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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Interview with Carol Wincenc

Just a few minutes before our esteemed soloist Carol Wincenc began her first rehearsal with SASO of Carl Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, she sat down with our executive director, James Reel, for a live Facebook chat about the concerto, and about the works composers have written especially for her that are the best at capturing her…

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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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Program Notes for SASO’s Oct. 15-16 Concerts

Mexican composer Arturo Márquez was born in Álamos, Sonora. His father and his grandfather were musicians and Márquez was exposed to several musical styles in his childhood, particularly Mexican “salon music,” which strongly influenced his later compositional style. He studied music and composition in Los Angeles, Mexico City and Paris and now lives in Mexico City. His Conga del Fuego…

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Dvorak’s “Song to the Moon”

Here’s soprano Elizabeth Rodriguez Berrios joining SASO and conductor Linus Lerner for the “Song to the Moon” from Antonín Dvorák’s opera Rusalka, in concert at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Sept. 15, 2016. Thanks to our co-presenter, the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, for the video.

SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."