Press Releases

Four Student Musicians Win SASO Youth Concerto Competition

TUCSON, AZ – Cellist Benjamin Nead won the 2013 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition presented by the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. He’ll perform with the orchestra on April 6 and 7. Nead, 17, won the first prize of $1,000 and the opportunity to solo with SASO. In last year’s competition, he placed second and won…

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SASO Presents Mahler, Viola Concerto, Aria by Tucson Artists

TUCSON, AZ – Mahler’s romantic fourth symphony, a viola concerto by Hindemith and an aria from the new opera Rappaccini’s Daughter are highlights of the next Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra concerts on Feb. 23 and 24. Award-winning virtuoso Hong-Mei Xiao is the soloist for Paul Hindemith’s Viola Concerto Der Schwanendreher. This unique chamber work is…

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James Reel Joins SASO as Executive Director

TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra has appointed James Reel as its first-ever executive director. Reel is best known as Arizona Public Media’s classical music director and weekday morning announcer for KUAT-FM. Long involved in the Tucson arts community, Reel also serves as executive director of Chamber Music Plus and is president of…

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2012-13 Season Release

TUCSON, AZ – The ambitious season of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra features five Tucson composers, plus powerhouse favorites by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, de Falla, Sibelius, Debussy, Hindemith, Mahler, Wagner, Hanson, Hohvaness, Saint-Saens and Rachmaninoff. The 2012-2013 season includes three world premieres by Tucson artists. They are Running the Rim by Jay Vosk, If Life Were…

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SASO’s Story

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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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.