The Panama City Symphony Orchestra is committed to presenting excellent live symphonic music which engages and educates audiences of all ages. The orchestra provides collaborative artistic opportunities for area musicians and guests, and enriches the cultural impact of the arts in northwest Florida within a sustainable financial structure.
To be a superb orchestra of consummate refinement bringing pride and wonderment to the region.
Membership in the Orchestra is determined by audition and is open to all musicians and/or advanced students of Bay County and the surrounding areas. Click here to inquire about an audition for the Panama City Symphony Orchestra.
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra began in 1996 as the Orchestra of St. Andrew Bay, a small group of string players seeking opportunities to play and perform together. It was founded by Elaine Matson, Michael Reisman and Sandy Rosengren. Led by John Boozer, this ensemble soon grew into a complete orchestra, playing a wide variety of symphonic music and training talented musicians guided by experienced adults.
At the end of the 1999-2000 season, Dr. Boozer left for a position in North Carolina, and the baton passed to Rusty Garner of Gulf Coast Community College, Division of Visual and Performing Arts. During his tenure the orchestra formed a close cooperative relationship with the college and presented Bay County audiences a series of ambitious and entertaining programs. Mr. Garner retired at the end of the 2005-2006 season.
Following a 2006 name change to The Panama City POPS Orchestra, the Orchestra was fortunate to have the accomplished, creative and enthusiastic leadership of Eddie Rackley. Bringing a lifetime of musical education and experience to the podium, Eddie fostered unprecedented artistic growth, delivering the unique combination of classical works and popular arrangements that distinguishes The PCSO today. He diligently advocated for promising young musicians, fostering a mentoring program with the adult orchestra and exposing young talent to the demands and rewards of rehearsing and performing in a professional environment. Maestro Rackley retired and relocated at the end of the 2015-2016 season.
The 2016-2027 season welcomed Dr. David Ott as Music Director and Conductor. A gifted lecturer at ease with educating the public about music, Dr. Ott has been credited with making symphonic music more accessible to audiences of all ages. During his tenure with the Orchestra he spearheaded the name change to The Panama City Symphony Orchestra prior to the 2020-2021 season, reflecting the realization that the Orchestra’s performance quality and professional stature were soaring, attracting stronger and more experienced musicians, and meriting a name to manifest its quality and increasingly far-ranging geographical draw.
Ott was also the creator and driving force behind three unique educational outreach programs: Moments with the Maestro, Music to My Ears and Symphony in the City. Other high notes during his tenure include delivering a complete season from a new venue following Hurricane Michael in 2018 and producing full seasons during the pandemic. Following six flourishing years at the PCSO podium, he retired in June 2022.
With the downbeat of PCSO’s 27th season, the Orchestra welcomes Sergey Bogza as its fifth Music Director and Conductor. Seen as a powerful advocate for music and musicians, the Symphony anticipates his collaborative approach will fuel the Orchestra’s growth trajectory and deliver it to the next level.