Florida Southern College and Southeastern University recently collaborated in an effort to bring a night of symphonic music to Polk County. 

The Imperial Symphony Orchestra performed an Italian symphony with Conductor Mark Thielen on March 12 at the Youkey Theatre.

This performance was part of the Southeastern University Masterworks Series and supported by a partnership with Florida Southern College’s music department. Many students of Polk County universities performed in the orchestra. Florida Southern College voice performance major Jade Ferrell provided vocal accompaniment for several songs and was presented with the Beth Mason Young Artists Endowment Fund Scholarship on last week. 

“The mission of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra is to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences through symphonic music,” founder of the Young Artists Endowment Fund Beth Mason said. “As the ISO embraces and trains these audiences to learn these things through their programs, they’re also very interested in placing an emphasis on education and inspiring future generations of music professionals.”

The Young Artists Competition sought out talented piano, strings, woodwind, brass and percussion artists in Polk County. Ferrell, the winner of the competition, received a $1,000 scholarship, as well as the opportunity to perform two songs alongside the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. She has also just recently been awarded as the winner of the FSC Symphony Orchestra aria competition. 

Mark Thielen, the orchestra’s music director and conductor, explained that the Italian symphony pieces such as Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien” and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 4 Italian” were very dramatic, tuneful, and exuberant compositions and embodied the feelings that were evoked within the composers by being in Italy.

“It’s amazing that these Italian pieces, even though they were not written by Italian composers, were inspired by being in the wonderful country of Italy,” Thielen said. “You will hear within these pieces some folk tunes, dances, and even some of the angst that the composers suffered.”

The Imperial Symphony Orchestra has been educating and entertaining Central Florida audiences since 1965. Although originally composed of only 30 volunteer musicians, the ISO has now become a paid, per-service orchestra which provides free tickets to students in Polk County. 

The orchestra also provides programs such as School Day Concerts and Fossils!, which allow students to be introduced to instruments and musical performances. The ISO Program Tea & Symphony also provides educational opportunities and it allows participants to learn about Masterworks pieces. 

The Imperial Symphony Orchestra regularly offers a Masterworks series, several free family concerts and various special performances throughout the year. The ISO’s next performance will be a free family concert at Florida Southern on April 7 in the Branscomb Auditorium. 


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