TUCSON, AZ – The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will present four concerts with the Tucson Sino Choir to celebrate the 2018 Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dog. The program features ethereal selections on traditional instruments, including Jing Xia on the guzheng, a Chinese zither, and Fangyuan Liu on the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin. The program also features soprano Hua Xu and tenor Xuanshu Jiang, both voice professors at Wuhan Conservatory of Music in Hubei, China.
Linus Lerner conducts the orchestra and Larry Lang prepares the choir. Born in Beijing, Lang is a director of the Center for Chinese Music at the Fred Fox School of Music at the University of Arizona. He first played with SASO in 2009, performing the violin solo for “The Butterfly Lovers,” composed by He and Chen. Lang then traveled with SASO on its first tour of China performing this cultural favorite.
SASO has a longtime connection to China and its music. Lerner guest conducted several orchestras in China before receiving an invitation to tour with SASO. The musicians returned for another tour three years later. SASO also participated in a previous Tucson Chinese Cultural Center celebration.
Guzheng soloist Xia joins SASO to perform The Tale of Rainbow Clouds by Yuguo Zhou and erhu soloist Liu plays the Great Wall Capriccio by Wenjin Liu. Choir and orchestra selections include Overture to the Ode to the Red Flag by Qiming Lyu, and symphonic suite Dream of the Red Chamber by Liping Wang and Larry Lang, with the tenor and soprano soloists.
Xia is a graduate of the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. The award-winning artist has performed throughout Asia, Europe and America and now teaches guzheng at the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona.
Liu also graduated from Central Conservatory of Music of Beijing in erhu performance and received her master of music in ethnomusicology from the UA. She now teaches erhu at the Confucius Institute.
Vocalists Xu and Jiang are sought-after soloists in China and abroad. Xu recently released her first recital CD and DVD in China and has published books and articles about the Chinese style of singing. In addition to his Chinese training, Jiang studied chamber music and opera at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He’s published books and articles on Russian vocal music.
Established a decade ago, the Tucson Sino Choir is an ensemble of 40 voices recruited from thousands of Chinese American residents in Tucson and surrounding communities.
The performance schedule is:
- 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Crowder Hall, 1017 N. Olive Rd. on the UA campus. This free concert is sponsored by the Confucius Institute of UA
- 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr. in SaddleBrooke. Tickets are $24 in advance or $25 at the door. They can be purchased online at http://tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com or by calling (520) 825-2818.
- 28 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased at www.sasomusic.org, by calling (520) 308-6226 or at the door. Students age 17 and younger can reserve complimentary tickets.
- 11 at 2 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. on the UA campus. Tickets are $18 and $15 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. For this performance the erhu soloist is Dan Guo, the new erhu teacher at the UA Chinese Music Center, who will perform Love from Qiao’s Grand Courtyard Suite by Jiping Zhao. The program will also include Fading Affection from the same suite.
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. He has conducted SASO musicians both here and abroad, including the China tours, one tour of his native Brazil and several opera festivals in Mexico – three in Oaxaca and two in San Luis Potosí. Lerner completed a doctor of music degree at the UA.
The SASO season continues with two more concerts:
- March 10 and 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 and 15 – TSO concertmaster Lauren Roth joins SASO to perform Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Also on the program are Theofanides’ Rainbow Body and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
Philanthropist and musician Dorothy Dyer Vanek is SASO’s season sponsor for the 11th consecutive year. Vanek also underwrote both of SASO’s CDs – “Celebration!” which features the music of Tucson composers – and the well-reviewed premiere recordings of two viola concertos with soloist Brett Deubner on the Naxos label.
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 www.sasomusic.org.