Before COVID-19 disrupted the world, The Florida Orchestra’s table at The Straz in May was set with “Beethoven’s Fifth,” Superhero Soundtracks and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.
When announcing the cancellation of the remainder of the orchestra season, TFO noted its instinct was to provide hope, comfort and healing with the power of music. With that panacea temporarily silenced on The Straz stage, TFO is offering orchestral inspiration on its TFO At Home page and social media. They also offer their first virtual orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 (finale) and are streaming live recordings of its concerts on Classical WSMR radio on Thursdays.
“Even when we are not able to play live for you, the indomitable spirit of our remarkable TFO musicians cannot be dampened: We will keep bringing you music!,” says Michael Francis, TFO’s music director.
As part of our then-scheduled May publications, we conducted a Q&A with TFO violinist Jeffrey Multer, who has been concertmaster of The Florida Orchestra since 2006. We bring you that Behind the Persona feature here, with insights into musical beginnings, a few off-the-beaten path inquiries plus a few questions on how he is coping with the stay-at-home order.
What has been the hardest part of this coronavirus experience for you?
Not being able to share all the great music we had planned for the rest of our season at The Florida Orchestra and having all summer festivals canceled has been really sad. Not being able to see family and friends also has been rough. Of course, given what many are going through now, I consider myself fortunate that these are the worst of my problems.
How are you filling your time, both with music and otherwise?
The Florida Orchestra has been working hard to keep the music going. I’m practicing a lot and working on projects for TFO. Otherwise, I’m running and hiking with my partner and our dog, Vixen. Trying not to worry.
How did you get started in music?
I come from a musical family on my dad’s side. I started playing violin at age 5.
What is your worst quality?
It’s hard to narrow it down, but I’m definitely very impatient.
What music is on your playlist?
Right now, I’m listening to Bach’s “St. John Passion” – which TFO [was to perform] in March – and Coldplay.
What’s your sign and what does it say about you?
Sagittarius. I’m not into astrology, but if Sagittarians are optimistic and adventurous, that’s me.
Read any good books lately?
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.
What’s always in your refrigerator?
What’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?
What’s your “guilty pleasure” television show?
In the movie version of your life, who would play you?
Butters from South Park.
Who or what inspires you?
J.S. Bach. I find constant inspiration in his music. It never grows old.
What do you consider your greatest successes – personally and professionally?
My greatest success is my position as concertmaster of The Florida Orchestra. I also love teaching and working with young artists, which is what I do at the Eastern Music Festival [in Greensboro, N.C.] during the summers.
If you hadn’t chosen a career as a musician, what other career path do you think you’d have followed?
Writer or some kind of explorer. Maybe an astronaut.