Staff Report

The public is invited to attend the 39th annual Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series featuring renowned artists performing at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos located at 2901 Nojoqui Avenue.

“The opportunity to experience great artists of passion and integrity perform masterworks by distinguished composers enriches one’s emotional and intellectual life. To hear stirring music in St. Mark’s Church is especially moving and uplifting,” said Linda Burrows, who coordinates the series.

According to area music critic Josef Woodward, St. Mark’s Church is noted for stunning acoustics, serene ambiance and as “a fine place to hear serious music.”

The first event of this year’s series will feature renowned pianist Dr. Robert Cassidy and cellist Ani Aznavoorian, performing “The Beethoven Cycle Part II” at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16.

“We created The Beethoven Project to immerse the audience in the emotional complexities and musical brilliance of Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for piano and cello,” Cassidy said. The featured pieces on this program are three sonatas, Op 5. No 1, Op. 69, and Op. 102 No 1; as well as the 12 variations from Mozart’s Magic Flute. The artists performed “The Beethoven Cycle Part I” at St. Mark’s in April to great acclaim.

Cassidy has assumed the newly created role of artistic director for the Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series beginning this season, said St. Mark’s Priest and Rector Dr. Randall Day.

Cassidy has received widespread acclaim for his performances and recordings of both solo piano repertoire and chamber music. A native of Philadelphia, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and his doctor of arts in piano chamber music and accompanying/piano performance from Ball State University.

His recent recordings of the Debussy Preludes have received worldwide recognition for their sensitivity and insightful interpretations. Cassidy has performed nationally and internationally as a soloist and chamber musician.

In addition to his performances, he continues his active teaching career and is currently Director of Piano Chamber Music for Santa Barbara Strings. He will draw on his past work experiences at Lincoln Center, IMG Artists, and the American Pianists Association to develop innovative programming and cultivate future audiences for the Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series.

Cellist Ani Aznavoorian is described by The Strad Magazine as having “scorchingly committed performances that wring every last drop of emotion out of the music. Her technique is well-nigh immaculate, she has a natural sense of theater, and her tone is astonishingly responsive.”

Aznavoorian received both her bachelor’s and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School and continues to perform often in New York and throughout the world, including with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Tokyo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, International Sejong Soloists, Belgrade Philharmonic, Juilliard Orchestra and Edmonton Symphony. She also is a member of the faculty at summer festivals as well as the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. This season marks her eleventh year as principal cellist with Camerata Pacifica.

The 39th annual Santa Ynez Valley Concert Series will present these other renowned artists this season:

  • Saturday, Jan. 12: The Los Angeles Reed Quintet
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Violinist Paul Stein and pianist Bridget Hough
  • Saturday, March 23: Violist Richard O’Neill and pianist Robert Cassidy

Doors for each 7 p.m. concert open at 6:30, with tickets sold at the door as well as online in advance at

General admission tickets are $20 and student tickets are $10 with any student ID. A complimentary reception follows each concert with a chance to meet the artists.

For patron ticket purchases and any questions, call SYV Concert Series Director Linda Burrows at 805-688-7423 or the St. Mark’s office at 805-688-4454, or visit or