Pensacola Symphony Orchestra

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Pensacola Symphony Orchestra


Established 1926
Type Performing arts
Location 205 E. Zaragoza Street
(The Tivoli High House)
Music director Peter Rubardt
Executive director Bret Barrow
Staff Jessica Bennett
Marshall Corzette
Courtney Dell
Allison Giltinan
Jessica Hyche
Dale Riegle
Budget $950,000

The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is one of Northwest Florida's largest performing arts organizations and the premier symphonic group of the Pensacola area. The current conductor and musical director is Peter Rubardt.


The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra dates back to 1926, when German-born John Borjes, who had studied at the Leipzig conservatory, established the Pensacola Philharmonic Orchestra. A smaller, more informal group was also founded around that time by Edwin Northrup.

The groups continued to perform through the Great Depression with financial assistance from Works Progress Administration's Federal Music Project. The groups' names changed many times over the years before settling on the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Grier Williams, who became music director in 1979, oversaw the most dramatic growth of the organization. The orchestra had been performing in the auditorium of Pensacola High School for many years, but the City of Pensacola's purchase and renovation of the Saenger Theatre allowed them to move to the more elegant venue in 1982. Williams served as music director and conductor until 1996, when the position was occupied by Peter Rubardt.

The PSO currently enjoys audiences of over 26,000 per year, with an additional 45,000 listeners via the orchestra's radio broadcasts on WUWF. With renovations at the Saenger Theatre, from 2007 to 2009 the PSO held its concerts at other venues, including performances of the "Masterworks" series at First Baptist Church. On April 18, 2009 the group returned to the Saenger.


The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that is operated by a 35-member Board of Directors, the current president of which is Jessica Lee. The organization also employs four full-time staff members, including an executive director position, currently held by Bret Barrow.

Board of Directors[edit]

  • Jessica Lee, President
  • Charles Beall, Vice President
  • Paul Tobin, Treasurer
  • Jack Zoesch, Secretary
  • Mark Lee, Immediate Past President
  • Diane Appleyard
  • Thomas Bailey
  • Barbara Bruckmann
  • Margaret Couch
  • Bradley "Beej" Davis, Jr.
  • Nan DeStafney
  • George Dmytrenko
  • William Dollarhide
  • Christina Doss
  • Julie Estess
  • Jean-Ellen Giblin
  • John Gormley
  • Tad Ihns
  • Ron Jackson
  • Teri Levin
  • Xia Liu
  • Lesley Lucas
  • Jock Mobley
  • Peter Mougey
  • Willis Mullet
  • Marte Picker
  • Trey Poirier
  • Leelaa Rao
  • Stephanie Riegle
  • Betty Roberts
  • Kevin Ryan
  • Robert Turner

Past Board Presidents[edit]


The PSO commands an annual budget of over $900,000, with ticket sales covering about half of operating expenses. Other funding comes from grants, corporate sponsorships, individual donations and fundraisers.


The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Guild was established in 1973 to provide financial support to the Symphony. It currently has about 250 members, many of whom volunteer at the Symphony's performances or at the Tivoli High House headquarters. The Guild hosts a number of fundraisers every year, the largest being the Magnolias and White Linen luncheon.

Symphony Showhouse[edit]

The Symphony Showhouse was a biennial fundraiser in which interior decorators volunteer to renovate a Pensacola home. Each company decorates an individual room with its own theme. The finished house is then opened to tours, with ticket sales and sponsorships going to the PSO's budget.

External links[edit]