Our Mission & History

The Paducah Symphony Orchestra (PSO) was founded in 1979 when a number of area musicians performed at the city's Summer Festival. That concert created enough enthusiasm to bring together a small group of founders who organized additional concerts. During the first two years, concerts were planned and performed one at a time as funds were raised. In the years since, the PSO has expanded its concert season to include seven classical concerts and three choral concerts. Many of the concerts now feature internationally recognized guest artists and local Paducah natives in the music performance industry.

Dr. Jordan Tang conducted the orchestra for twenty-three seasons from 1987 to 2009. In the spring of 2010, the PSO appointed Raffaele Ponti as its new Artistic Director & Conductor.

The mission of the PSO is to bring the rewards of great music to a growing and diverse regional audience. As the orchestra-in-residence at the Carson Center for the Performing Arts, the PSO encompasses a wide range of ensembles, including a professional orchestra, auditioned adult, youth & children choruses and other music education programs and services. The orchestra members, all paid professional musicians, are drawn from over 30 communities in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama. The audience is even more diverse, representing over 60 communities in a five state area.

As the score and quality of the organization's programs have grown, so has its operating budget. From a $45,000 budget in 1981-82, the Paducah Symphony's operating budget has grown to over $2 million.

For 45 years, the PSO has served as the premier musical organization in Paducah and the surrounding region, expanding its appearances through collaborations with community partners and enhancing the area's cultural reputation.

PSO Music Academy

The brand-new PSO Academy is under the umbrella of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra and provides affordable music instruction to children and adults in a community music school setting. For years, the Walter C. Jetton School building was the venue for Paducah Symphony Orchestra concerts. It now serves as a campus for the orchestra's administrative offices and music academy. The PSO Academy at 401 Walter Jetton Blvd. includes eight teaching studios for individual lessons, one teaching room for group rehearsals, and a performance hall that seats about 570 people.

The PSO endeavors to provide the very best musical experiences for participants while focusing on the whole person including the head and heart. The focus of the curriculum is to better themselves holistically through active participation in music, through instilling in each a motivation to work both independently and as part of a team, increased self-discipline, and a sense of gratitude for their opportunities. We aim to develop individuals with a lifelong appreciation for and desire to participate in music.


Artistic Director

Raffaele Livio Ponti

The 2024-25 season is Maestro Ponti’s fifteenth year as Artistic Director & Conductor of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra. Winning admirers and exciting audiences with classics, pops, and opera throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States, Italian-American conductor Raffaele Livio Ponti is known as an artist of dynamic personality, charismatic performances, and superb musicianship.

Maestro Ponti has won numerous awards including prize winner of the Mario Gusella International Conductors Competition in Pescara, Italy; Italian Man of the Year, Sons of Italy in America; and recipient of the Bernard Adelstein Prize from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Ponti was educated at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was awarded an Artist Diploma, and earned a Bachelor of Music Degree. He then studied conducting at the Eastman School of Music with David Effron and later with Jorge Mester of Julliard. He then worked with Paul Vermel at the Conductor’s Institute of South Carolina. Abroad he spent three summers studying conducting in Siena, Italy. His primary teacher was Giuseppe Sinopoli.


Musicians of the Orchestra

Our orchestra is made up of the following individuals from throughout the region:

Violin I

Ching-Yi Lin, Concertmaster

Sophia Han, Associate Concertmaster

Ela Tokarska

Boris Abramov

Julia Fisher

Adam Kujawa

Steven Kinnamon

David Johnson

Julianna Waller-Martinez

Emilia Carter

Carolina Neves

Violin II

Emily Hanna-Crane, Principal

Ray Weaver

Srirangan Iyer

Julie Foster

Betsy Osoffsky

Melissa Bogle

Steve Schaffner

Megan Heithaus

Brittney Washam


Andy Braddock, Principal

Henry Hafner

Mark Hatlestad

Michael Hill

Rossana Cauti

Lisa Weaver

Frank Lakatos

Sofia Ponti


Meghan Berindean, Principal

Amber Den Exter

Sara Edgerton

Ian Schroeder

John Marietta

Alex Francois

Nikki Fuller


Greg Olson, Principal

Sydney Rodway

John Ownby

Jacob Siener

Charlie Blanton


Lisa Wolynec, Principal

Angela Reynolds

Kala Allen-Dunn


Grace Woodworth, Principal

Amy Mitchum


Gabrielle Baffoni, Principal

Rebecca Hill

Lyz Aleksander


Dong-Yun Shankle, Principal

Adriel Gonzalez

Scott Erickson


Jennifer Presar, Principal

Rebecca Salo

Jessie Thoman

Gail Page


Joseph Van Fleet, Principal

Ped Foster

Deborah Caldwell


Joseph Frye, Principal

Tony Brown


Morgan Kinslow, Principal


Chris Nelsen, Principal


Julie Hill, Principal

Josh Powell

Shane Mizicko

Shane Melvin


Simone Parker


Claire Burney

Staff & Board

Administrative Staff

Reece King, CEO

Bailey Arnett, Patron Services Coordinator

Grace Woodworth, PSO Academy Director

Todd Birdsong, Operations Director

Cindy Poat, Administrative Assistant

Governing Board

James Long, Chairman

Debbie Reynolds, Secretary

Connie Poat, Vice Chair

Richard Roof, Vice Chair

Bob Turok, Past Chair

Allison Ogden, Chair-Elect

Robert Carter

Natalie Davis

Nancy Duff

Andrew DuPerrieu

Brian Farrell

Jeane Framptom

Juliette Grumley

James Gwinn, Jr.

Clay Howerton

Anthony Hunter

Theodore S. Hutchins

Harold Jones

Nicholas Lopez

Eddie Narozniak

Phyllis Petcoff

Michael Resnick

Debbie Shelton

Richard Smith

Tori Smoyer

Shelley Tapp

Laura Taylor

Carol Ullerich

Artistic Staff

Raffaele Livio Ponti, Artistic Director & Conductor

Bradley Almquist, Director of Choruses

Samantha Veal, Youth Chorus Conductor

Rhonda King, Librarian

Steven Page, Summer Music Camp Director

Directors Emeritus

Margaret Hunt Arnold, deceased

John Drew

Charles Folsom, deceased

Bill Ford, deceased

Ted Hirsch, deceased

Richard Holland, deceased

C.P. Orr, MD, deceased

Harolyn Rasche

Richard Roberts, deceased

John Shadle, Jr.

Jack Tick, deceased

Roger Truitt

John Williams, Jr.


Nancy Duff

Anne F. Gwinn

Richard Smith

Roger Truitt

Ken Wheeler