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Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota’s concert celebrates the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel

The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota presents “Celebration,” a concert that marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel. JUDY HARAN / COURTESY PHOTO

The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota presents “Celebration,” a concert that marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel. JUDY HARAN / COURTESY PHOTO

The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel with a special concert of music by five Jewish composers. “Celebration” — the final concert of the orchestra’s 2022-23 season — will be presented Thursday, March 23, at First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota.

“We are delighted to return to First Presbyterian Church in downtown Sarasota for this concert,” said the orchestra’s music director, Robert Vodnoy. “We opened our season there last December. It is a truly wonderful place in which to perform, with its elegant Mission Revival architecture and wonderful acoustics.”

The program will feature works by Felix Mendelssohn, George Gershwin and Ernest Bloch, as well as the U.S. premiere of music by two living Israeli composers, Boris Levenberg and Noubar Aslanyan.

“Throughout history, Jewish composers have contributed some amazing works to classical and popular music,” Maestro Vodnoy said. “Music by Jewish composers reflects the historical, cultural and religious experiences of the composers themselves. The program spans two centuries of music and reflects the composers’ lives in Europe, Russia, the United States and modern Israel. It is a terrific way to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary. The repertoire is enormous, but I’ve chosen some composers and works the audience will know and love, and some new works which I’m sure will thrill them.”



The program opens with Felix Mendelssohn’s youthful “Symphony No. 10,” composed when he was only 14 years old. George Gershwin’s “Lullaby” adds a jazzy feel to the program.

Three talented soloists will be showcased: Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Christina Adams will play “Hasidic Scene (Kaddish and Dance) for Violin and Strings” by Russian/ Israeli composer Mr. Levenberg, who wrote this touching piece in memory of his father. Robert Smith, principal trumpet of The Florida Orchestra, will be the guest soloist for “Trumpet Concertino” by Armenian/ Israeli composer Mr. Aslanyan, who penned this virtuoso work for his son Armen, the principal trumpet of the Haifa Symphony.

The program concludes with Ernest Bloch’s brilliant “Concerto Grosso No. 1 for Strings with Piano Obbligato,” featuring pianist Ann Stephenson-Moe as soloist.

“Because I was born in 1948, the year of the founding of the state of Israel, and have visited there twice, I feel a special affinity to this moment,” Maestro Vodnoy explained. “When I was in Israel last November on a tour with fellow members of the Jewish Congregation of Venice, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Boris Levenberg and Noubar Aslanyan. It’s always a treat for a musician to meet the composers of works he will perform, and this was no exception. My video interviews with them can be found on the Chamber Orchestra’s website.”

The concert is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Leigh and Harvey Cohen, Nancy Gold and Bruce Lehman, with additional support from Barbara Bankoff and Robert Crandall.

The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota is one of the few professional chamber orchestras in Florida. Its mission is to provide opportunities for diverse audiences and performers to experience the unique repertoire and aesthetics of a chamber orchestra by employing the finest musicians in the Sarasota area, performing in small and intimate venues.

Tickets for the concert are $35 and can be ordered online or purchased at the door. A post-concert reception for the whole audience will follow the performance.

To purchase tickets and learn more, see or call 219-928-8665.

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