Press Releases

SASO performs Glazunov concerto March 17-19

The single-named Ashu is the first and only full-time concert saxophone soloist in the world and he’s coming to Tucson. This young virtuoso will perform Alexander Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto. He’ll join the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra for three performances—March 17, 18 and 19. Ashu has said, “The saxophone is really an incredible instrument. It can…

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Music students invited to enter Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Talented young musicians age 13 to 18 are invited to apply for the 2017 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. The deadline is Feb. 11. Prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded, along with season tickets to the orchestra. In addition, the judges may…

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SASO presents Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto

William Levi Dawson’s under-the-radar Negro Folk Symphony and the very popular Piano Concerto in F by George Gershwin open the season of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 15 and 16. This program highlighting music of the Americas also includes Conga Del Fuego Nuevo and Danzón No. 2 by contemporary composer Arturo Márquez of…

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SASO, Enrique Toussaint, Festival Soloists Perform Free Concert Sept. 15

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and vocalists from the San Luis Potosí Opera Festival join forces to perform a free public concert in celebration of Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. the Fox Theatre. The Consulate of Mexico in Tucson, in collaboration with the Instituto Cultural Mexicano de Tucson, SASO and the…

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SASO musicians to play in Mexican opera festival

For the fourth consecutive year, members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra are going to Mexico to participate in an opera festival. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, SASO players performed in the Oaxaca Opera Festival. This year, the destination is the first Opera Festival of San Luis, to be held in San Luis Potosí, Mexico,…

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SASO performs Brahms, Barber and Berlioz

The final concert of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra season on May 7 and 8 features Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Barber’s Violin Concerto with Australian-born soloist Emily Sun and Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Music Director Linus Lerner conducts. He and Sun previously performed the Barber concerto with the Garland Symphony Orchestra in Texas. Barber is a…

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SASO Musicians Head to Music Festival in Brazil

TUCSON, AZ – The well-traveled Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is headed for another international performance – this time in Brazil. Forty SASO musicians will join members of the Symphony Orchestra of Rio Grande do Norte and other Brazilian musicians for two concerts at the Gramado In Concert International Music Festival. Linus Lerner, a native of Brazil, is artistic director…

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SASO’s Story

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