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Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Seeking Pensacola Photos

The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra is issuing a community call for photographs of Pensacola to feature in a performance this fall called “Pensacola: Then & Now.”

For details, PSO music director Peter Rubardt recently stopped by the WUWF Studios.

Like other performances, this concert will feature the entire Pensacola Symphony Orchestra on the stage.  “But, above the orchestra is, floating, a huge screen and projected on that screen are photographs from Pensacola, some of them historic photographs and some of them current day photographs,” said Rubardt, pointing out that all of that will be taking place while the orchestra is performing the music.

The pictures will become part of a commissioned work by Nicholas Bardonnay, a multimedia artist of the Los Angeles-based production company Westwater Arts.  Bardonnay creates symphonic photochoreography for specific communities. He’s been commissioned by the PSO to create a piece called “Pensacola: Then & Now.”
“The piece is in two movements. It uses music by Wyoming composer Joseph Curiale.

“The first movement is “Pensacola: Then” and that will be featuring photographs from the [University of West Florida] UWF Historic Trust,” Rubardt said. “A lot of these amazing old photos that I’ve been pouring through, you know the early versions of the Three-Mile Bridge, the old restaurants, and it’s just remarkable to look at these old photos of this community.”

The second movement, “Pensacola: Now,” will feature photographs from present-day Pensacola.
Rubardt points out that this production will be more than just a slide-show put to music.

“A slide show would be an easy description of this, but that really would be misleading,” proclaimed Rubardt. “Nicholas brings a truly artistic voice to this. He listens carefully to music. He picks from a vast pool of photographs and he creates a flow of images that matches the flow of the music.”

According to Rubardt, it’s not just a matter of putting up a bunch of slides and having them go clicking through while the orchestra plays.  “It’s far more complex than that,” he says, noting that Bardonnay will be here in-person, cueing and shaping the show during the live performance.

As for how this program came about, Rubardt says he finds it very intriguing to combine visual elements with the musical elements of a symphony concert.

“To be able to combine it [music] with some visual element, an educational element, a complimentary element of some kind is a really fun path to pursue.”

Rubardt was already aware of the work of multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay and knows a number of other conductors who have collaborated with him in the past, and points out that the PSO Board and staff had previously tossed around the idea of such a program.

For this project, they decided to look for partners that weren’t necessarily arts organizations.
“But, when you think about Pensacola’s history and the fact that so much of it is preserved in Pensacola [West Florida] Historic Trust, they become a natural partner,” said Rubardt. “And, then you pull in the videochoreographer and knowing that you’re starting with that large trove of photographs then it starts to feel like this was a project that was meant to be.”

So, while West Florida Historic Trust is providing the historic photos for “Pensacola: Then,” the PSO needs the many more photos for the “Pensacola: Now” segment of the program. They’re looking to get them from people in the community, not just from professional photographers.

“This really means anybody with an iPhone or whatever, a point-and-shoot camera,” said Rubardt, pointing out that the pictures can be of just about anything.

“It’s a trip to the beach, family time, maybe it’s local landmarks, iconic landmarks, people going to church or boating or fishing. It’s just snapshots of life in everyday Pensacola.”

Rubardt adds the more they get the better.

“You know, your photo might be the photo that ends up projected for the full audience at the Saenger Theatre.”

To submit your photos, click HERE. The deadline for photos is July 17, and the performance is November 4.


Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.