News

Latest stop on SASO international journey: Brazil

Forty members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra landed in Brazil late last week and, on Valentine’s Day, performed the first of two concerts at the Gramado in Concert International Music Festival in Gramado, a European-style tourist town in mountains of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. The orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Linus Lerner, is teaming…

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2015–16 program notes: Gould, Rachmaninov, Dvořák

Here are the program notes for the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra’s concerts on Jan. 31 and Feb. 5–6, 2016. Get your tickets here. American composer Morton Gould was recognized for his musical abilities at an early age, and had his first composition published at the age of six. During his long career, he did much to bridge…

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SASO Musicians Head to Music Festival in Brazil

TUCSON, AZ – The well-traveled Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is headed for another international performance – this time in Brazil. Forty SASO musicians will join members of the Symphony Orchestra of Rio Grande do Norte and other Brazilian musicians for two concerts at the Gramado In Concert International Music Festival. Linus Lerner, a native of Brazil, is artistic director…

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SASO Presents Soul-Stirring Music by Gould, Rachmaninov, Dvořák

Lush, haunting and hummable melodies infuse the next program of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 31 in northwest Tucson, Feb. 5 in Green Valley and Feb. 6 in SaddleBrooke. Three fabulously famous classics by Morton Gould, Sergei Rachmaninov and Antonín Dvořák are woven with Old-World folk tunes, a patriotic Civil War anthem and…

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Music Students Invited to Enter Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Talented young musicians age 13 to 18 are invited to apply for the 2016 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition sponsored by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. The deadline is Feb. 14. Prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded. In addition, the judges may present one Performance Award – an opportunity…

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2015-16 Cycle 2 Program Notes

Karelia is a region of northern Europe, on the border between Russia and Finland. Tensions over the ownership of Karelia were an important aspect of Finland’s struggle for independence. In 1893, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius was commissioned to write music to accompany a series of historic tableaux representing scenes from the history of this region. From the resulting set…

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SASO performs Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Vaughan Williams

TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra welcomes three international guest artists Nov. 7 and 8 for concerts featuring the music of Sibelius, Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams. Bulgarian brothers Ivo and Lachezar Stankov share the spotlight in Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings, written by the child prodigy in his early teens and described…

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Program notes for SASO’s October 2015 concerts

Mexican composer José Pablo Moncayo García was one of the most important representatives of the Mexican nationalist movement in classical music, along with fellow composers Silvestre Revueltas and Carlos Chávez. His Huapango is an original composition inspired by the popular music of the Mexican state of Veracruz, including the songs El Siquisiri, El Balajú and El Gavilancito. The title Huapango…

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SASO’s Story

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