Up north, it’s unofficially the start of the summer season, but around here summer has already kicked in big-time. Still, the prospect of a three-day weekend (OK, four-day for those of you cutting out early) is thrilling to all, and here are just a few of the many events you can enjoy when and if you get back from the beach. And do take some time to observe the holiday for the reasons it was established: to honor U.S. military veterans and the brave men and women who gave their lives for their country. (It might also be a good occasion to reflect on the toll of war — now that saber-rattling seems to be rearing its ugly head again all over the world.)
TFO Masterworks: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The Pre-Concert Conversations before Florida Orchestra Masterworks concerts are a treat, especially when led by Music Director Michael Francis, who’s as talented a raconteur as he is a conductor. He’ll have lots to talk about when it comes to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto; the work prompted one 19th-century critic to carp that the violin wasn’t just played, it “was beaten black and blue.” Wikipedia provides additional juicy background — Tchaikovsky’s “disastrous marriage,” a secret gay liaison, complaints by violinists that the work was too difficult to play, the fact that it’s been used everywhere from The Goonies to Monty Python. But the chief reason there’ll be so much to talk about is that it’s a magnificent piece of music, and you can rest assured that violin soloist Jeffrey Multer, TFO’s concertmaster, will play the hell out of it. Also on the program is the Fifth Symphony of Shostakovich, who wrote it under pressure from another noted music critic: Josef Stalin. Fri., May 24, 8 p.m., Straz Center, Tampa; Sat., May 25, 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg; Sun., May 26, 7:30 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. floridaorchestra.org.
The Joe Jackson “Four Decade” Tour. Jackson tours in support of his latest studio album, Fool, and looks back through his 40-year career as well. The show will include selections from five of his 20 albums, each representing a decade. 5/25, 8 p.m., Tampa Theatre, tampatheatre.org.
Clearwater Music and Arts Festival. Look, Ma, it’s a new festival — and this one’s free. Head to Clearwater’s Coachman Park on Saturday and Sunday for concerts by The Swon Brothers (Sun., 7:30 p.m.), who finished in third place (so close!) on The Voice in 2013; country wailer Jacob Bryant (Sat., 8:30 p.m.); Soul Circus Cowboys (Sat., 12:30 p.m.); The Wilson Brothers (Sun, 3:30 p.m.), and lots more — all free. There’ll be fireworks following the Jacob Bryant show on Saturday night, an art show all weekend featuring more than 50 artists in multiple genres, classic cars and motorcycles, a kids’ zone, plus areas to buy food, beer and wine. All in all, a nice way to while away the holiday weekend. 12:30-10 p.m. Saturday; 12:30-9 p.m. Sunday. Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., clearwaterartsfestival.com.
5/27. TFO Brass Quintet at Sundial. A free Memorial Day concert by The Florida Orchestra Brass Quintet at The Mall at Sundial St. Pete. The outdoor performance starts at 6 p.m. and features patriotic music, American folk songs, popular show tunes, and jazz. The Brass Quintet features top members of The Florida Orchestra, including Principal Trumpet Robert Smith, Assistant Principal Trumpet Ken Brown, Principal Horn David Smith, Principal Trombone Joel Vaisse, and Principal Tuba William Mickelsen. floridaorchestra.org
Tampa Museum of Art: Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations. An exhibition celebrating one of South America’s most ambitious and celebrated modern artists, Oswaldo Vigas (Venezuelan, 1923-2014), who drew on a broad mixture of sources and stylistic approaches for his art, mingling indigenous South American traditions with Western modernism into a distinctly personal language. tampamuseum.org