2020-21 Season

Small Ensemble Series

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra presents a series of scaled down performances on a socially distant stage.

Our 2020-2021 season didn’t quite turn out as we expected!   Beginning in October we began a series of live streamed concerts featuring different small string ensembles performing on a socially distant stage.  Our Small Ensemble Series continues with Baroque Masterpieces for Strings on March 7th, 2021 at Catalyst Arts & Maker Space in the Tucson Mall.   Visit our Live Stream Concerts page to enjoy some of our past performances from this year.

Baroque Masterpieces for Strings returns!

Saturday, May 1 @ 7pm at Green Valley CPAC
Sunday, May 2nd @ 7pm at St Philip’s Plaza

SASO’s Small Ensemble Series is coming to Green Valley on May 1st at the Green Valley Community Performance & Art Center and on May 2nd at St Philips Plaza for a FREE sunset performance. We had so much fun performing Baroque Masterpieces for Strings back in March that we decided to bring the concert back. Visit our Tickets page to purchase your tickets now.

The concert will feature prominent works from the Baroque era, including two of the Brandenburg concertos by J.S. Bach and classics by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Pachelbel.  In 1721, Johann Sebastian Bach presented to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt a collection of six concertos, which became some of the most admired compositions of the Baroque era. Bach composed with the “widest spectrum of orchestral instruments … in daring combinations,” musicologist Christoph Wolff has stated. SASO will perform numbers 3 and 6 from the set, both of which are scored for strings and harpsichord.

Purchase Tickets for May 1 at the Green Valley CPAC:

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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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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