New Soloist Mikhail Korzhev Joins SASO for Liszt’s First Piano Concerto April 5-6

Mikhail KorzhevTUCSON, AZ – The new soloist for Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is Russian-born Mikhail Korzhov, who performs with the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra on April 5 and 6. He replaces Pervez Mody, who had a family emergency.

This SASO concert is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, with the Liszt plus Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. This spirited and ambitious program will be conducted by SASO Music Director Linus Lerner.

Korzhev has performed throughout the United States and Europe. One music critic in Rome wrote, “The young Russian pianist displayed a notable technical mastery which allowed for passionate moments of ardent lyricism as well as wonderful purity and fluency.”

Korzhev studied at the Moscow Conservator College and completed a doctorate in piano performance at the University of Southern California. He’s currently on the faculties of University of Southern California, California State University, Fullerton and Chapman University. He is also a faculty member at the Beverly Hills International Music Festival.

Liszt himself premiered his first piano concerto under the baton of Hector Berlioz. The work evolved for more than two decades, with early thematic notes penned by the composer at age 19. Even after the premiere, Liszt continued to fine-tune the concerto, which is known for its lyricism, invention, wit and poetry.

The SASO concert also features teen piano phenom Rebecca Shiao, winner of the 2014 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition. She will perform the first movement of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. She also won a cash prize of $1,000 in the fifth annual competition sponsored by SASO. Shiao previously won the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s 26th annual Young Artists Competition. She’s a senior at Catalina Foothills High School and studies piano with Susan Chu.

The program opens with Rimsky-Korsakov’s lively and richly orchestrated Capriccio Espagnol. Inspired by Spanish folk dances and gypsy songs, the five-section work features cadenzas for various soloists throughout the orchestra.

The program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. John Mangum of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra once wrote that “Shakespeare’s tragedy and Tchaikovsky’s tortured personal life collided to produce the first true expression of his genius as a composer—a tautly constructed masterpiece that boils Shakespeare’s narrative down to its essentials in 20 minutes of music that is, by turns, thunderingly dramatic and achingly beautiful.”

The concerts will be presented Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive in SaddleBrooke and again on Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson.

Tickets to the SaddleBrooke concert are $21 in advance or $23 at the door. Call 825-2818 or order online. Tickets to the St. Andrew’s concert are $20 and can be ordered by phone at 308-6226 or here. Tickets also can be purchased at the door. Complimentary tickets are available at the St. Andrew’s performance for students age 17 or younger.

The 2013-2014 season is sponsored by longtime SASO supporter Dorothy Vanek.

The final SASO program of the season will be presented three times—on May 10, 11 and 12—and features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 performed with the Southern Arizona Symphony Chorus and other vocalists. The program also includes Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with guitarist Roberto Capocchi.

The May 10 concert is at 7:30 p.m. in SaddleBrooke’s Desert View Performing Arts Center. The May 11 concert is at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The May 12 concert is at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre on the West Campus of Pima Community College.

Maestro Lerner has led orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and China. SASO has toured China twice under his baton. In the summer of 2013 he directed the inaugural Oaxaca Opera Festival in Mexico, coaching singers from Mexico and conducing SASO musicians. Lerner also is music director of the Symphony Orchestra Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.

Founded in 1979, SASO is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music. The orchestra presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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