Planning a musical season amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic requires a leap of faith, and organizers of the Howey Mansion Music Series are forging ahead with planned outdoor concerts for November and December, where guests will be able to practice social distancing on the lawn of Howey Mansion.
The concert venue is a 7,188-square-foot palazzo on 15 acres in Howey-in-the-Hills that was built by citrus land baron William J. Howey in 1925.
“The future is unpredictable, but the task is a little easier when you can choose between an intimate Great Hall with fabulous acoustics and an outdoor terrace and lawn with the Mediterranean Revival mansion as a stunning backdrop,” says Diana Smith, board member of Howey Mansion Music Series.
“We are so fortunate to have a unique outdoor venue that enables us to welcome audiences on the terrace of the mansion to enjoy music in a safer environment,” adds Arisa Kusumi Sullivan, executive and artistic director for HMMS.
The season will kick off at 4 p.m. Nov. 1 with the “FlamencOpera Passion” concert featuring Arleen Ramirez, soprano, Rafael Cavero, tenor and Pancho Irizarry, guitar.
The artists will present classical Spanish songs and zarzuela arias, as well as flamenco song and dance.
Jazz diva Michelle Amato will sing a combination of classic and holiday jazz tunes at 4 p.m. Dec. 27. She trained at the University of Miami’s School of Music and has toured or recorded with Yanni, Quincy Jones, Jon Secada, Al Green, Donna Summer, Michael McDonald and Celia Cruz. She also has been a featured soloist with the Memphis Symphony and the South Florida Pops.
The performance headliner in 2021 will be Thomas Meglioranza, hailed by Newsday as “one of America’s finest young baritones,” to entertain in the mansion’s Great Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 11. Meglioranza and pianist Reiko Uchida will perform classic American songs that will be featured on an upcoming album.
“HMMS is incredibly lucky to be able to present these world-class artists at the mansion,” says Arisa. “Thomas and Reiko perform at the premiere venues in the world, but thanks to my longtime friendship with Thomas, they heard about our stellar venue and new series, and they were excited to travel to Central Florida and perform at the Howey Mansion.”
Described in The New Yorker as an “immaculate and inventive recitalist,” Meglioranza’s Songs from the World War I program was named one of the “Top Ten Best Classical Performances of the Year” in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Meglioranza has won awards from the Walter W. Naumburg, Concert Artists Guild, Franz Schubert/Music of Modernity and Joy In Singing competitions.
The entertainment continues with an outdoor concert at 4 p.m. March 7. ’80s Mixtape Mayhem takes classic 1980s pop hits and twists them into new tunes —“a fun and surprising convolution of your favorite songs,” according to the group’s biography.
Mixtape Mayhem features jazz diva Michelle Mailhot, Marc Clermont, Ed Krout and Chuck Archard. Mailhot, a Central Florida performer and educator, is known for a string of solo credits — including the soundtrack for the “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Season 3.
The series concludes at 7 p.m. April 15 with the popular Quartet Rimmamici, which will fill the Great Hall with stirring violins, viola and cello playing songs from the classical and romantic periods in their “String Soirée” program. The string quartet includes Rimma Bergeron-Langlois on first violin, Alex Stevens on second violin, Mauricio Cespedes at viola and Grace Bahng Gavin at cello
Howey Mansion is located 1001 Citrus Ave., Howey in the Hills. Tickets for lawn concerts are $23 per person and free for children under 12. To learn more, visit howeymusicseries.org.