SASO performs Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams

TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra welcomes three international guest artists Nov. 7 and 8 for concerts featuring the music of Sibelius, Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams.

Bulgarian brothers Ivo and Lachezar Stankov share the spotlight in Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings, written by the child prodigy in his early teens and described as “clearly the work of an enthusiastic virtuoso” with an “ingenious mix of Baroque, Classical and Romantic styles.”

The program also includes Sibelius’ Karelia Overture and Vaughan Williams’ Fifth Symphony.

Violinist Ivo is considered “a stunning virtuoso” who has captivated audiences in the United Kingdom and Europe with his commanding style and spirited performances. His debut CD was recently awarded five stars by Musical Opinion magazine.  One newspaper reported, “He has the skill to weave the thread of emotion in every work, so that he may reach the hearts of the audience.”

His brother Lachezar began playing piano at age nine. By 16 he performed with the Varna and Shumen Philharmonic Orchestras in Bulgaria, earning acclaim from critics and audiences alike. He has won national and international prizes and awards, including the coveted ABRSM International Full Scholarship in 2005 to study at the Royal College of Music in London. He’s performed concertos with orchestras in Bulgaria, Europe, the United Kingdom – and now the United States.

The featured conductor for this pair of concerts is Nicholas Armstrong, who was born in the village of Bursledon in the south of England. He studied composition and viola in Bristol, then conducting in Venice, where he was a member of the Teatro La Fenice orchestra before moving to the United States. He is currently in his 19th season as artistic director for the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra.

English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote his Fifth Symphony during World War II. It is a quiet, contemplative work derived from the unfinished opera The Pilgrim’s Progress, which he had labored on for many years and later completed. Although tranquil on the surface, the symphony has underlying harmonic tensions, which are subtly expressed through the composer’s skillful orchestration. It was dedicated to Sibelius, who later said, “This symphony is a marvelous work.”

This SASO program opens with music by Sibelius. His Karelia Overture is based on the folk music of the Karelian region of Finland – said to capture “essence of folk music” rather than quoting specific melodies.

The first SASO performance will be Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the SaddleBrooke Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr. in SaddleBrooke, north of the town of Catalina. Tickets are $24 in advance or $25 at the door. They can be ordered online at or by calling 825-2818.This performance is sponsored by Corbett and Pat Alley.

 The second SASO concert will be Sunday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte. Individual tickets at St. Andrews are $23 for adults and complimentary for ages 17 and under. Order online at or by calling 308-6226.  This performance is sponsored by John and Kathie Heitmann.

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