Music Appreciation 101, Part I

This article will take a peek into the world of Classical Orchestra Music from an insiders perspective and conclude with audience participation. It should be noted up front, that attendance at Southern Arizona Symphony concerts has increased, indicating a growing interest, enjoyment of programs, and a belief that SASO is SaddleBrooke’s Orchestra.

Part 1 of this 3 part monograph will look at an orchestra’s woodwind section. Today’s symphony orchestras incorporate 3 sections: strings, winds, and percussion and each of these can also be further dissected. Strings consist of violins, violas, celli, basses, and harp: winds are divided into woodwinds and brasses where the later include horns, trumpets, trombones, and tuba: percussion gets divided into 2 groups listed as to frequency of use. First are those who play melody or pitch: timpani, bells, xylophone, chimes, and piano, secondly are those that produce rhythm or effects: bass drum, cymbals, triangle, snare drums, woodblock and many others.

Focusing on the Woodwinds we see that there are 4 groups of instruments: flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons going from highest to lowest in pitch. Flutes include piccolos, oboes include english horns, there are 4 types of clarinets and 2 of bassoons. Collectively these instruments can produce warm, exotic, humorous, mellow, but yet very unique quality sounds. One of the distinctive attributes of this group is ensembling, which is as they perform together, they listen to each other which allows them to blend for accurate intonation and for phrasing. Other sections do this also but not to the extent the woodwinds do.

This writer was fortunate back in the 1950’s to hear numerous times the woodwind choir to be the finest in the world. As members of Ormandy’s Philadelphia Orchestra, they were William Kincade flute,Marcel Tabuteau oboe, Anthony Gigliotti clarinet, and Sol Schoenbach bassoon. They had extraordinary individual and ensemble ability.

Another area of orchestra concerts to look at are the forms of music performed. Most commonly performed are symphonies and concertos. Both of these forms were products of the classical period: Haydn and the 4 movement symphony and Mozart and the 3 movement concerto. Both build upon Haydn’s sonata form. Beethoven exploded these 2 forms into structures followed to this day. Some additional forms are overtures, suites and tone poems.

A practice that listeners should follow whether at a concert or listening to a recording, is to read the notes outlining the work. A symphony has 4 movements usually fast-slow-fast but light-fast finale and a concerto has 3 movements usually fast-slow-fast finale and has solos(cadenzas). This way audiences know what to expect and applause should not occur until the entire work is completed. Following an individual selection 3-5 curtain calls are normal for a concerto soloist and 2-4 for a conductor following a symphony.

In conclusion, note that some concertos pit the soloist against the orchestra but the goal of symphonies and concertos is to unite the performers and the audience as one. It is great to have both audience and musicians feel fulfilled following a concert.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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