Category Archives: Past Concerts

A Tribute Concert Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

How Can We Keep From Singing?

3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 19th
Catalina Methodist Church
2700 E. Speedway Blvd.

The Arizona Repertory Singers will present one memorial Tribute Concert honoring the late Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn. How Can We Keep From Singing? will include a retrospective of his favorite choral works performed by ARS over the last 25 years that reflect why “life is a song that must be sung.”

The concert is being presented free to the public as a gift to Tucson, honoring Dr. Jahn’s belief that “ARS sings for the public, not for themselves.” Donations at the door in his memory are appreciated. There will be a reception immediately following the concert.

Program Notes

Standing Ovation Crowd Honors ARS and Jeffry Jahn’s Legacy
ARS performed for a ‘full house’ of 475 people. Read a concert review and watch the Tribute video, ‘The Art of Jeffry Jahn’ by Daniel Buckley.

Heavenly Light

Heavenly Light

Experience the festive atmosphere of voices raised in song that reflect the traditions of choral music. Heavenly Light features the heart and soul of the holiday season with new arrangements of well-known Christmas carols and beloved classical works. The program includes holiday pieces by Johannes Brahms, 20th century composers Francis Poulenc and Gustav Holst, and contemporary composers John Rutter and Morten Lauridsen.

Heavenly Light demonstrates that choral music, because of its inherent blending of music and words, can touch and move one’s very soul.”
—Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

Read more in Conductor’s Corner.
View the Program. Read the Program Notes.

Sneak preview: “Ave Maria” by Franz Biebl, recorded live in concert on December 7.

Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn
Photo credit: Bill “Josh” Young


2:00 p.m. Sunday, December 7th
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
5150 N. Valley View Road

3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 14th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

7:30 p.m. Friday, December 19th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

Online tickets are available at

Open Rehearsal/Choral Singing Workshop

Sing! Learn! Laugh!

Open Rehearsal/Choral Singing Workshop

When: 7– 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 6
Where: Fountain of Life Lutheran Church Family Life Center, 710 S. Kolb Road
Who: Singers and music aficionados 18 years and older
Tickets: $10 at the door
More information: join the email list or call 520.792.8141
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Arizona Repertory Singers is holding its inaugural Open Rehearsal/Choral Singing Workshop to thank its loyal fans and the local music community for three decades of support.

If you love to sing, join ARS for an evening of choral camaraderie led by the energetic, humorous and inspiring music director and musicologist, Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn. Learn the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Choral Singers” while observing the group behind the scenes and joining it in song.

“We wanted to do this to support and strengthen the singing community in Tucson,” Jahn said. “We want to show what ARS does. Maybe some people will realize they can do it too and will audition for ARS in August.”
This event is sponsored by Kirsten and Gary Cook.

Voices at an Exhibition

Arizona Illustrated Host, Debi Mabie, interviews Music Director, Jeffry A. Jahn and artist, Sheryl Holland, also a 20-year veteran singer with ARS. Watch the interview at

“The 45-voice ensemble might be setting a record of sorts; it’s not every day you find a choir – or any classical ensemble – rolling out four commissioned works in one concert.” – Caliente, April 24, 2014

Experience the premiere of four original artworks and compositions: The Trumpet, Bloom, Ask and Glimmer of Hope

Read Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn’s notes about Voices at an Exhibition in Conductor’s Corner
Read the Voices at an Exhibition Program Notes

Celebrating 30 years of choral excellence, Voices at an Exhibition features an exclusive musical and artistic multimedia presentation with commissioned compositions that demonstrate the relationship between choral music, written text and visual media. The concerts will also include audience favorites performed by ARS through the years.

Opening Minds through the Arts

In tandem with the multimedia celebration of Voices At An Exhibition, ARS will work with Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) to select school children from a local elementary school who, through careful and critical listening, will use instrumental music to interpret and create an original piece of visual art.

Read more

“To premiere four pieces of music and four pieces of art at once – you won’t find that being done anywhere else in the nation,” said ARS Music Director Jeffry A. Jahn. “We are very excited to be part of something unique.”

Inspired by “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a Russian composition depicting a tour of an art collection, ARS has commissioned four original art-inspired choral compositions for Voices at an Exhibition. The artwork that inspired the music is by ARS singers who are also artists: Sheryl Holland, abstract painter; David Neve, U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. and photographer; Jan Sturges, photographer; and Ingrid Williams, casein painter. (See more below)

“I wanted to show the diversity of talent in this group for our 30th anniversary,” Jahn said. “We have a lot to celebrate and we wanted to do a lot to celebrate it.”

Experienced composers Ray Braswell and Dave Plank and accomplished young composers Anthony Constantino and Grant Jahn each wrote an original choral composition inspired by a different piece of art. The composers all have a connection to ARS so, while the lyrics and styles vary, each piece is a great fit.

“When you get the opportunity to rehearse a piece that no one has ever sung and perform a piece that no one has ever heard, it’s tremendously cool – and it becomes personal and emotional,” Jahn said.

[tab name=”The Trumpet”]

Photograph by David Neve

David-NeveDavid Neve has been a military photographer for 19 years. His primary photographic duty at the Arizona Air National Guard is photojournalism, but also covers studio portraiture, investigative documentation and public affairs. In his free time, Neve prefers the classic outdoor landscape and enjoys singing in ARS.

“I have been a member for only three years, but my involvement has given me the greatest musical fulfillment that I’ve experienced in decades,” Neve said. “Having been given the chance to combine one of my most personal photographs with the choir that I cherish is a once-in-a-lifetime honor for me.”

Artist Statement: The image was photographed in September of 1997 at The Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield. I was able to combine two of my passions: photography and the Civil War.

Choral Composition by Anthony Constantino

Anthony-ConstantinoBorn and raised in Tucson, Anthony Constantino, 19, is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music where he also sings with the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Choir.

In 2011, while he was singing with ARS, the ensemble premiered Constantino’s Beauty Has the Coldest Heart at its Spring concerts. In May of the same year, Constantino received a commission from Carnegie Hall for his piece Thus it Was as part of the Carmina Burana Choral Project, which premiered February 2012. He participated in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composer’s Project for three years and TSO featured his Vesuvius in six educational concerts in May 2012.

In October 2013, Constantino was selected as a YoungArts Winner and invited to YoungArts Week 2014 in Miami, where his Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon was performed at the New World Center by members of the New World Symphony.

Artist Statement: I was attracted to the poem “The Trumpet” by Edward Thomas because of the title’s correlation to the artwork. I wanted to use a text I could imagine the angel saying, and a call to rise up seemed most appropriate. The music is born completely from the text — no preconceived compositional techniques were used in the process of writing. I simply allowed myself to follow my instinct and write what I heard in an improvisational style. I hope to present the audience with an inspirational call to arms — not to war with others but to battle with their inner selves in order to filter the clutter we all deal with, and to find what sparks true passion in the soul.


[tab name=”Bloom”]

The Bloom – Painting by Sheryl Holland

Sheryl-HollandSheryl Holland taught art and humanities in Michigan public schools before retiring to Arizona where she developed a joy and passion for painting large abstracts. Holland loves the spontaneous process of moving vivid colors on canvas, forming unexpected images and shapes. Her process is unpredictable and full of surprises, but design principles are paramount. “I rarely start with an idea in mind and can never predict the outcome,” she said. “The image constantly changes and I constantly chase it, trying to see where it wants to go, what it wants to be.”

Holland has been a dedicated member of ARS for 20 years. “It’s in my blood, along with painting. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to express the art of beauty in both sound and color.”

Artist Statement: For this painting, I chose bold colors that I love, deep purples and golds. The energy of these opposites are palpable and lend themselves to the big, bold strokes made with large brushes. It is a long process of painting in and painting out to discover a composition that is unified and alive.

Choral composition and text by Grant Jahn

Grant-JahnComposer and clarinetist Grant Jahn was raised in a musically rich Tucson household; his father, Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn, is the ARS music director, and his mother taught vocal music in Tucson schools and sings soprano in ARS. In 2011, during his junior year at University High School, Jahn was selected to participate in the Young Composers Project, which resulted in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra premiering his orchestral work Lament and Escape. While a student at the University of Arizona School of Music, Jahn’s Rhapsody for Solo Bb Clarinet, Chatter for flute and oboe and O magnum mysterium for mixed chorus premiered in 2012 (the last by ARS), and the first two movements of Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, with Grant as clarinet soloist, premiered in 2013. Jahn is now majoring in Music Composition at Arizona State University where he also performs and composes in the clarinet studio.

Artist Statement:

This painting inspired a flood of creative thought that inspired my accompanying text. The painting made me think of the constant eternal struggle to emerge from death. In this struggle, there is optimistic hope and sad remembrance for all things that have passed. Eventually we all return to the Earth, and that is exactly what I hoped to convey through my interpretation of this amazing painting.

[tab name=”Ask”]

Photograph by Jan Sturges

Jan-SturgesJan Sturges graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from Denison University and toured with the international performing and educational organization, Up With People, as a cast music director. She received her Master’s of Education Degree in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Arizona in 1986 and has had a 28-year management career in health care and aging, including at the UA as an elder care specialist. “The experience of singing with such talented singers in ARS under the incomparable and passionate musicianship of Dr. Jeffry Jahn is a privilege that has enriched my life beyond measure!,” she said. “I am humbled and honored that Dr. Jahn selected my photo for Voices at an Exhibition and equally flattered by Ray Braswell’s thoughtful composition.”

Artist Statement: Photography is a life-long passion of mine. I attempt to create both feeling and metaphor for the viewer in my photos. I am grateful to Ray Braswell for reverently capturing the evocative mood and message in song and text of what I wanted to communicate, that when we rely on God’s presence and He opens a door before us, we are beckoned to step across that threshold and leave the momentary comfort of a shaded patio for the bright light of promise and opportunity that lies just beyond – and the hope that is ours for the ‘asking.’

Choral Composition by Ray Braswell

Ray-BraswellRay Braswell received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and has been a church choir director and band director ever since.

Braswell completed a doctorate in education from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. His band, choral and orchestral compositions have been performed across America and in the United Kingdom. His musical style is contemporary romanticism, with melodic passages and accessible harmonies.

Artist Statement: “Ask” is based upon the Biblical passages from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, which speaks of opening doors for those who ask. It is simple in meaning, yet profound in the concept that prayer uplifts man and draws him closer to God, when he seeks knowledge and strength through prayer. The second section, based on Matthew 7:13-14, describes the journey one must take to seek the kingdom of God.

I was extremely honored that Dr. Jahn asked me to write this composition for ARS. Having sung with the group for several years while I lived in Tucson, I know that ARS has a reputation for choral performances that are highly demanding, emotionally thrilling and outstanding in quality and musicianship.

[tab name=”Glimmer of Hope”]

Painting by Ingrid Williams

Ingrid-WilliamsIngrid Williams has been painting with casein since 1978 and has shown at galleries around the nation. Last winter, Zuzi Dance Troup chose her water paintings to accompany its Solstice Poetry of Water show and her “Portable Monsoon” exhibit displayed in Tucson at the main library and at the airport. Her work is currently at Violante and Rochford Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Williams has sung with ARS since 2005.

“Painting makes my eyes come alive, just like singing makes my ears come alive,” she said. “Resounding together in harmony is how we exist here on earth.”

Artist Statement: “Sunrise” was an easy choice for ARS’ Voices at an Exhibition; it’s my most recent work, an attempt at painting snow and ice with a Chinese character for “Snow” and a mini-snow storm above it. The sun is dark. Strange shapes loom. Dave Plank has captured the essence of the painting with the idea that we may wish for an easier road, but move forward anyway, guided by a higher power.

Choral Composition by David L. Plank

David-PlankDavid L. Plank received a Master’s in Education from the University of Arizona and taught in Tucson public schools for more than 20 years. He also served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin/ Madison Summer Music Clinic for 10 years, both as a performer/clinician and teacher of composition, arranging and improvisation. Plank has written many choral works for Tucson area high school choirs as well as the UA. He has had choral works published by Shawnee Press, Aberdeen Music, Kendor Music, and Curtis Music Press as well as a jazz band series published by Kjos West. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Pops Orchestra, Queensland Australia Pops Orchestra and the Southern Arizona Symphonic Winds have performed his instrumental works. Plank has performed at jazz festivals in the Southwest United States as well as the International Cervantino Festival in Mexico. Plank has also worked with entertainers including Liberace, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Hope and Steve Allen.

Artist Statement: My daughter, Lori Green, sings in ARS and I was delighted when Jeffry Jahn asked me to write a composition based on Ingrid William’s incredible painting. As I studied it, I felt that the white areas in the painting represented hope, even in the face of danger and despair. In looking for suitable text about hope, I found a poem written by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides. Then I created music that reflected what I perceived to be the appropriate mood.


Lift Up Your Voice


Photo by: Chris Richards; Benedictine Monastery, December 2013

What did our audiences have to say?

“Crystalline voices in a gorgeous acoustic and setting.”…“Coordination between chorus and orchestra – excellent!”

Special thanks to everyone who supported ARS for our special 30th Anniversary holiday concerts – Our audience, concert sponsors, concert program advertisers, talented orchestra and soloists and our concert volunteer ‘ambassadors’!

Lift Up Your Voice

Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn
Photo credit: Bill “Josh” Young

We will inaugurate our 30th anniversary season with performances of J. S. Bach’s Magnificat in D major and Respighi’s distinctive yet seldom-heard work, Laud to the Nativity. Both compositions capture the essence of their respective eras: Bach’s Magnificat is noted for its “Festive” five-part scoring for mixed voices and orchestra, and is a stylistic masterpiece of the Baroque era (1600-1750). Respighi’s pastoral cantata, Laud to the Nativity, has simplistic charm and utilizes his unique orchestral color and subtle harmonic nuance characteristic of early 20th century Italian music.

Program Notes
Conductor’s Corner
ARS – 30 Years at a Glance

Read about our five outstanding soloists and orchestra

2:00 p.m. Sunday, December 8th
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
5150 N. Valley View Road

7:30 p.m. Friday, December 13th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 15th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

Online tickets now available at Tickets can also be purchased at the door or from an ARS member. All sales are final. To assure available seating, please purchase tickets online or arrive early. Students 18 years and under admitted free at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.

To receive concert and other information about ARS, join our private email list.


On High – Michelle Hynson
O magnum mysterium – Sally Herman
Candlelight Carol – John Rutter

Lauda per la Nativitá del Signore (Laud to the Nativity) Ottorino Respighi (1879–1936)

Vanessa Salaz – Soprano
Kirsten Cook – Mezzo Soprano
Francisco Rentería – Tenor

Magnificat in D Major BWV 243 by J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

I) Magnificat anima mea – Chorus
II) Et exsultavit spiritus meus – Aria – Soprano II
III) Quia respexit humilitatem – Aria – Soprano I
IV) Omnes generationes – Chorus
V) Quia fecit mihi magna – Aria – Bass
VI) Et misericordia – Duet – Alto, Tenor
VII) Fecit potentiam – Chorus
VIII) Deposuit potentes – Aria – Tenor
IX) Esurientes implevit bonis – Alto
X) Suscepit Israel – Trio – Soprano I, II, Alto
XI) Sicut locutus est – Chorus
XII) Gloria patri – Chorus

Vanessa Salaz – Soprano
Mackenzie Romriell – Mezzo Soprano
Francisco Rentería – Tenor
Juan Aguirre – Bass

Soloists and Orchestra

Vanessa Salaz, soprano

Vanessa Salaz

Vanessa Salaz

Ms. Salaz is very happy to have recently returned to her hometown of Tucson, Arizona after a decade of living and studying in New York and performing opera around the world.

Ms. Salaz was the national first place winner of the prestigious NATS Artist Award (NATSAA) leading to her Carnegie Hall debut in Stern Auditorium in 2001 and many subsequent guest recital appearances throughout the country. She has been a multiple prize winner in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, including 2nd place in the Western Region. She has also participated in many international competitions, including the final round of the Francisco Vinas International Singing Competition in Barcelona, Spain. She has participated in prestigious young artist programs such as Music Academy of the West, Opera Theater of St. Louis, International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy, and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel – allowing her to receive guidance and training from many of the music world’s top artists such as Marilyn Horne, Joan Dornemann, Stephen Lord, Warren Jones and Patricia McCaffrey.

On the concert stage, Ms. Salaz made her Carnegie Hall debut as the soprano soloist with the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Schubert’s Mass in G. Other performances include solo’s in Sheherazade (Ravel), The Seasons (Haydn), Christmas Oratorio (Bach), Elijah (Mendelssohn), Exsultate jubilate (Mozart), and Messiah (Handel). She was the soprano soloist with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Boys Chorus in the Christmas Concert special, “Christmas at the Mission” which was nationally broadcast on PBS.

Recent operatic performances include Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Connecticut Grand Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with the Festival Lyrique en Mer in Belle Ile, France, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Opera in the Heights in Houston, Texas. Ms. Salaz holds a Master of Music degree and Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Arizona where she studied with Professor Charles Roe and a Professional Studies Certificate from Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Patricia McCaffrey and Warren Jones.

Kirsten Cook, Mezzo-Soprano

Kirsten Cook

Kirsten Cook

This is Kirsten’s 22nd season as a member of the Arizona Repertory Singers (ARS). Kirsten is an active recitalist and a regular soloist with ARS. She was the alto soloist in Tucson’s Messiah Sing-In for three years and has soloed with the Crested Butte Music Festival Orchestra in Colorado and sung in opera choruses there. Also an oboist, she has occasionally accompanied ARS in concert and was a member of the Messiah Sing-In orchestra for nine years. Kirsten holds degrees in Music Education and English from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from the University of Arizona.  The recently retired public school counselor enjoys hobbies which include nature and landscape photography, hiking and being a grandma. Kirsten’s vocal coach is Dr. Jeffry Jahn.

Mackenzie Romriell, Mezzo-Soprano

Mackenzie Romriell

Mackenzie Romriell

Mackenzie Romriell is a Doctorate of Musical Arts candidate in vocal performance at the University of Arizona, where she also received her Master of Music degree in Voice. Mackenzie is originally from Pocatello, Idaho where she received her Bachelor of Music in Voice at Idaho State University. She is married and has four beautiful children.

Mackenzie currently maintains a small private voice studio and teaches opera to first graders at Dietz Elementary as a specialist in Arts Integration with the Arizona Opera Company. She volunteers her time as a choir director in her church, and is a chorus member for the Arizona Opera Company.

Recently, Mackenzie performed the role of Sesto in the University of Arizona’s portrayal of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. Other roles she has been fortunate enough to perform include La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, the Mother in The Consul, Florence in Albert Herring, Fidalma in Il matrimonio segreto, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, and Katisha in The Mikado. Upcoming events for Mackenzie include performing as the mezzo-soprano soloist for Tucson’s Messiah Sing-In on December 2, 2013, and as a featured soloist in the Arizona Repertory Singers performances of Bach’s Magnificat in D major, December 8, 13, and 15.

Francisco Rentería, Tenor

Francisco Renteria

Francisco Renteria

Francisco Rentería was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Rentería holds a Bachelor of Music and a Masters of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Arizona where he studied with Dr. Nohema Fernández. He has won different prizes and awards including first prize in the Green Valley Concert Association Piano Competition in 1999.

Mr. Rentería also has always had a passion for singing. He participated with the U of A Opera Theater where he sang in several operas including La Vida Breve, The Marriage of Figaro, Student Prince, and others. Mr. Rentería started to develop his operatic technique when he began to study voice with Gail Dubinbaum in 2003. Since then he has obtained different engagements to sing as a soloist including Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Saint John’s Passion, and opera previews, among others. Mr. Rentería has played several roles with Arizona Opera and Phoenix Opera including Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, Borsa in Rigoletto, Il Messagero in Aida and Gastone in La Traviata. He was the understudy for Rodolfo in the production of Boheme for Phoenix Opera. He also works in the Opening Mind Through the Arts program where he is part of an opera trio that teaches classroom curriculum to first grade students in the Tucson Unified School District using the musical medium of opera.

Juan Aguirre, Bass

Juan Aguirre

Juan Aguirre

Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, Juan obtained his Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona where he performed leading roles in numerous operas and was the first- prizewinner of two major Opera competitions. Juan made his professional opera debut with Arizona Opera Company in 1997 and has performed with them from time to time since then. In addition, he has sung professionally with Phoenix Metropolitan Opera, S.A.S.O and Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra and has worked with world- renowned directors/coaches/singers such as Tito Capobianco, Richard Miller, and legendary bass, Jerome Hines.

Equally at home in the realm of musical theatre, Juan is a regular on Arizona Stages doing a wide variety of roles from dramatic to comedy.

In the world of popular music he has recorded two CDs and is the bass singer and founder of The Presidio Boys, a country/gospel male quartet.

Outside the United States, Juan sings regularly in recitals, concerts and operas throughout Mexico. He was a featured bass soloist with the Liszt Academy orchestra in Budapest, Hungary and was privileged to sing in the presence of president Maduro of Honduras and a number of his distinguished guests.

In addition to performing, Juan enjoys stage directing and most recently directed Cinderella and Les Miserables for CYT as well as Esther and Amahl and the Night Visitors for Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra.

Juan also teaches private voice students and works for TUSD in a program called Opening Minds through the Arts (O.M.A), helping to reinforce the curriculum through Opera. In addition, he can also be seen and heard on both local and national television and radio as a bilingual actor and voice over artist.


Violin I
Toru Tagawa
Laura Tagawa

Violin II
Sandra Lanz (Dusterdick)
Deborah Bouchard

Christina Swanson
Tim Secomb 

Rebecca Bartelt
Helena Pedersen

Philip Swanson
Jay Vosk

Devin Gardner  
Sherry Jameson       
English Horn
Sherry Jameson

Brenda Buys (Willer)
Cassandra Bendickson

Carl Fetkenhour
Michael Kiefer
Betty Scott

Tina Walton

Gregg Reynolds

2013 Spring Concert: Moments in Time

Travel through time with ARS and experience a harmonic confluence of musical styles encompassing sacred and secular choral music, modern madrigals and tuneful ditties, including ageless classics by centennial ‘birthday boys’ Verdi (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), Wagner (Bridal Chorus) and Britten (Festival Te Deum).

Read more in the Conductor’s Corner
Download the Program Notes

2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 14th
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
5150 N. Valley View Road

3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 21st
Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
2331 E. Adams Street

3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 28th
Christ Church United Methodist
655 N. Craycroft

To receive concert and other information about ARS, join our private email list.

Rejoice and Sing

Rejoice and SingJoin ARS as we celebrate the season with traditional and contemporary carols, featuring Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, new settings of familiar tunes including In dulci jubilo, Away in a Manger and Love Came Down at Christmas…and be surrounded by choral music that will fill you with hope, peace and joy.

Amazing voices and emotional power. Bravo!

3:00p, Sunday, December 9th and
7:30p, Sunday, December 9th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

7:30p, Friday, December 14th
Benedictine Monastery
800 N. Country Club

3:00p, Sunday, December 16th
Fountain of Life Lutheran Church
710 S. Kolb Road

Program Notes | Conductor’s Corner

Experiencing Music History – from the Ancient to the Modern

by Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn

Sing and Rejoice is a diverse mix of Christmas choral music from both the “long” past, the “near” present and the “very” future.

The first half of the program includes pieces from, arguably, the 16th century’s two greatest choral composers, Palestrina and Victoria, and one of the 20th century’s greatest and most enduring composers, Benjamin Britten.

Palestrina is credited with “saving” choral music for the church after composing his Mass in honor of Pope Marcellus. In a very real way, this composition put into practice the new edicts from the monumental Council of Trent – the Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. The Council declared that vocal music for the church had become too elaborate, with little attention given to the text and too much attention focusing on florid passages and counterpoint that obscured a piece’s melodic content (all compositions for the church contained some portion of a chant tune). Victoria’s entire oeuvre consists of sacred music and he is known as one of the supreme contrapuntists of his age.

“It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of lonliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.”
– Benjamin Britten

Britten’s Ceremony of Carols shows Britten at his finest: compact and masterful, he demonstrates both his attention to text nuance and his propensity of mixing the “old” with the “new” – simple melodies, that when sung in canon, contain quite a few daring harmonies. Britten employs a variety of texts that are meant to remind the listener about the profound and mystical time of Christmas.

The second half of Sing and Rejoice intermixes the traditional with the modern: selections from the Alfred Burt Carols, a visit to the Russia and Eastern Europe (including a premiere arrangement of a Russian folk song by ARS Baritone, Ray Braswell), and fresh, updated settings of the familiar carols In dulci jubilo and Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head

The concert also features the premiere of a choral composition by U of A Sophomore Music Composition major Grant Jahn (oldest son of ARS Music Director, Dr. Jeffry Jahn). In keeping with the concert theme of combining the “ancient” with the “modern,” this piece uses the familiar text from the ancient responsorial chant of Matins for Christmas in a setting that shows definite influence from contemporary choral composer phenomenon, Eric Whitacre, and harmonic master, Morten Lauridsen.

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”
– Leopold Stokowski

Sing and Rejoice is part of a great tradition – the Arizona Repertory Singers’ annual “gift” to Tucson. The purpose and goal of our December concerts has always been to celebrate the joy of the season and the ever-present hope of lasting peace for all. This year’s concert is no exception. It represents both the traditional and the modern while underscoring how the past, present and future are inexorably and mystically connected.

Rejoice and Sing – Program Notes

Rejoice and Sing

December 2012

Sing We Now of Christmas arr. James E. Clemens
Canite Tuba Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525 – 1594)
O magnum mysterium Tomàs Luis de Victoria (ca. 1540 – 1611)k
Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28
Wolcume Yole!
There is no Rose
That yongë child
As dew in Aprille
This little Babe
In Freezing Winter Night
Spring Carol
Deo Gracias
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)


Alfred Burt Carols
Caroling, Caroling
O Hearken Ye
The Star Carol
Alfred Burt (1920 – 1954)
Heavenly Light Aleksandr Kopylow (1854 – 1911) / arr. Peter Wilhousky
The Forest Raised a Christmas Tree arr. Ray Braswell
On the Mountain Top Blows the Wind Mild arr. René Clausen
Rock Him in the Manger Kirby Shaw
Love Came Down at Christmas Nancy Grundahl (b. 1946)
O magnum mysterium Grant Jahn (b. 1992)
Away in a Manger arr. Matthew Coloton
In ducli jubilo arr. Matthew Coloton
Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head Leo Nestor (b. 1948)
All My Heart Again Rejoices David Cherwien (b. 1957)

Program Notes
 – by Cathy Wolfson

Sing We Now of Christmas
The arranger, James Clemens (b. 1966), grew up in Goshen, Indiana. In addition to being a composer, arranger, and music engraver, he accompanies choral groups and soloists, and belongs to the Hymn Society in both the United States and Canada. This lively, lilting carol is based upon a traditional French Provençal melody and is a perfect way to create a festive mood for the rest of our concert!

Canite Tuba
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525 – 1594) was born in Palestrina, near Rome, and is best known as an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. His masterful works are considered to be the culmination of Renaissance polyphony. His first published compositions – a compilation of masses – was the first such collection written by a native Italian. He had extensive experience as a chorister, organist and maestro di cappella of the papal choir at St. Peter’s. Palestrina’s prolific body of work include 104 masses, more than 300 motets, madrigals and magnificats. Canite Tuba, part I of the Tenth Motet, is a joyful hymn in 5-part polyphony.

O magnum mysterium
Tomàs Luis de Victoria (ca. 1540 – 1611), born in Avila, Spain, was considered a premier Spanish composer and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation: the Roman Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation sweeping Europe at the time. Victoria spent part of his life in Italy where he was influenced by the Italian style of composition, and may have studied with Palestrina during this time. His career encompasses cantor, choirmaster, organist and maestro of the Roman Seminary where he became an ordained priest in 1574. Victoria was revered and often consulted for his musical knowledge. O magnum mysterium, one of Victoria’s more frequently performed choral works, demonstrates his abilities in both polyphonic and homophonic composition. The harmonies are clear and sparse and highlight the ‘Great Mystery.’

A Ceremony of Carols
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (1913-76), a native of Suffolk, England, was an outstanding pianist, conductor and a prolific composer of hymns, song cycles, choral works, orchestral pieces and operas – including the well-known Peter Grimes. He is considered a giant of 20th century British classical music. Britten was influenced by British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, and was a close friend of Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich. He wrote many pieces for his musical collaborator and lifelong partner, tenor Peter Pears. A Ceremony of Carols, composed in 1942 during a sea voyage from the United States to England, contains text from a Middle English work entitled An English Galaxy of Shorter Poems by Gerald Bullett. Although Britten originally wrote the pieces as a series of unrelated songs, he later framed them as one work with unifying motifs played by solo harp and other motifs from “Wolcum Yule.” The hauntingly beautiful lullaby “Balulalow,” the driving rhythms of “This Little Babe” and the choral harp-like canon of “Deo Gracias” create a series of carols – each of which is a musical masterpiece.

Alfred Burt Carols
This American composer (1920-1954) was primarily a jazz trumpeter and arranger who is best known for composing a series of Christmas carols between 1942 and 1954. He studied at the University of Michigan, and served in World War II as officer in the Army Air Force Band. During this time he continued the tradition begun by his father of first “publishing” his original carols on the backs of Christmas cards to relatives and friends. His carols contain spiritual themes, which was somewhat unusual for his time. Caroling, Caroling, (which is the most familiar), O Hearken Ye and The Star Carol all share an uplifting joy about the Christmas season. Although they are 20th Century compositions, they ‘hearken’ back (so to speak!) to an earlier era when families gathered around a crackling fire on a cold evening, sharing hot chocolate or cider, and singing together.

Heavenly Light
The composer, Aleksandr Kopylow (1854-1911), was born in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia. He was a violinist and chorister who studied with the famous composer, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and wrote primarily choral compositions and string quartets, as well as the Symphony in C Minor. Arranger Peter Wilhousky (1902-1978) was born in New Jersey to Ukrainian parents, and is most famous for his arrangements of Carol of the Bells and The Battle Hymn of the Republic. This version of Heavenly Light is heavily influenced by the chants of the Russian Orthodox Church; its richly textured harmonies underlie a soaring melody celebrating Jesus being sent down from heaven to each of us.

The Forest Raised a Christmas Tree
Ray Braswell, a bass-baritone who joined ARS in 2008, has arranged this song for ARS. Ray holds a doctorate degree from Virginia Tech, a Master’s in Music from Appalachian State University, has sung with several choral ensembles through the years and was the music director for his church choir in Asheboro, North Carolina. The Forest Raised a Christmas Tree is based upon a Russian folk tune, and tells the story of a magical Christmas tree that shelters a rabbit from a passing wolf. It uses a lilting melody and harmonies to celebrate the delight of children seeing the beautiful Christmas tree, hewed from the woods by a forester.

On the Mountain Top Blows the Wind Mild
The arranger of this piece, René Clausen (b. 1953), was raised in California. After holding various positions in the field of music, he became conductor of the Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he also founded the René Clausen Choral School. He is a prolific composer who writes in many styles of choral music, and is widely performed by high school, college, and professional choirs. This piece is a lovely lullaby based upon a folk tune from Silesia, a former Prussian province now located in Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Rock Him in the Manger
Kirby Shaw, a composer/arranger with nearly 3,000 choral compositions/arrangements to his name, received his doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Washington and is currently a faculty member at the College of the Siskiyous in California, where he founded the COS Vocal and Jazz Ensemble. He is an eclectic composer, in classical and jazz styles, and has done scat singing with such notables as Bobby McFerrin and Al Jarreau. Rock Him in the Manger is a syncopated, light-hearted celebration of Jesus’ birth. Toe-tapping is a requirement for enjoying this piece!

Love Came Down at Christmas
The composer, Nancy Grundahl (b. 1946), is a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota. She is a soprano soloist, conductor of three choirs in Minneapolis, and a composer of several solo and choral works. This piece is a lyrical arrangement of a traditional Irish carol based upon a poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) who was born in London to Italian parents. Rossetti was considered to be the successor of the famous poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

O Magnum Mysterium
Grant Jahn (b. 1992) is currently a music composition major at the University of Arizona School of Music. In this piece, Jahn uses tone clusters, shimmering harmonies and alternating polyphony and homophony in the style of contemporary choral composers Eric Whitacre and Morton Lauridsen to invoke the great mystery of Jesus’ birth. (See our Concert Program for more information about Grant Jahn.)

Away in a Manger
Matthew Culloton (b. 1976) founded and directs the Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, and is Choirmaster at the House of Good Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul. He was honored with the American Choral Director’s Association /Vocal Essence Creative Programming Award, and has been commissioned to compose works for many choral groups, including the Dale Warland Singers. His arrangement of this favorite carol ‘floats’ the melody, sung by the women, over supporting harmonies sung by the men that are mostly traditional (but not always!).

In Dulci Jubilo
Matthew Culloton sets this traditional melody in both the soprano and tenor lines, backed up by interesting harmonies in the other three parts. The alternating English and Latin text, or alternating words from two different languages, is a technique called “macaronic text.” The syncopated rhythms add to the upbeat, celebratory mood of this piece.

Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head
Leo Nestor (b. 1948) has musical degrees from California State University and the University of Southern California. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. where he is the founder and director of the professional group, The American Repertory Singers, which specializes in contemporary choral music. His lovely, joyful setting of this traditional Appalachian carol alternates a solo mezzo soprano line supported by a choral arrangement of four-part harmonies. The phrase “all the evil folk on earth sleep in feathers at their birth” contrasts the fact that while some people are born into luxury (feather beds), the Savior of Mankind was born in a lowly manger.

All My Heart Again Rejoices
David Cherwien (b. 1957) is a church organist, conductor, and composer with degrees in organ performance, theory, and composition from the University of Minnesota. He is currently the Director of Music at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, studied with Alice Parker (Robert Shaw Chorale arranger) and has composed a number of pieces for choir and organ. He often plays an entire liturgical service without referring to printed scores, improvising on the spot as the spirit moves him. This piece, arranged for harp and choir, is a joyful paean to Christ’s birth, using syncopated rhythms and quartile and quintile chords in dense harmonies, accentuated by fast-paced passages and trills in the harp accompaniment.

Ave Maria (Angelus Domini)
Franz Biebl was born in 1906 in Pursruck, Germany. His was a large family; he was the 11th child. He held various choral conducting positions in Germany and Austria, and, interestingly enough, spent a few years as a prisoner of war in the United States, during and after World War II, where he was allowed to compose and conduct. Ave Maria, his best-known composition, is a tender and exultant setting of the well-known prayer, with lush, beautiful harmonies.

A Musical Mosaic

2012 Spring Concert Season
Experience colorful vocal images for lamentation, love, joy, jubilation…and the vision of hope that binds them together. This concert features expressive works by choral giants including Mendelssohn, Whitacre, Barnum and Stroope.

Selections also include arrangements of well-known favorites, Begin the Beguine by Cole Porter and The Music of the Night from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera to commemorate this emotional odyssey.

3 p.m. Sunday, April 15
Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
2331 E. Adams Street

2 p.m. Sunday, April 22
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
5150 N. Valley View Road
New venue with great acoustics!!

3 p.m. Sunday, April 29
Christ Church United Methodist
655 N. Craycroft Road

Admission $15, available online after March 1st or at the door. No refunds. Students 18 years and under admitted free.