The international music celebration of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra this season continues on Nov. 8 and 9 with Gabriele Pezone of Italy as guest conductor and Marta Magdalena Lelek of Poland performing a violin concerto by fellow countryman Andrzej Panufnik.
The Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra was originally commissioned, premiered and recorded by Yehudi Menuhin with Panufnik conducting. The Warsaw-born composer had fled the Communist regime in Poland, settled in England and become a British citizen. Sir Andrzej was knighted for his services to British music in 1991. “In all my works,” he has said, “I attempt to achieve a true balance between feeling and intellect, heart and brain, impulse and design.”
Soloist Lelek seeks out interesting, rarely performed, often contemporary compositions. In 2012 she recorded Malta-born Karl Fiorini’s second violin concerto, which was written for and dedicated to her. She premiered the work in Bangkok with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra and recorded it for Naxos.
Lelek began her studies at the age of 9 and soon won many prizes and awards. She was invited to study at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she completed a bachelor’s degree with honors in 2003 and two years later a master’s degree with distinction in performance.
Pezone made his conducting debut in 2007 and since has led orchestras in Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey, the Yucatan in February and now the United States. He’ll open the SASO concert conducting Rossini’s Overture to L’Italiana in Algeri.
He graduated in piano at the Ottorino Respighi Conservatory in Latina, Italy. He also studied organ, composition, choral music and choral conducting. He attended the three-year course of liturgical ministries of the Diocese of Rome. Pezone is founder of the Fondi Chamber Orchestra with which he recently recorded for Vatican Radio with the Italian-American pianist Natalie Gabrielli.
This SASO program also features Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5. Of all his symphonies, this one is scored for the smallest orchestra, with no clarinets, trumpets or timpani, and mirrors the style of Mozart.
SASO Music Director Linus Lerner said this is a charmingly happy and sunny work, unlike some of Schubert’s later darker compositions. Born in Austria, Schubert greatly admired Mozart and is oft quoted as saying, “O Mozart … what countless images of a brighter, better world hast thou stamped on our souls.”
As a child, Schubert demonstrated an early gift for music, playing piano, violin and organ. He also was an excellent singer and prolific composer who died even younger than Mozart at age 31.
The SASO concerts will be presented Saturday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive in SaddleBrooke and Sunday, Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson.
Tickets to the SaddleBrooke concert are $24 in advance or $25 at the door. Call 825-2818 or order online at http://tickets/saddlebrooketwo.com. Tickets to the St. Andrew’s concert are $23 and can be ordered online at www.sasomusic.org, by phone at 308-6226 or purchased at the door. Complimentary tickets are available at the St. Andrew’s performance for students age 17 or younger.
Longtime SASO supporter Dorothy Vanek is the season sponsor for the eighth consecutive year. The SaddleBrooke concert sponsors are Bob and Donna Langwig and Michael and Frances Leonard. The St. Andrew’s concert sponsor is Bo Saxberg.
Lerner will return to the podium for the three remaining spring concert cycles. He’s conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups around the world, including Brazil, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
The February and April programs include performances on Friday at 7 p.m. at Valley Presbyterian Church in Green Valley, in addition to concerts at SaddleBrooke on Saturday evening and St. Andrew’s on Sunday afternoon.
Feb. 20, 21 & 22—Beethoven’s rarely performed Triple Concerto features Korean-born pianist Melanie Chae and her violinist husband, Edwin E. Soo Kim, plus Zoran Stilin, who moved to Tucson from Croatia. The program also includes Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.
April 10, 11 & 12—SASO’s principal trumpet, Michael Kiefer, composed Psalm 22, which SASO premieres. The program also includes Martinu’s Rhapsody-Concerto, with China-born violist Hong-Mei Xiao as soloist, and Khachaturian’s Masquerade Suite.
May 9 & 10—The final program features Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with all-American Chloe Trevor and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
This year SASO released its first professional recording—CELEBRATION!—showcasing the diverse musical range of six Tucson composers. The 75-minute CD is on sale now at www.sasomusic.org for $18.50 including shipping.
This orchestra is a vital community resource that has united performers and audiences through a passion for music. Founded in 1979, SASO presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. It also sponsors the annual Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition. To learn more, call 308-6226 or visit www.sasomusic.org.