Music students invited to enter Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Talented young musicians age 13 to 18 are invited to apply for the 2017 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. The deadline is Feb. 11.

Prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded, along with season tickets to the orchestra. In addition, the judges may present one Performance Award—an opportunity to solo with the orchestra in concerts on March 17, 18 and 19.

The eighth annual competition is open to high school students who play any orchestral instrument, including piano. This includes public, private or home school students. The competition will be held in Tucson on Feb. 25 and 26.

To enter, students should complete an online application and prepare to perform one movement from a standard concerto for solo instrument and orchestra. Music should be memorized. Students under age 13 may apply if recommended by their teacher. Submit applications online at www.sasomusic.org/ycc.htm. For questions, call (520) 308-6226.

This competition is named for longtime arts patron Dorothy Vanek. It is designed to recognize and support outstanding young musicians in the community, encouraging them to polish performance skills and build real-life experience. Vanek is SASO’s longtime season sponsor. One of her passions is nurturing the next generation of classical musicians.

Last year’s first prize winner and soloist was 15-year-old violinist Tiffany Chang, who lives in Chandler. The previous winner was 15-year-old violinist Bobae Johnson of Phoenix. Two pianists have won—pianist Rebecca Shiao of Tucson in 2014 and Joyce Yang of Phoenix in 2012. Three cellists from University High School in Tucson have won the competition—Benjamin Nead in 2013, Sara Page in 2011 and Nicholas Mariscal in 2010.

SASO is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music. Founded in 1979, this orchestra presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. Artistic Director Linus Lerner has led SASO in local performances since 2008, plus two tours of China; three trips to Oaxaca, Mexico; one to Brazil, and most recently to the San Luis Potosí Opera Festival in Mexico. For more information, visit www.sasomusic.org or call (520) 308-6226.

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SASO’s Story

The largest event SASO has produced was Berlioz Te Deum, presented at the Tucson Community Center Music Hall with the Tucson Civic Orchestra, Tucson Masterworks Chorale, Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and Pima College Singers.
Turkish maestro Orhan Salliel, after guest-conducting SASO in the fall of 2012, wrote to us, "The time in Tucson I shared with you in SASO for me was so special. I felt the real love of music from the bottom of everyone's hearts. It was something I do not feel often—never, ever in the professional world anymore. Please keep it, save it, try to build everything from this power of love for music."
SaddleBrooke is home to many of our loyal donors and the place where we’ve held our gala celebrations—first a black-tie dinner with music from "Phantom of the Opera" and later our annual StarStruck Gala evenings from 2008 through 2013.
Alan Schultz became music director in Year 2 and continued leading SASO for 15 seasons. He frequently conducted from the keyboard—organ or harpsichord. He also composed several works premiered by SASO.
Adam Boyles was the music director for three seasons, bringing bountiful youthful energy and a passion to serve the music. Then the Tucson native moved East to brave the snow and conduct the orchestra at MIT in Boston.
Our most famous alumnus is Rico Saccani, associate conductor of SASO our inaugural year and piano soloist for the second concert. He later conducted opera companies and orchestras around the world and was music director of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 2005.
The first concert was Oct. 28, 1979, conducted by former University of Arizona music professor Henry Johnson, featuring Jonathan Kramer in a Boccherini cello concerto.
One spring SASO proved it has animal attraction. When it played at the Reid Park Zoo, some of the critters sang along with the music
The most colorful performance was a Halloween concert in Nogales—a ghoulish event where the conductor was a clown and all the musicians were in costume.
In December 1995 SASO was the first to present a concert at SaddleBrooke. This was the brainstorm of concertmaster Sam Kreiling. The concert sold out, as did a four-concert series the following year. SASO has performed there ever since.
The visionary founders of SASO were Barbara and Bill Chinworth, Scott Bracher and Janet Lombard. Barbara has played with SASO through its entire history, originally in the horn section, now on bass.
Early audiences had to be loyal followers of this itinerant orchestra, which performed all over the city, frequently in churches. In the 1980s SASO rented the Temple of Music and Art for a concert. The City of Tucson condemned the building the morning of the dress rehearsal and the concert was canceled.
Brazilian-born Linus Lerner, in his first year as music director, challenged the orchestra to learn his native Latin rhythms by playing Villa-Lobos. This proved surprisingly hard to do. We finally got it, but not until the week of the concert.
Composer, pianist and conductor Warren Cohen served as music director for eight seasons, routinely commuting from his home in Phoenix, but one year all the way from Hawaii. His wife, coloratura Carolyn Whitacre, was a favorite soloist.
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