SASO, Past, Present and Future

Punch Howarth

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra season ended on May 7 and 8 with one of their most ambitious programs that included Brahms, Samuel Barber and Berlioz. Each of these works has intrinsic difficulties that gave the orchestra no small challenge. Also, with these concerts this writer of SASO articles retired as principal timpanist after 22 seasons. During this time period I participated in the growth of an ensemble of limited proficiency to one of skilled talent. I performed for four principal and 10 guest conductors. I am not leaving the orchestra as I will continue to write the articles about the concerts and musicians. I appreciated the warm response from both the audience and orchestra peers at SaddleBrooke on May 7 when Maestro Lerner recognized my contributions. In addition to four other concerts, the orchestra performed at the Oaxaca Opera Festival in Mexico, a Brazilian Festival and released their first CD.

Next season will open on October 15 and 16 with James Dick playing the Piano Concerto of George Gershwin along with works by Arturo Marquez and William Levi Dawson. Beethoven’s dot dot dot dash Symphony No. 5 will thrill everyone on November 19 and 20 along with Rossini’s Barber of Sevile Overture and Carol Wincenc soloing in Carl Nielsen’s Flute Concerto.

Two works by Elgar will open the 2017 part of the season; Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 and his Violin Concerto with E.E.Soo Kim soloist.

One of Sergei Rachmaninov’s big tunes, Symphonic Dances, will close the concert on January 28 and 29. On the fourth program, March 18 and 19, Ashu will perform two works: Saxaphone Concerto by Alexander Glazunov and Piazzolla’s Two Tangos. Also on the program are Crown Imperial March of William Walton, Youth Concerto Competition winner and Requiem by Faure with soloists and chorus.

The final concert on April 22 and 23 will be a blockbuster featuring Antonin Dvorak’s Slavic Symphony No. 7 and soloist Melanie Chae playing Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Opening the concert is the rousing Russian Sailors Dance of Reinhold Gliere. Guest Conductor will be Anton Shaburov.

Concerts are performed on Saturday evenings at SaddleBrooke and Sunday afternoons in Oro Valley. Concerts 3 and 4 will also be performed on Friday evenings in Green Valley on January 27 and March 17. Next season’s tickets are now on sale by going to, which also has other orchestra information. You can also contact this writer at [email protected].