SASO Welcomes Tuba, Violin and Harp Soloists Plus Tucson Junior Strings

TUCSON, AZ – Expect the unexpected at the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s April concerts. SASO welcomes tuba, violin and harp soloists plus the talented young players of Tucson Junior Strings. Eight composers are featured.

The guest artists are:

  • Lauren Roth, concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, playing Henryk Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
  • Mark Nelson, a world-traveled performer and teacher at Pima Community College, soloing on the tuba in Adriana Isabel Figueroa Mana’s Tango Images III with the SASO strings.
  • Claire Thai, an 18-year-old harpist who won SASO’s Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition, playing one movement from Alberto Ginastera’s Harp Concerto Opus 25.
  • Tucson Junior Strings, performing the third movement of Pietr Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence on their own, then joining SASO musicians for Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

The eclectic program also features Christopher Theofanidis’ Rainbow Body, Amanda Harberg’s Solis and Ginastera’s Estancia. SASO Music Director Linus Lerner compiled this rare combination of composers and soloists. He challenged himself to not repeat any major work in his first decade of programing for SASO and he’s accomplished that goal.

The performance schedule is:

  • April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr. in SaddleBrooke. Tickets are $24 in advance or $25 at the door. They can be purchased online at or by calling (520) 825-2818.
  • April 15 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased at, by calling (520) 308-6226 or at the door. Students age 17 and younger can reserve complimentary tickets.

Here’s more about the guest artists:

  • Violinist Roth is not only TSO concertmaster but also assistant professor of violin at the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona. The native of Seattle received a master’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2013. That year she also attended the Tanglewood Music Center and received the Jules C. Reiner Violin Prize. She earned two bachelor’s degrees at the University of Washington – one in violin performance and the other in Italian studies.
  • Tubist Nelson has performed internationally for many years. He has been at Pima Community College since 2000 where he heads the performing arts department, teaches a variety of courses, directs the PCC Wind Ensemble and maintains the Electronic Music Laboratory. He is considered a pioneer in the development of new solo literature for the tuba. He has commissioned and premiered more than 30 new works. No stranger to SASO, this season he serves as principal tubist.
  • Harpist Thai is both an award-winning musician and scientist. In 2017 she took first place in the International Portuguese Harp Competition and performed a solo recital in Hong Kong for the World Harp Congress, an honor given only to top performers around the globe. She’s competed twice in the International Science and Engineering Fair and received a Governor’s Award for Innovation from the Arizona Technology Council for her discoveries in chemistry and environmental engineering.
  • Tucson Junior Strings is an orchestra training program for young string players ranging from those who have played a minimum of one year through seniors in high school. Dennis R. Bourret has directed the program since 1970. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance at Colorado University and a bachelor’s in music education from Denver University. He has been principal violinist and violist of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Opera and Tucson Pops Orchestra.

Maestro Lerner has conducted SASO musicians both here and abroad, including two China tours, one tour of his native Brazil and several opera festivals in Mexico – three in Oaxaca and two in San Luis Potosí. Lerner completed a doctor of music degree at the UA.

Philanthropist and musician Dorothy Dyer Vanek is SASO’s season sponsor for the 11th consecutive year. Vanek also underwrote both of SASO’s CDs – “Celebration!” which features the music of Tucson composers – and the well-reviewed premiere recordings of two viola concertos with soloist Brett Deubner on the Naxos label.

SASO is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music. Founded in 1979, this orchestra presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. For more information call (520) 308-6226 or visit

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