Conductor’s Corner | Spring 2022 | The Beauty of the earth

Throughout my adult years, I have always tried to do better in many aspects of my life, whether that is being a better musician, an encouraging teacher, a loving husband, or a more involved father. In all of these cases, being present and showing love, kindness, and gratitude is what betters ourselves. Because it emboldens love and kindness, gratitude is always my number one takeaway. Let me ask you: How do you show gratitude toward others? Your community and country? How about your planet?

Our planet has housed life for billions of years, yet the human race has managed to alter the environment so drastically through energy and manufacturing emissions, that it might not be suitable for life within the next few lifetimes. How can this have happened? We show gratitude for so many things in our lives, but do we show it for our planet? We have a duty to do all that we can to preserve our planet; buy used, drive electric, run solar power, conserve resources, etc.

This program is the Arizona Repertory Singers’ small contribution to raise awareness of our responsibilities related to climate change. Each piece speaks directly to the predicament in which we have found ourselves, the animals that we have affected, or the home for which we must rededicate ourselves and our service. Through this music, we hope you find the motivation, and make the effort to save your home, our home, and the home of our future generations.

–Ryan Phillips
Music Director and Conductor

Conductor’s Corner | Holiday 2021

Sim Shalom-Grant Peace
Holiday Music from Around the World

Can we all give one big sigh of relief together? 1, 2, 3…sigh. Never before would I have thought that I shouldn’t take performing for live audiences for granted. We made some wonderful virtual music during the height of the pandemic, but that performance itch was never quite scratched. What a joy it is to see you all today, about to enjoy the rested and rejuvenated Arizona Repertory Singers!

While at home in my own work and familial bubble, I thought about how important travel is to my life and mental health. Each summer I try to travel abroad, whether it be to the music-laden pubs of Ireland, the historical structures of Machu Picchu, or the biologically brilliant Galapagos Islands. Each new place I visit brings an air of exploration andwonder to my life. I know you feel the same way. Experiencing the world around us is somethingthat truly makes life worth living.

In lieu of hopping on a plane for a getaway in a country that may or may not be locked down, we are here to bring the world to you. During this performance, you’ll experience several different languages and travel to even more areas of the world. Each piece has been chosen to offer a contrast from every other that comes before it.

It is our hope to allow you to experience music from around the world in one sitting. Not only forthe joy of experiencing it, but also to open your minds to various cultures and musical styles. We are one choir, in one state, in one country. The world is a vast place overflowing with exploration and wonder. Let’s experience it together!

–Ryan Phillips
Music Director and Conductor

Conductor’s Corner – I Can See the Light

When difficult days lie in front of us, how are we to move forward? What drives us on to see the brighter days ahead? Our world is afflicted with violence, hate, racism, disease, environmental harms, and so much more. After all this, how do we refrain from giving up hope? Every one of us has lived through our worst fears and made it through to see a new future – one that we built for ourselves.

“I Can See the Light” does not give answers, but encourages us all to move forward in the wake of tragedy. The program is divided into four sections: Tragedy, Joy, Love, and Healing. When we suffer from insurmountable pain, our body tries to rationalize the events and understand their meaning.

Eliza Gilkyson’s “Requiem” was written in the wake of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami – the deadliest tsunami ever recorded. Her plea for meaning, understanding and grace resonate with our experience of the current COVID pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives from our midst. Craig Hella Johnson arranged Gilkyson’s solo song into a simple, yet immeasurably powerful piece which opens our performance.

Following tragedy, we search for solace and look to the future for hope. Some turn to faith, others to nature, and some to music. “Cantate Domino,” “Ballade to the Moon,” and “When Music Sounds” speak to the joys of life still left to experience. Of course, there is no greater joy than love. The following three pieces offer a journey that experiences true love, marriage, and living out our final days with loved ones.

Finally, we turn to healing, the last step in moving past tragedy. Our performance culminates in the singing of a choral arrangement of Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” This piece accepts the past and moves forward to find a brand-new day dawning. After we find joy and love, we heal and say, “I Can See the Light.”

–Ryan Phillips

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