Flower City Society Orchestra
elegant entertainment from the rag time era


From the Elegant ‘Eighties and the Gay ‘Nineties through the Great War, the leading restaurants, hotels and cruise lines had musicians on hand to play light classical and dance music for their patrons’ enjoyment. Some of these establishments gained a reputation for their music as well as their food and service. Shanley’s and Reisenweber’s in New York City had well-known orchestras, and even the dining room at the Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co. store in Rochester featured the Vienna Trio for many years. Such groups as these added an extra dimension to the enjoyment of the patrons. Hear a sample.

The Flower City Society Orchestra of Rochester, New York, was organized in 1993, modeled on the “society orchestras” that entertained guests in these upper-class restaurants and resorts at the turn of the last century. Its large repertoire includes dance music, such as waltzes, tangos and rag-time, and the very best in light classical music. Members of the orchestra include teachers in local schools, students at the Eastman School of Music, and gifted amateurs from the community.

The conductor, Dr. Philip Carli, has a deep interest in the manners and mores of 19th-century society and culture. As a musical scholar he specializes in the performance practices of the bands and orchestras recording in the early days of the phonograph, and his large collection of cylinder and disc recordings allows him to study and enjoy this music at first hand. Many of the pieces played by the Flower City orchestra also exist in recordings made at the turn of the century. Mr. Carli is able to bring their vivacity and grace to his live performances, and over the years the players have developed a feel for the lilting swing of ragtime jazz. 

Contact Alice Carli at (585) 729-3873 or at

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