Blog

Oaxaca Opera Festival in Mexican press

SASO, Linus Lerner and the 2016 Oaxaca Opera Festival are receiving plentiful advance coverage in the Mexican press. If you read Spanish, or if you’re just a monolingual voyeur, follow the links to short pieces from La Onda Oaxaca, Diario Marca, ADN Sureste, B&P Mexico, NSS Oaxaca, El Imparcial, Libertad and Quadratin Oaxaca. And check…

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2015-16 Season Tickets Now Available

Through May 17, you may purchase early-bird-discount season tickets for SASO’s five 2015-16 concerts at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian for only $80. That’s five concerts for less than the cost of four single tickets! Season ticket prices will increase to $90 after May 17—still a bargain, but you can do better if you order now. We…

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Edwin E. Soo Kim Appetizer

Following his outstanding 2013 performances with SASO of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (which you can view in individual movements here, here and here), Edwin E. Soo Kim returns to Tucson in February 2015 to participate in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with his wife, pianist Melanie Chae, and SASO’s principal cellist, Zoran Stilin. To give you an idea…

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Concert Archives: Stoller’s “Open Spaces”

Here’s a front-row video of Bruce Stoller’s Open Spaces Suite, which SASO premiered on April 6 and 7, 2013. Stoller himself served as soloist, playing one of the many yucca shakuhachi flutes he has crafted over the years. Refined studio recordings of the second and third movements may be found on SASO’s CD Celebration! (which you…

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Concert Archives: Creston’s Marimba Concertino

On Feb. 24, 2001, marimba soloist Gifford Howarth—at the time a percussion instructor at Penn State and at Nazareth College, more recently a professor at Bloomsburg University, and all along the nephew of SASO timpanist Harold Howarth—joined then-music director Warren Cohen and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in the marimba concertino by prominent American composer Paul Creston…

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Program notes for Oct. 4-5 concerts

By Tim Secomb The French composer Hector Berlioz was very influential in the development of the modern orchestra, particularly through his Treatise on Instrumentation, and also in the development of musical Romanticism. Like many other composers, Berlioz was inspired by Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust. His La damnation de Faust (The Damnation of Faust) is a work for four solo…

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Preview of SASO’s Oct. 4-5 season opener

By Punch Howarth Linus Lerner again conducts the season opening concert by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, on Oct. 4–5, 2013, featuring Gustav Holst’s The Planets, as well as music by Berlioz and Mozart. Opening the program is a stately Hungarian military march by Hector Berlioz. He labeled it Rakoczy March and it is from…

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Concert Archives: Cohen’s “Night Music”

On Feb. 24, 2001, then-music director Warren Cohen led the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his own Night Music (Concerto Grosso No. 2) at Tucson’s Berger Center for the Performing Arts. Cohen writes: “Night Music grew out of a desire to write a piece of music that captured the moment in time when we…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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