Beaches, there are also people who may not find it as easy to get to Downtown,” Massey said. “We’ve long had a relationship with the Beaches, but we’re really trying to take more ownership of how we can serve that community. I’ve been here for three years, and probably since my first month on the job, I’ve been trying to coordinate a date at Lazzara Performance Hall. We’ve been on the waiting list to get a date for a while, and we had Saturday, Jan. 13 come up, so we’re excited to bring the entire symphony out for a full concert.”

Led by Associate Conductor Nathan Aspinall, the performance will begin at 8 p.m. on Jan. 13 and will feature popular pieces from the classical genre. Tickets for the performance can be purchased at www.jaxsymphony.org.  

“It’s the only time this program will be performed during the season, so we’re trying to spread the word about this incredible opportunity,” Massey said of the upcoming concert. “It’s going to be the first time that the full orchestra will be (at the Lazzara Performance Hall), and I think it’s going to be the start of an incredible relationship with that venue.”

With possible future UNF performances in the works, Massey said that the Symphony is looking forward to connecting further with its Beaches-area patrons. 

“We are very grateful for the Beaches community and their support of the Symphony, because they do come to concerts, they’re actively involved with us and we hope to show that gratitude with this performance,” he said.