SASO Season Opens with Bulgarian Guest Artists

TUCSON, AZ – A Bulgarian composer, cellist and conductor are featured in the first program of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra season on Oct. 5 and 6. The artists are Roumi Petrova, Kalin Ivanov and Dimitar Karaminkov.

The program includes Petrova’s Cello Concerto in C, as well as Verdi’s Overture to Nabucco and Borodin’s Symphony No. 2.

Guest conductor Karaminkov was honored as “The Best Young Conductor of Bulgaria” in 1984 and remains one the most significant participants of Bulgarian musical life. He graduated from the Bulgarian State Academy of Music in Sofia, then studied with Franco Ferrara at the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy.

He is the music director & chief conductor of the Sliven Symphony Orchestra, a post he’s held since 1994. He’s guest conducted in Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece and India. He’s recorded with the Symphony Orchestra of Bulgarian National Radio as well as the Ruosse and Sliven Philharmonic Orchestras. Many outstanding musicians and singers from Europe, the United States and Japan and have performed under his baton. Bulgarian Music Magazine called his style “charming and elegant.”

Cellist Ivanov performs internationally as a soloist, chamber musician and recording artist. He began playing cello at the age of 6, studying with his father. Known for his charismatic performances, the young talent traveled from Bulgaria to England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Russia and Greece. In 1999 he won the C.W. Post Chamber Music Festival Concerto Competition at Long Island University. He holds a master’s degree from the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. He now teaches cello and chamber music there as well as at several other New York music schools.

Ivanov received a career development grant from the Artist Fund of the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is the subject of an hour-long film biography produced by the Bulgarian National Television and has been featured in numerous other radio and TV broadcasts. He’s released three CDs and is a founding member of The Forte String Quartet, New York Classic Trio, New York Empire Trio, Duo “BG” and the Bulgarian Piano Quartet. The STRAD lauded his “dramatic urgency and expressive tone.”

Ivanov will perform Petrova’s Cello Concerto. The composer, violist and teacher graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She then completed another master of music degree at The University of Pretoria, South Africa, where she lived and worked for five years as a fulltime orchestra musician – in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. After that she lived in New York and Miami for a decade before returning to Bulgaria in 2008 to teach viola and chamber music at the National Art School in Varga. As a chamber musician she’s toured in the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Greece. Petrova began composing in her early 20s. Her compositions are featured on two CDs – Project Bacillus Bulgaricus (2003) and Enchanted Rhythms (2006).

The Cello Concerto is inspired by the irregular rhythm of seven beats per measure, which is quite characteristic of traditional Bulgarian music. All movements are written in different aspects of the rhythm – the first movement is in 7/8, the slow movement is in 7/4 and the finale is in 7/16. Not only rhythmically but also harmonically, Petrova draws from Bulgarian tradition – all themes are short and simple, harmonies are mostly modal. There are many quotations of famous music works in the concerto, and although they are disguised by the irregular rhythm and modal harmonies, it is said the trained listener will easily find them.

Borodin also incorporated a variety of Russian folk melodies into his second symphony, considered his most important large-scale work. It has melodic resemblances to two theatre works that he wrote during the same time period – Prince Igor and Mlada. A contemporary of Mussorgsky and Rimsky Korsakov, Borodin was not a prolific composer because his primary career was as a physician and chemist.

The SASO season includes five concert programs with two performances each. Season tickets are $75, a savings of $25 over single ticket admission.

Music Director Linus Lerner will conduct the four remaining concerts in the 2013-2014 season. During his tenure, he’s led SASO on two tours of China. This summer SASO performed with him in Mexico at the first edition of the Oaxaca Opera Festival. He’s also music director of the Symphony Orchestra Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil, and until recently, he was music director of the Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston.

Lerner has conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups in his native Brazil, the United States, Australia, Spain, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Turkey and China. Throughout his travels he’s found that music truly is the international language. He holds a doctorate in orchestral conducting from the University of Arizona.

Longtime supporter Dorothy Vanek is sponsoring the SASO season for the seventh consecutive year. A musician, artist and arts advocate involved with many local organizations, she received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professions in 2010.

SASO concerts are presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Dr. in SaddleBrooke, and at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte. At the St. Andrews concerts, tickets are always complimentary for ages 17 and under.

Concertgoers can order the SaddleBrooke series by calling 825-2818 or online at http://tickets/ For the St. Andrews series, call 308-6226 or order online at Individual concert tickets also can be reserved in advance or purchased at the door.

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.

The programs for the remaining concerts in the 2013-2014 season are:

  • Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 –Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Edwin E. Soo Kim and Rutter’s Mass of the Children with Deborah Faustino and Seth Kershisnik, Tucson Boys Chorus and an adult choir.
  • Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 – Márquez’ Danzón No. 2, Bloch’s Schelomo with cellist Zoran Stilin and Brahms’ Symphony No. 1.
  • Apr. 5 and Apr. 6 – Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Pervez Mody, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, plus the winner of SASO’s Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition.
  • May 10 and May 11 – Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with guitarist Roberto Capocchi and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

For more information visit or call 308-6226.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."