Tucson Boys’ Chorus Joins SASO for Rutter’s Mass of the Children

TUCSON, AZ – The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus joins the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra for four performances of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children, plus Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Edwin Kim.

Rutter is a British composer who wrote this work after the sudden death of his Christopher, who was attending college in Cambridge. The first performance was in Carnegie Hall 10 years ago. At the time, Rutter told 60 Minutes that he was not a particularly religious man yet was deeply spiritual and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers. Mass of the Children features Greek and Latin verse mixed with English poetry.

The non-liturgical Mass includes two soloists – soprano Deborah Faustino and baritone Seth Kershisnik – plus the Tucson Boys Chorus, full orchestra and an adult chorus. This will be the first performance by the Southern Arizona Symphony Chorus, including both local vocalists and singers from Mexico. The program is conducted by Linus Lerner. The boys’ chorus is prepared by longtime boys’ chorus director Julian Ackerley.

The Tchaikovsky violin soloist, Edwin Kim, was born in Korea, began studying the instrument at age seven and won a local music competition a year later. He’s since won several international competitions. After high school he moved to Vienna to continue his violin studies. He’s soloed with orchestras and performed recitals in Asia and Europe. Today he is professor at Hanyang University in Seoul and the lead soloist for the Lech Classic Music Festival.

The program also features Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. It will be presented Nov. 7, 8, 9 and 10 at four locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Green Valley Presbyterian Church, 800 S. Camino Del Sol, Green Valley
  • Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave. in downtown Tucson
  • Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive in SaddleBrooke
  • Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte, Northwest Tucson.

At the Nov. 9 and 10 concerts, season sponsor Dorothy Vanek will be featured as guest conductor of the Triumphal March from Verdi’s Aida. Vanek is sponsoring 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

Brazilian-born Lerner has conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and China. He led SASO on two tours of China and one to Mexico. This summer SASO performed at the first edition of the Oaxaca Opera Festival, where he coached several of the soloists who will join the SASO chorus for these performances. Lerner also is music director of the Symphony Orchestra Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. Until recently, he also was music director of the Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston.

Tickets to the Nov. 7, 8 and 10 concerts are $20 can be ordered online at www.sasomusic.org or by phone at 308-6226. Tickets also can be purchased at the door.

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

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 this season are:

  • 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 www.sasomusic.org or call 308-6226.

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SASO’s Story

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.
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.
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
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.