Join Us

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is a solid mix of professional-level, amateur and student musicians. Several musicians have been members of the orchestra since it was formed in 1979.

SASO rehearses each Wednesday evening, and occasional Tuesday evenings, from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. All evening rehearsals are at CATALYST Arts & Maker Space in the Tucson Mall unless otherwise noted. Please arrive early and be ready to tune at 6:55 p.m. Bring a music stand if you have one. Each concert cycle includes approximately seven evening rehearsals, plus a Saturday morning dress rehearsal on the concert weekend. SaddleBrooke concerts are Saturdays at 7:30pm. St. Andrew’s concerts are Sundays at 3 p.m.

Prospective members may inquire about auditions by filling out the form on the right side of this page.

The success of an orchestra depends on everyone’s dedicated participation. To make the experience a rewarding and satisfying one, we have formalized our attendance policy, which is based on the following principles:

  • We ask for your commitment to SASO, but we know that schedule conflicts can occur.
  • Our goal is to make as efficient use of rehearsal time as possible.
  • Unexpected absences cause the most problems. We can work around expected absences.
  • If you will be absent, you should try to make it as easy as possible on those who are present.

Every piece is different in its orchestration and its technical demands. Not every player is asked to play every piece. Seating arrangements may vary from piece to piece. We ask for your cooperation, flexibility and understanding in this. 

Each season, you are asked to complete a schedule form indicating any concert cycles and/or rehearsals that you must miss. This information will be made available to the section leaders and to the Music Director.

If an absence you did not know about at the time you filled out the schedule is necessary, please inform the Personnel Manager* as soon as possible.

Wind/brass/percussion players who miss rehearsals should try to find a substitute for the rehearsals they will miss. The Personnel Manager can suggest names. If you miss a rehearsal, be sure your part is available at the rehearsal whether you have a substitute or not.

Section leaders who miss a rehearsal should designate a section leader in their absence, and notify that person ahead of time.

Section leaders or the Personnel Committee will call players with unexplained absences. Repeated unexplained absences or late arrivals to rehearsals and/or concerts will be grounds for removal from the orchestra. If you miss more than one rehearsal for a particular concert cycle, or if you miss the dress rehearsal, the Music Director or the Personnel Committee may request that you not play the concert. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

If you must miss one concert in a given cycle, you are not entitled to play the other concert in that cycle in your normal seating position.

  • Wind/brass/percussion players must sit out the cycle.
  • String players have the option of playing the other concert, provided that they attend the rehearsals (including the dress) for that concert, and sit at the back of their section for that cycle.

This policy is designed to ensure consistency in seating between performances in a given cycle, while maximizing playing opportunities. Any exceptions require the approval of the Music Director.

The orchestra will tune at 6:55. The Music Director reserves the right to keep the orchestra past 9:30 if we start late. If you know that you will be late for a rehearsal, please tell the Music Director beforehand.

*Personnel Manager is currently Tim Secomb,  360-2128 cell

Audio/Video Release Policy. It is a condition of participating in SASO activities that you authorize SASO to publish audio and/or video materials obtained during SASO rehearsals or performances, which may include your name and likeness, for use in SASO’s publications including print, online, CD or DVD materials, and that you release SASO and any third parties involved in the creation such materials from liability for any claims by you or any third party in connection with your participation.

General Personnel Reminders

Please do not wear perfume, cologne or other scents to rehearsals or concerts.

Please do not carry on conversations during tuning or rehearsal.

Speak quietly if you need to discuss something about the music that can’t wait until break.

If you are unable to attend a rehearsal, please contact Tim Secomb AND your section leader in advance. It may be necessary for you to help find a replacement for your part.

Concert Dress:
Ladies—Black dress or skirt/pants and blouse. Sleeves should be elbow length or longer. Dress/skirt/pants should be mid-calf or longer. Black shoes.
Gentlemen—tuxedo or black suit, white shirt, black bow tie, black shoes and socks.

Concert Dress should look professional and not casual.

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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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