SASO Begins the 2017-2018 Season

SOUTHERN ARIZONA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA  TUCSON, AZ – On Oct. 14 and 15 the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra presents a lively program inspired by folk rhythms, poetry and joyous celebrations of the human spirit. These are musical marvels by Khachaturian, Vivaldi and Dvorak. SASO welcomes the return of violinist Chloé Trevor to play Khachaturian’s Violin Concert…

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In Celebration of Mexican Independence Day

SASO, Sánchez-Navarro, Festival Soloists Perform Free Concert Sept. 15     TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and winners of the Linus Lerner International Voice Competition will present a free public concert in celebration of Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. at the Fox Theatre. The program features guest artists…

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Program notes for SASO’s March 17-19, 2007 concerts

By Tim Secomb During his long career, the English composer William Walton wrote music in several genres, from film scores to opera. Early in his career, he gained notoriety for his modernist work Façade – An Entertainment, in which poems by Edith Sitwell are recited with an instrumental accompaniment. But in later years, some of his compositions were dismissed…

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Interview with Nicholas Turner

Via our Facebook page, here’s an interview, recorded live during a rehearsal break, with pianist Nicholas Turner, preparing to play the first movement of Ravel’s G-Major Concerto. Nick is the winner of our 2017 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition. He’s interviewed by SASO bassist Alisha Nichols. Counting backwards… we have three concerts that Must Not Be…

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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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Linus Speaks

Here’s SASO’s music director, Linus Lerner, talking about achieving unity among SASO players, and introducing them to new music and new guest conductors.

SASO performs Glazunov concerto March 17-19

The single-named Ashu is the first and only full-time concert saxophone soloist in the world and he’s coming to Tucson. This young virtuoso will perform Alexander Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto. He’ll join the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra for three performances—March 17, 18 and 19. Ashu has said, “The saxophone is really an incredible instrument. It can…

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SASO’s Story

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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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 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.