The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra continues its exploration of Tucson-grown works, this time with Richard White's "If Life Were As It Seems."

The piece was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter," about a poisonous garden and the maiden who tends to it.

"It's kind of the forces of evil and good, and then it goes back to the happy," said Conductor Linus Lerner.

White, a longtime violist with the volunteer ensemble, will join several other Tucson composers whose works will be included in SASO's first recording. Lerner said the orchestra will record the works in April with plans to release the CD in the fall.

"If Life" is on a program that includes Mahler's Fourth Symphony featuring guest vocalist Christi Amonson, a University of Arizona graduate who is returning to Tucson after moving last fall to Troy, Ala., to teach voice.

Amonson will chime in on the Fourth's final movement, the "Das himmlische Leben," which recounts a child's vision of heaven.

Award-winning viola virtuoso Hong-Mei Xiao, who teaches at the UA, will solo on Paul Hindemith's viola concerto "Der Schwanendreher" (The Swan Turner). Xiao will have the only voice in the viola and violin sections; the piece is scored mostly for wind instruments and roles for cello and bass.

If you go

• What: Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra in concert.

• Featuring: Soprano Christi Amonson and violist Hong-Mei Xiao.

• When and where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at DesertView Performing Arts Center, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, SaddleBrooke; and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, 7575 N. Paseo del Norte.

• Tickets: $21 in advance at, $23 at the door for SaddleBrooke; $20 in advance or at the door, kids 17 and younger free for St. Andrew's.

• Program: Richard White's "If Life Were As It Seems" from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter." Hindemith's "Der Schwanendreher." Mahler's Symphony No. 4.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.