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The Stankovs play Mendelssohn with SASO

Felix Mendelssohn’s E-minor Violin Concerto is a concert staple, and his piano concertos get an occasional outing, but it’s more unusual to find his early Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings on the concert stage. If you missed the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s performance of it in November, 2015, or would like to revisit the…

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SASO Presents Whitacre, He Zhanhao and Bruckner’s Te Deum April 1–3

Travel through your imagination from a young child’s moonlit bedside to ancient China, then 19th-century Vienna as you enjoy haunting, evocative and powerful music by Eric Whitacre, He Zhanhao and Anton Bruckner. Join the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra when it performs Whitacre’s Goodnight Moon, He Zhanhao’s Eternal Regret of Lin’An performed on a traditional Chinese…

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Violinist Tiffany Chang Wins Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Completion

  Violinist Tiffany Chang won the 2016 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the $1,000 cash prize, she was invited to solo with the orchestra in concerts on April 1, 2 and 3. Chang, who lives in Chandler, will perform the first movement of the Tchaikovsky…

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SASO Musicians Return from Music Festival in Brazil

Musicians of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra recently returned from Brazil. The orchestra gave two performances at the Gramado In Concert International Music Festival. Gramado is picturesque town in the mountains of the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and is also home to an internationally known film festival. The music festival was…

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2015–16 program notes: Gould, Rachmaninov, Dvořák

Here are the program notes for the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s concerts on Jan. 31 and Feb. 5–6, 2016. Get your tickets here. American composer Morton Gould was recognized for his musical abilities at an early age, and had his first composition published at the age of six. During his long career, he did much to bridge…

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2015-16 Cycle 2 Program Notes

Karelia is a region of northern Europe, on the border between Russia and Finland. Tensions over the ownership of Karelia were an important aspect of Finland’s struggle for independence. In 1893, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was commissioned to write music to accompany a series of historic tableaux representing scenes from the history of this region. From the resulting set…

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Program notes for SASO’s October 2015 concerts

Mexican composer José Pablo Moncayo García was one of the most important representatives of the Mexican nationalist movement in classical music, along with fellow composers Silvestre Revueltas and Carlos Chávez. His Huapango is an original composition inspired by the popular music of the Mexican state of Veracruz, including the songs El Siquisiri, El Balajú and El Gavilancito. The title Huapango…

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SASO Musicians Present Highlights from 2015 Oaxaca Opera Festival

Twenty-five musicians from the Tucson-based Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra returned recently from Oaxaca, Mexico, where they performed in the Oaxaca Opera Festival for the third consecutive year. The full orchestra will perform highlights of the festival on Sept. 15 in a special Mexican Independence Day concert featuring vocalists from the festival and Mariachi Sol Azteca….

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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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