The Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, proudly based at the Rice Theatre of the Highland Center for the Arts, has established a reputation as the premier orchestral ensemble of the Greater Piedmont region. Founded in 1996 as the Piedmont Regional Orchestra by Conductor Emeritus Michael Hughes, the PSO performs five regular season concerts with varied programming to appeal to a wide audience. Glenn Quader was appointed Music Director and Conductor in 2005, and since his appointment the PSO has increased its paid core membership, strengthened its volunteer membership, and engaged in numerous collaborations with other local arts organizations. The members of the orchestra include musicians from Fauquier County and the neighboring communities, as well as many local teachers. Educational outreach is a key component of the mission of PSO. Under the leadership of Maestro Quader the PSO pioneered the Music Mentors Program, placing PSO principals in band and orchestra classes for sessions with students and teachers, all at no cost to schools.
The PSO has premiered several works, including: "Our Childhood Friends" (U.S. premiere) by Danish composer Henning Wellejus (2005); James Schroeder's "Black Forest" Concerto for Horn and Orchestra (world premiere) (2006); and "Extensions" Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra (world premiere) (2007). “Extensions” was also the orchestra's first commissioned work.
The PSO has proudly featured world-renowned soloists, including: Emily Casey (soprano); Rachel Franklin (piano); Amy Beth Horman (violin); Jason Love (cello); Thomas Pandolfi (piano); Carlos Cesar Rodriguez (piano). The PSO also regularly features principal players as soloists, including: H. Lee Brewster, Concertmaster; Alisha Coleman, Principal Clarinet; Matthew Gattuso, Principal Second Violin; James Forry, Principal Cello; Deborah Gilbert, Principal Flute; Suzanne Neff, Principal Oboe; and Patrick Neidich, Principal Trumpet.