Members of the San Diego Youth Cello Quartet, (from left) Nao Nadahara, Debora Okhotina, Justin Wu and Ethan Zhang, will perform this Saturday at Grace Presbyterian Church in Temecula.

TEMECULA — The Temecula Valley Symphony will present a chamber concert featuring soloists of the symphony in a program entitled “A Touch of Classical” this Saturday, Feb. 26, at 4 p.m. at Grace Presbyterian Church in Temecula.

Among the musicians featured will be the San Diego Youth Cello Quartet, with Naohiro “Nao” Nadahara, Debora Okhotina, Justin Wu and Ethan Zhang. The group has won second prize in the 2020 Music Teachers’ Association of California VOCE Competition, toured Italy and released recordings.

The quartet was formed in 2019 by master cellist Ruslan Biryukov, principal cellist and Artist in Resi­dence at the Temecula Valley Symphony.

Nadahara is a 17-year-old high school student in San Diego, where he studies chamber music with Biryukov. In 2019, Nadahara appeared on world-class stages, including Disney Hall and the Mozarteum, as well as a pit musician for numerous ballet productions on the West Coast, including “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”

Also in 2019, Nadahara was invited to play as a soloist on tour across Austria, where he eventually performed at the International Cantus Music Festival.

He has played with the San Diego-based Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and the International Youth Symphony with conductors Alyze Dreiling and Jeff Edmons, respectively. Nadahara also enjoys both classical composition — where he was fortunate enough to have one of his string quartets performed live by the Hausmann Quartet in 2019 — as well as electronic music production, which he started this year as a hobby project.

Okhotina, 15, is a student at Scripps Ranch High School in San Diego. She began playing cello at the age of nine and has been a student of Biryukov for the past five years. Okhotina has been part of the San Diego Youth Symphony for the past five years and has recently been a finalist in their Ovation Concerto Competition. She has also performed internationally at the 2018 International Academy of Music in Tuscany, Italy.

Wu, 17, studies cello with Biryukov and is the principal cellist of the San Diego Youth Symphony. The junior Westview High School in San Diego started his musical journey with the violin at the age of five, and then he switched to the cello in fifth grade and has been in love with the instrument ever since.

Wu was recently invited to the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians, the largest music competition in the world for pre-college students.

Also a student of Biryukov, Zhang performs both as a soloist and chamber musician. He was featured as a soloist in New York’s Carnegie Hall and at the International Academy of Music in Italy.

Zhang was accepted into the XI International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians and will compete in the live rounds in Moscow this May.

Saturday’s program will include a mashup of “Game of Thrones” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5,” “Birds” – Part I “Birdsong” by Herman Beeftink and “Sonata for Violin and Cello” by Maurice Ravel.

Now in its 26th season, Temecula Valley Symphony is a 60-member regional symphony that attracts mu­sicians from throughout the Southland and is a mix of professionals and accomplished volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to the symphony.

Tickets for the concert are $25 for adults, $15 for musicians, $10 for students and free for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Temecula Valley Symphony at (951) 587-1536 or online at  

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