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TAMPA, Florida (AP) - The Florida Orchestra has announced that its director is stepping down two years earlier than anticipated.

Stefan Sanderling announced in 2011 that he wouldn't renew his contract after it expired at the end of the 2013-14 season.

The Tampa Bay Times reportsthat to accommodate his sudden departure, the orchestra has virtually rewritten the 2012-13 season. It will feature a dozen guest conductors, with seven of them signed up in a very short time. Many of these now are likely to be considered as prospective candidates for music director.

Orchestra musicians who learned over the weekend about the 48-year-old music director's premature departure were surprised.

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