WOMEN COMPOSERS TAKE CENTER STAGE IN ARS HOLIDAY CONCERTS

Contact: Julie Ray, Communications Consultant
julie@julieraycreative.com
(520) 891-8098
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: October 21, 2022
 
Tucson, AZ, October, 2022 — The Arizona Repertory Singers (ARS) present Women in Winter, a holiday program of familiar standards, new compositions, and fresh arrangements by women. “This is a first for us,” ARS music director Ryan Phillips explains. “We were inspired by a suggestion from one of our singers to focus on female composers and arrangers, a rare endeavor within the realm of holiday choral music which, like many subgenres, has been dominated over the centuries by men. We’re excited to expand our music library, diversify our repertoire, and perform these engaging works for our Tucson community.”

Encompassing both the secular and the sacred, the program is bookended by works from Sarah Quartel, a Canadian composer, educator and conductor. The concert commences with “This Endris Night,” a lilting piece that reimagines a 15th-century text for modern audiences and culminates with “Snow Angel.”

A departure from the shorter pieces in the program, “Snow Angel” allows both the singers and audience members to experience a range of moods and rhythms over its 18-minute span. Its five movements evoke the beauty of the season through children’s eyes, guided by a celestial chorus as they journey through darkness to light. This captivating work features piano, cello, and djembe.

Fourth-generation choral composer Abbie Betinis follows in her forbears’ footsteps, composing a holiday carol each year, shared on Minnesota Public Radio. Women in Winter boasts two: “Carol of the Stranger,” a call of welcome and a wish for peace, with lyrics by poet and librettist Michael Dennis Browne; and the lively “Hail, Christmas Day!” based on a medieval-style poem by Betinis’ grandfather, John H. Burt, with alternating meter and round-singing.

Other rousing selections come from Rosaphanye Powell, a prolific composer, educator, and scholar of Black spirituals. In that tradition, ARS offers “Have You Seen the Baby Jesus?” and Glory Hallelujah to Duh Newbo’n King.” The first is a new song with a foot-tapping tempo inspired by jazz and gospel rhythms, and the second, her classic arrangement recast for tenors and basses by her husband, William C. Powell.

Canadian Kim Baryluk’s “Solstice Carol,” a round of warm, modal harmonies for altos and sopranos, conjures the timeless gatherings that mark the shift in seasons. Another celebration of community, “Hiney Mah Tov,” a Hebrew folk favorite both in concerts and at Shabbat feasts throughout the world, proclaims the pleasures of coming together in its simple message from Psalm 133: “behold how good.” This version is arranged by Iris Levine.

Collective joy is also at the heart of the well-known “Gaudete” — Latin for “rejoice” — in a new, upbeat arrangement from Annabel Rooney. In addition, the jubilant “Sussex Carol,” arranged by Elaine Hagenberg and featuring a string quartet, testifies to the enduring popularity of this traditional English piece. Capturing a more reflective mood, “There Is No Rose,” by Seattle-based writer, critic, and teacher Melinda Bargreen, transports with its haunting cadence and the ebb and swell of voices.

“We’re delighted to present such a range of holiday music this season in a program that focuses on women composers working today, primarily in North America,” remarks Phillips. “The quieter pieces invite introspection while the exuberant ones gather us in celebration as we end the year and welcome the next together.”

CONCERT SCHEDULE
Friday, December 97:30 pm*St. Mark Catholic Church, 2727 W. Tangerine Road, Oro Valley
Sunday, December 113:00 pm*Desert Skies United Methodist Church, 3255 N. Houghton Road, Tucson
Sunday, December 183:00 pmChrist Church United Methodist, 666 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson

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

Covid Policy: All ARS Singers are vaccinated and have had a booster shot. We encourage patrons attending our concerts to wear a mask. This policy will be reviewed closer to December concerts and updated, if necessary.

*Indicates new venues for ARS concerts. Thank you to St. Mark Catholic Church and Desert Skies United Methodist Church for sharing their spaces for our Winter 2022 concerts.

Celebrating their 39th season, the Arizona Repertory Singers is an ensemble of nearly 50 singers from greater Tucson. Since 1984, the choir has developed an extensive repertory, presenting high-quality performances of both standard repertoire and new music. Our community of singers, selected through a rigorous audition process, represents a variety of professions and life pursuits, such as business, education, engineering, information technology, law, medicine, social service, science, and the arts. For more details, see arsingers.org.

In Memoriam | DR. HELEN SCHAEFER

WE ARE DEEPLY SADDENED BY THE RECENT PASSING OF DR. HELEN SCHAEFER

Helen was a bedrock for so many in our community, and ARS was particularly fortunate to have Helen as a Founding Board Member. When ARS incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1986, Helen was instrumental in helping ARS prepare and file the application for incorporation. She served as an inaugural board member and continued as an honorary board member until her death. Her advice on many topics proved invaluable to ARS in establishing a reputation in the Southern Arizona community and achieving financial viability.

ARS was honored to perform when the Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center at the University of Arizona was dedicated in 2007. She served as Honorary Chair of ARS’s 25th Anniversary celebration at the prestigious Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, which included performance of a work commissioned in her honor. With her husband, John, she provided generous financial support and guidance to ARS for more than three decades. ARS feels the deepest gratitude to Helen for her many years devoted to helping us become the well-known choral ensemble we are today.

Ars’ Spring Concerts stir emotions and action to preserve the planet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

[TUCSON, AZ]—As the Sonoran desert comes to life with spring flowers, the Arizona Repertory Singers are singing for the planet’s life.

Its Spring concert, “The Beauty of the Earth,” features a repertoire imploring audiences to take action to preserve the planet and slow climate change.

“We have come to a pivotal time in our existence,” said ARS music director Ryan Phillips. “In the latest UN Climate Change report, scientists sent a dire warning. They stressed that we have a narrowing window for action.”

“Art can awaken us,” Phillips said. “Music has a way of touching our emotions and it can stir us to work for change.”

“This program is the Arizona Repertory Singers’ small contribution to the fight against climate change. We’ve picked music that inspires gratitude, reminds us of the beauty of the earth, and, we hope, motivates our audiences to take action to preserve our planet for our future generations,” Phillips said.

The 45-member choral ensemble will open the concert with the hearty and powerful “Emerald Stream,” by Seth Houston. Houston wrote the song when he was just 17 and on a canoe trip with his father; the piece announces God’s command that we care for the earth. The rhythm and flow of the song matches that of someone briskly paddling a canoe.

From there the ensemble will move into Frank Ticheli’s hauntingly beautiful “Earth Song,” an unfortunately timely reminder that war also ravages our planet.

The ensemble will perform several well-loved songs including two pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Linden Lea” and “Rest,” the soaring “For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter, and “Sing of Spring” by George and Ira Gershwin.

The concert also includes a recent composition, “Great Flowing River,” composed during the 2020 pandemic. Charles Anthony Silvestri wrote the lyrics after the sudden death of a loved one. James Eakin composed the music with flowing vocal lines and a stirring harmony to capture the joy and love found in our memories of loved ones.

Nature has its own musical presence in this program. Sounds of a woodpecker will accompany the ensemble on “Metsa Telegramm,” by Uno Naissoo. In “Bumble Bee,” composed by Anders Edenroth, voices will hum and buzz. The ensemble will sing of canaries, eels and kangaroos in Eric Whitacre’s whimsical “Animal Crackers.”

Some of the other pieces will be accompanied by piano, violin and cello.

The concert will also include a chance for audiences to hear a live performance of one of the ensemble’s most loved songs from its 2020 pandemic “virtual” performances.

“But we are keeping that one a surprise,” Phillips said.

Concert schedule

Friday, April 22
7:30 pm
*St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 1431 Magee Road

Sunday, April 24
3:00 pm
Christ Church United Methodist, 655 N. Craycroft Road

Friday, April 29
7:30 pm
*Tanque Verde Lutheran, 8625 E Tanque Verde Road

Tickets will go on sale at arsingers.org on March 18. Prices are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Students are admitted free with ID.

All Arizona Repertory Singers singers and staff are vaccinated and boosted. To protect our audiences, all patrons over the age of 12 must show proof of vaccination and wear masks to attend our performances.

*Indicates new venues for ARS concerts. Thank you to St. Mark’s Methodist and Tanque Verde Lutheran churches for sharing their spaces for our Spring 2022 concerts.

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. For more see, arsingers.org

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In-person ARS holiday concerts to feature world music

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: October 18, 2021

[TUCSON, AZ]—The Arizona Repertory Singers will once again offer live choral concerts this December.

“It’s soul stirring for us to sing together in person again,” said ARS music director Ryan Phillips. “That spirit is going to shine through our holiday concert.”

The title, “Sim Shalom, Grant Peace,” takes its name from a Hebrew prayer, set to music com-posed by Jennaya Robison. Hebrew will be one of seven different languages sung during the con-cert.

“We are singing in Hebrew, Norwegian, Spanish, Irish, Latin, English, and will end with a really fun and uplifting song from South Africa,” Phillips said.

“Even if you don’t understand all the languages, music is our common language. These songs embody a feeling of serenity and celebration that is perfect for this time of year.”

The 40-member ensemble will be accompanied by Woan Ching Lim on piano along with a harpist, string players, and percussionists.

Audiences will hear early contemplative music of the Renaissance to 20th century composers such as Benjamin Britten. Selections will include, “Eit barn er født i Bethlehem” by Norwegian composer Ørjan Matre, “Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil” by Irish Composer David Mooney, and two renditions back to back of “Quem vidistis, pastores,” one arranged in the 16th century and the other in the 20th century by French composer, Francis Poulenc.

“It will be the same text, but different compositional styles 400 years apart,” Phillips said.

The Arizona Repertory Singers offered its 2020 winter concert and 2021 spring concert virtually. Singing remotely gave the ensemble some gifts, Phillips said. They gained new members and learned new ways to practice.

“We have ten new members singing with us this season. Some joined the virtual choir and stuck around in person. Others saw the virtual performances and wanted to join,” Phillips said.

This fall, Phillips made digital practice tracks for some of the more difficult music, so members could listen and practice at home.

“That’s something that we all learned to do and use when we were singing virtually,” Phillips said.

To safely practice together this fall, choral members are rehearsing outside in a member’s backyard.

“At the first in-person rehearsal in September it was a big sigh of relief,” Phillips said. “It was wonderful, even rehearsing in the dark with swarms of bugs.”

“Everyone has neck lights that wrap around your neck and illuminate the music. Everyone brings their chairs and bug spray, it’s like choir camping. We set up an electric keyboard and watch the sun setting as we sing. It’s so good to be back and hear people in person, not singing over a vid-eo. I love it. I’m so glad we are back.”

Dates and Venues for “Sim Shalom, Grant Peace,”

Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams Street, Tucson AZ 85719
December 10, 7:30 p.m.

Christ the King Episcopal Church, 2800 W. Ina Road, Tucson AZ 85741
December 12, 7:30 p.m.

St. Albans Episcopal Church, 3738 N. Old Sabino Canyon Road, Tucson AZ 85750
December 17, 7:30 p.m.

Christ Church United Methodist, 655 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson AZ 85711
December 19, 3:00 p.m.


Tickets are $18 online at arsingers.org or $20 at the door. Group tickets are $15 for 10 or more attendees. Students are free.
Arizona Repertory Singers public health plans for the December 2021 concerts include: All ARS singers and staff are vaccinated. Audience members must be vaccinated and wear masks. Ticket sales will be limited to half the seating capacity for each venue and seating will be socially dis-tanced.
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, educa-tion, engineering, information technology, law, medicine, social service, science, and the arts.

Thank You

ARS is proud to have completed our 2020-21 season with our second virtual concert this May. It required a single-minded focus by singers thrust into a new mode of performance, and by our Music Director, Ryan Phillips, who became an audio and video producer overnight.

However, it also required you, our audience, to take a chance and “attend” our first and second “virtual” performances. Many of you did more than purchase tickets – you also donated generously. We are beyond grateful for your interest and financial support. As this pandemic winds down, we plan to return to in-person performances.

We hope to see you there.

Thank you.
Ken Rosenblatt – ARS President

“I really enjoyed the ARS program. It was quite lovely….sound was very good and technically well done too!”
“Your concert is truly heavenly.”
“Marvelous production! Amazing! Kudos to ARS!”
“Wow! What a beautiful concert! Watching it was a lovely way to spend time.”
“What a spectacular performance you offered to your fans – old and new. I enjoyed watching the conductor participate by singing with you and playing different instruments. I loved the backgrounds and the flow of all the singers’ images on screen.”
“Congratulations on an amazing concert. I will view it again and again. Exceptional success.”