Panama City, FL – For over three decades March has been designated as Music in Our Schools Month by the National Association for Music Education, with music education becoming the focus of schools across the nation.
The Panama City Symphony’s “Music to My Ears” program follows that lead and returns to regional elementary schools this month.
Among the Panama City Symphony’s Board of Directors’ recent long-term objectives had been the goal of introducing school children to the excitement of live symphonic music by performing on-stage concerts programmed exclusively for youth.
Following Hurricane Michael and the relocation of Symphony concerts, plans were deferred. The objective, however, was not. Born of the evolving conditions in 2019 and former Symphony Conductor David Ott’s ingenuity, “Music to My Ears,” is a traveling, educational program placing Panama City Symphony musicians in elementary schools and providing young audiences a chance to experience symphonic music in their own environment.
Now conducted by PCSO Music Director and Conductor Sergey Bogza, the original, 25-minute work features a seven-piece ensemble with narration by Rita Whitaker-Haun.
“It’s a win-win-win,” states the Dr. Bogza. “Science and symphony organizations have long noted the benefits of music specific to early education. School is where all children should have access to music. We introduce the basic elements of music (melody, rhythm and harmony) and demonstrate how variations in instrument technique, tempo, and volume can be used to create emotion, portray action, and invoke imagery.
Details of the program have been presented to the superintendents and principals of elementary schools in Bay, Calhoun, Walton and Washington counties. Scheduling has begun and will continue through the end of the school year.
“Bay District Schools is extremely grateful to the musicians of the Panama City Symphony for the Music to my Ears program that has brought the artistry of beautiful music to our elementary schools,” declared BDS Superintendent Bill Husfelt. “Music will always have a special place in our curriculum, and we sincerely appreciate the commitment of the Symphony, its conductor and its musicians. Their shared love of music, and their dedication to sharing their skills with students of all ages has shown our students the value of being lifelong learners and the amazing results that come from commitment, practice, dedication and talent.”
Plans are to continue the program in the 2023-24 season. “The Panama City Symphony is devoted to broadening the Orchestra’s commitment to our community. This includes raising awareness of the importance of music education for all children,” commented Denise Cox, PCSO Board of Directors President. “Music to My Ears is an ideal way to prepare students for the eventual full symphony experience in a performance hall. We look forward to the day when that, too, will be a reality.”
For more info contact the Panama City Symphony at (850) 785-7677 or [email protected].
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra has hired Sergey Bogza as its new Music Director and Conductor, it was announced recently.
Described as “a charismatic conductor whose passion radiates from the podium,” Bogza is known for his unique approach to working with orchestras and engaging audiences on and off the podium. Equally comfortable leading productions of opera, ballet, and concert repertoire, Bogza’s energy and artistic integrity are highly regarded by audiences and musicians alike. He has been awarded top prizes at international conducting competitions and is an active composer of symphonic and chamber music. Combining the roles of a conductor and composer, the premieres of his works are enthusiastically received by audiences and musical ensembles across the United States and Europe.
Most recently he was Music Director and Conductor of the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra in Illinois. Praised for his thoughtful approach to programming, collaborations, and entertaining and engaging pre-concert talks, he is widely credited with fostering the orchestra’s exceptional growth. Through 2017 and 2018 Bogza was responsible for a number of successful collaborations in ballet and opera with award-winning choreographers and Grammy-winning composers.
In the Panama City Symphony’s 26-year history, Bogza is its fifth Music Director, succeeding David Ott, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
The PCSO Music Director search was advertised for two months and resulted in 158 applications from 31 countries and 26 states and the District of Columbia. The search committee, composed of PCSO board members and its principal musicians, narrowed the list to 17 candidates that included a broad range of demographics. Phase One interviews narrowed the list to six finalists. Phase Two interviews and reference calls led to the decision to extend the offer of the position to Bogza.
He accepted. His first appearance will be at the season opener on October 15, as he opens the Symphony’s new season with Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”
“It is a privilege to be selected as the next Music Director of the Panama City Symphony Orchestra,” Bogza said in a statement. “Building on a solid foundation of artistic excellence, I am excited to imagine a bright future with this orchestra, its staff, and its supporters. I am proud to join an organization whose values align with my own and work with an incredible symphony to chart new creative territory. There was an immediate connection to the vision, the approach to serve the community, and what we want to achieve in the future. I look forward to calling Panama City my new home and growing musically together while serving our audiences with world-class performances.”
From his professionally written application and compelling conducting and lecture videos to engaging Zoom videos and impressive follow-up reference calls, Bogza was the standout candidate. He rated highly in all areas as an experienced music director and conductor, musician, composer/arranger, and educator, as well as excelling in public outreach, fundraising, and audience growth.
Bogza’s artistic statement included with his application defined his activities as artist and conductor as anchored to three pillars: “…to expect from myself the highest level of artistic expression and inspire it with those I interact with; to promote meaningful experience through community building, collaborations, and education; to honor past traditions and shape the ones next to come.”
He goes on to state, “It is my opinion that orchestras remain one of the most extraordinary performing entities ever created. It is our collective responsibility to be extremely creative in how we present this art form in our communities.”
About Sergey Bogza
As a guest conductor, Bogza cultivates a burgeoning international presence that has brought him engagements in the USA and Europe with orchestras, ballet companies, and festivals. He has guest conducted musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, Virginia Beach Symphony, Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra, Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, Auburn Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Valley Symphony Orchestra, and Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra. Bogza also served as an assistant conductor for Joffrey Ballet’s 100-year anniversary production of The Rite of Spring, and the University of Minnesota’s Benjamin Britten’s Peace Project, which combined the musical talents of students from North America and Germany, culminating in the critically acclaimed performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in the USA and abroad. For three consecutive summers, he was selected to conduct public concerts of the B-Minor Mass, St. Matthew Passion, and the Christmas Oratorio at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Bogza is responsible for a number of successful collaborations and is regarded for his sensitive approach. In 2017, he engaged an award-winning choreographer Roger Van Fleteren to present an abridged version of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet and the fruitful relationship led to future projects with The Alabama Ballet. That same year, Bogza conducted two sold-out performances of The Moscow Ballet’s The Great Russian Nutcracker, a production that included the company’s professional dancers, 120 community dancers, and a local children’s chorus. In 2018, in collaboration with Millikin University’s School of Theatre and Dance, Bogza led three sold-out performances of The Phantom of the Opera and productions of Pirates of Penzance, Menotti’s The Medium, and Barber’s A Hand of Bridge. At the University of Minnesota, he led the workshop premiere of two operas,
Sister Carrie and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Grammy-winning composer Robert Aldridge and assisted with productions of Così fan tutte, Falstaff, and Bartered Bride, among others.
Born in Russia into a Russian-Ukrainian family, Bogza emigrated to the United States in 1995. He began is music studies at age 12 with trumpet and piano lessons, a “joyful journey” of sharing his love of music. Bogza earned a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from Central Washington University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Minnesota.
Off the podium, Bogza is an endurance athlete who regularly competes in ultra-marathons and long-distance bike rides. Having won gold medals and finished over a dozen races, his future aspirations include competing for The Triple Crown (three consecutive 200-mile races) in 2023, and Badwater 135 in 2024. Bogza trains with his two Belgian Malinois dogs, Samson and Stella, and is an avid chef of Slavic cuisine.
PCSO Board of Directors President and MD Search Committee Chair, Denise Cox, summarized the four-month search stating, “Sergey Bogza is a great conductor on a growth trajectory who can take the Panama City Symphony Orchestra to the next level.”
About the Panama City Symphony Orchestra
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra is committed to providing excellent live symphonic music which delights and educates audiences of all ages within a sustainable financial structure.
Now in its twenty-seventh season, The Panama City Symphony Orchestra has entertained Bay County audiences with a variety of classical and popular music, and has hosted performances by and works of some of the music and entertainment industry’s most distinguished artists.
In addition to its regular season, annual educational outreach includes Symphony in the City monthly in the Panama City City Hall rotunda; the Moments with the Maestro lecture series each Friday before Saturday’s concert performance; and Music to My Ears, an in-school program targeting third, fourth and fifth graders.
It is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization and is a member of the Bay County and the Greater Panama City Beaches Chambers of Commerce.
PCSO season tickets are available now. Additional concert dates for the regular season are January 21, February 18 and April 22. All regular season concerts are performed at the Gretchen Nelson Fine Arts Center, 501 Mosley Drive, Lynn Haven, and will start at 7:30 pm. Reserved seat individual concert ticket price is $35.00 and will be on sale after October 1. For more information about the concerts call 850-785-7677.
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra Music Director Search Committee invites nominations and applications for the position of Music Director, available beginning in the 2022-23 season.
The Music Director reports to the Panama City Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors and is responsible for carrying out the artistic mission of the orchestra.
The Music Director oversees the repertoire, programming, and artistic production of at least four (4) regular season concerts and two (2) holiday concerts. He/She/They direct the audition process including recruitment and selection of orchestra members and rehearses and conducts the orchestra.
As the orchestra’s artistic leader, the Music Director works with the PCSO Board to build and sustain the orchestra’s visibility and involvement in the community.
The Music Director is expected to work closely with the PCSO Board President and administrative staff in carrying out these responsibilities, and will also play a role in the orchestra’s fundraising and other development activities.
The ideal candidate will possess:
excellent musicianship and conducting skills;
knowledge of a broad range of repertoire, with the ability to create dynamic classical and popular music programs, select compelling guest artists, and collaborate artistically with the orchestra’s musicians;
the knowledge and commitment to enthusiastically deliver PCSO’s music education and outreach programs;
strong leadership and interpersonal skills to connect with donors, sponsors, and government officials to represent the vision and value of the orchestra as a strategic part of the region’s artistic and economic development;
the ability to partner with PCSO’s leadership to actively participate and elevate PCSO’s marketing, promotional, and development activities; and
the passion and creativity to develop and lead performances that resonate with existing patrons and attract diverse new audiences.
Previous or current music directorship or comparable experience is preferred. Emerging talent with artistic vision and examples of their commitment to orchestra growth and development will be thoughtfully considered.
Compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience and qualifications.
A complete application will include the following:
a personal letter of interest in the position as PCSO Music Director and your vision for the continued growth of the orchestra as a cultural centerpiece of Bay County
Panama City Symphony Orchestra P.O. Box 744 Panama City, FL 32402
All materials must be received by June 30, 2022.
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra is an equal opportunity employer.
About the Panama City Symphony Orchestra
The Panama City Symphony Orchestra of 60 professional musicians, now in its 27th season, serves patrons from Bay and surrounding Florida counties, visitors from neighboring states, and seasonal residents from the US and Canada.
PCSO’s programming includes four regular season concerts and a Holiday Concert that fill the Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center. A free outdoor Holiday concert performed at Aaron Bessant Park, Panama City Beach, attracts a diverse audience of over 3000 seniors, adults, and children. Special concerts have featured guest instrumentalists, vocalists, and symphony-backed rock bands.
The Symphony’s music education programs develop talented high school-aged orchestral musicians through its orchestra mentoring program and deliver an in-school music program to elementary grades in Bay and surrounding counties. Audience enrichment and community outreach programs include pre-concert lectures and program notes and partnership with the City of Panama City government for monthly ensemble performances.
PCSO is governed by a 24-member Board of Directors. The Board’s Executive Committee successfully handles planning and operations and manages a balanced budget. Orchestra operations are assisted by two Personnel Managers and a Librarian.
Situated in the geographic center of Northwest Florida, Panama City is the largest city between Pensacola and Tallahassee and is the government seat of Bay County. The county is home to Florida State University-Panama City, Gulf Coast State College, and Tyndall Air Force Base. Panama City is experiencing a surge of growth and development including a renaissance of its Historic Downtown and dynamic growth in the performing arts including the planned Performing Arts and Events Center.
It’s History Class Brewing Company’s Pouring Love month, and for every beer and cider sold now through March 31, 2022, $.25 will be donated to PCSO’s music education outreach programs.
Try their ever-changing assortment of locally brewed and historically named beers, or go for the original Symphony Cider, brewed especially for this fundraiser!
Then join us at Panama City’s favorite brewpub on Sunday, March 27, 2022, 1:00-4:00 for Sipping with the Symphony, an afternoon of free, family-friendly fun accompanied by music by members of the Symphony.
Undaunted by the challenges of the past 18 months, The Panama City POPS Conductor and Board of Directors announce the Orchestra’s 26th season, opening Saturday, October 16 at the Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center. The Presenting Sponsor for the season is the St. Joe Community Foundation.
“The St. Joe Community Foundation is pleased to support another season of musical performance by The Panama City Symphony Orchestra,” stated April Wilkes, Executive Director of The St. Joe Community Foundation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of bringing the community together through the magic of music.”
Four regular season concerts and one holiday extra are planned for 2021-2022.
Season Opener Features Guest Pianist
The mastery of the peerless 19th century Russian composer launches the season with “Timeless Tchaikovsky.” Highlighting the evening is the appearance of guest pianist, Frederick Moyer.
Serenade for Strings, op. 48 opens the program, a heartfelt, sunny piece with magnificent melodies. Moyer then joins the orchestra to perform the composer’s beloved and stirring Piano Concerto No. 1.
“I am thrilled to be working with Fred again,” stated PCSO Conductor David Ott, now in his sixth season with the Orchestra. “His appearance with us four years ago was memorable, as he performed my own Piano Concerto No. 2 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. If ever there were a concert to deliver simply elegant and uplifting music, this is it. Moyer’s work is masterful.”
For over 35 years as a full‐time concert pianist, Frederick Moyer has carved out a career characterized by an exacting approach to music‐making and a wide variety of musical interests.
Born into an artistic family, Moyer began piano studies with his mother at the age of seven. Musically eclectic from the start, his youthful obsessions moved from the Tijuana Brass to Oscar Peterson to Sergei Rachmaninoff. In junior high school, he began studies with Theodore Lettvin, and in high school entered Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Eleanor Sokoloff. Later, at Indiana University, he studied with Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio.
Throughout, he coached with his grandfather David Moyer, a student of Ferruccio Busoni and Ernst Von Dohnanyi.
Moyer plays hundreds of concerts annually across the country, has performed in 44 countries, in such venues as Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Syndey Opera House, Windsor Castle, Carnegie Recital Hall, Tanglewood, and the Kennedy Center. Fred has performed with most of the major orchestras in the United States as well as many orchestras throughout Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia.
Moyer’s enthusiasm, artistry, and adventurous programming have made him a favorite among audiences of all ages. In recital, his delightful commentary from the stage takes the audience into the heart of the musical experience.
His wide‐ranging interests have contributed to classical music in unique ways. Art museums have engaged him to create art‐music presentations that interpret works of visual art. He contributes his musical talents to causes including Habitat for Humanity and a music school in Port‐au‐Prince, Haiti, which he visits regularly to teach and perform.
An avid computer programmer and inventor with multiple patents, he has created innovative concerts that redefine the piano recital. His MoyerCam gives the audience a view of the hands and keyboard from virtually any seat.
Full Season of Musical Hallmarks
In December, the Symphony will perform its fourth annual “Holiday by the Bay,” an extra, all-family concert of timeless classics, popular holiday hits complete with a visit from Santa.
In January the Symphony presents “French Impressions,” featuring the musical impressionism of Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” The program will also spotlight harp soloist, Katie Ott, in Debussy’s “Sacred and Profane Dances.”
February’s “Homegrown” showcases the Symphony’s very own talent as the Orchestra performs David Ott’s Symphony No.5, a highly lyrical, splashy and colorful work that Ott promises will rock the rafters. The program will feature the solo debut of PSCO mentored student, Alison Strunk, performing Kreisler’s Preludium and Allegro.
The regular season closes in late April with the reprised scheduling Rimsky-Korsakov’s evocative masterpiece, “Scheherazade.”
Moments with the Maestro Returns
Introduced five years ago when David Ott picked up the conductor’s baton, Moments with the Maestro was the intimate and informative champagne and lecture series preceding each concert. Knocked out of the Marina Civic Center three years ago, the popular prelude has found a new home at the Panama City Center for the Arts. It will be held on the Friday afternoon preceding each regular concert, from 4:00-5:00pm.
Music to My Ears
Instituted during the 2019-2020 season and put on hold as the pandemic unfolded, Music to My Ears is the Symphony’s outreach program targeting elementary school students in grades 3, 4 and 5 returns to school calendars this fall.
Conceived by David Ott, it is a traveling, educational program placing Symphony musicians in elementary schools and providing young audiences a chance to experience symphonic music in their own environment. The original, 25-minute work features an eight-piece ensemble with narration.
“Bay District Schools is extremely grateful to the musicians of the Panama City Symphony for the Music to my Ears program that has brought the artistry of beautiful music to our elementary schools,” declared BDS Superintendent Bill Husfelt. “Music will always have a special place in our curriculum and we sincerely appreciate the commitment of the Symphony and its musicians. Their shared love of music, and their dedication to sharing their skills with students of all ages, has shown our students the value of being lifelong learners and the amazing results that come from commitment, practice, dedication and talent.”
PCSO will expand “Music to My Ears” into Walton, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson and Washington counties as the year progresses. “This is a remarkable outreach program dedicated to the musical education of children,” stated Symphony Board of Directors President Connie Gittard. “As the Panama City Symphony appeals to an ever-larger and geographically more far-ranging audience, we’re committed to expanding the reach of symphonic music as deeply into those communities as possible.”
Symphony in the City
With a desire to show the Symphony’s commitment to Panama City, David Ott has created another opportunity to experience music up close and personally. “Symphony in the City” will be held in the Panama City City Hall Rotunda at 12:12pm on the first Wednesday of each month, November through April. The 30-minute concerts will feature Ott and another musician or two performing in the open chamber. “It’s a glorious space,” states Ott. “It’s the people’s house and we hope the people of Panama City will join us for lunchtime there.” The concerts are free to the public and everyone is welcome.
“We’re invested in artistic quality and community engagement, and with the commitment of visionary partners like the St. Joe Community Foundation, the Panama City Symphony Orchestra is poised to contribute to the quality of life at home and across the Panhandle.”
The Symphony will adhere to CDC, state, local and Bay District Schools guidelines and determinant factors including crowd capacity and sanitization. Patrons are encouraged to visit www.panamacitysymphony.org for the updates.
Panama City Symphony concerts start promptly at 7:30 pm at The Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center, 501 Mosley Drive, Lynn Haven, FL, 32444. Free parking is behind the venue, just off Minnesota Avenue.
A program of power and passion is planned for “Something Old,” the Panama City Symphony’s second concert of its regular season on January 16.
Topping the program is German composer Felix Mendelssohn’s powerful and moving Symphony No. 5, “Reformation.” Based on Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” the symphony was composed for the 300th anniversary of the events surrounding the Reformation.
A testament to the composer’s faith, it moves from intimacy to majesty, from pain to hope, from sorrow to joy, and concludes in an overwhelming voice of reassurance. “Many times over, this magnificent symphony has moved me to tears,” remarked conductor David Ott.
Also planned for the evening, the Panama City Symphony debut of the powerful and passionate voice of Peter Lake. American-born, European-bred and internationally performing lyric-tenor, Lake brings his smooth, clarion-bright timbre to the Symphony stage to perform Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” (Turandot) and “E lucevan le stelle” (Tosca).
Raised in a musical family, and eventually earning his PhD in Voice, Mr. Lake is at home singing both opera masterpieces and Broadway hits. “We’re planning some Broadway, too,” stated Lake in an interview about his Symphony appearance, “but you’ll have to be there to find out what it is.”
Italian composer Ottorio Respighi’s lush “Ancient Airs and Dances” rounds out the program for this performance sponsored by G.A.C. Contractors. The concert will be approximately 75 minutes long and there will be no intermission.
The Symphony continues to adhere to CDC, state, local and Bay District Schools guidelines and determinant factors including crowd capacity and sanitization. This includes basic requirements for social distancing and mask wearing outlined in Phase 3 of Florida’s re-opening plan.
Formerly the Panama City POPS, the Panama City Symphony is in the midst of its 25th year, dubbed “The Sterling Season.” The Presenting Sponsor for the season is the St. Joe Community Foundation.
Fully professional since 2016, the Symphony has evolved from a small group of musicians performing together as the Orchestra of St. Andrew Bay, to the full orchestra which became the Panama City POPS, to the newly-monikered Panama City Symphony Orchestra effective July 1, 2020.
The Symphony opened its season in October and plans to continue through the winter and spring, pandemic conditions permitting. Additional concert dates for the regular season are February 27 and April 24. All regular season concerts are performed at the Gretchen Nelson Fine Arts Center, 501 Mosley Drive, Lynn Haven, and will start at 7:30 pm. Single reserved seat tickets are $25.00 and are available at www.panamacitysymphony.com
We’re ready to present a season full of unforgettable performances and our musicians are thrilled to play for you again. But never has the challenge to preserve the music that you know and love been greater.
Hurricane Michael and the extensive damage to Panama City’s Marina Civic Center reduced seating capacity from 2500 to 582.
Guidelines related to COVID-19 have reduced seating capacity at the Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center by 50%, from 582 to fewer than 300.
Please, help us “mend the revenue gap” created by the one-two punch of the hurricane and the pandemic.
Your gift today means that the next time you join us for a concert, your orchestra will be there to share the joy of live music as a healthy, vibrant and financially secure organization.
Please consider the role music plays in your life and support the Panama City Symphony.
An orchestra is a living symbol of a community’s thriving cultural life.
A city with a vital arts base is a city with a flourishing symphony orchestra. With a thriving international airport, enhanced infrastructure, dedicated economic development, vast growth in housing, and the commitment to rebuild Panama City “Bigger, Better, Stronger,” the strength and resolve shown by community members and supporters have moved the city forward and lifted our spirits, and have fostered the image of an emerging cosmopolitan center.
Likewise, the Panama City POPS Orchestra, once a small, local troupe of volunteer musicians, has evolved into a high-quality, professional institution that has garnered attention across the Florida Panhandle and beyond.
In that spirit of development, the Board of Directors has voted to change its name to the Panama City Symphony Orchestra, effective July 1, 2020. The reasons are as follows:
• The new name offers versatility in future programming. • It reflects the extremely high level of our performances, truly defining the Orchestra. • It will attract stronger and more experienced musicians, producing higher quality performances. • It will attract audiences from culture-based communities who look to settle in Bay County, raising the stature and image of our community. • It will afford a stronger base for attracting potential funding partners.
Only the name will change. The Conductor and the Board are committed to maintaining the Classical/Pops format that our audience expects and embraces. We are committed to engaging and educating audiences of all ages. We are committed to excellence.
We thank you for your past support and for your anticipated interest in the future success of The Panama City Symphony Orchestra.
“PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Panama City POPS Orchestra conductor, David Ott, and POPS bassist and former member of The Allman Brothers Band, David Goldflies, joined us in studio to talk about their upcoming concert.”