S. Korean violinist returns for SASO gig

Edwin Kim must really like us.

The violin virtuoso is making his third appearance with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, this time to tackle Elgar’s magnificently emotional Violin Concerto.

Kim will join the orchestra for three performances — at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at Valley Presbyterian Church, 2800 S. Camino del Sol, Green Valley; at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, SaddleBrooke; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7650 N. Paseo Del Norte, Oro Valley.

About the violinist: Kim, who lives and teaches in his native South Korea, was studying violin only a year when he won his first music competition. He was 8. He went on to take home the top prize in five international music competitions and has performed with leading orchestras in Europe and Asia.

He made his first SASO appearance in November 2013 playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. In February 2015, he returned to play Beethoven’s Triple Concerto.

About the program: In addition to the Elgar, the orchestra will perform Elgar’s regal “Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 4 and Tchaikovsky’s swoonable “Swan Lake” Suite.

About the Elgar: It was dedicated to and played by Fritz Kreisler in 1910 with the London Symphony Orchestra. Elgar conducted.

The Violin Concerto is one of Elgar’s longest orchestral compositions, clocking in at more than 50 minutes, and it was the last of his works to find immediate popular favor.

Tickets: For Green Valley and Oro Valley, $23 in advance at sasomusic.org or at the door. For SaddleBrooke, it’s $24 in advance at tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com or by calling or 825-2818; $25 at the door.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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