In Memoriam – Jane Neve

Jane Neve, a valued member of our ARS family, passed away in December 2020. She was our Front of House Volunteer coordinator for several years. She developed the procedures for recruiting, organizing, and managing the volunteers at all concert venues. She communicated regularly with them, thanked them for their service, and kept them informed about ARS activities. She was also a warm and friendly presence at the door as we entered to sing our concerts.

The Neve family has been an important part of ARS for a long time. In addition to singing with us, Jane’s husband, John, served as an effective, and beloved, president of ARS for many years. Their son, Dave, sang with us for several years and served as our stage manager. We wish them peace.

Home for the Holidays – Conductor’s Corner

When asked to describe the Arizona Repertory Singers in my second year as Music Director, I simply say “resilient.” It is difficult to put into words the love and appreciation I have for our singers. After all we accomplished last Fall 2019 and early Spring 2020, ARS has grown and evolved into a family. We encourage each other. We take care of each other. We sing together – regardless of the circumstances.

Arts organizations around the globe have fought to stay afloat and prove their worth. Like so many others, ARS chose to continue honing our craft in a way that was uniquely “2020.” What makes this group distinctive is our ability to drive and encourage our volunteer musicians to sing with strength and pride. Our audience knows we have a message to deliver to our wonderful Tucson community every Fall and Spring; we will simply not let go of that message of song.

With immense pride toward everyone in the ARS family, we present to you Home for the Holidays (I have to admit that I was a little giddy when I first thought of this ever-so-fitting title). This virtual choir video production has been six months in the making and proves that we never stop learning how to find innovative opportunities to sing for our audiences. Our singers overcame technological issues, the board faced new logistics and marketing challenges, and I put aside my shiny new choral conducting degree to learn audio/video production.

The repertoire you will hear comes from ARS’ thirty-seven-year history of choral music. Each piece is meant to bring the joy of the holidays safely to your living room without sacrificing the quality you expect from this ensemble. All of us are incredibly excited to share with you our journey from in-person to virtual singing. We hope you enjoy our determination to create a wonderful choral experience for you, your family, and friends as you watch and listen to Home for the Holidays.

–Ryan Phillips

Ndikhokhele Bawo

“Ndikhokhele Bawo” – arr. Michael Barrett

The text of Ndikhokhele Bawo comes from Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and is in the Xhosa language. This Bantu language falls into the category of Nguni languages, the same umbrella that contains Zulu; Xhosa is one of the most widely spoken languages in South Africa. Michael Barrett, Director of Choral Music Studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, sets this sacred text in a large-scale ‘ternary’ form, ABA. A solo soprano voice brings in the choir with a serene sense of hope and wonder. The women join in with the same soloistic style and the men accompany them in widely voiced homophony. The piece continues to grow in dynamics with a celebratory declaration.

ARS Offers Home For the Holidays

DATE: October 19, 2020

[TUCSON, AZ]This December Arizona Repertory Singers will debut an ambitious choral project. While Covid-19 continues to limit community gatherings, ARS has creatively persevered, finding modern and safe ways to keep singing and sharing music with the community.

“We are recreating the concert experience,” said ARS music director Ryan Phillips. This year ARS will offer their annual December concert online. Home for the Holidays will premiere December 11.

Months in the making, members of the choral ensemble have rehearsed and recorded themselves in their own homes. Phillips has spent weeks editing the video and audio recordings to create the online concert.

Musical selections span the sacred and secular including Benjamin Britten’s “Wolcum Yole,” from his Ceremony of Carols, chromatic harmonies from African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Summer is Gone, and Shawn Kirchner’s bluegrass inspired rendition of “Brightest and Best with violin, cello, and piano accompaniment. Pianist Trissina Kear and guitarist/director Ryan Phillips will also offer special music as part of the concert. Friends and family of ARS members were invited to contribute to a special community video performance of Eric William Barnum’s “Sweeter Still.

Tickets are $20 per household and allow access to a link to the concert program on December 11. Embedded videos of the musical pieces will be interspersed with conductor notes, and images. The concert will remain online until the end of the year.

“It will be a lot like flipping through a concert program at a live performance, and then clicking on the videos to hear each piece,” Phillips said.

Tickets and a sneak peak of the concert are available at the ARS website:

ARS will also offer video holiday cards that can be sent to family and friends by email. The e-greeting cards will feature quartets of ARS ensemble members. They will be sold online at on a pay-what-you-wish basis.

“Even though we can’t all be together, we are delighted to share beautiful music with the community,” Phillips said. “Music can lift our spirits and remind us of the beauty that is still with us, even in troubled times.”

Arizona Repertory Singers online December concert “Home for the Holidays” premieres the evening of Dec. 11.

Tickets sold online and will provide a link to the online program.

Cost: $20 per household

Choral works— Benjamin Britten’s “Wolcum Yole”; Coleridge-Taylor’s “Summer is Gone”; Matthew Colloton’s “Away in a Manger”; Orlando di Lasso’s “Resonet in Laudibus”; Jack Klebanow’s “Erev Shel Shoshanim”; Shawn Kirchner’s “Brightest and Best”; and Eric William Barnum’s “Sweeter Still.” Solo piano works will include— “Fum Fum Fum” and “Silent Night.” A virtual guitar ensemble will perform “Carol of the Bells.”

The Arizona Repertory Singers is an auditioned ensemble of singers from greater Tucson. Since 1984 this choir has developed an extensive repertory and prides itself on presenting high quality performances of the standard repertoire and new music. Our community of singers, selected through a rigorous audition process, represent a variety of work life careers in business, education, engineering, information technology, law, medicine, social service, science and the arts.