Friday, November 04, 2011

Tucson: SOUTHERN ARIZONA SYMPHONY - Chinese Guzheng Concerto, Stravinsky's Firebird


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Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 9:45 AM
Subject: Nov. 19 & 20 - Chinese Guzheng Concerto, Stravinsky's Firebird



Contact: Tim Secomb at 626-4513 or



Nov. 19 & 20

Eclectic SASO Concert Features Gershwin,

Guzheng Concerto, Stravinsky's Firebird



TUCSON, AZ – Eclectic and exotic certainly describe the Nov. 19 and 20 program of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra.


Gershwin's Cuban Overture. A Chinese guzheng concerto. And birds – lots of birds. Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, The Dove and The Cuckoo from Respighi's The Birds, plus avian photographs by world-traveled photographer Irving Olson.


Chances are very good you've never heard He Zhanhao's "Lu You & Tang Wan" Concerto for Guzheng with Orchestra, Chorus and Soprano. SASO presents this work blending Chinese and Western influences with guzheng soloist Larry Leung, the Tucson Sino Choir and soprano Marcia Fest. Zhanhao co-composed The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto that SASO performed previously. The guzheng is a many-stringed Chinese instrument akin to a zither.


Leung, who lives in Tucson, said he was blessed with the desire learn and play music. He taught himself much. Then five years ago, with lessons and guidance from Master Li Ma, he decided to learn to play the guzheng, which also rekindled interest in his Chinese roots. This will be his first performance with a symphony orchestra and choir.

Founded in 2007, the Tucson Sino Choir is directed by Larry Lang. Soprano Fest is one of the choir's founders. In high school she was selected to attend the Gansui Province Opera Troupe, where for three years she received her performing arts training. She attended Lanzhou University, then worked at both Lanzhou University and Shenzhen University. She came the United States for graduate studies and ultimately moved to Tucson.

Music Director Linus Lerner will conduct. Lerner, who completed his doctorate in orchestral conducting at the University of Arizona, also serves as artistic director of the Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston. He has conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental groups in his native Brazil, the United States, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Spain, Mexico and China. 

The SASO concerts will be presented Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the SaddleBrooke Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, and again on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte.


Individual tickets are on sale now. Order SaddleBrooke tickets online at or call 825-2818. Individual tickets at SaddleBrooke are $21 in advance, $23 at the door. Order the St. Andrew's tickets online at or call 308-6226. Individual tickets at St. Andrew's are $20 in advance or at the door. They are complimentary for ages 17 and under.


The SASO season continues with three more concerts and a gala fundraiser:


Ø  SASO's annual fund-raising gala will be held Jan. 28, 2012 at the MountainView Country Club in SaddleBrooke, including dining, entertainment and both live and silent auctions. For information visit or call 308-6226.


Ø  On Feb. 11 and 12 guest conductor Tao Fan returns to the SASO podium with his sister, pianist Cong Fan, performing the challenging Yellow River Piano Concerto by Yin and Chu.  Also on the program: Liu and Mao's Yao Dance Overture and Brahms' Symphony No. 2 in D Major.


Ø  On April 14 and 15 whimsy is in the air with Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals and a multi-media show. The program also features the innovative HarpFusion ensemble, along with music of Copland, Handel, Sibelius and a performance by the winner of SASO's annual youth concerto competition.

Ø  The season concludes May 19 and 20 with a rare concerto for two double basses by Bottesini, performed by Waldir Bertipaglia and Catalin Rotaru. The program opens with Isaac's Patriotic Overture and ends with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor.


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 orchestra has toured in China, giving six performances in five cities, including Beijing. For more information, visit or call 308-6226.


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