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Tucson, AZ, March, 2022 — This spring, the Arizona Repertory Singers present KidSong, a celebration of children’s songs, ballads, games, and lullabies. With a repertoire of over a dozen pieces in six languages, the program encompasses not only the playfulness and enchantment of childhood, but also its complexities.

ARS music director Ryan Phillips decided on the theme soon after he his wife welcomed twins, on the heels of an ARS rehearsal. “These songs hold a warm place in my heart,” explains Phillips, “and flow organically from the joys and wonders we’ve experienced watching them grow this past year.” In their honor, he prepared his own arrangement of “All Through the Night,” a centuries-old cradlesong he has sung countless times for his little ones as his mother did for him.

These deep connections we feel to our early years — from generation to generation and across cultures — is a through line for the entire concert, and many songs will stir wistful memories, longing, or even sorrow. The plaintive “Only in Sleep,” by Ēriks Ešenvalds, proposes that our childhood friendships live on in dreams (something of a consolation) while Eric Whitacre’s beseeching “Child of Wonder” invokes solace after devastating loss. Watching over all is “Sudraba Meness (the Silver Moon),” its reassuring presence captured in a stirring ode by composer Laura Jēkabsone and sung by ARS in the original Latvian.

The program includes many feisty and fun pieces as well, kicking off with “Hela Rotan,” a rousing tug-of-war tune from the island of Maluku, arranged by Ken Steven and sung with percussive panache in Indonesian; its lyrics extol the benefits of both healthy competition and necessary cooperation. “KidSong,” an energizing medley from Stephen Caldwell (the tempo marking is simply “as fast as possible”), revives treasured children’s classics, accompanied by claps and stomps, and may well prompt listeners to sing along.

Other traditional selections include the frolicking “Bó na Leathadharice,” arranged by Desmond Earley and sung in Irish with bodhrán accompaniment, and “We Rise Again,” an uplifting coalminer’s ballad of children carrying their forebears’ legacies forward, from darkness to light; it’s composed by Leon Dubinsky, arranged by Stephen Smith, and accompanied by piano.

In a similar vein, “Prayer of the Children” by Kurt Bestor and featuring tenors and basses, calls for hope and peace. The altos and sopranos take center stage for “On Children,” composed by Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ysaye Barnwell with lyrics by Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran. Its message to parents and elders urges them to champion the independence and individuality of children.

Finally, ARS will reprise last year’s ever-popular “I Love You/What a Wonderful World,” the well-known lyrics harkening to the beauty around us, a gift to our children. Like the rest of the program, the piece invites audience members to travel down “memory lane” or encounter a familiar feeling in a new song. KidSong sets the charms and challenges of childhood to music and captures our shared experience. This universality is central to the endeavor. As Phillips says, “There’s something for everyone.”

Sunday, April 16 3:00 pm Desert Skies United Methodist Church, 3255 N. Houghton Road, Tucson
Friday, April 21 7:30 pm St. Mark Catholic Church, 2727 W. Tangerine Road, Oro Valley
Sunday, April 23 3:00 pm Christ Church United Methodist, 666 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson

Tickets are $18 in advance at and $20 at the door. Students are admitted free with ID.

Covid Policy: As a performing arts organization, our audiences come first. All ARS Singers are vaccinated and have had a booster shot. We recommend that patrons attending our concerts wear a mask.

Celebrating their 39th season, the Arizona Repertory Singers is an auditioned ensemble of nearly 50 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. For more details, see

KidSong | Spring 2023 | CONDUCTOR’S CORNER

Whether we have children as adults, or recall our own childhood experiences, fond memories of youth exist for many of us. Present times have taught us about life, relationships, struggle, and the joy of music. We have all experienced a range of emotions in our lives that help us recall the amusement of childhood games, periods of sadness and grief, and the comforting embrace of a loved one while listening to a lullaby.

With KidSong, the Arizona Repertory Singers hopes to remind you of all your experiences of growing up and the importance of childhood, while including many different languages to articulate the diversity of our world. You will feel the joy of childhood games like tug-of-war in Ken Steven’s “Hela Rotan,” the joy of songs learned as a child in the exhilaratingly complex “KidSong” by Stephen Caldwell, and the comfort of lullabies from around the world including Paul Smith’s arrangement of a Japanese melody in “Edo Lullaby.” You will also experience the immense grief borne from the death of a child through Dan Forrest’s “Good Night, Dear Heart.” In a personal addition to this program, I have arranged the well-known Welsh lullaby “All Through the Night” for our choir. This lullaby was sung to me by my mother when I was a child and holds a special place in my heart.

On the evening of March 15, 2022, at our rehearsal, the singers hosted a party for my wife, Julia, and me with two beautiful cakes to celebrate the upcoming birth of our boy-girl twins, Alder and Aspen. Unfortunately, Julia couldn’t make the party because she had suddenly checked herself into the hospital over worries about the babies. With leftover cake in my backseat, I rushed to the hospital. The doctors decided to deliver the babies that night, and at 1:19 am the next morning, our beautiful twins were born. In addition to our two older boys, Christian and Noah, we were now a family of six!

I have learned a lot about children during this last year of parenthood. The feeling I experienced when seeing innocence, pure joy, and the sweet nature of a child learning about the world cannot be matched. There is so much love and wonder to absorb from the youth of our world, we hope this journey of KidSong will inspire and offer you a reminder of your own youth.

This spring

Our Spring repertoire is inspired by the joys and wonders of children and holds a warm place in our hearts—in March, our Music Director and his wife welcomed twins into their family. This performance will feature four pieces in foreign languages, including Bó na Leathadhairce by Desmond Earley, which highlights a tune learned by Irish school children, and Hela Rotan, an arrangement of a popular Indonesian folk song by Ken Stevens about the traditional game of tug-of-war. KidSong, by Stephen Caldwell, incorporates the entertaining arrangement of several favorite children’s songs into one cohesive piece that our audiences will surely recognize.
Save the dates!
4/16 3:00 pm Desert Skies UMC
4/21 7:30 pm St Mark Catholic Church
4/23 3:00 pm Christ Church UMC

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The Arizona Repertory Singers thanks the greater Tucson community for its support of the “Women in Winter” performances. We were thrilled to share this beautiful music with such large and enthusiastic audiences!

—Craig Sale
ARS President

Women In Winter Press Coverage

Take a look and listen to some of the great press we’ve received so far:

Arizona Daily Star: Tucson holiday concerts, events to put you in a ho-ho-ho mood

Explorer News: Women composers take center stage at holiday shows (Page 9)

Arizona Repertory Singers Extempore – AZPM Classical 90.5
Andy Bade speaks with Craig Sale, president of the Arizona Repertory Singers.

Explorer News: Women in Winter
AZPM - Extempore
Arizona Daily Star article on holiday concerts