Press Releases

Italian guest conductor, Polish violinist star in SASO’s international celebration Nov. 8–9

The international music celebration of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra this season continues on Nov. 8 and 9 with Gabriele Pezone of Italy as guest conductor and Marta Magdalena Lelek of Poland performing a violin concerto by fellow countryman Andrzej Panufnik. The Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra was originally commissioned, premiered and recorded by…

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Free SASO Concert with Oaxaca Opera Festival Soloists

The Consulate of Mexico in Tucson, in collaboration with the Mexican Cultural Institute of Tucson, the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (SASO) and the Fox Theatre, invite the public to the commemoration of the 204th anniversary of Mexican Independence. The concert will feature a performance by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by soloists from the Oaxaca…

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SASO Heads Back to Oaxaca Opera Festival

Members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to perform in the second annual Oaxaca Opera Festival on August 9 and 10. The orchestra will be joined by two dozen soloists from Mexico who competed for the opportunity to perform and to participate in the festival, plus a chorus.

2014–15 Season Tickets on Sale Now

Music is truly the international language. In the 2014–15 season, the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra features music that spans 14 countries with guest artists from around the globe. Season tickets are on sale now—including a new two-concert mini-series in Green Valley.

SASO’s Season Finale Features Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

TUCSON, AZ – Music aficionados take note. There’s a mighty milestone ahead. The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will present three performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with Brazilian-born guitarist Roberto Capocchi, and Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. The Beethoven is considered by many to be the greatest piece of music ever written. It…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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