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Southwest Florida Symphony takes the stage with acclaimed cellist Sterling Elliott for ‘Cryptic Symphony’ on April 13

FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 18, 2024) – The Southwest Florida Symphony, the only professional orchestra in Lee County and fourth oldest orchestra in the state, is excited to announce acclaimed cellist Sterling Elliott will perform the final Masterworks concert of the season on Saturday, April 13. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. Conducted by Maestro Radu Paponiu, “Cryptic Symphony” celebrates the transformative power of music, delighting both long-time aficionados and newcomers to the symphonic scene with a journey through diverse musical landscapes that will captivate and inspire.

The concert opens with the contemporary allure of Ke-chia Chen’s “Ebbs and Flows,” which masterfully captures the rhythmic dance of the ocean’s tides through its expressive melodies. The evening then brings the spotlight onto Elliott, whose cello breathes life into Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” This piece, known for its elegance and lyrical beauty, is elevated by Elliott’s emotive and nuanced performance, offering a rare blend of virtuosity and grace. After a reflective intermission, the profound intensity of Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D minor” will provide a powerful statement of resilience, dramatic narrative and emotional depth. It’s a work that resonates with the enduring human spirit, making for a deeply moving musical experience.

As part of the symphony’s signature series, patrons can also attend an exclusive pre-concert lecture featuring Elliott and Paponiu, including a Q&A session to enhance the concert experience and provide insights into the pieces being performed. The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m.

Revered for his stellar stage presence and joyous musicianship, Elliott is a 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient and the winner of the Senior Division of the 2019 National Sphinx Competition. He has appeared with major orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony and the Dallas Symphony, as well as with noted conductors Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Thomas Wilkins, Jeffrey Kahane and Mei Ann Chen.

This season, Elliott debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Pacific Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and New Jersey Symphony. He also performed the world premiere of a new orchestral version of John Corigliano’s Phantasmagoria, commissioned for him by a consortium of orchestras, including the Orlando Philharmonic and music director Eric Jacobsen.

During the 2022-2023 season, Elliott debuted with the Aspen Music Festival, performing the Brahms Double Concerto with Gil Shaham, as well as with the Colorado Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, North Carolina Symphony and Ft. Worth Symphony. He appeared in recital under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Shriver Hall in Baltimore, Tippett Rise Festival and Capitol Region Classical in Albany, NY.

Fast becoming a favorite on the summer festival circuit, Elliott has appeared at Music@Menlo, Chamberfest in Cleveland and Chamberfest Northwest in Calgary, Music at Angel Fire and the La Jolla Music Society. In the summer of 2023, he made his orchestral debut with the San Francisco Symphony; performed chamber music with Nicola Benedetti, Stefan Jackiw and others at the Edinburgh Festival; and made a return appearance at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Elliott has a long history with the Sphinx Organization where he won the 2014 Junior Division Competition, becoming the first alumnus from the Sphinx Performance Academy to win the Sphinx Competition. The following year he went on to tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi before being awarded the Organization’s Isaac Stern Award in 2016. This season, Sterling will receive a Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, awarded to artists who, early in their career, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities.

Elliott participates in several programs alongside exceptionally talented young artists, including a residency in the Bowers Program with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the YCAT–Music Masters Robey Artist with London-based Young Classical Artists Trust, as well as Performance Today’s Young Artist Residency.

He is currently pursuing an artist diploma at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Joel Krosnick and Clara Kim, following completion of his master of music and undergraduate degrees at Juilliard. He is also an ambassador of the Young Strings of America, a string sponsorship operated by Shar Music.
The Southwest Florida Symphony’s Masterworks series is sponsored by Uhler Vertich White Advisors and the Thomas Kooyumjian Foundation.
To purchase tickets or learn more, visit

The Southwest Florida Symphony made its debut as a community orchestra on April 15, 1961, playing in schools and community centers, with a roster of only 24 volunteer musicians. Today, the symphony boasts a roster of 70 world-class professional musicians and is Lee County’s only fully professional orchestra and fourth oldest in the state. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 63rd year continues the orchestra’s tradition of artistic excellence and innovation as Music Director Maestro Radu Paponiu leads another season of spectacular performances. Maestro Paponiu, the sixth music director in the organization’s history, also serves as the associate conductor and youth orchestra director for the Naples Philharmonic in addition to guest-conducting with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Symphony, upcoming season performances and subscription and ticketing information, visit or call 239-418-1500.

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