SASO Presents Mostly-Mozart Season Finale

This April 6th and 7th, the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Linus Lerner cap the 2018-19 season with a performance of music by Suppé and Mozart, including some of the latter’s most treasured classics: the “Coronation Mass,” featuring the SASO Chorus, Violin Concerto No. 5, featuring violinist Adolfo Alejo, and the First Piano Concerto with the Junior Division winner of the Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition, Ayla Moreno.

The Coronation Mass is one of Mozart’s most well-known major choral works. Written in 1779 by the 23-year-old composer, it contrasts vocal soloists, choir, and orchestra in joyful themes, soaring solos, and grand orchestral passages through the six major sections of the mass. To Music Director Linus Lerner, there is no better piece to culminate SASO’s spectacular 2018-19 season. He says, “The Coronation Mass is very dear to me because it was the first orchestral piece I ever conducted, when I was 19 years old. I had worked with vocal groups and choruses, but never had done anything with orchestra. The experience was so enlightening that it awoke my desire to become an orchestral conductor. No matter how many times I perform it, it always sounds fresh to me; maybe because the work shows a young Mozart at the top of his creative form.”

SASO is proud to present acclaimed soloists Liliana del Conde (soprano), Kristin Dauphinais (alto), Adriano Pinheiro (tenor), and Andrew Stuckey (bass) in the Coronation Mass.

Liliana del Conde, of Mexico, returns as soprano soloist with SASO for the second time this season. Her career as concert and opera vocalist, clinician, and teacher has taken her to Germany, France, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Mexico and the U.S. She sings classical opera arias, Lieder, musicals and romantic Mexican Boleros. She teaches vocal technique at the Cultural Center in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Mezzo-soprano Kristin Dauphinais is highly regarded for her artistry and versatility. She has worked in a variety of genres, including musical theater, opera, concert, oratorio, chamber music and solo recitals. Her performing career has taken her throughout the United States as well as internationally with tours in Italy, China, Australia and additional concert performances in Germany, Spain, Austria and Luxembourg. She is the chair of vocal studies at of the University of Arizona.

Adriano Pinheiro is a versatile Brazilian tenor with professional studies in voice at Manhattan School of Music and the State University of São Paulo.  One of the most beautiful and expressive voices in Brazilian art song style, his work includes opera, concerts, and chamber music, with performances in Italy – Basilica de San Pietro and Pantheon (Rome), Paris – at the Petit Palais, Argentina, and Brazil, Portugal and Peru.

Andrew Stuckey is a seasoned baritone whose many and varied roles speak to his accomplished voice and broad appeal. In particular, he is a respected interpreter of the Verdi baritone roles. Most recently, Mr. Stuckey sang the black-hearted Iago in Opera Roanoke’s stellar production of Otello, which the Roanoke Times deemed “not to be missed.” Stuckey is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Arizona.

The SASO Chorus and soloists have rehearsed since early February to masterfully present this major work. The 50-member SASO Chorus, led by chorus manager Dale Whitmore and rehearsal conductor Korby Myrick (who will also take the stage as a soloist), is prepared to deliver an impressive performance. “Working with Linus [Lerner] and the full Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is a joy not many singers have the chance to experience, and we are grateful for the opportunity to present the piece to such an appreciative audience,” says Whitmore, currently in her third year as chorus manager. With this monumental piece, the majestic sound of chorus, winds, and strings will close out SASO’s season with grandeur.

Mozart’s ambitious fifth and final Violin Concerto, written during his “year of the violin,” 1775, far exceeds his previous four concerti in length and virtuosity. Nicknamed the “Turkish,” the festive work presents an endlessly imaginative sequence of themes — some introduced by the violin, others by the orchestra — that balance drama, tension, and eloquence. The Finale is an especially adventurous dance, with surprises in form that reveal touches of the exotic. The soloist’s part, performed by acclaimed Mexican violinist Adolfo Alejo, demands a combination of virtuosity and sensitivity.

Alejo is fit for the task. An active concert violinist, violist, and conductor whose performances have been heard from Berlin and Italy to New York, Mexico, and China, Alejo has been described as “a perfect mix of fine technique and volcanic musicality; one of the best Latin American artists in the globe.” He won both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the New York String Quartet Competition, and recently released a double CD of violin and viola music under the Brilliant Classics label. He is a professor at the Barcelona International Music Academy and is frequently invited to perform and coach at major music festivals. This will be his first performance on a Tucson stage.

Also making a special appearance at the concert will be the Junior Division winner of the Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition, seven-year-old Ayla Moreno. Moreno won for her performance of the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which she will perform with SASO. Moreno already has an impressive list of accomplishments for such a young age. She is a second-grade student who loves music, dancing, science, and drawing. Ayla has been invited to perform on violin and piano at various venues in Tucson and Japan, including the Tucson Annual Japanese Festival, Tucson Folk Festival, Tucson Museum of Art, several churches, and more. In 2017-2018, Ayla won first place at the Merit Scholarship Piano Competition, and has earned medals at the Arizona State Piano Competition for two years in a row. Ayla is excited to perform the Mozart Piano Concerto with the Tucson Repertory Orchestra when they tour in Japan this summer.

Mozart was only a few years older than Ayla when he wrote his first piano concerto at the age of 11. In the typical practice of a learning composer, the themes of this concerto are primarily adapted from other composers’ works. Already Mozart demonstrates a keen understanding of instrumental color, thematic development, and pianistic writing. The inventiveness and charm of this exploratory work evidences the young composer’s budding genius, and it is an apt showpiece for a talented young performer such as Moreno.

Not to be overlooked, SASO’s program also features the beloved overture to one of Franz von Suppé’s most popular operettas: The Beautiful Galatea. While Suppé may not be as much of a household name as other Romantic-era composers, much of his music is actually quite widely known and easily recognized (partly due, no doubt, to a few classic Disney and Looney Tunes renditions.) The overture’s attractive melodies and exuberant allegro dances are sure to bring smiles to the audience.

Performances will be Saturday, April 6th at 7:30 pm at DesertView Performing Arts Center at 39900 S Clubhouse Drive (SaddleBrooke), and Sunday, April 7th at 3:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 7575 N Paseo del Norte. Tickets for the SaddleBrooke performance are available at, and tickets for the Tucson performance are available at or by calling 520-308-6226.

SASO has announced its upcoming 40th anniversary season, celebrating the orchestra’s rich history with a stellar lineup of concerts and special add-on events. Highlights include concerts featuring the music of Beethoven (marking the composer’s 250th birth year), Tchaikovsky, Orff, Gershwin, and more. Additionally, SASO will mount a full opera production of Die Fledermaus at Rincon High School and will present Orff’s magnum opus, Carmina Burana, twice at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian plus three extra performances at area high schools. The 40th season’s ambitious program contains many surprises. More details can be found at

Founded in 1979, SASO has grown into a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a mutual love of music. The orchestra presents a wide range of compositions, including world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and popular classics. SASO brings together student, amateur and professional musicians with exceptional soloists, composers and conductors. Under the baton of Music Director Linus Lerner, this local community orchestra has twice traveled to China, performed three times in Oaxaca, Mexico, once in Brazil and for the past three summers at the San Luis Potosí Opera Festival in Mexico. SASO has released two commercial recordings and presents five concert programs each season in two or more locations. For more information, visit or call (520) 308-6226.

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