Concert Archives: Stoller’s “Open Spaces”

Here’s a front-row video of Bruce Stoller’s Open Spaces Suite, which SASO premiered on April 6 and 7, 2013. Stoller himself served as soloist, playing one of the many yucca shakuhachi flutes he has crafted over the years. Refined studio recordings of the second and third movements may be found on SASO’s CD Celebration! (which you can purchase here). In this video, you can experience the full work in its April 7 performance at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson. Linus Lerner conducts.

Bruce Stoller is a pianist, composer, flutist and flute maker originally from New York City. He studied piano with Robert Goldsand at the Manhattan School of Music and holds a masters in piano performance from the University of Arizona, studying with Dr. Rex Woods. He also spends time playing transverse flute and end-blown pentatonic flutes from various cultures. He has also been a part of the freelance music scene in Tucson since 1980, playing piano in clubs and hotels. In 1973 he journeyed out West and happened onto Bisbee, and is considered a founding member of the 1970s “crew” that witnessed Bisbee’s transition from mining town to art colony. He writes:

“In the Mule Mountains of Bisbee, I found inspiration to use dried yucca and agave blooms for cylinder making, and was ‘off to the races’ making five-holed pentatonic flutes. That experience changed my musical compass as reflected in Open Spaces Suite and my CD Mandala, a collection of original work for solo yucca flute, flute and guitar, flute and synthesizers, and piano. Open Spaces Suite is an elemental expression of my rootedness and adaptation in the desert, an homage to Bisbee and enduring relationships. It is definitely a Sonoran Desert work. I am grateful to work with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and for the opportunity to present this work for yucca flute and orchestra. Open Spaces Suite is dedicated to the memory of my brothers John and Billy Stoller.”

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.