SASO Begins the 2017-2018 Season


TUCSON, AZ – On Oct. 14 and 15 the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra presents a lively program inspired by folk rhythms, poetry and joyous celebrations of the human spirit. These are musical marvels by Khachaturian, Vivaldi and Dvorak.

SASO welcomes the return of violinist Chloé Trevor to play Khachaturian’s Violin Concert and Vivaldi’s Summer from the Four Seasons. She is known for her “dazzling technique,” “huge tone” and “natural musicality.” Born into a musical family, she began playing the violin at age two. In addition to performances throughout Europe and the United States, she recently completed her first tours of Australia, Singapore, Spain and Mexico. She previously soloed with SASO in May, 2015.

Khachaturian’s only violin concerto was an immediate and enduring success. He wrote it in the summer of 1940 in his native Armenia. Khachaturian once said, “I wrote the music as though on a wave of happiness. My whole being was in a state of joy, for I was awaiting the birth of my son. And this feeling, this love of life, was transmitted to the music,” according to The Amati Magazine. 

Vivaldi wrote his Four Seasons violin concerti around 1721 based on poems specific to each season of the year. Some speculate that he wrote the sonnets himself because they so precisely fit the music, given that each is broken down into three sections, neatly corresponding to a movement in the concerto.

In 1878 Dvořák was commissioned to write a set of eight pieces in the spirit of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. The resulting Slavonic Dances proved immensely popular. The composer has said he incorporated characteristic rhythms of the folk dances of his native Bohemia, yet the melodies were his own creation. SASO will play Slavonic Dances 5, 6, 7 and 8.

The program opens with Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, which premiered in Bucharest in 1903 with the composer conducting.

This SASO season opener also features Solis by contemporary American composer Amanda Harberg. Fellow composer John Corigliano (who won as Oscar for score of The Red Violin performed by Joshua Bell) has said, “Amanda Harberg writes truly beautiful music. This is rare in our time – in fact, in any time. She touches the soul and invigorates the brain at the same time. I love her work.”

SASO musicians previously performed Harberg’s Viola Concerto in 2015, which was commissioned and played by her friend Brett Deubner, a champion of new works for the viola. SASO’s CD on the Naxos label includes the premiere recordings of Harberg’s concerto and Max Wolpert’s Viola Concerto No. 1, both played by Deubner.

Philanthropist and musician Dorothy Vanek underwrote this CD as well as SASO’s previous recording – Celebration! – featuring the compositions of six Tucson composers. She remains SASO’s season sponsor for the 11th consecutive year.

With SASO you can expect the unexpected. Music Director Lerner challenged himself to not repeat any major work in his first decade of programming for SASO. This season explores new works, welcomes eight guest artists and invites audiences to savor both familiar and esoteric selections. Lerner has conducted SASO musicians both here and abroad, including two tours of China, one in Brazil and several opera festivals in Mexico – three in Oaxaca and two in San Luis Potosí. 

The Oct. 14 and 15 performances will be on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. in SaddleBrooke at the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr., and on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson.

SaddleBrooke tickets are $24 in advance or $25 at the door. They can be purchased by calling (520) 825-2818 or online at St. Andrew’s tickets are $23 and can be purchased by calling (520) 308-6226 or at Students age 17 and younger can reserve complimentary tickets to the St. Andrew’s performance. 

The 2017-2018 season includes four more concerts:

    • Nov. 18-19 – Paraguay’s globe-trotting Diego Sánchez Haase guests conducts Beethoven’s evocative Pastoral Symphony and Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto featuring Tbilisi-born Yelena Beriyeva in her second appearance with SASO. The program opens with Rossini’s Overture to William Tell.
  • Jan. 27-28 – SASO’s Chinese New Year celebration features soloists on the guzheng, also known as the Chinese zither, and the erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin. University of Arizona faculty member Jing Xia plays the guzheng in Zhou’s Robe of the Clouds. Xiaoyin Zheng solos on the erhu in Lui’s Great Wall Fantasy. Other selections are Lu’s Ode to the Red Flag and Wang-Lang’s Dream of the Red Chamber.
  • March 10-11 – Don’t miss Electric Guitar Concerto No. 2 written and performed by Tucsonan Pete Fine. His first concerto premiered in 1999. This concert also features SASO’s favorite soprano Christi Amonson, performing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Poulenc’s Gloria with the SASO Chorus, plus winners of SASO’s annual Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition.
  • April 14-15 – TSO concertmaster Lauren Roth joins SASO to perform Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program are Theofanides’ Rainbow Body and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.SASO is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music. Founded in 1979, this orchestra presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. For more information call (520) 308-6226 or visit

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SASO’s Story

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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.