40th Gala is a STUNNING success

ARS singers performing Alleluia at the 40th gala

Thank you to all who made All the Beauty: 40th Anniversary Gala a stunning success! With friends, family, and community members, we gathered together on April 28, 2024 to pay tribute to four decades of choral virtuosity and community engagement. Our 250+ guests were treated to a mix of song, ARS history, community, hors d’oeuvres and raffle prizes. Each ARS music director – founder Dennis Bonner, Dr. Jeffry Jahn, Dr. Tom Lerew, Dr. Elliot Jones and current director Ryan Phillips – were recognized with music from their tenure. Each of our special honorees, Dr. Julian Ackerley of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, and Dr. Marcela Molina of the Tucson Girls Chorus, conducted one of our pieces. We are so grateful for the incredible contributions they have each made to the choral communities of Arizona and beyond.

A very special thanks again to our sponsors for the gala – Mike and Beth Kasser, The Morris A. Hazan Family Foundation, La Posada Communities, and Rick Sack and the Buy Tucson Lots Team. It was an afternoon we will not soon forget, and highlighted the joy we have for this organization, joining and raising our voices together.

Stay tuned for our 2024-2025 season announcements and watch this space for updates as we head into our next 40 years of sharing our choral excellence and legacy with audiences of all ages, including Tucson area youth! We are excited for what is to come!

Parlor Guitar, Original song, Ballet Tickets and More raffle prizes!

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.

ARS Music Director Ryan Phillips sums it up simply: “It’s a celebration of who we are and the music that we’ve brought to this community.”

A sample of the generously donated raffle items:

Melinda Bargreen: Original Song
Ballet Tucson: 2 Tickets (excludes Nutcracker)
Horton & Sons Guitar: Parlor Guitar
Van Naerssen Fine Art: Oil Painting
Locale Neighborhood Italian: 2 50$ Gift Cards
Sheryl Holland Art: Original Acrylic Painting
Navajo Turquoise & Silver Pendant
Gadabout Salon Spas: Gift Certificate
Hollowell Physical Therapy: Gift Certificate
The Invisible Theatre: Gift Certificate
Handmade quilts
San Jose House Tombstone Stay
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures: One year of passes for 2
Diane M Thomas: Original Watercolor
Seestar S50 camera/telescope combo
9′ Golf Putting Ramp

Melinda Bargreen Composed new WORK for ARS 40th Gala

For our upcoming 40th Anniversary & Gala celebration, 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.”

In her words:

”A choral commission for an important anniversary is a cherished opportunity. When asked to write a piece for the Arizona Repertory Singers’ 40th anniversary season, I thought about all the great music that these singers have brought to the world during all those years: songs old and new, sacred and secular, all of them meaningful and performed with purpose. How thankful we all must be for so much beauty, in good times and also in times of challenge.

What makes choral singing so special is the uniting of words and music, and it was a joy and an honor to provide a new text and new sounds that speak to the Arizona Repertory Singers’ mission of creating a beautiful experience for so many listeners.”

About Melinda

Melinda Bargreen composer

Melinda Bargreen is a Seattle-based writer and composer whose award-winning choral works have been featured in performances from China to Belgium, as well as on recordings and on PBS television. She is the author of two books about music, Classical Seattle (University of Washington Press, 2015) and 50 Years of Seattle Opera (Marquand Press, 2014).

She was classical music critic of The Seattle Times from 1977 to 2008 (now freelancing). Melinda has written reviews and articles for several national and international publications, including the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, MusicWeb International, The American Record Guide, Symphony Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR’s “Performance Today” series. 

Melinda holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine.

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.