We all held our breath over the past year and a half, waiting for so many of Tucson’s amazing arts groups to get back on live. This preview presents just a few of the highlights in a 2021-2022 season that, though different in many ways from past years, will be no less rewarding.

A History of Violins

Under the baton of Maestro José Luis Gomez, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra will take the stage at the remodeled TCC Music Hall for a program (Sept. 24 & 26, 2021) that includes Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 (listen for the haunting Andantino second movement), as well as William Grant Still’s

Festival Overture, Efraín Oscher’s Danzas Latinas, and Morocota, Venezuelan Waltz, composed by trumpet legend Pacho Flores, who will perform the work himself.

Arizona Friends of Chamber Music will begin (Oct. 27, 2021) with a very popular work, too – Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Major Op. 59, no. 3. This last of the Razumovsky quartets features an exuberant final movement that will elevate an audience’s mood like the face of an old friend. The program also will feature a Haydn string quartet and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, a short, yet significant piece that reflects his grief over the loss of his wife.

If music from centuries past is more your style, check out what Arizona Early Music has on its schedule, beginning (Nov. 14, 2021) with the final tour of the iconic Aulos Ensemble, which for nearly 40 years has been one of the premier American groups performing baroque compositions.

But the season isn’t just starting strong with these organizations, it continues with concerts such as the TSO’s Masterworks performance (Nov. 6-7, 2021) of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a symphonic poem that actually was written as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima. Also on that program will be John Adams’ The Black Gondola, an orchestral arrangement of Liszt’s La lugubre gondola, originally intended as a memorial for Richard Wagner. Lastly, Mozart’s penultimate symphony — No. 40 — considered to be one of his greatest works, and inspiring composers including Schubert, Beethoven and Haydn, will be in the mix.

Virtuosic performers will shine throughout TSO’s season, with Amit Peled playing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto (Oct. 15, 17, 2021) one of the greatest works in that instrument’s repertoire. Joyce Yang will return to the Old Pueblo (Nov. 12, 14, 2021) to play Jonathan Leshnoff’s Piano Concerto, a piece that she premiered with Kansas City Symphony. Inspired in part by Jewish mysticism and spirituality, the work proved to be an immediate success. On Feb. 5-6, 2022, the spotlight will be on TSO’s concertmaster Lauren Roth for a program that will include Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, and Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, a neoclassical work, which was written with input from Samuel Dushkin, who premiered it in 1931.

More symphonic brilliance will reach your ears, courtesy of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (SASO).Among the season standouts are the Grieg Piano Concerto, performed by James Dick (Oct.16-17, 2021); Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, performed by Edwin So Kim (Feb. 5-6, 2022); and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with soloist Andrea Trovato (March 12-13, 2022).

Fans of chamber music will hear some of the greatest works written for small ensembles at concerts such as AFCM’s program with Hermitage Piano Trio (Nov. 10, 2021), which will feature Rachmaninoff’s Piano Trio No. 2 in D Minor (“Élégiaque”), as well as Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor.

Later in the season (Jan. 19, 2022), Imani Winds will present an eclectic evening that will range from Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 in C minor (arranged by Mark Popkin), to Pavel Haas’ Wind Quintet, Op.10, to a Valerie Coleman arrangement of the South African National Anthem.

In AFCM’s Piano & Friends matinee series, such stellar performers as pianist Maxim Lando ( Oct. 17, 2021), cellist Jonathan Swensen ( Nov. 21, 2021), and clarinetist Narek Artyunian joined by pianist Steven Beck ( Jan. 9, 2022) will deliver the musical goods. Also, the Poulenc Trio ( Feb.13, 2022) will offer a wide variety of pieces, including two works by Shostakovich, a trio by Poulenc, and modern works by Viet Cuong and James Lee III.

Acoustic music fans will have something to cheer about thanks to the Tucson Guitar Society, which will bring in renowned artists from all over the world to the UArizona campus. Among the virtuosos will be Johan Smith (Oct. 29, 2021), Bokyung Byun (Nov. 6, 2021), and David Russell (Feb. 19, 2022).

And don’t forget to check Arizona Arts Live to find out what’s happening on the UArizona campus. The Fred Fox School of Music is deservedly famous for hosting a dizzying number of concerts each year, featuring their talented faculty, outstanding students, and exciting guest artists.

Aria Ready?

If voices soaring to the heights is what thrills you, you’ll have plenty to be excited about. Broadway in Tucson roars back with touring companies of hot musicals, including Hamilton (Nov. 17-Dec. 5, 2021); My Fair Lady (Jan. 5-9, 2022), Wicked (Jan, 26-Feb. 6, 2022), and The Band’s Visi(Feb. 23-27, 2022) to name just a few highlights.

Arizona Opera will present a season of incredible variety, with a prequel to the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna – El Milagro del Recuerdo (Dec. 11-12, 2021). Also in the lineup are Bizet’s electrifying Carmen (Feb. 5-6, 2022), Mozart’s hilarious Cosi fan tutt(April 16-17, 2022) and Stephen Sondheim’s comedy that was inspired by Ingmar Bergman, A Little Night Music (March 12-13, 2022). The company also will debut a film of their original opera The Copper Queen (October 2021).

True Concord Voice & Orchestra continues to present both classic works and newer pieces in a variety of concerts that promise to transport audiences. The first program of the season is titled “From Darkness to Light,” (Oct. 22-24, 2021), and the second, “From Conflict to Peace” (Nov. 19-21, 2021). The annual Lessons & Carols by Candlelight concert (Dec. 9-12, 2021) is subtitled “From Anticipation to Joy,” and the two final programs are “From Silenced to Singing” (Jan. 28-30, 2022) and “From Edge to Hope” (Feb. 25-27, 2022). With material that includes everything from Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, to Grammy-nominated composer Jake Runestad’s world premiere of a work that’s informed by the need to address climate change.

Choirs and choruses will be in the mix as well, with seasons by the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus (Dec. 18, 2021; Feb. 19-20, 2022; May 7, 2022), Tucson Girls Chorus (TBA), Sons of Orpheus (Dec. 2021, TBA), and Reveille Men’s Chorus (TBA).

Additionally, there will be spectacular guest soloists performing with some of the major groups, including soprano Nicole Cabell singing with the TSO ( Jan. 21, 23, 2022), and guitarist Xuefei Yang (Jan. 9, 2022) being joined by soprano Ailyn Perez in a concert for the Tucson Guitar Society.

Vocal groups such as The Tallis Scholars ( April 20, 2022), who are taking part in the Arizona Early Music Society’s season, also will be on the don’t-miss-this list.

The Next Steps

The Old Pueblo is blessed with a number of outstanding dance organizations, including Ballet Tucson, UA Dance, Ballet Continental, Tucson Regional Ballet and O-T-O Dance, to name just a few. Due to the pandemic, many dance and movement groups were faced with additional challenges in creating a 2021-2022 season. For updated information, please see our Local Arts Groups feature, where you can find each organization’s website to check for a current schedule.

A Bunch of Characters

During the difficult past year, Invisible Theatre (IT) kept spirits in our community up with a variety of performances that allowed audiences to continue to enjoy the live experience. They return this fall for a full season that will include Matthew Lombardo’s Looped! (Sept. 15-26, 2021), Dixie’s Tupperware Party (Jan. 13-14, 2022), Daniel Beaty’s topical Emergency (Feb. 9-20, 2022), and Kathleen Clark’s Secrets of a Soccer Mom (April 20-May 1, 2022). Additionally, IT plans a number of special events, such as Obie Award-winning actress Susan Miller’s My Left Breast (Nov. 11-13, 2021), the musical collaboration between To-Ree-Nee Wolf and Will Clipman, Will and the Wolf: 8th Day (Nov. 18-20, 2021), and Susan Claassen reprises A Conversation with Edith Head (March 9-13, 2022). Fans of frequent IT guest Steve Solomon also will be thrilled to hear he’ll return with From Brooklyn to Broadway (Jan. 8-9, 2022).

The Rogue Theatre also kept the lights burning during a troubling time, and offers a season filled with classics, such as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Nigh(Nov. 4-21, 2021), and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman ( Jan. 6-23, 2022). Also on the schedule are adaptations of famous works, including Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (Sept. 9-26, 2021) adapted by Christopher Johnson; Passage (Feb. 24-March 13, 2022), inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India and brought to the stage by Christopher Chen; and Mrs. Dalloway (April 28-May 15, 2022), adapted by Cynthia Meier from the Virginia Woolf novel.

Arizona Theatre Company (ATC), will offer a wide-ranging season, including the based-on-a-true-story musical My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend (Sept. 25-Oct. 16, 2021); the imagined sequel to Pride and Prejudice Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Nov. 6-Dec. 4, 2021); Wendy MacLeod’s comic thriller Women in Jeopardy ( Jan.15-Feb. 5, 2022). Additionally, ATC will stage two musical offerings with a serious undertone: Nina Simone: Four Women (Feb. 26-March 19, 2022), and Justice ( April 9-30, 2022), the latter envisioning interactions between Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a young law clerk.

The season wraps up with How to Make an American Son (June 4-25, 2022), focusing on the plight of an immigrant father who has built a cleaning empire and is trying to balance his business concerns with dealing with difficult family matters.

The Fest of Us

A number of major events related to music and other arts have been confirmed, and each presents a wonderful opportunity to see the best in a particular field, as well as connect with likeminded folks in the community.

The Tucson Desert Song Festival, which spotlights many of the major arts groups in town, will take place in early 2022, exact details TBA.

The lineup is set for the 2022 Tucson Jazz Festival, being held Jan. 14-23, 2022, at various locations around town. A few of the highlights include Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin at the Fox Tucson Theatre ( Jan. 16, 2022), Herb Alpert and Lani Hall at the Rialto Theatre ( Jan. 22, 2022), and Jon Batiste at Centennial Hall ( Jan. 21, 2022).

Many film festivals had to exist in a virtual world last year, and that was true for The Loft Cinema in 2020, but now the Loft Film Fest ( Nov. 10-18, 2021) will welcome in-person attendance. The Fest always brings in the best from festivals around the global, with lots of hidden gems, so this is a week you’ll want to put on your calendar.

AFCM’s Tucson Chamber Music Festival is both a local tradition, and the perfect place to hear unforgettable iconic pieces, played by artists who are at the top of their game.

It’s also an ideal place for you to pick up some bragging rights: you’ll be able to tell your fellow classical aficionados that you were there for the world premiere of a brilliant new work. The festival ( March 13-20, 2022) will feature luminaries such as The Dover Quartet, violinists Axel Strauss and Tessa Lark, pianists David Fung and Jeewon Park, and clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langois, among other estimable players.

The program will present pieces by Mozart, Schumann, Dohnányi, Von Weber, and a world premiere of a string quartet by Lowell Liebermann, whose popular Clarinet Sonata also will be performed.