Music Director

Linus Lerner, DMA


Maestro Linus Lerner is praised for the charisma and passionate energy he brings to his musical performances, inspiring artists and audience. At home on either the symphony podium or the operatic pit, Lerner has conducted in the United States, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Spain, South Korea, Turkey and Russia.

Some of Maestro Lerner’s recent performances include: Sofia Philharmonic (Bulgaria), Torún Symphony (Poland), Opera of the Greek Theater of Tindari (Italy), Berliner Camerata and Philharmonic Orchestra of Leipzig (Germany); Plovdiv Opera, Sliven Symphony Orchestra, Vidin Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Sinfonietta and Sofia Philharmonic (Bulgaria); Orchestra of the Mussorgksy Conservatory (Russia); National Symphony Orchestra of Panama (Panama); Korea Peace Orchestra (South Korea); Orchestra of the Fondi Music Festival and Arezzo Symphony Orchestra (Italy); Antalya Symphony Orchestra (Turkey); Tsingtao Symphony Orchestra, Hunan Symphony Orchestra, Fuzhou Symphony Orchestra and National Orchestra of Film and Radio (China); Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, Texas Festival Orchestra, Opera in the Heights and Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra (USA); Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra, San Luis Opera Festival Orchestra and Michoacán Symphony Orchestra (Mexico); Orchestra of the National Congress (Paraguay); Campinas Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Porto Alegre, Pernambuco University Opera Studio, Gramado Symphony Orchestra, Caxias do Sul University Symphony Orchestra, Goiânia Symphony Orchestra and Teatro da Paz Symphony Orchestra (Brazil).

Lerner is currently Artistic Director and Conductor of SASO: Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (USA); OSRN: Rio Grande do Norte Symphony Orchestra and OSG: Gramado Symphony Orchestra (Brazil); Gramado in Concert International Music Festival (Brazil); and the San Luis Potosi Opera Festival and the Linus Lerner International Voice Competition Linus Lerner (Mexico). He also serves as conductor of Round Top Festival Hill Institute (TX).

This past May, Maestro Linus recorded a CD of Mendelssohn concerti, under the Meridian label, with the Royal Philharmonic of London, to be released this coming fall. With SASO, Lerner recorded a CD (released by NAXOS) of viola concerti by Amanda Harberg and Max Wolpert and also a CD of the contemporary composers of the city of Tucson. With OSRN, he recorded a CD with the music of Brazilian composer Tonheca Dantas and his “Carmina Burana” won the title of “Best Performance of the Year”. Other recording credits include CDs with choruses in the USA and Brazil.

Maestro Lerner also worked as a teacher and coach for various orchestras and choruses and worked for El Sistema “La Esperanza Azteca” in Mexico, where he taught more than 100 teachers and conductors. Before his full dedication to the conducting, Lerner also sang with various opera companies and orchestras in the USA, Brazil and Europe and received several awards in different voice competitions.

Some important recognitions and honors received by Maestro Linus Lerner are: the Ohtli Medal (the highest award of the Mexican government) because of his work for the development of the opera in Mexico; the Djalma Marinho Medal and the Alberto Maranhão medal for his work with OSRN as well as the key to the city of the mayor of Tucson for his work in the musical community of that city.

Lerner received his Doctor of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Arizona, his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Florida State University, his Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati and his Bachelor of Music in Conducting from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

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SASO’s Story

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 first concert was Oct. 28, 1979, conducted by former University of Arizona music professor Henry Johnson, featuring Jonathan Kramer in a Boccherini cello concerto.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.