PANAMA CITY − A local orchestra is gearing up to perform an annual concert that has become a "staple" part of the holidays in Bay County.
To celebrate the season, the Panama City Symphony Orchestra will perform its sixth annual Holiday by the Bay concert Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. The event will be held for the first time at the new Barbara W. Nelson Fine Arts Center at Bay High School.
"It's a staple in our repertoire," said Denise Cox, president of the Panama City Symphony Orchestra board of directors. "Holiday by the Bay is special because it brings together an audience and musicians under a spirit of celebration."
The orchestra, which is overseen by a more than 20-person board of directors, is composed of about 65 accomplished musicians from northwest Florida and surrounding regions. They play under the direction of renowned director and conductor Sergey Bogza.
Cox noted Bogza was hired about a year and a half ago after an "extensive search" for a new conductor. He was unanimously chosen by the board of directors from a pool of approximately 160 applicants.
"Holiday by the Bay has become a beloved annual tradition," Bogza said in the release. "It's the perfect way to share in some holiday cheer with the entire family."
In addition to the orchestra's Dec. 16 concert, three other concerts are slated for the 2023-2024 season. They are:
"Viva Italia," which will occur in January and "welcomes the return of soprano Avery Bottcher." She will perform opera selections such as Puccini, Verdi, Rossini and Mascagni.
"Portraits of American Freedom," which will occur in February and "showcases an exclusively American set and guest pianist Ilya Yakushev. He will perform Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."
"Symphonic Shakespeare," which will occur in April and boast performances from cellist Brooke Scholl. She will play the concerto "Variations on a Rococo Theme," as well as two interpretations of "Romeo and Juliet."
This season is sponsored by the St. Joe Community Foundation. For more information on the symphony, and to purchase tickets to all upcoming concerts, visit www.panamacitysymphony.org.
"We are very grateful to our presenting sponsor," Cox said. "They recognize the importance of the arts to a community and to the musicians who perform with our symphony."
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Panama City Symphony to perform 6th annual Holiday by the Bay concert