SASO fortieth anniversary season

Punch Howarth

Members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (SASO), with conductor Linus Lerner, will celebrate 40 years of providing symphonic music, as well as a home for instrumental musicians. Almost all of the new season’s musical selections have been performed by the orchestra during the previous 39 years. Some of the original founding musicians continue as orchestra members. Concert sites have included theaters, churches, schools, Arizona School for Deaf and Blind, and, in recent years, at SaddleBrooke and Oro Valley. Former conductors will be reviewed in later articles.

Five pairs of regular season programs will be performed at SaddleBrooke’s Desert View Performing Arts Auditorium on Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m.

Opening the season is a review entitled “From Paris to Leningrad” on Oct. 19 and 20, will be “La Belle Helene Overture” by Offenbach, followed by Giuliano de Angelis performing Saint-Saens’ “Concerto No. 1 for Cello and Orchestra.” Closing the concert, will be the rousing-dramatic “Symphony No. 5” by Shostakovich.

“Carmina Burana,” by Carl Orff, will be featured by soloists, choirs and extra forces on Nov. 16 and 17. This popular work is based on medieval off-color poems. An all-German concert opens the 2020 portion with two works on Feb. 15 and 16 by Beethoven, “Turkish March” and “Symphony No. 7.” Conducted by guest conductor and soloist Matthias Manas, the program also includes “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme for Piano and Orchestra,” by Richard Strauss. The winner of the Dorothy Vanek concerto competition will be presented.

An all-Tchaikovsky concert on March 14 and 15 will feature two “war horses” with “Piano Concerto No. 1,” featuring Melanie Chae soloist and “Symphony No. 5,” which will feature artist Armando Silva, who will create a canvas during the performance. “Festival Coronation March” will open the program.

Beethoven’s great “9th Symphony” will close the 2019-20 season on April 25 and 26. Assisting in the fourth movement will be vocal soloists and the Helios Choir. Opening the concert will be two lighter works of George Gershwin, “Promenade and Rhapsody in Blue for Piano and Orchestra,” with Andrea Trovado, soloist.

SASO and Lerner have had a busy off-season. In July, Lerner and members of SASO performed Verdi’s “La Traviata” and “Hansel und Gretel,” by Humperdinck at the San Luis Potosi Opera festival in Mexico. Lerner conducted the Round Top Festival Orchestra in Texas and traveled to London to conduct a recording session with the Royal Philharmonic and Stankov Brothers.

There will be an added program on Jan. 18 and 19, 2020 of Johann Strauss Jr’s, “Operetta Die Fledermaus” (the bat) at Rincon High School, with an international cast.

For more SASO information and tickets, visit