The Impact Of The Pandemic On Performing Artists And Their Innovative Strategies for Performing Before Live Audiences

february, 2021

25feb1:00 pm2:00 pmVirtual EventThe Impact Of The Pandemic On Performing Artists And Their Innovative Strategies for Performing Before Live Audiences


(Thursday) 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Event Video

Event Details

Panel discussion with Michael Francis, Mark Sforzini, Dwayne White with moderation by Paul Wilborn about the impact of the pandemic on performing artists and their innovative strategies for performing before live audiences.

Speakers for this event

  • Dwayne White

    Dwayne White

    Dwayne White is a musician/educator in the Tampa Bay area and on the Board of Directors for the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Inc.

  • Mark Sforzini

    Mark Sforzini

    MARK SFORZINI – Executive & Artistic Director, St. Petersburg Opera Company / Music Director, Tampa Bay Symphony Now in its 15th season, St. Petersburg Opera Company is firmly rooted in the rich landscape of one of the most exciting, culturally-vibrant areas of Florida! Because of the talent, tenacity, and artistic vision of Maestro Mark Sforzini, what modestly started out as “the little opera company that could” became, within its first season, a performing arts powerhouse, where the finest professional singers, the best musicians and the most creative craftspeople come together to make magic, every time. “People who love St. Petersburg like the idea that a city that is having a cultural renaissance would have a professional opera company,” Maestro Sforzini once told a reporter, adding, with a mischievous grin, “and a QUALITY professional opera company!” So he built it. And they came. Sforzini is not merely a visionary leader who established an innovative and successful nonprofit business (although he is, and he did). He is a composer whose orchestral and chamber works have been commissioned and Performed by the Florida Orchestra, Tampa Bay Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Eastern Music Festival, Toledo Symphony Orchestra and numerous others. He has written and produced a number of one-act opera and music programs based on operatic repertoire and using professional singers and orchestral musicians. Sforzini’s acclaimed Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon debuted in 2018. The Alabama native served as principal bassoon of the Florida Orchestra from 1992 to 2007. He was artistic director of the prestigious Encore Series of chamber music at the Palladium Theater for several years, and co-founded FloriMezzo in 2003, serving as its artistic director for five years. In addition, he was Music Director of the Pinellas Youth Symphony, and a composer-mentor for Hillsborough County Schools. His passion for opera was re-kindled in 2005, when he was invited to guest-conduct a one-time production of Madama Butterfly at the Palladium Theater. The show sold out, and turned out to be a transformative experience for the audience, for the singers and musicians – and for Mark Sforzini. “When I conducted that, I just felt like I was supposed to be doing opera,” he recalled. “It was just a very strong gut feeling.” Far from resting on his considerable laurels, Sforzini continues to stretch, to test the boundaries of what an opera company can and should be. Each season brings several lavishly-staged and fully-orchestrated productions of classic operas, plus pops and cabaret shows, a children’s introduction to opera, seasonal showcases and other vastly entertaining offerings. Recently added to the mix: Creative Collaborations, a one-of-a-kind concert event in which musicians who might not normally perform together do so, in new and sometimes unprecedented configurations. In the spring of 2019, Creative Collaborations included a bassoon quartet, a double bass and banjo duet, a piano and violin duet and a staged performance –with Maestro Sforzini conducting – of Stravinsky’s multi-disciplinary work A Soldier’s Tale, blending a small orchestra, acting, narration and dance. In addition to his duties as St. Pete Opera’s executive and artistic director, chief visionary, arranger and conductor, Maestro Sforzini is in demand as an adjudicator, clinician and chamber music coach. Since 2012, he has been music director and conductor of the Tampa Bay Symphony, and established a Call for Scores Competition to promote 21st century works by composers around the world. Mark Sforzini was chosen by Musical America as one of 30 international industry professionals as a “Profile in Courage.” These top industry leaders have “taken a risk, spoken out where others were silent – all to the measurable benefit of their arts organizations and the field.”


  • Michael Francis

    Michael Francis

    Michael Francis has quickly established himself as one of the leading international conductors of today. Appointed Music Director of the Florida Orchestra in the fall of 2014, he is now entering his sixth season with a contract extension through the 2024-25 season. His role in building a wide variety of transformative community engagement initiatives has significantly grown the organization. Since 2014 as Music Director of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, California with a contract renewal through the summer of 2023, he continues his ambitious multi-year exploration of Mozart’s life. Now in his second season, Francis continues as Chief Conductor of Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz. Previously, he was Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra from 2012-16. Previous performances include the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, the Dresden Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, NHK Symphony as well as the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.

  • Paul Wilborn

    Paul Wilborn


    Paul Wilborn’s debut novel, Florida Hustle, earned a coveted Kirkus Star and in December was named one of the “100 Best Indie Books of 2022” by Kirkus. His 2019 short story collection, Cigar City: Tales from a 1980s Creative Ghetto” won the fiction gold medal from the Florida Book Awards. A native of Tampa, Paul Wilborn collected multiple awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors during a journalism career that included stints at the Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times and the Associated Press in Los Angeles. He won the Green Eyeshade Award from the Atlanta Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the South’s top writing prize. Based on a selection of his writing, Wilborn was chosen for the Paul Hansel Award, Florida’s top journalism prize. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. A pianist and singer, he has led several bands including Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts and Blue Roses. He produced the long-running American Songbook Series at American Stage. In the 1980s, Wilborn was a founding member of Ybor City’s Artists and Writers Group, which created multiple themed art and music events in the Tampa’s historic district. Wilborn is executive director of the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College and lives in Saint Petersburg with his wife, the film actor Eugenie Bondurant.


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