Press Releases

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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Pianist, Violinist, Harpist Win SASO Youth Concerto Competition

Pianist Rebecca Shiao won the 2014 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition and will perform the first movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra on April 5 and 6. The second place winner is violinist Carissa Powe, who won $500. She is home schooled and studies violin with Wynne Rife. Harpist Claire Thai won third and $25. Also home schooled, she studies with Christine Vivona.

SASO Features Cellist Zoran Stilin & Brahms Symphony No. 1

TUCSON, AZ – Cellist Zoran Stilin will perform Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 15 and 16, performing on an award-winning cello he made himself. The program also features Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor and Danzón No. 2 by contemporary Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. Stilin is a…

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Music Students Invited to Enter Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Student musicians are invited to apply for the 2014 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. Prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded. In addition, the judges may select one of the winners for the Performance Award – an opportunity to solo with the orchestra…

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Tucson Boys’ Chorus Joins SASO for Rutter’s Mass of the Children

TUCSON, AZ – The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus joins the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra for four performances of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children, plus Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Edwin Kim. Rutter is a British composer who wrote this work after the sudden death of his Christopher, who was attending college in Cambridge. The…

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SASO Season Opens with Bulgarian Guest Artists

TUCSON, AZ – A Bulgarian composer, cellist and conductor are featured in the first program of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra season on Oct. 5 and 6. The artists are Roumi Petrova, Kalin Ivanov and Dimitar Karaminkov. The program includes Petrova’s Cello Concerto in C, as well as Verdi’s Overture to Nabucco and Borodin’s Symphony…

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SASO Heads to Oaxaca for Opera Festival

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is starting its 2013-14 season early with its first-ever trip to Mexico this weekend. Of course, international touring is nothing new for the volunteer orchestra. Last year it made its second tour of China since 2009. SASO, under the baton of music director and conductor Linus Lerner, will perform at…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.