The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra closes out its 2012-13 season with a concert that puts the flute center stage.
Brazilian flutist James Strauss will join the volunteer orchestra and conductor Linus Lerner to premiere Glen Roger Davis' "Tattoo Notes" and perform Howard Hanson's Serenade, Opus 25, for flute and orchestra.
Strauss is an internationally acclaimed flutist whose virtuosity is often compared to that of Chinese pianist Lang Lang. In addition to performing, Strauss is a noted musicologist who made history when he tracked down three pieces of Russian composer Tchaikovsky's lost Flute Concerto. From those three pieces Strauss reconstructed the work, which was cataloged as Concertstück for Flute, TH 247, and contributed as a posthumous work by Tchaikovsky.
In the Davis work, Strauss will dip a bit into jazz and rock. Davis, a former professional rock musician turned classical composer, said the rhythms and dialects of jazz and rock permeate everything he writes.
"The sound color, and especially the harmony of my music, has much more to do with jazz than with rock," he added in a prepared statement. "In music I find beauty, order, powerful intimacy and solace."
Davis, who teaches at Miami University in Ohio, is expected to attend the SASO concerts this weekend in SaddleBrooke and Oro Valley. Also on the program:
• Tucson composer Bruce Stoller will solo on his self-penned "Open Spaces" Suite playing a flute he crafted of native materials.
• The orchestra will perform Wagner's Tannhauser Overture and Hovhaness' "And God Created Great Whales."
• Young cellist Benjamin Nead, winner of SASO's 2013 Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition, will perform selections from Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1.
We get to see Nead before he takes off this summer for the inaugural National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, an ensemble of 120 young musicians who will spend a two-week residency in New York with renowned conductor Valery Gergiev and guest soloist Joshua Bell.
Nead was one of two Arizona teens selected. The other is Tempe flutist Jennifer Chiang.
SASO's concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive in SaddleBrooke; and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte in Oro Valley. Tickets to the SaddleBrooke concert are $21 in advance at tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com or by calling 825-2818. It's $23 at the door.
Tickets for the St. Andrews concert are $20 at the door or in advance at www.sasomusic.org or by calling 308-6226. Children 17 and younger get in free.
Cathalena E. Burch