Welcome to our 35th anniversary season. Hailed by audiences throughout Southern Arizona for its choral blend, technical precision and vocal artistry, ARS is a rigorously auditioned community of volunteer singers representing a variety of careers in business, education, engineering, information technology, law, medicine, social service, science and the arts.
A hallmark of the ARS tradition is our commitment to presenting high quality performances of the best new choral music as well as standard repertoire – from the Renaissance to well-known choral masterpieces, Americana and jazz, contemporary pieces and works commissioned by the group.
We share the belief that there is nothing more transformative than the human voice lifted in song.
Although ARS specializes in a cappella choral music, many of our concerts include larger works with orchestra and soloists, or instrumental accompaniment such as piano, harp, organ, strings, woodwinds, and percussion.
Our 35th season promises to be a wonderful mix of musical tradition and innovative programming. In December we will perform new choral music including Jonathan Dove’s thrilling “Seek him that maketh the seven stars” as well as seasonal favorites “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” and John Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music.”
In April 2019, ARS will perform sublime music for choir and organ, choral pieces by Herbert Howells and John Ireland, plus a Tucson premiere of The fruit of silence by Peteris Vasks, based on a text by Mother Teresa. We will also present Psalms of David and Songs of Solomon at Temple Emanu-El that include Psalm settings by C.V. Stanford, Arthur Honegger and James McMillan – and a setting of e.e. cummings’ poetry by University of Arizona composer Daniel Asia.
The Arizona Repertory Singers was founded in 1984 as the Arizona Recital Choir by Dennis Bonner while he was a doctoral student in Choral Conducting at the University of Arizona. The name was changed to the Arizona Repertory Singers in 1986.
ARS’s reputation for choral artistry flourished under the guidance of our widely respected Music Director for 25 years, Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn. As a tribute to Dr. Jahn’s exceptional musical leadership and contribution to the life of choral arts in Tucson, he was inducted posthumously into the 2014 Tucson Musicians Museum for “proven dedication to music, support and participation in community service … that has exceeded … the expectations for the award.”
During our 2015-16 season – a transition year for ARS following the unexpected passing of Dr. Jahn – we were fortunate to experience the musical leadership of Thomas E. Lerew as Interim Music Director while he concluded his doctoral degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Arizona, Fred Fox School of Music.
Our mission continues to expand under the expert musical direction of Dr. Elliot Jones. He envisions a future for ARS that features an even greater commitment to the choral culture of our community with more … singers, venues, ambitious collaborations and performances with local arts organizations – and more outreach to those who have yet to experience the joy of live choral music.
Our Rich Choral History – Vocal Depth, Versatility
For our 34th season, ARS performed the world premiere of Festival of Lights by Karen Siegel in December 2017 and Stars by Eriks Esenvalds, accompanied by choristers playing tuned wine glasses while they sang, creating a stunning aural effect.
In April 2018, we performed two performances of Arthur Honegger’s unique oratorio King David with chamber orchestra, vocal soloists and guest narrator, Grayson Hirst. This work features a range of musical styles from Gregorian chant, early 20th century modernist dissonance and jazz, and was called “A must for choral lovers” by the Arizona Daily Star.
To inaugurate its 30th anniversary season as one of the longest-standing choral organizations in Tucson, ARS performed J.S. Bach’s festive Magnificat in D major and Respighi’s charming and vocally lush cantata, Laud to the Nativity, for our December concerts. These works were intentionally selected to demonstrate the versatility and vocal depth of ARS.
The grand finale for the 30th year celebration featured Voices at an Exhibition, an innovative choral music and artistic multimedia celebration of original commissioned compositions and original works of art by local artists who also sing with ARS. The premiere of this work demonstrated the relationship between choral music, written text and visual media, and was praised by the Arizona Daily Star, “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.”
As part of our 25th Anniversary season, ARS performed a gala concert at the prestigious University of Arizona’s Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. The event included “Songs for Braithwaite,” a new work commissioned to honor founding ARS board member Dr. Helen S. Schaefer, by well-known contemporary choral composer Vijay Singh.
Sharing Our Passion for Choral Music
Since 1984, the Arizona Repertory Singers has enriched our community with live performances at more than 70 venues for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Our goal is to entertain, educate and enhance the musical vitality of Tucson with free concerts that also benefit local non-profit organizations.
In March 2018, ARS was invited to sing at the Tucson Museum of Art during TMA’s ‘SundAZe Family Day’ for Museum visitors and guests. In April 2017, ARS was invited by Patronato San Xavier to perform two concerts benefiting the Patronato’s ongoing effort to restore this historical landmark.
In prior years, ARS performed at the dedication of the University of Arizona’s Helen S. Schaefer Poetry Center; the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for the dedication of the Harris Hawk Sculpture (honoring the memory of Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut, Laurel Clark); Interfaith Community Services ‘Music for the Soul’ concerts at the Fox Theatre; Carondelet Hospice Holiday ‘Tree of Memories’ event and the annual Music and Memories concert sponsored by the Academy for Cancer Awareness.
For the fifth consecutive year, ARS has been invited to perform for students from Tucson area Title 1 schools at the Berger Performing Arts Center in December 2018 through a partnership with Act One – a not-for-profit organization that engages students from underserved schools in arts learning opportunities. Act One has selected ARS as its only choral arts partner. Since 2014, we have performed for more than 1,300 students, and expect to sing for 500 more this year. ARS also provides free passes for the public to most of our choral concerts.
ARS has also performed in concert with other musical organizations in Tucson, including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Pops Orchestra, Tucson Masterworks Chorale, the Sonoran Bells, and the Faculty Artist Series at the University of Arizona.
AZPM Classical 90.5 regularly broadcasts ARS holiday concerts as part of its Community Concert Series, making the ensemble’s diverse choral repertoire available to Arizona radio listeners as well as people around the world via streaming audio on the Internet.
The Arizona Repertory Singers is grateful to have received multi-year grant funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA) and from the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona (formerly Tucson Pima Arts Council).