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Panama City Symphony Hires Sergey Bogza

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.