Contest-Winner Concerto

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra has assembled another top-notch lineup for its April concert, with selections from Tchaikovsky, Liszt and Rimsky-Korsakov. It’s the kind of performances SASO has become known for since 1979.

Arts education program engages students and helps teachers

Posted in the Explorer News on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 12 p.m.
Two-thirds of public school teachers believe that the arts are getting crowded out of the school day, according to an arts education study from Americans for the Arts.

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) has been working to infuse arts education in the community by delivering a practical and engaging program. Musical Gold in the Morning has expanded to additional schools this year and now includes a live performance series from the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra.

SASO to perform in Mexico for Oaxaca 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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Globe-hopping Lerner leads Brazilian orchestra, too

Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra Conductor Linus Lerner will rack up tons of frequent flier miles after accepting a job late last month to lead a state orchestra in Brazil. Lerner will now commute between Tucson, where he will remain with SASO, Houston, where he is artistic director and conductor of two choruses, and Natal, Brazil,…

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SASO focuses on Tucson composers

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra launches its season-long focus on Tucson composers this weekend with Jay Vosk’s 2003 work “Running the Rim.” In each of its five concerts this season, the volunteer orchestra will perform a work by a Tucson composer that will be recorded for the orchestra’s first CD. Artistic Director and Conductor Linus…

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SASO 2012-13 Season Starting Soon

TUCSON, Ariz. – The 2012-2013 season Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra includes two world premieres by Tucson artists. They are “Running the Rim” by Jay Vosk and “Landscapes” by Peter Fine. There’s also a sneak preview of the aria “If Life Were as it Seems” from the opera “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Richard White. Pictured is James…

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Conductor Lerner scaling an international career

Conductor Linus Lerner racked up 500,000 frequent flier miles over the last couple of years. He expects to pick up another 150,000 before the year is out. This summer alone he will hopscotch the globe to vocal coaching/teaching and guest conducting gigs in his native Brazil, along with Oaxaca, Mexico and Beijing, China. In the…

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SASO finale is ‘tour-de-force symphony’

It has been 30 years since Tim Secomb and the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra first played Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. But the memory is as fresh as if it were yesterday. The piece has that effect on a musician. Like many violinists who have played it, Secomb was drawn into the Russian composer’s intense emotions. “It…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.