A legacy of entertainment, education and giving back
In 2020, Sinfonia Gulf Coast will celebrate its 15th year of bringing world-class music and entertainment to the Emerald Coast. Demetrius Fuller founded the organization 14 years ago with a vision of introducing the area’s first stand-alone, fully-professional symphony, and since that time, he has helped redefine the cultural landscape of Northwest Florida through more than 575 “inspiring and artistically evocative” performances that have reached over 350,000 patrons.
“We started with a mission and vision to educate, inspire and entertain,” Fuller said. “But, the level of artistry that we’ve been able to produce from Sinfonia’s concerts and events has been pretty mind-blowing.”
From names like Vanessa Williams—headlining Sinfonia’s recent November gala—and Roberta Flack to Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone, Sinfonia’s reach has exceeded Fuller’s expectations. He credits the success to a supportive community.
“This community allows us to be able to produce this caliber of artistry. We have a very supportive corporate community and patron following,” Fuller said.
Concerts and events are just one component of Sinfonia’s mission, Fuller emphasized, pointing to his passion for music education. Sinfonia Guest Artists in the Schools program currently includes a collaborative partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Institute of Music called Link Up. The program is provided free of charge and features a year-long curriculum that culminates with a live recorder performance with the Sinfonia orchestra. In 2019, approximately 3,600 third-fifth graders in Okaloosa and Walton counties participated in the program.
“It’s always one of my favorite memories from Sinfonia—just to see and hear all the kids. If you ever wonder what 2,000 recorders sound like at one time…it’s a sound only a mother could love,” Fuller laughed.
Music outreach is not limited to the classroom. Sinfonia musicians are frequently seen out in the community, whether that be at nursing homes or the library, interacting and performing. Notably, Fuller himself is very active in the community serving as a Trustee of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, a board member with both the Okaloosa Arts Alliance and Alaqua Animal Refuge and as the past chair of the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball.
Fuller is a versatile conductor who has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious conductors and orchestras. An advocate of contemporary music, he has premiered, commissioned or collaborated with such names as Augusta Read-Thomas, Dorothy Hindman, Thomas Schneller and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Fuller is also an accomplished clarinetist and award recipient from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts, the Werner Foundation and the International Music Foundation.
Looking ahead, Fuller noted that Sinfonia’s 15th year will mark new campaigns to create the kind of sustainability that ensures the organization remains viable for the long-term. High on his list is a home venue for Sinfonia that will help advance not only the caliber of events but also the organization’s education efforts.
Upcoming Sinfonia opportunities:
Holiday Pops feat. Matthew Morrison
Village Baptist Church, Destin FL
Friday, December 13, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Classical Connections feat. Van Cliburn Bronze Medal Winner Daniel Hsu
Village Baptist Church, Destin, FL
Saturday, February 1, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Emerald Coast Convention Center, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Saturday, May 16, 2020, 7:30 p.m.