SASO 2012-13 Opening Concert: Part II

Beethoven and Tchaikovsky on the same program, what more could a music lover ask! The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra conducted by Linus Lerner, will perform the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 on the season’s opening concerts,October 6 & 7. Both composed great works for orchestra that please audiences and musicians alike. Where Beethoven is the father of the romantic school,Tchaikovsky along with Mahler and Rachmaninoff, finalize this modus operandi.

SASO will perform Mahler and Rachmaninoff later this season. Comparison of the two composer’s personalities are divergent to the extreme. Where Beethoven is self-assured, dynamic and has no doubts of his abilities and greatness, Tchaikovsky is just the opposite being neurotic, lacks self confidence and is not assertive. Both men had outstanding teachers but Beethoven was always pushing the bar and transcending into new areas of composition. Tchaikovsky basically added his Russian touch to the romantic symphonic form. The Beethoven work will be discussed in another article.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the greatest melodist ever and while he lacked some areas of composition such as counterpoint, he made up for it with key variations, scales, dramatic use of loud and soft, rubato manipulation of tempi, and use of mood and emotion. Tchaikovsky, as all other symphonists learned, followed in the footsteps of the nine symphonies of Beethoven. The overall design of his Symphony No. 5 is very similar to Beethoven’s 5th by moving from tragic(minor keys) to jubilant or triumphant(major keys) with a rousing finale. The Symphony was composed and premiered in 1888 in St. Petersburg with the composer conducting. The audience judged it acceptable but it was thumbs down by critics. Although the work is considered his greatest symphony today, it languished until after his death in 1893.

The 46 minute work is mostly in sonata form, has 4 movements, and is cyclical in that themes are repeated throughout the mvts. The First movement is slow then fast. It opens with a Slavic melancholy theme in low clarinet introduction. Sonata form starts in measure 38 in a fast 2 time, there is an exposition of 3 themes, development, recapitulation and a coda ending. Movement II has two of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful and well known themes. The first played by horn and the second by oboe. There is great variety in tempo and mood.

A graceful waltz based on an Italian street song opens Movement III. It is in ABA form with a scherzo as theme B. Movement IV opens with the slow introductory theme of Mvt. I but in full strings which is followed by a timpani crescendo into a fast march. There are 3 themes and the final coda is a dramatic march followed by a presto and 20 measure slow dramatic ending.

The October 6 concert will be performed at Desert View Performing Arts Auditorium in SaddleBrooke at 7:30 PM and on October 7 at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Oro Valley at 3:00 PM For ticket or other information go www.sasomusic.org

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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