This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with multi-award-winning guitar virtuoso Ricardo Cobo and Parsa Sabet, the guitar duo known as Rio Sueño, performing in the Judy Bayley Theatre at the UNLV Performing Arts Center, Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. In this episode of “The Talk About Las Vegas Podcast” the duo talk about why they named themselves Rio Sueño; what brought them together as musicians; what Ricardo saw in Parsa as a student and their similar outlooks on life; why rehearsal is always a learning experience; and why classical guitar is important in artistic expression.
Born in Cali, Colombia, Ricardo began taking guitar lessons at the age of 8, on a twenty-dollar souvenir guitar that his uncle bought him in Brazil. He quickly outpaced his lessons, so his parents enrolled him in the Antonio Maria Valencia Conservatory, now part of Colombia’s national school for the fine arts. Following high school, he attended Peabody Conservatory as a student of Aaron Shearer, a widely known master of the classical guitar. Cobo ultimately received the bachelor of music degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the master of music degree at Florida State University. While at FSU, he pursued postgraduate studies under Bruce Holzman, both as a graduate assistant and university doctoral fellow. Cobo won many international competitions, including the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Concert Artist Competition, Alirio Díaz International Competition, and Casa de España Competition. Cobo’s professional career began when we was 17 and performed with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá (Columbia) for a television audience of over nine million. Cobo’s recordings are on the ESSAY, NAXOS, Ellipsis Arts, and Angel/EMI labels.
Parsa was born in Tehran and made the extremely difficult decision to leave Iran, his friends, and some family members to pursue his dream of becoming a classical guitarist. He traveled with his mother and brother to the United States, first stopping in Turkey for 18 months. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, he enrolled as a sophomore at Sierra Vista High School and pursued lessons with Cobo, who quickly recognized the talent that this young man possessed. The ability to express himself through music is Sabet’s greatest passion. He has competed in numerous competitions since he started studying with Cobo, including Guitar Foundation of America’s International Youth Competition, Denver Guitar Festival & Competition, Texas Guitar Competition & Festival, and the Louisville Guitar Festival & Competition. Additionally, in 2018, Sabet was selected as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist scholarship recipient by NPR’s’ “From the Top.” Sabet was his bachelor’s degree from UNLV in 2022.