Space Coast Symphony Orchestra brings zest to local performances


Published:

Connie Maltby, the special events planner for the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, chats with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was the special guest narrator for “The Cosmos” concert.

SENIOR LIFE Courtesy of Michele Campanelli

While growing up in Cocoa Beach, young Aaron Collins started writing music. His grandmother was the choir master in church so music was a part of his life.

By 8 years old, he knew music would be his career. Now at 34, he is the conductor and artistic director of the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra (SCSO), serendipitously started by Collins in 2009 with “five dollars in our pocket and a vision” after a successful one-time concert with an orchestra and chorus he organized for a church.

Collins said, “It [SCSO] was my baby — myself and four musicians started it … After the sixth-year mark, it started making a turn and becoming easier to manage and has sturdy legs now.” Today, that orchestra “has grown into a fairly big deal — with a one million dollar operating budget — becoming a really important cultural arts group here in Florida,” explained Collins said.

As a University of Florida Gator, Collins brings a dynamic new energy to music on the Space Coast.

“Our mission and the reason why we exist is to open the music to people who are not necessarily familiar with or go to classical music concerts, to reach out to them, make it accessible, personal and a unique experience for them.”

To make and keep it accessible, Collins came up with the “Symphony for Everyone” concept (their motto) in 2010, which is a model for other symphony orchestras nationally. Tickets are $20 in advance with discounted and complimentary tickets for those who can’t afford regular-ticket prices.

A large screen placed above the orchestra, where images and scenes from film series such as “Spider-Man,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter,” are accompanied with the original film music, giving the symphony experience an added visual excitement. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope were used for The Cosmos concert. Collins stated that to break the “stuffy and elitist” symphony concert going experience, “we try to be as innovative and welcoming and fun as possible.”

The orchestra performs classics, pops, jazz, opera and film music and performs with a woman’s choir.

Choir member and special events planner for the SCSO Connie Maltby said, “Being part of the SCSO is like being in a giant surprise party because you never know what’s going to happen on stage — we’ve been collaborating with many arts groups, collaborated with the Orlando Ballet, and a ballerina did the dying swan, a tap dancer did a tap dance concert … also used film clips from ‘An American in Paris,’ while the orchestra played ‘An American in Paris’ Suite. Such a multi-sensory event, and all that for 20 bucks.”

The principal violinist, Concertmaster Carey Moorman, who began playing violin at age 10 in Little Rock, Ark., said, “My sons perform with the orchestra as well. They are advanced high school musicians … we have a wide age range within the orchestra from very advanced teenagers to advanced seasoned professionals.”

He also pointed out, “It’s the only orchestra in the area that began as a professional orchestra [paid performers]. Others began as community orchestras [volunteer performers].”

SCSO also performs in the summer offseason, which other orchestras rarely attempt to do.

If someone can’t afford a $20 ticket, go to the website spacecoastsymphony.org. Pick any ticketed concert in the calendar under the Tickets & Calendar tab, look for a button on the page for that concert called Symphony for Everyone. Clicking that will provide a short form to fill out and submit, which reserves a discounted or complimentary ticket. Children 18 and younger and college students get free admission.

Upcoming Concerts are: “Home of the Brave,” an armed forces tribute featuring 250 musicians with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project, at 3 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Scott Center for the Performing Arts at 5625 Holy Trinity Drive in Melbourne; “The Sing Along Messiah,” the ultimate Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 1, also at the Scott Center; and “Christmas at the Avenue,” a free holiday concert, at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at The Avenue Viera at 2241 Town Center Ave. in Melbourne. For more information or to become a volunteer, call 855-252-7276 or go to spacecoastsymphony.org.