News

SASO musicians to play in Mexican opera festival

For the fourth consecutive year, members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra are going to Mexico to participate in an opera festival. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, SASO players performed in the Oaxaca Opera Festival. This year, the destination is the first Opera Festival of San Luis, to be held in San Luis Potosí, Mexico,…

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Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra has rare lineup next season

[The] Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is digging deep into the vault of the rarely played next season, presenting several works that hardly ever get programmed in Southern Arizona. Among the notable pieces on deck: Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony to open the season in October, and Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto featuring saxophonist Ashu and Fauré’s choral powerhouse…

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Tucson Lifestyle features SASO soloist

The May 2016 issue of Tucson Lifestyle includes a full-page feature on SASO guest artist Emily Sun. Read the feature as a downloadable pdf by clicking here, or read the entire issue of the magazine here.

SASO performs Brahms, Barber and Berlioz

The final concert of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra season on May 7 and 8 features Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Barber’s Violin Concerto with Australian-born soloist Emily Sun and Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Music Director Linus Lerner conducts. He and Sun previously performed the Barber concerto with the Garland Symphony Orchestra in Texas. Barber is a…

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Amanda Harberg’s Viola Concerto

This week, SASO is recording two recent concertos with viola soloist Brett Deubner for commercial CD release. We’ve played all the music in concert before; here’s a video of our first go at Amanda Harberg’s Viola Concerto, in a live performance from October 2015.  

The Stankovs play Mendelssohn with SASO

Felix Mendelssohn’s E-minor Violin Concerto is a concert staple, and his piano concertos get an occasional outing, but it’s more unusual to find his early Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings on the concert stage. If you missed the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s performance of it in November, 2015, or would like to revisit the…

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SASO Presents Whitacre, He Zhanhao and Bruckner’s Te Deum April 1–3

Travel through your imagination from a young child’s moonlit bedside to ancient China, then 19th-century Vienna as you enjoy haunting, evocative and powerful music by Eric Whitacre, He Zhanhao and Anton Bruckner. Join the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra when it performs Whitacre’s Goodnight Moon, He Zhanhao’s Eternal Regret of Lin’An performed on a traditional Chinese…

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Violinist Tiffany Chang Wins Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Completion

  Violinist Tiffany Chang won the 2016 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the $1,000 cash prize, she was invited to solo with the orchestra in concerts on April 1, 2 and 3. Chang, who lives in Chandler, will perform the first movement of the Tchaikovsky…

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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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 first concert was Oct. 28, 1979, conducted by former University of Arizona music professor Henry Johnson, featuring Jonathan Kramer in a Boccherini cello concerto.
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.
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
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