The Tucson Symphony Orchestra has been around since 1929, and yet many longtime Tucson residents have no idea the city has a full-time professional orchestra.
CEO Andrew Birgensmith hopes to change that a bit when the orchestra teams up with Mansfield Park neighborhood for a fair on Saturday. In between the face-painting, pet shows and performances of the orchestra's Just For Kids shows, Birgensmith hopes folks will learn a bit about the orchestra — the Southwest's longest, continually operating performing arts organization.
"I still run into the occasional person who has no idea we have a full-time professional orchestra," Birgensmith said. "But I would say over the past two years with our new projects like TSO Rocks the Fox and our partnerships … the fact that we are out and about, so many more people are aware. If they weren't concertgoers before, they are now."
The idea behind the fair is to let the community know that the orchestra is launching its season with performances Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Tucson Music Hall.
But in the bigger scheme of things, Ward 3 Tucson City Council member Karin Uhlich hopes folks — especially children — will see that the symphony "is not some hoity toity thing."
"That's the appeal of this event — introducing children who could be the next fabulous musicians in the symphony," said Uhlich, who admitted that after years of living in Tucson she only recently learned that the orchestra had a kids concert series.
The festival, the brainchild of newly hired VP of External Affairs Andrea Dillenberg, also thanks the TSO's neighbors at Mansfield Park.
"I think Mansfield Park and the coalition of neighborhoods in and around the park work so hard day in and day out to make sure the park is clean and safe," said Uhlich, whose Third Ward encompasses the neighborhood. "I think this reinforces their good efforts that they are taking good care of their corner of Tucson."
Uhlich will be on hand Saturday to judge the pet show, which will award certificates for for best ears, tail, smile, costume, name, hairdo, trick, personality and musical talent. Judging begins at 12:30 p.m.