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maestro raffaele ponti

The 2020-2021 season will be Maestro Ponti’s eighth as Music Director of our Punta Gorda Symphony, which has grown and flourished under his leadership. His superb musicianship and dynamic personality have attracted professional musicians and guest artists from around the world, resulting in sold-out concerts for the past three seasons.

Ponti’s professional career began at an early age. At seventeen, he performed in the trumpet section of the Rochester Philharmonic and two years later, he became assistant principal trumpet to Bernard Adelstein of the Cleveland Orchestra.
He is the former Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Italia Konzert Opera International, where he continues as a regular Guest Conductor. For ten seasons, he served as Conductor of Education and Outreach with the Austin Symphony. Currently, he appears with prominent orchestras around the United States and Europe. He is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Paducah Symphony in Paducah, Kentucky and Director of Orchestral Studies at Florida International University.

Maestro Ponti is a champion of music education in the community with school visits, master classes and an annual Youth Concert. His community outreach also extends to adults, with his exciting Behind the Notes and pre-concert classes and his innovative program “The Symphony as a Business Model”, which has attracted new businesses and patrons to the orchestra.

His drive and vision on the podium, as well as in the community have led the symphony to earn the prestigious Charlie award for “Outstanding Achievement in the Arts”, Florida Weekly’s “Best” and Harbor Style Magazine’s “Best Performing Arts” organization. Maestro Ponti was named a “Leader of Distinction” by the Florida Weekly in September 2014. In 2015, he was honored with a Proclamation given by the Mayor and City Council Members of Punta Gorda. In December 2017, Maestro Raffaele Ponti accepted the Charlotte County School Board Award as Business Partner of the Year on behalf of the Punta Gorda Symphony to recognize his contribution to music education in our county.

Raffaele Ponti’s reviews have dubbed him a “rising star”, “charismatic”, “electrifying”, “empowering” and his audiences agree. We in Southwest Florida are indeed fortunate that he has made this his home.

MUSICIANS 2019-2020


Ming Gao, Concertmaster
Chair Sponsor: Barbara L. Rees, Ph.D.
Liviu Onofrei, Asst. Concertmaster
Chair Sponsor: Carol and Robert Dewire

Cindi Qi, Principal
Gregory Carreño
Joy Chatzistamatis
Carlos Cifuentes
Ileana Ciumac
Deborah Dansby Wells
Michael deJesus
Wallace DePue
Cara Garofalo
José Guédez
Daniel Guevara
Lemay James
Carlos Jáquez
Elizabeth Kitts
Nora Lastre
Tania Moldovan
Setsuko Nagata
Liviu Onofrie
Cathy Pflieger
Dajiang Qi
Sun-Young Gemma Shin
Joan Stewart
Baoling Xu
Judith Yanchus


Rachel Cox, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Robert and Rhoda Ives
Jesus Alfonso
Carla Bellosa
Yaniv Cohen
Julie Franklin
Carl Kerner
Rafael Ramirez
Juan Carlos Siviero


Ann Alton, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Anthony and Judith Licata
Kevin Bellosa
John Chatterton
Lorraine English
Si-Cheng Liu
Keith Jensen
William Locke
Mikel Thomas


Larry Glazener, Principal
William Hall
Isaac Mingus
Chair Sponsor: Dr. Ramon A. Gil
Christopher Riley
Spencer Stowers


Carrie Wiesinger, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Mark and Christine Strom
Beth Morrison
David Suarez


Beth Morrison
Chair Sponsor: Frank and Nancy Robinson


Marco Navarrete, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Gene and Barbara McPherson
James Drayton
Chuck McGee


Stacey McColley, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Carol Robinson
Asher Carlson
Erik Cole
Peter Geldrich
Tony Negron


Janet Harris, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Jeanne and Kevin Hogan
Carlos Garcia
Chris Eberle
Shawn Karson
Carlos Felipe Viña


Jennifer Miller, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Carolyn and Tyler Swanson
Edward Nagel, Assistant Principal
Joseph Lovinsky
Matthew Marshall
Szilard Molnar
Dana Williams


Cindy Scaruffi-Klispie, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Barbara L. Rees, Ph.D.
Alan R. Klispie
Judy Saxton
Matthew Shefcik
Richard Stoelzel


Karla Rojas, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Richard and Sandra Adomatis
Peter Freudenberger
Emily Nichols
Michael Zion


Peter Freudenberger, Principal


Todd Handley, Principal


Andrew Proctor, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Susan Galvin


Dean Anderson, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Jamie and Michael Landsberg
Chris Bowen
Scott Crawford
Isaac Fernandez-Hernandez
Paul Keesling
Chris Nolin
Miguel Angel Pagua
Tom Suta
Tihda Vongkoth


Isabelle Aubin, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Dr. David and Lowie Bock


Giuseppina Ciarla, Principal
Chair Sponsor: Donna and John Peterman
Richard Fleisher
Melody Rapier


Professional musicians may send resume to Personnel Manager Richard Stoelzel at richard@PGSymphony.org.


Michael Landsberg, Chairman
Steven Shell, D.O., Treasurer
M. Lee McGraw, Secretary

Christopher Constance, M.D.
Douglas Joyce, D.O.
Jamie Landsberg
Van Lupo
Barbara L. Rees, PhD
Catherine Reiche

General Counsel:
Forrest Bass, Esq.


Craig Badinger, Executive Director

Elise Sherron, Operations Manager

Anne Gutsell, Office Coordinator

Richard Stoelzel, Personnel Manager

Rachel Cox, Music Librarian

Bob Ives, President, Symphony Friends

Sherry Campbell Bechtold, TEMPO Editor


The Punta Gorda Symphony engages and connects our community through orchestral music and enhances its visibility as a cultural center of interest, vitality, and importance.


The Punta Gorda Symphony began in 1978 as a small chamber group under the direction of Fred Blake. The group consisted of six retirees and two local high school students. From this humble beginning the group expanded in size, competence and repertoire. On May 27, 1987, it became incorporated under the name Charlotte Chamber Music Society, Inc. By the late 1980s it had become a full-fledged volunteer orchestra with a small and devoted following. It was renamed the Charlotte Symphony Society, Inc. on May 25, 1989 and in August, 2003, it became the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Inc.

Maestro Blake turned over his baton to concertmaster, Janita Hauk in March 1993. Maestra Hauk continued the work of Maestro Blake bringing the Orchestra to professional status with paid musicians and increased performances.

After 16 years at the podium, in April 2009, Maestra Hauk announced her retirement and was elected to Emeritus standing by the Orchestra’s Board of Directors. Maestro Toshimasa Francis Wada was brought in as the third director. Maestro Wada continued the work begun by Maestra Hauk: expansion, improvement and innovation of the music presented to the public.

The current 2020-2021 season marks our eighth under the direction of Maestro Raffaele Ponti. We continue to flourish under his compelling programmatic choices and rich, expressive conducting. Under his baton, the symphony has flourished and grown in size to over 70 professional musicians drawing audiences from around the world. In October 2019, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra was renamed the Punta Gorda Symphony.

Today the symphony educates, inspires, and distinguishes its identity through symphonic excellence and innovation. In a recent note to Maestro Ponti, a patron expressed it best: “Our busy lives offer little respite for times when we can just enjoy and go to the places in our hearts and minds where music alone can take us. Going to a symphony performance is far beyond just a night out.”

Punta Gorda Symphony is proud to have been part of The Patterson Foundation’s Advancing Mission Thrivability initiative.