Philharmonic Center for the Arts located in the center of Pelican Bay.
The heartbeat of culture in Naples Florida Collier County is unquestionably the The Phil has become known as a setting for art lovers and a stage for acclaimed performances since it opened its $21-million edifice in 1990.
And the Pelican Bay Philharmonic is continually expanding its cultural strata.
Music, theater and art patrons in Southwest Florida make financial donations, establish endowments, and influence the grant-making decisions of an assortment of foundations.
The Pelican Bay Philharmonic was the vision of Myra Daniels, the president and chief executive officer of the center. After attending the first concert of the just-organized Naples Philharmonic Orchestra in 1983, Daniels was inspired.
Other longtime residents disagree with the notion that there was little culture other than swamp buggy races.
The Naples Players put on its first performance – “Annie” – in 1953.
The Players stages eight plays a year – 100 live performances annuall – and, like other cultural organizations throughout the area, is expanding. After 11 years in its own 176-seat house, the Players have a building drive under way to construct a 350-seat theater on city property at Seventh Street South.
In 1954, Jay McNichols opened an art gallery, Reynolds recalls. Today, there are dozens of galleries, specializing in everything from French Impressionist paintings to Native American sculpture – in Collier County.
A reading room was added to the Naples Woman’s Club in 1957, and that room evolved into the Collier County Public Library, which opened in 1964.
Reynolds says Naples Florida was a community rich in church concerts, musical programs by the Naples Music Club, and art exhibits by the Naples Art Association.
The Naples Dinner Theatre, which produces plays with an equity cast, opened in 1975, giving the region still another state on which plays were performed.
In 1995, the Naples Philadelphia Piano Quartet began a series of Classic Chamber Music Concerts at Edison Community College. In 1996, the quartet – Toby Blumenthal, Bert Phillips, Lamar Alsop and Norman Carol – began presenting concerts at Cambier Park in Naples.
What Reynolds recalls as a rich cultural heritage was the bud from which the Phil emerged. But few then could have dreamed Collier would one day support an arts center with a 1,221-seat concert hall, two auditoriums, two sculpture gardens, four museum-quality art galleries and a versatile pavilion for chamber music, theater-in-the-round and other activities.
The Pelican Bay Philharmonic was debt-free when it opened the doors to its then $19-million castle in 1988, only five years after the just-formed Naples Philharmonic Orchestra held its first concert on Marco Island in January 1983.
That 20-piece orchestra was formed by a conductor and concertmaster, both new to the area. Within three days, Daniels says, she determined “the county needed and wanted music in their lives.”
Daniels took over fund-raising and a year later was elected president of the group that quickly appointed a music director and scheduled concerts with a 57-piece orchestra.
Before the year was out, Daniels had a vision of a building fund and a $2 million pledge in her hand.
Today, the Pelican Bay Philharmonic has a salaried 84-piece orchestra, separate conductors for its classic, casual and popular music concerts and operas. The center hosts programs ranging from guest appearances of stage stars to performances of modern dance, ballet and children’s shows, plus art exhibits, sculpture exhibitions, lectures on a wide variety of topics ranging from health to art, and special demonstrations like 1995′s religious sand-painting by Tibetan monks.
Since the Pelican Bay Philharmonic opened its center, it has added an administration building and other facilities while staging 274 programs in 1995.
Now the Pelican Bay Philharmonic has 15 acres in Pelican Marsh, two miles north of its center, on which it plans to build a separate educational facility.
Daniels says that few cities in the nation have their own orchestras, and very few of those orchestras have their own concert halls, as does Naples. She also points out that until Dallas built a new center, the Pelican Bay Philharmonic had the largest concert organ in the nation.
[contact-form 2 "Blog"]