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 from Mexico as well as music by Mexican composers.


The Consulate of Mexico in Tucson, in collaboration with the Instituto Cultural Mexicano de Tucson, SASO and the Fox Theatre Tucson, presents this commemoration of the 207th anniversary of Mexican Independence. Free tickets will be distributed by the Mexican Consulate, 3915 E. Broadway. For information call the consulate at 882-5595, Ext. 404.


Guest artists include Liliana del Conde, a well-known singer in Mexico, along with Diana Peralta, mezzo soprano; José González Caro, baritone, and composer/conductor Alejandro Sánchez-Navarro, directing his ownMéxico (El País de las Montañas).”


Peralta and Caro were prize winners at the second Linus Lerner Voice Competition, which was held this summer in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. They performed with SASO in the second Opera Festival of San Luis, which was held in conjunction with the voice completion. Del Conde is the general director of the Opera Festival, which she and Lerner founded in 2016.


The program includes the “Mexico 1910 Suite” by Esperón Gonzales, and these arias:

  • “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah, sung by Peralta
  • “Hai gia vinta la causa” from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, sung by Caro
  • “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen, Peralta
  • “Bella siccome un angelo” from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Caro
  • “Queen of the night” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, sung by del Conde
  • “Asi” by Maria Grever, del Conde
  • “Cuando vuelva a tu lado,” also by Grever, Caro
  • “Jurame” by Grever, all three singersLerner is an internationally known vocal coach and conductor. He said, “In recent years, Mexico has become the source of some of the best emerging opera singers in the world.” He has organized a series of opera festivals in Mexico to showcase these emerging talents and to nurture their development through workshops and individual coaching. In addition to the festival and competition in San Luis Potosí held in 2016 and 2017, SASO musicians have performed with him at opera festivals in Oaxaca in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This is SASO’s fourth annual Mexican Independence Day celebration concert.


  • Founded in 1979, SASO presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. The orchestra is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music – locally and internationally. For more information call 308-6226 or visit
  • Fox Theatre Tucson – which seats 1,200 – is in downtown Tucson at 17 W. Congress St. Doors will open at 7 p.m.
  • On the eve of September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called upon the residents of the town of Dolores, Hidalgo to rise up against the government of New Spain. This call to arms began an 11-year struggle that culminated with the Cordoba Treaties and the birth of a new nation.
  • Ricardo Pineda, Consul of Mexico in Tucson, has said, “We want to share with the public our rich historical and cultural legacy and our different traditions. This event seeks to bring our communities together in remembrance of those who have forged the history of Mexico.”

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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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.