40 Years of HIstory

Music Directors

1984: Founded as the Arizona Recital Choir by Dennis Bonner
1986: Incorporated as nonprofit Arizona Repertory Singers
1990: Jeffry A. Jahn named Music Director
2015: Thomas E. Lerew named Interim Music Director
2016: Elliot Jones named Music Director
2019: Ryan Phillips named Music Director


1985: Europa Cantat 9 in Strasbourg, France, and concert tour of Germany and Austria
1986: Expo ’86 in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and concert tour of Victoria, BC and Seattle, WA
1989: Hosted Kolscey Choir from Debrecen, Hungary, and joint Song Share performances throughout Arizona, featured on CBS TV’s Sunday Morning with Charles Kurault
1994: Four Corners tour with concerts in Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs and Montrose, CO; and Flagstaff
2001: Premieres the first three movements of ARS commission Desert Songs at the Animas Music Festival in Durango, CO.


1990s-2000s: Before the Tucson Symphony Orchestra formed their own chorus, ARS was featured in TSO’s holiday and spring pops concerts, including Gilbert and Sullivan concert, Holst’s The Planets, and Handel’s Messiah.
1993: ARS provided backup vocals for Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits and Then Some concert at Tucson Convention Center Arena
1994: Rodgers and Hammerstein concert with Tucson Pops Orchestra at DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center
Over the years: Joint concerts with Tucson Masterworks Chorale, the Sonoran Bells, UA Faculty Artist Series, numerous Tucson-area high school choirs, Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus.

Special Events & Venues

1985: First of an annual tradition of Christmas concerts at Mission San Xavier del Bac. Through 2000, our concerts raised over $10,000 for mission restoration
1990s: Rural Arts Grants performances in Arivaca, Oracle and Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon
2003: First of an annual tradition of Christmas and Spring concerts at the Benedictine Monastery.
2004: UA Poetry Center dedication of the Helen S. Schaefer Building
2006: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum dedication of the Harris hawk sculpture honoring Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut Laurel Clark
2009: UA Stevie Eller Dance Theatre for the ARS 25th Anniversary Gala Concert honoring founding board member Helen S. Schaefer
2014: Partnership with Act One begins, with multiple performances for students from Tucson area Title 1 schools at the Berger Performing Arts Center
2015: Jeffry A. Jahn inducted posthumously into the Tucson Musicians Museum
2017: Final ARS performance before closing of the Benedictine Monastery, Voices at the Monastery, three nights of choral music featuring nine Tucson choral groups.
2018: ARS gives first Tucson performances in decades of Arthur Honegger’s masterwork King David at Catalina United Methodist Church and Temple Emanu-El
2020-2021: During COVID, virtual holiday and spring concerts attract viewers worldwide
2023: First holiday concert for Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson
Other events: 2001Arizona Vivaldi Festival, 2004 Arizona Sings event in Phoenix, Interfaith Community Services Music for the Soul concerts, Pima Council on Aging new headquarters opening reception, the Educational Enrichment Foundation awards luncheon, Carondelet Hospice Holiday Tree of Memories event
Since 2007: AZPM Classical 90.5 regularly broadcasts ARS holiday concerts as part of its Community Concert Series, available to radio listeners around the world via the Internet.

ARS Commissions

  • Knave of Cups by Paul Richards
  • Horses Moving the Wind by Jay Vosk & Jane Candia Coleman
  • Desert Songs, a nine movement work for choir and two percussionists by G. Bradley Bodine and Byrd Baylor (2 separate commissions)
  • Songs for Braithwaite, three choral settings by Vijay Singh, a well-known contemporary choral composer, for the 25th anniversary of ARS
  • Beauty has the Coldest Heart by 16-year-old ARS member Anthony Constantino
  • O magnum mysterium by 20-year-old Grant Jahn
  • The 30th anniversary spring concert, Voices at an Exhibition, with four premières of choral works commissioned by ARS by composers Ray Braswell, Anthony Constantino, Grant Jahn and Dave Plank
  • For All the Beauty by Melinda Bargreen, composed for the ARS 40th Anniversary Gala

Live and studio recordings

1995: Opus
1997: Sweet was the Song
1999: Christmas at San Xavier
2001: From the Top
2004: Desert Songs
2005: Sing We Now of Christmas and I Have Had Singing
2006: Going Up to Glory
2007: Heavenly Light
2008: What Sweeter Music
2009: I Have Had Singing