Please join us as we proudly celebrate our 2019-20 season under the musical leadership of our new Music Director, Ryan Phillips, M.M. “After a nationwide search, we are delighted to have found what we were looking for right here in Tucson,” says Ken Rosenblatt, President of ARS. “Ryan Phillips is a rising star in the classical music scene of this city – his youth, energy, and prodigious talent will thrill our Tucson audiences.”
Phillips is delighted to return to the city that shaped him as a musician after completing his Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from Northern Arizona University. “It’s so nice to be back in Tucson,” Phillips said. “I grew up here, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the Tucson musical community. So many of my friends and mentors are here.”
Edith Copley, NAU Regents’ Professor in the School of Music, describes Ryan as “an expressive conductor. He honors the music, connects with the audience, and truly cares about the people in his ensemble.”
ARS has been hailed by audiences throughout Southern Arizona for its choral blend, technical precision and vocal artistry. A hallmark of the ARS tradition is our commitment to presenting high quality performances of the best new choral music as well as standard repertoire – from the Renaissance to well-known choral masterpieces, Americana and jazz, contemporary pieces and works commissioned by the group.
We share the belief that there is nothing more transformative than the human voice lifted in song.
Although ARS specializes in unaccompanied a cappella choral music, many of our concerts include larger works with orchestra and soloists, or instrumental accompaniment such as piano, harp, organ, strings, woodwinds, and percussion.
Our 36th season promises to be a wonderful mix of familiar choral pieces from the ARS traditional repertoire as well as “new, rollicking arrangements of holiday favorites” according to Music Director, Ryan Phillips, M.M.
Phillips describes the April 2020 concerts as an “exploration of the relationship we have with one another and our world, including connections through faith, music and love. Audiences will hear classics by Purcell, Brahms, Finzi, and Vaughan Williams alongside the work of William Billings, a mid-20th century American spiritual, a traditional South African Xhosa song, a Basque hymn, and a great arrangement of an anthem by Dolly Parton.” Dolly Parton? Really? “Yes – you ‘heard’ that right,” Phillips says. “It’s going to be a fun and beautiful year of music at ARS concerts.”
The Arizona Repertory Singers was founded in 1984 as the Arizona Recital Choir by Dennis Bonner while he was a doctoral student in Choral Conducting at the University of Arizona. The name was changed to the Arizona Repertory Singers in 1986.
ARS’s reputation for choral artistry flourished under the guidance of our widely respected Music Director for 25 years, Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn. As a tribute to Dr. Jahn’s exceptional musical leadership and contribution to the life of choral arts in Tucson, he was inducted posthumously into the 2014 Tucson Musicians Museum for “proven dedication to music, support and participation in community service … that has exceeded … the expectations for the award.”
During our 2015-16 season – a transition year for ARS following the unexpected passing of Dr. Jahn – we were fortunate to experience the musical leadership of Thomas E. Lerew as Interim Music Director while he concluded his doctoral degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Arizona, Fred Fox School of Music.
Our mission continued to expand under the expert musical direction of Dr. Elliot Jones, and now under the energetic and skillful musical direction of Ryan Phillips.
Our Rich Choral History – Vocal Depth, Versatility
To inaugurate its 30th anniversary season as one of the longest-standing choral organizations in Tucson, ARS performed J.S. Bach’s festive Magnificat in D major and Respighi’s charming and vocally lush cantata, Laud to the Nativity, for our December concerts. These works were intentionally selected to demonstrate the versatility and vocal depth of ARS.
The grand finale for the 30th year celebration featured Voices at an Exhibition, an innovative choral music and artistic multimedia celebration of original commissioned compositions and original works of art by local artists who also sing with ARS. The premiere of this work demonstrated the relationship between choral music, written text and visual media, and was praised by the Arizona Daily Star, “The 45-voice ensemble might be setting a record of sorts; it’s not every day you find a choir – or any classical ensemble – rolling out four commissioned works in one concert.”
As part of our 25th Anniversary season, ARS performed a gala concert at the prestigious University of Arizona’s Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. The event included “Songs for Braithwaite,” a new work commissioned to honor founding ARS board member Dr. Helen S. Schaefer, by well-known contemporary choral composer Vijay Singh.
Sharing Our Passion for Choral Music
Since 1984, the Arizona Repertory Singers has enriched our community with live performances at more than 70 venues for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Our goal is to entertain, educate and enhance the musical vitality of Tucson with free concerts that also benefit local non-profit organizations.
In March 2019, ARS was invited to sing at the Tucson Museum of Art during TMA’s ‘SundAZe Family Day’ for Museum visitors and guests. In April 2017, ARS was invited by Patronato San Xavier to perform two concerts at the benefiting the Patronato’s ongoing effort to restore this historical landmark.
In prior years, ARS performed at the dedication of the University of Arizona’s Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center; the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for the dedication of the Harris Hawk Sculpture (honoring the memory of Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut, Laurel Clark); Interfaith Community Services ‘Music for the Soul’ concerts at the Fox Theatre; Carondelet Hospice Holiday ‘Tree of Memories’ event and the annual Music and Memories concert sponsored by the Academy for Cancer Awareness.
For the sixth consecutive year, ARS has been invited to perform for students from Tucson area Title 1 schools at the Berger Performing Arts Center in December 2019 through a partnership with Act One – a not-for-profit organization that engages students from underserved schools in arts learning opportunities. Act One has selected ARS as its only choral arts partner. Since 2014, we have performed for more than 1,500 students. ARS also provides free passes for the public to most of our choral concerts.
ARS has also performed in concert with other musical organizations in Tucson, including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Pops Orchestra, Tucson Masterworks Chorale, the Sonoran Bells, and the Faculty Artist Series at the University of Arizona.
AZPM Classical 90.5 regularly broadcasts ARS holiday concerts as part of its Community Concert Series, making the ensemble’s diverse choral repertoire available to Arizona radio listeners as well as people around the world via streaming audio on the Internet.
The Arizona Repertory Singers is grateful to have received multi-year grant funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA) and from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona (formerly Tucson Pima Arts Council).