SASO’s Season Finale Features Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

TUCSON, AZ – Music aficionados take note. There’s a mighty milestone ahead.

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will present three performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with Brazilian-born guitarist Roberto Capocchi, and Shostakovich’s Festive Overture.

The Beethoven is considered by many to be the greatest piece of music ever written. It features four vocal soloists plus the SASO Chorus and the familiar melody known as “Ode to Joy.” The complex and powerful masterpiece is a joyful celebration, a universal human anthem. This Choral Symphony is what Leonard Bernstein chose to conduct at the international celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This formidable program will be May 10, 11 and 12 and conducted by Music Director Linus Lerner.

Rodrigo was born in Spain and lost most of his vision at age three. He played piano and violin and composed his music using Braille. He held the Manuel de Falla Chair as professor of music at Madrid University. The Concierto de Aranjuez is his most popular work, inspired by the gardens at the King of Spain’s Royal Palace of Aranjuez near Madrid.

Soloist will be guitarist Roberto Capocchi, a graduate of Lins de Vascocelios Conservatory and Carlos Gomes College, both in Brazil. He has performed in North, Central and South America, as well as Belgium. He’s on the faculty at New Mexico Highlands University, United World College and Adams State University. He released a solo CD in 2010 with music by Isaac Albéniz, Regino Sainz de la Maza, Joaquín Turina and Francisco Tárrega. He’s completing a doctoral degree at the University of Arizona.

Andy Bade, also a doctoral candidate at the UA, will prepare the SASO Chorus. He’s a music educator, musician and member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Soloists for the Beethoven include Eloisa Molina, soprano; Erika Coyote, contralto; Jorge Jiménez, tenor, and Gabriel Navarro, baritone. They are all from Mexico and performed with SASO at an opera festival there last summer.

The SASO program opens with the Festive Overture by Shostakovich, which he composed in just a few days for a concert at the Bolshoi. This music became the theme of the 1980 Summer Olympics.

The 2013-2014 SASO season is sponsored by longtime supporter Dorothy Vanek.

The concerts will be presented Saturday, May 10 at 7:30 the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive in SaddleBrooke; Sunday, May 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in northwest Tucson; and Monday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre, West Campus,, 2202 W. Anklam Road.

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

Tickets to the St. Andrew’s and Pima Community College concerts are $20 can be ordered by phone at 308-6226 or online at Tickets also can be purchased at the door.

Complimentary tickets are available at the St. Andrews performance for students age 17 or younger.

Maestro Lerner has led orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and China. SASO has toured China twice under his baton. In the summer of 2013 he directed the inaugural Oaxaca Opera Festival in Mexico, coaching singers from Mexico and conducing SASO musicians. Plans are to return in August. Lerner also is music director of the Symphony Orchestra Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.

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. For more information, visit or call 308-6226.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.