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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