Globe-hopping Lerner leads Brazilian orchestra, too

Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra Conductor Linus Lerner will rack up tons of frequent flier miles after accepting a job late last month to lead a state orchestra in Brazil.

Lerner will now commute between Tucson, where he will remain with SASO, Houston, where he is artistic director and conductor of two choruses, and Natal, Brazil, where he will lead the Rio Grande do Norte Symphony Orchestra as its artistic director and conductor.

Natal is in a seaside city about the size of Tucson and its orchestra is sponsored by the government.

“It’s a beautiful place. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil,” said Lerner, who is a native of Brazil.

Lerner returned to Brazil in mid-September to accept the position and lead the orchestra in its first concert of the season. The orchestra performs five concerts a season for the community and five concerts in public schools.

Lerner is from Brazil’s southern coast. He has not worked in the country since moving to the United States 16 years ago.

“For me it’s a big deal because I am returning to Brazil and conducting an orchestra,” said Lerner, 44, who said he was excited about the orchestra’s community outreach. “Every concert we do, we follow up the next day with an educational concert with kids. I’m educating kids in orchestral music.”

Lerner has led the volunteer SASO since the 2008-09 season. In 2009, he became artistic director of the Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston and began commuting to Tucson from Houston.

During a phone interview on Thursday shortly after he returned to Tucson from Brazil, Lerner said he will continue leading all three ensembles at least for the 2012-13 season and has no plans to leave SASO after that.

“Nothing will change for SASO,” he said. “SASO is still growing with me.

“There are still some projects I want to do with them. … There are other tours they want to do, including to Brazil … and Mexico, as well.”

Lerner took SASO to China for a tour in late December 2009 and will return to the country with the orchestra in late December.

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