SASO Finale Features Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, Chilean Violinist Mendoza, Local Composer Pete Fine

TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra closes the season with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3 with soloist Francisca Mendoza and the premiere of Tucson composer Pete Fine’s Landscapes.

Music Director Linus Lerner conducts.

The program opens with Landscapes, inspired by a 2011 trip through Rocky Mountain National Park. Fine was born in New York City in 1950 and moved to Tucson in 1974. A guitarist, sitar player and self-taught composer, he also wrote a Concerto for Electric Guitar, which premiered in 1999.

Born in Chile to a musical family, Mendoza began playing violin at age of 4, gave her first recital at 8 and soloed with the Youth Orchestra of the National Conservatory at 14. She won a scholarship from the Organization of American States to study in the United States and a merit scholarship from the University of Michigan. She’s a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and holds a masters’ degree from the Eastman School of Music. An internationally acclaimed soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, she’s on the faculty of the Amati Conservatory in New Jersey, the Amati Music Festival in New York and Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Saint-Saëns, who was active as a poet, mathematician, astronomer and archaeologist as well as a musician, composed the last of his three violin concertos in 1880 for the Spanish virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, who introduced the work in a concert in Paris.

Russian-born Rachmaninoff’s romantic second symphony nearly was never composed. According to musicologist Michael Steinberg, “The premiere of his Symphony No. 1 in 1897, horribly conducted by Alexander Glazunov, was such a disaster that it took three years of psychotherapy and hypnosis before Rachmaninoff could again face writing a large-scale composition. It was the instantly popular Piano Concerto No. 2 that freed him then – but even so, it was a long time before the notion of ‘symphony’ ceased to make him shudder.” Rachmaninoff wrote the symphony between October 1906 and April of 1907. It would be nearly 30 years before he wrote another.

The final program of the SASO season will be performed twice – Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr. in SaddleBrooke – and Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte.

The 2013-2014 SASO season will be announced at the concerts.

Tickets to the SaddleBrooke concert are $21 in advance or $23 at the door. Order them online at http://tickets/ or call 825-2818.

Tickets to the St. Andrews concert are $20 in advance or at the door. At the St. Andrews concert, tickets are complimentary for students age 17 or younger. Reserve online at or call 308- 6226.

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. In January the orchestra completed its second performance tour of China.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.