Hanson at keyboard Oct. 22, 24
courtesy photo, George Hanson gets back to his musical roots at the keyboard Oct. 22 and 24, when the Tucson Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor plays Mozart to open the 2010-'11 season.

Special to The Explorer

George Hanson, music director and conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, celebrates his 15th season with the TSO at the keyboard to open the 82nd season Oct. 22 and 24.

Hanson plays Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. Beethoven's masterpiece, Symphony No. 3, "Eroica," caps the season-opener.

Performances are Friday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave., Tucson. Patronesses from the 53rd Tucson Symphony Cotillion will be present to greet patrons when they arrive for both performances.

"As a student in Vienna, these were two of my favorite works and they were both composed within a few minutes drive of my apartment," Hanson said. "The second movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 is well known and makes it one of his most famous concertos. It's about melody and the interaction between the pianist and the orchestra.

"Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 is the tipping point into 19th-century Romanticism by its departure from Haydn's symphony form," Hanson continued. "It was a revolutionary moment. You didn't have to put a number on your symphony you could call it whatever was in your imagination. It's an appropriate choice to open a season that is all about color and splashiness."

Tickets are on sale now for a special opening night fund-raising reception immediately following the Friday performance. Along with live music and dancing, the evening will also feature an auction of framed portraits of TSO musicians by famed photographer Francois Robert. The celebration begins at 9:45 at Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant.

Hanson, Concertmaster Aaron Boyd and Johanna Lundy, principal horn, preside over a brief, informal post-concert chat following the Sunday, Oct. 24 matinee prior to a meet-and-greet with patrons backstage at the Tucson Music Hall. They'll chat briefly from the stage with patrons about the music they have just heard. Everyone is then invited to the green room backstage to visit with Hanson, Boyd, Lundy and other TSO musicians. Complimentary refreshments will be served.

TSO Composer-in-residence Dan Coleman will give the pre-concert talks before the Friday evening and Sunday matinee performances.

The opening program, Beethoven's "Eroica" and Mozart, is sponsored by the Stonewall Foundation.

New faces in TSO

There are new people in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra this season.

New principals are Lillian Copeland, oboe; David Morgan, tuba; Laura Stoutenborough, clarinet; and David Cohen, trumpet.

Diane Zelickman is the newest member of the second violin section.

Beethoven's "Eroica" and Mozart

Friday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m.

Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave., Tucson.

Tickets, starting at $20, are available online at www.tucsonsymphony.org, at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Box Office located at 2175 N. Sixth Avenue or by phone at 882-8585.

TSO Box Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Hanson's TSO contract extended through 2014

George Hanson, music director and conductor of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, has signed a contract extension that should keep him on the podium through 2014, according to an announcement by Erwin Kratz, Tucson Symphony Society trustees president.

"We are pleased that George Hanson will be leading the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for the next four seasons," Kratz said. "The board of trustees, the staff and musicians are very thankful that his leadership will continue as we move into the future and fulfill our mission to transform lives through music."

Hanson is the 14th music director and conductor in the 82-year history of the TSO. This contract will make him the conductor with the longest tenure, a release said.

He is the primary conductor and artistic director of the Classic, TSO Pops! and MasterWorks Chamber Orchestra Series.

Hanson has led the TSO to international recognition since his arrival in 1996. TSO's first recording, released in 2008, reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 2 on U.S. Classical charts, and was lauded by critics around the globe.

"I am thrilled to be continuing my relationship with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra," Hanson said. "It is an honor to have the opportunity to continue working with the wonderful musicians of the TSO. I am grateful to TSO musicians, board, staff and supporters for their tireless dedication to the orchestra and to our community, and look forward to making music together."

The TSO is in its 82nd season. It is the oldest symphony orchestra in the Southwest and the oldest continuously performing professional arts organization in Arizona. The concert season extends from October through April with more than 70 orchestra and 260 chamber ensemble performances each year.

The TSO, a 501©(3) organization, has an annual budget of $3.6 million.

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