Publications

Saxophonist returns to Tucson, this time with Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is pulling out the stops as it heads into the homestretch of the 2016-17 season. In three performances this weekend, audiences will experience: A veteran and celebrated saxophonist performing a significant work in the limited saxophone solo repertoire. A young pianist who took top honors in the orchestra’s 2017 Dorothy…

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S. Korean violinist returns for SASO gig

Edwin Kim must really like us. The violin virtuoso is making his third appearance with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, this time to tackle Elgar’s magnificently emotional Violin Concerto. Kim will join the orchestra for three performances — at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at Valley Presbyterian Church, 2800 S. Camino del Sol, Green Valley;…

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Southern Arizona Symphony to honor late patron Irving Olson

You could always spot Irving Olson in the audience at a Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra concert. He was the little man in the front row of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, his white hair neatly parted on the side. “He would always sit in the front row and when he would be recognized he would stand…

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Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra has rare lineup next season

[The] Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is digging deep into the vault of the rarely played next season, presenting several works that hardly ever get programmed in Southern Arizona. Among the notable pieces on deck: Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony to open the season in October, and Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto featuring saxophonist Ashu and Fauré’s choral powerhouse…

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Tucson Lifestyle features SASO soloist

The May 2016 issue of Tucson Lifestyle includes a full-page feature on SASO guest artist Emily Sun. Read the feature as a downloadable pdf by clicking here, or read the entire issue of the magazine here.

Latest stop on SASO international journey: Brazil

Forty members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra landed in Brazil late last week and, on Valentine’s Day, performed the first of two concerts at the Gramado in Concert International Music Festival in Gramado, a European-style tourist town in mountains of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. The orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Linus Lerner, is teaming…

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When the finale isn’t quite final

Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will get the rare opportunity to perform a concerto with the soloist for whom the piece was written. In two concerts this weekend, the ensemble will perform New Jersey composer Amanda Harberg’s Viola Concerto with violist Brett Deubner, for whom Harberg wrote the piece in 2011/12. SASO Conductor Linus Lerner has worked with…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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.
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