FORT MYERS, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2023) – The Southwest Florida Symphony, the only professional orchestra in Lee County and fourth oldest orchestra in the state, is excited to announce Thomas Mesa, a 2023 Sphinx Medal of Excellence winner, will perform the second Masterworks concert of the season on Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. Mesa, a renowned Cuban-American cellist, will perform as Maestro Radu Paponiu leads Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor and other works by Edward Elgar and Jessie Montgomery, who is also a two-time laureate of the annual Sphinx Competition and past Medal of Excellence winner.

As part of the symphony’s signature series, patrons will also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive pre-concert lecture prior to the show led by Mesa 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.

“We are extremely proud to be able to share this level of musical talent with our community,” said Amy Ginsburg, executive director of the Southwest Florida Symphony. “Partnerships with artists such as Thomas Mesa allow the symphony to create unforgettable concert experiences.”

Mesa has established himself as one of the most charismatic, innovative and engaging performers of his generation. He has appeared as a soloist at the Supreme Court of the United States on three occasions and with major orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Santa Barbara Symphony and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

 He was the winner of the inaugural 2016 Sphinx Competition and the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions. Earlier this year, the Sphinx Organization announced Mesa, along with soprano Aundi Marie Moore and composer Joel Thompson, were recipients of the 2023 Medal of Excellence, as well as a $50,000 career grant.

“I worked with the Southwest Florida Symphony a few seasons ago and am excited to return,” said Mesa. “As a native Floridian from Miami, I understand what having an orchestra of this caliber means to Southwest Florida. I’m so grateful to be back this season with the timeless and beloved Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor. This piece truly offers something for everyone and I’m really looking forward to working with the orchestra again and Maestro Paponiu!”

The Southwest Florida Symphony’s Masterworks series is sponsored by Uhler & Vertich Financial Planners and the L.A.T. 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 musicians, and is Lee County’s only fully professional orchestra. The Southwest Florida Symphony’s 62nd year continues the orchestra’s tradition of artistic excellence as newly appointed Music Director Maestro Radu Paponiu leads his inaugural 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.


Amy Ginsburg, Southwest Florida Symphony, 239-418-0996,
Angela Bell, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and PR, 239-275-5758,