Linus Lerner

Brazilian-born Linus Lerner, the music director of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, has conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups at home, in the United States, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Spain and Mexico.

Explorer file photo

Saturday, Oct. 8, marks the opening concert of the 2011-2012 Southern Arizona Symphony’s five-program season at SaddleBrooke. Linus Lerner returns as resident conductor following a busy summer conducting in China and Brazil.

Most of last year’s orchestra returns and some new faces will be seen following auditions in late August. The volunteer orchestra consists of ex-professionals, music lovers following up on college performing, community leaders, and those new to the Tucson area.

Musicians are not paid but are rewarded with the opportunity to perform great music. The level of performance has risen dramatically allowing performance of not only great works but some of the most difficult selections in the repertoire. Those who attended SASO programs over the past several years are very much aware of this.

Programs and dates for the season are listed below. Notice that two dates are given; the first is a Saturday evening 8 p.m. concert at SaddleBrooke, and the second date is a Sunday matinee at 3 in Oro Valley.

The opening concert on Oct. 8-9 will feature one of the top violin violin concertos, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E m Op. 64, with Gareth Johnson soloist. Two major dramatic works for large orchestra are Smetana’s The Moldou from Ma Vlast and Le Preludes Symphonic Poem No. 3 by Franz Liszt in celebration of his 200th birthday.

Two short works complete the program: Kitchen Utensils March by Vaughn-Williams and Galindo’s Mariachi Songs.

The second concert, on Nov. 19-20, will feature two works for very large orchestra; Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Igor Stravinsky’s L’Oiseau de feu (Firebird) Suite, which is a real challenge for any orchestra. Also on the program is Lu You’s & Tang Wan’s Concerto For Guzheng (Chinese string instrument), Orchestra, Chorus and Soprano.

Looking into 2012, on Feb. 11-12, guest conductor Tao Fan returns. He will introduce two Chinese compositions with one featuring piano soloist Cong Fan. One of the great works of the Romantic Classical catalogue is the Brahm’s Symphony No. 2 in D M Op. 73 to conclude the concert.

Linus Lerner will return for concerts on April 14-15 that will feature a “potpourri” of works: El Salon Mexico of Copland, Handel’s Concerto for Harp in Bb M Op. 4 featuring the University of Arizona’s Harp Fusion, Valse Triste by Sibelius, Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, and the Youth Concerto Competition Winner.

As a finale to an interesting season, a mammoth symphony will leave everyone, including the musicians, with a high level of adrenalin, just like last season’s Beethoven Seventh. The work is the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D minor. An unusual work will be Bottesini’s Concerto for Double String Bass No. 2 in B minor. The concert opens with Tucson composer David Isacc’s Patriotic Overture.

For SaddleBrooke season tickets, contact the Desert View Performing Arts Center box office. To secure Oro Valley season tickets, visit www.sasomusic.org. Individual concert tickets are available near the concert dates.

To contact this writer, secure SASO information, to join the orchestra or for ticket information, visit www.sasomusic.org.

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