The Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s 91st Season Celebrates 250 Years Of Music By Revolutionary, Ludwig Van Beethoven

by Tucson Symphony

Renée Fleming, Guitarist Sharon Isbin, Micky Dolenz, Voice of The Monkees, Texas Tenors and E.T. Will All Be Featured

Mahler’s Symphony No.2, “Resurrection,” Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Elgar’s Enigma Variations among Popular Repertoire

 Violinist Tessa Lark to Make TSO Debut with Sky Concerto, composed for her by Michael Torke

(Tucson, AZ)─Beethoven is having a birthday and the Tucson Symphony is one of many orchestras around the world observing it in the 2019-20 season. Maestro José Luis Gomez, who recently extended his contract with the TSO through 2024, will lead the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth by conducting his first eight symphonies.

“Eight Beethoven symphonies in one season is a milestone for the TSO because of the challenges of the repertoire,” commented Maestro Gomez. “Beethoven is a musical god, a presence that is so strong for everyone. He has influenced everybody-artists, conductors and orchestra. His music will be a huge presence and each program without him is another opportunity to highlight something else of importance.”

Some of those highlights include:

  • A one night only performance by soprano Renée Fleming, the opera superstar who has captivated audiences from the Met to the Super Bowl with her sumptuous voice, consummate artistry, and compelling stage presence. Fleming will perform with full orchestra.
  • A SuperPops program featuring Micky Dolenz, the original lead singer of The Monkees performing hits like “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer” with full orchestra
  • Multiple Grammy® winner, Sharon Isbin, “the pre-eminent guitarist of our time,” (Boston Magazine) returning to the TSO for the first time in nearly 20 years to perform Troubador for Guitar and Orchestra written for her by John Corigliano, composer of The Red Violin  film score
  • The beloved E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in concert for the TSO’s annual Thanksgiving Film Weekend
  • The incomparable Texas Tenors in a special holiday show, Deep in the Heart of Christmas

The season will open with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, an uplifting work known for its use in a wide variety of  films including Mr. Holland’s Opus, The King’s Speech and X-Men; also on the program is the Piano Concerto No. 3 performed by Yekwon Sunwoo, the 2017 Gold medal winner of The Cliburn. The Chicago Tribune praised the 28-year old virtuoso for his “remarkably mature musicality” and his “way of making the music his own and telling you things about it you had not heard before.”

Commissions, Guest Artists Highlight Classic Series

The first commissioned work of the season features budding classical music superstar Tessa Lark, who is also a highly acclaimed fiddler. The Sky Concerto for Violin was written especially for her by Michael Torke, “the Ravel of his generation,” according to The New York Times.  The Times describes his music as “some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years;” the concerto bears that out bridging the classical world with Irish reels and American Bluegrass. The piece was co-commissioned by the TSO with the Albany Symphony and other orchestras. The world premiere was in Albany in January, 2019 and recorded for release later this year.

The TSO also commissioned a work for orchestra and chorus by Young Composers Project alumnus Robert Lopez-Hanshaw. Lopez-Hanshaw’s Hanukkah Cantata was well received last year when it debuted at the Tucson JCC. The TSO will give the world premiere of his new work on a Classic Series concert also featuring soprano Federica Lombardi, who made her Met debut in January of this year.  Lombardi will perform a collection of works by Gioachino Rossini.

The Classic Series will also feature guest artists Sean Chen and Paul Huang. In 2013 Chen placed third in The Cliburn and won the American Pianists Association’s DeHaan Classical Fellowship. He made his TSO debut on the Masterworks Series in 2015 performing the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto and returns in December of this year to perform the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2. Chen’s appearance is made possible in part by the American Pianists Association. Huang will make his TSO debut with the Barber Violin Concerto on a program that also features Barber’s beautiful and haunting Adagio for Strings, popularized in the Oscar winning film, Platoon. The Washington Post calls Huang, “an artist with the goods for a significant career.”

Maestro Gomez will close the Classic Series conducting Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” his most popular and successful work during his lifetime. The orchestra and TSO Chorus received rave reviews for their last performance of the second in April, 2009. Conductors chose Mahler’s “Resurrection” as the fifth greatest symphony of all time in a survey by BBC Music Magazine.

TSO Principals on Masterworks Series

 Homero Cerón, celebrating his 30th anniversary with the TSO in 2019, takes center stage for the first time since 2006, to open the Masterworks Series with Séjourné’s Concerto for Four Marimbas and Strings, “Gotan.” Homero predicts “the four percussionists playing mostly marimbas will produce a very earthy/woody feel while the support from strings provides a smooth and lush complement to the rhythmic feature,” giving the audience “a fresh and new experience.” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 will complete the program while two more of his symphonies, Nos. 2 and 8, will make up a another Masterworks program.

The second Masterworks program, “All the World’s a Stage,” features opera, ballet and new music. It opens with the Overture to Rossini’s An Italian in Algiers and closes with the suite from Stravinsky’s ballet, Pulcinella. In-between are Haydn’s Symphony No. 60 and a new piece inspired by Haydn, Entr’acte by Caroline Shaw, a composer who won the Pulitzer Prize for music when she was just 30 years old.

David Morgan, principal tuba, will be in the spotlight for “Tubalicious,” when Mei-Ann Chen returns to the TSO to conduct him in Vaughn Williams’ Concerto for Tuba on a program that will conclude with the Elgar favorite, Enigma Variations.

Concertmaster Lauren Roth and Associate Concertmaster Michelle Abraham are featured on Mozart’s Concertone for Two Violins and Orchestra closing the Masterworks Series on a program with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

 Broadway, Behind the Scenes with Oscar Film Music, Legends on SuperPops!

 Susan Egan, who originated the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, will open the SuperPops! series with a program of Grammy®, Tony and Academy Award-winning songs. Joining Egan will be Doug LaBrecque, star of Phantom of the Opera and a guest soloist with the National, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Detroit Symphonies among many others, and Lisa Vroman, another veteran of numerous orchestra appearances. Vroman made her Broadway debut as Christine in Phantom of the Opera and spent seven years in the role in New York and San Francisco.

Capathia Jenkins, star of Newsies, teams up with three-time Grammy® nominee Ryan Shaw for Aretha: A Tribute. Jenkins “brought the audience to its feet,” according to the Charlotte Symphony, when she channeled all the power and charisma of the Queen of Soul in this unforgettable tribute to one of music’s most iconic artists.

Micky Dolenz, The Monkees’ vocalist, recorded “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m a Believer,” “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” and more hits from their four No. 1 albums with the American Metropole Orchestra in 2017. Now he brings the music from the album, Out of Nowhere, to the TSO for a program filled with fun, memories and some terrific music.

Elmer Bernstein composed some of the most recognizable and memorable themes in Hollywood history. He received 14 Oscar nominations in a career that spanned more than 50 years. Now his son, Peter, joins the TSO for a program of film and music, taking us behind the music sharing film clips,  insights and anecdotes about his father’s films including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, Ghostbusters, Animal House and The Age of Innocence. A must for film music buffs.

Gomez to Conduct Messiah for First Time

In addition to the specials with Renée Fleming and the Texas Tenors and the Thanksgiving weekend film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Messiah and Bach will be offered as a special. José Luis Gomez will conduct the pulse-pounding, earth shaking Messiah with the TSO and TSO Chorus. The program will also include a suite from Handel’s Water Music and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

Subscription Information

The Early Bird subscription renewal date is March 20. Subscriptions can be renewed online at, at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Box Office, 2175 N. Sixth Avenue, by phone at 520.882.8585 and at concerts. TSO Box Office hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless otherwise indicated. All programs, prices and artists are subject to change.

Contact: Terry Marshall, Public Relations Manager, 520.620.9158,