Mark Sforzini is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Opera and Music Director of the Tampa Bay Symphony. Sforzini began conducting opera in 2005 and founded St. Petersburg Opera in 2007. His conducting has received high critical acclaim: “Sforzini’s supple conducting of the orchestra provided perfect support, not only for the singers but also for the unfolding drama. The overture was crisp and expressive, as well.” (St. Petersburg Times). “Conductor Mark Sforzini blends 31 musicians and instruments into a single wave of music that can rush over you or gently flow, invisibly manipulating mood and scene, bringing out the best in the cast. You could go just for the music and not be disappointed.” (The Daily Progress – Charlottesville, Virginia).
Sforzini conducts a full range of repertoire: classic orchestral, pops, opera and Broadway. He was appointed Music Director of the Tampa Bay Symphony in 2012 and has established a Call for Scores Competition to promote 21st century works by composers around the world. He has appeared as guest conductor with groups such as Ash Lawn Opera, Crested Butte Mountain Theater, and the Auburn Symphony Orchestra and locally with Sunstate Opera, Northside Baptist Church, and the University of South Florida. Sforzini was conductor of the Pinellas Youth Symphony from 1999 – 2002 and FloriMezzo from 2002 – 2008. Prior to establishing his conducting career, Sforzini was principal bassoon of the Florida Orchestra for fifteen seasons. During his tenure with the Florida Orchestra, Sforzini was featured as a concerto soloist with the orchestra performing works by Mozart, Weber, Haydn and Vivaldi. He also performed Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis. The Florida Orchestra also premiered five of his compositions: A Journey in Orchestra (1997), Water Works – Aqua Rising (1999), Romanza (2004), Call Again Overture (2004) and Flibbertigibbet (2006).
He played eleven seasons as principal bassoon at the Crested Butte Music Festival where he was also the Composer-in-Residence in 2003. He has premiered many new compositions as both bassoonist and conductor including the Hilton Jones Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (2006) and is in demand for coaching singers, conductors and instrumentalists. Additional ensembles he has performed with include the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Opera, Opera Tampa, Tallahssee Symphony, Naples Philharmonic and Southwest Florida Symphony as well as the Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz, California.
Sforzini’s compositions have been performed by the Florida Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic, Alabama Symphony, Brevard Symphony, and Tampa Bay Symphony, as well as heard at the Eastern Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, the Toledo Symphony chamber concerts, Crested Butte, and in the Palladium Encore Series in St. Petersburg, of which Sforzini was Artistic Director for several years. His works were also featured at the University of Tampa when he was Composer-in-Residence in 2011.
Over the course of his career, Sforzini has taught at the Sewanee Summer Music Center and Kinhaven Music School as well as an adjunct at Florida College and St. Petersburg College. He has given master classes at Rice University (Shepherd School of Music), Florida State University, the St. Petersburg College Summer Vocal Institute, University of Tampa and frequently at St. Petersburg Opera as part of that organization’s Emerging Artists Program. He has served as an adjudicator for the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition, Walker’s Rising Stars and Florida Suncoast Opera Guild as well as a panelist for Voice Experience.
His stage directing credits include SPO’s 2011 production of Die Fledermaus, The Medium (2013) and Neapolitan Festival (2014). He has also crafted 10 years of semi-staged operatic revues for the St. Petersburg Opera Guild’s annual Silver Bells Gala. In 2008, he was awarded the Guild’s prestigious Cultural Achievement Award. In 2014, the Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letter recognized Sforzini’s artistic achievements with their annual Community Award.
Sforzini graduated Florida State University in 1991 with a bassoon performance degree and studied music at the Blossom Music Festival and Sarasota Music Festival. His primary bassoon teachers were John Hunt, David McGill, Sol Schoenbach and William Winstead; composition teachers – Edward Applebaum, Hilton Jones and Robert Helps; conducting teachers – Phillip Spurgeon, Thomas Wilkins, Michael Stern and Jens Georg Bachmann.
Sforzini was recently chosen by Musical America as one of thirty 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”.