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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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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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SASO’s Story

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.
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."
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 first concert was Oct. 28, 1979, conducted by former University of Arizona music professor Henry Johnson, featuring Jonathan Kramer in a Boccherini cello concerto.
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