All The Beauty | April 2024

by Ryan Phillips, M.M.
Music Director

What an exciting 40th anniversary season it has been for the Arizona Repertory Singers! This past fall, we welcomed our largest audiences since I began directing the ensemble, and we have loved rehearsing and performing music that is “uniquely ARS.” As you know, this season, we selected nearly all of our repertoire from our vast library in order to showcase music our singers and audiences have been delighted with during our past four decades of song.

Over the years, a few of these selections have reoccurred in ARS performances, such as Lauridsen’s Sure On This Shining Night and Stroope’s How Can I Keep From Singing? Some are newer to the choir but played a key role in our legacy, such as Elberdin’s Cantate Domino and Gibbs’ Great Day, both of which were featured as virtual choirs during our 2020-2021 season. The repertoire you will hear in this performance means a great deal to our singers, and we hope they impact you as well.

With this anniversary season, we celebrate our choral legacy and the music we have brought to the Tucson community. In addition, we are excited to share the legacy of choral music across the Tucson area, recognizing the work of other choir directors that introduces young singers to the joy of music. As part of our gala celebration. we honor Julian Ackerley and Marcela Molina, two devoted music educators who have provided musical training and encouragement to young people in our community through their leadership in the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, and the Tucson Girls Chorus. As a member of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, I learned the value of learning and understanding music at an early age. The impact of these two educators reaches people around the world, as numerous graduates of their choirs have gone on to direct their own choirs and bring music to those communities. The choral legacy of Julian Ackerley and Marcela Molina is invaluable.

We also look to the future of ARS as our choral legacy continues. In the fall of 2022, we sang There is No Rose, a breathtaking piece by Seattle composer, Melinda Bargreen. When we began discussing a commission for our anniversary, she immediately came to mind. We were thrilled that she was able to compose For All the Beauty set to a beautiful text she had just written which would perfectly complement our occasion; it seemed as though our match was meant to be! We are excited to premier this piece for you and welcome the composer to our performance where her work will be brought to life.

I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting our ensemble and choral music in Tucson. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to bring our 40th anniversary season to life in such a meaningful and impactful way. We hope you enjoy the food and drink, the raffle, and most importantly, the music!

Honorees | Spring Gala 2024

Dr. Marcela Molina

Dr. Molina has been leading the Tucson Girls Chorus since 2006, first serving as Artistic Director and taking the helm as Executive Director in 2011. Under Dr. Molina’s guidance, the Tucson Girls Chorus has grown significantly in programming and community engagement. With her leadership, the TGC has transformed into a vibrant and collaborative organization that creates access to inclusive programming for youth, and provides resources to music educators and support to their classroom all year-round. In addition to her work with the TGC, Dr. Molina serves as Director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Dr. Marcela Molina holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and the University of Arizona. She has contributed articles to Antiphon, and the books Teaching through Performance in Choir, Volume 2 and Choral Reflections: Insights from American Choral Conductor-Teachers. She was named 2019 Choral Director of the Year by Arizona American Choral Directors Association (AzACDA), and she often serves as a clinician and guest conductor for choral festivals around the country. Dr. Molina has served on the board of the AzACDA as well as standing committees for ACDA Western Division. She currently serves on the board of Chorus America.

Dr. Julian Ackerley

Director of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus since 1980, Julian Ackerley has achieved acclaim as an accomplished conductor and administrator. He has taken the choristers on performance tours spanning five continents and over 30 countries. Under his direction, the Chorus has made numerous recordings and has collaborated with national symphony orchestras. The state’s highest arts commendation, The Governor’s Arts Award, was presented to the Chorus

Dr. Ackerley is an experienced teacher, having taught music at all levels from elementary to university students. He received his doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Arizona with emphasis in music education, vocal performance and choral conducting. He is a frequent guest clinician.

Dr. Ackerley served as the National Boychoir Chair for the American Choral Directors Association and is a specialist in working with boys emerging voices. His Chapter “Oh Brother! Success with Boy Singers” is published in Voices in Harmony, Youth Choir Leadership, Education, and Artistry. He was selected Choral Director of the Year by the Arizona ACDA Chapter.

In partnership with his wife Jane, Dr. Ackerley’s dedication to artistic quality and the well-being of his choristers has been key in building the international reputation of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus.

“ALL THE BEAUTY” Celebrates 40-YEAR LEGACY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tucson, AZ, February, 2024 — This spring, the Arizona Repertory Singers (ARS) pay tribute to four decades of choral virtuosity and community engagement in All the Beauty: 40th Anniversary Gala, a combination concert, reception, and fundraiser. In addition to highlighting an extraordinary history, this one-of-a-kind event affirms ARS’s commitment to future generations of singers and audiences by recognizing the contributions of two remarkable music directors who have cultivated a love of music among Tucson youth — Dr. Julian Ackerley of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and Dr. Marcela Molina of the Tucson Girls Chorus.

The rich legacy of the Arizona Repertory Singers (initially called the Arizona Recital Choir) began in 1984 when doctoral student Dennis Bonner sought to create a group devoted to choral excellence, magnificent music, and community connection. The group’s artistry and reputation thrived under the direction of Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn who took the helm in 1990 and led ARS through a 25-year period of growth in musicianship, popularity, repertoire, and membership.

After Jahn’s unexpected passing in 2015, his widow Nadeen Jahn, a music educator and conductor as well as a soprano in ARS, conducted a moving tribute concert for her husband. Thomas E. Lerew (2015-16) and Dr. Elliot Jones (2017-2019) led ARS for shorter terms, and Ryan Phillips came on board as music director in 2019, ushering in a new period of innovation and vision for the group. When Covid hit, Phillips organized virtual concerts, a previously unexplored medium. “Singing remotely gave the ensemble new-found musical gifts,” says Phillips. “We gained new members and learned new ways to practice.”

The Gala concert program includes 17 selections culled from the ARS archives. Audiences may well remember beloved classics from earlier concerts, such as the dynamic “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Z. Randall Stroope and the joyful “If Music Be the Food of Love” by David Dickau as well as a rousing spiritual from an ARS virtual concert, Stacey V. Gibbs’s “Great Day” and a newer piece by Josu Elbedin sung in English, Basque, and Latin, “Cantate Domino,” a favorite of Phillips.

Though the program focuses on celebrating past repertoire, ARS commissioned a new piece from noted Seattle-based composer Melinda Bargreen, who will attend the Gala. Entitled “For All the Beauty,” the song’s beautiful harmonies tug at the heart with lyrics that capture “why we sing,” according to piano educator and ARS board president and singer (bass) Craig Sale, “and the power of music to accompany us as a community through good times and bad.” As Bargreen’s words remind listeners, “We give our thanks without end/For each loved one and each friend.”

Looking to the future of choral music, ARS partnered for several years with Act One (a non-profit that matches arts organizations with underserved schools), reaching more than 1,900 Tucson students through their performances. Currently, ARS organizes concerts through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, performing for young audiences and continuing to educate, entertain, and inspire the youth of Southern Arizona. Gala honorees Ackerley and Molina embody this ongoing commitment across generations. Phillips himself is an alum of the Tucson Boys Chorus and his son is a member of their touring group.

With its mix of song and community, hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes, the 40th Anniversary Gala promises to be an exciting must-attend event for choral music aficionados, arts lovers, and ARS supporters. It’s rare for ARS to hold a fundraiser, and the proceeds will fund ARS music and education programs in the years ahead. The festivities are sure to please those in attendance; as for the singers, they couldn’t be happier. As Jahn explains, “We are reveling in this wonderful music.” Phillips sums it up simply: “It’s a celebration of who we are and the music that we’ve brought to this community.”

ALL THE BEAUTY: 40TH ANNIVERSARY GALA AND FUNDRAISER

Sunday, April 28, 2024
3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Catalina Foothills High School Auditorium
4300 E. Sunrise Drive, Tucson
Honorees:
Dr. Julian Ackerley, Director, Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus
Dr. Marcela Molina, Director, Tucson Girls Chorus 

Purchase tickets.
Preferred Seating: $100 (includes three raffle tickets)
General Seating: $75 (includes one raffle ticket)
Raffle Tickets: $10/each for donated goods and experiences.
Raffle tickets for donated goods and experiences will be provided upon check-in. Must be present to win. Gala and raffle tickets are not tax-deductible.

40th Anniversary Gala

Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 3pm
Catalina Foothills High School Auditorium

This spring, the Arizona Repertory Singers pay tribute to four decades of choral virtuosity and community engagement in All the Beauty: 40th Anniversary Gala, a combination concert, reception, and fundraiser. In addition to highlighting an extraordinary history, this one-of-a-kind event affirms ARS’s commitment to future generations of singers and audiences by recognizing the contributions of two remarkable music directors who have cultivated a love of music among Tucson youth — Dr. Julian Ackerley of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and Dr. Marcela Molina of the Tucson Girls Chorus.

The Gala concert program includes 17 selections culled from the ARS archives. Audiences may well remember beloved classics from earlier concerts, such as the dynamic “How Can I Keep from Singing?” by Z. Randall Stroope and the joyful “If Music Be the Food of Love” by David Dickau as well as a rousing spiritual from an ARS virtual concert, Stacey V. Gibbs’s “Great Day” and a newer piece by Josu Elbedin sung in English, Basque, and Latin, “Cantate Domino,” a favorite of Phillips.

With its mix of song and community, hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes, the 40th Anniversary Gala promises to be an exciting must-attend event for choral music aficionados, arts lovers, and ARS supporters. Tickets are $75 for general seating (includes one raffle ticket) and $100 for preferred seating (includes three raffle tickets). Additional raffle tickets may be purchased for $10. Download flyer.


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