SASO Presents Orchestral Gems and Trumpet Showpieces

TUCSON, AZ – On November 17 & 18 the Southern Arizona Symphony presents a program of pieces that combine symphonic power with melodic grace and lyricism in the music of Borodin, Bernstein, Arutiunian, and Jobim.


Award-winning Brazilian trumpeter Flávio Gabriel joins Maestro Linus Lerner and SASO to delight audiences with Arutiunian’s landmark Trumpet Concerto and Jobim’s famous The Girl from Ipanema. Gabriel took 2nd prize in the 2010 Prague Spring International Music Festival, known as an especially difficult competition, becoming the first Brazilian to win such an honor.

Gabriel’s distinguished career has revolved around symphonic performance. He frequently appears as soloist with many orchestras in North and South America, has performed principal trumpet with the Simon Bolívar Youth Orchestra and the Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra, and has been a member of many other professional orchestras.


To start off the program, SASO celebrates Leonard Bernstein’s centennial year with the overture to Candide, one of the illustrious composer/conductor’s most popular works. The fast-paced overture masterfully mixes playful melodies, off-kilter beats, and sweeping sentimental passages, living up to its namesake, Voltaire’s 1758 philosophical satire. The original Broadway production opened in 1956, and Bernstein’s music has experienced a rich legacy through widespread performances of various settings and arrangements.


Alexander Borodin’s Second Symphony is widely considered the Russian composer’s greatest composition. According to Borodin’s biographer, Serge Dianin, “the Second Symphony proved to be Borodin’s greatest work. . . The power, the playfulness, the lyricism, and the liveliness incorporated into each of the movements make for a compelling gesture.” Composed between 1870 and 1875 (while Borodin was also progressing in his primary career as a chemist and professor), the symphony boasts an abundance of melodic themes, ranging from the stark and noble opening to the elegant reverie of the andante movement.


Alexander Arutiunian composed his Trumpet Concerto in 1950. Listeners will quickly understand why the piece, hailed as a “virtuosic showpiece,” was assimilated into the trumpet repertoire and became Arutiunian’s most popular composition. The score showcases the soloist’s technical ability, lyrical expression, and musical sensitivity, framed perfectly by the orchestra’s sumptuous and colorful backdrop.


Finally, Gabriel and SASO treat listeners to a rendition of Brazilian jazz and bossa nova legend Antônio Carlos Jobim’s most sensational hit, The Girl from Ipanema. One of the most recorded songs of all time, the instantly-recognizable tune, inspired by the allure of an attractive passerby, evokes the sense of idyllic coastal life, but with a touch of melancholy for the unattainable love described in the lyrics and “the feeling of youth that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone,” as described by playwright Vinícius de Moraes. Gabriel and the orchestra paint audiences a picture with lush tones and subtle samba rhythms.


Performances are Saturday, November 17th at 7:30 pm at DesertView Performing Arts Center in SaddleBrooke, and Sunday, November 18th at 3:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Oro Valley. Tickets for Saturday’s concert can be purchased at, and Sunday’s concert at or by calling 520-308-6226.


SASO has thrived in Tucson and surrounding areas since its founding in 1979. The orchestra remains a growing and vital community resource, providing audiences in Tucson and its periphery with high-caliber performances, from iconic masterworks to world premieres and seldom-heard gems. Maestro Linus Lerner, now entering his 11th year as Music Director, continues to challenge and inspire as he leads the orchestra to new heights, including recording engagements, international tours, and educational outreach programs.


The 2018-19 season features a special concert and three more concert cycles:


  • December 8, 2018: Members of SASO and the SASO Chorus will be joined by cantors and soloists from seven of Tucson’s Jewish congregations in a Chanukah Cantata, composed from ancient and modern texts by Tucson’s own Robert Lopez-Hanshaw, at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.


  • February 2-3, 2019: Mendelssohn and Brahms: Violinist Madeleine Mitchell and cellist Theodore Buchholz join SASO in Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Violoncello, as well as Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5. Performances at SaddleBrooke and St. Andrew’s.


  • March 2-3, 2019: A magical and whimsical program including Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (with Rick Wamer, mime), Françaix’ Clarinet Concerto (with Lucas Ferreira, clarinet), and a world premiere of SASO member Richard White’s Concertino for English Horn (with Sherry Jameson, English horn). Performances at SaddleBrooke and St. Andrew’s.


  • April 6-7, 2019: Mozart’s Coronation Mass, with the SASO Chorus, and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 (Turkish) with Adolfo Alejo, violin. Performances at SaddleBrooke and St. Andrew’s.


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.


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SASO’s Story

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