Arizona Early Music drew the lucky card as it marks the end of its 40th anniversary season next week.
The early music presenter from Tucson landed America’s first stop for the Scholars of Tallis, arguably one of the leading vocal ensembles of Renaissance music in the world. The UK-based band tour 12 US cities on their spring tour.
The three-time Grammy-nominated Tallis Scholars, under the direction of conductor Peter Phillips, will perform vocal music by Spanish Renaissance composers Francisco Guerrero, Juan Vasquez, Alonso Lobo and Tomás Luis de Victoria on Wednesday, April 20 at the Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Phillips said in an email interview that this was the band’s first-ever appearance in Tucson.
“It’s a huge catch for us,” said Arizona Early Music executive director Dominic Giardino. “Typically, big ensembles like the Tallis Scholars, when they tour internationally, they hit major metropolitan areas…bouncing between Boston, New York and Philadelphia.”
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The 10-member ensemble, under the direction of Phillips, was scheduled to perform in Tucson last season, but the band’s concert and U.S. tour were put on hold due to the pandemic.
On the revamp tour, the band will primarily travel to college towns in Texas; California; Virginia; Washington D.C.; Oregon; and Washington State.
Phillips said the group will perform music from the golden age of Spanish polyphony, works written towards the end of the Renaissance period.
“It includes one of the greatest masterpieces of the High Renaissance – Victoria’s Requiem – which is preceded by other Spanish compositions by Guerrero, Lobo and Vasquez,” he said. “All of this music was originally written to be sung as part of the traditional Catholic liturgy.”
In addition to Wednesday’s performance, the Tallis Scholars will hold a masterclass with students from University of Arizona Director of Choral Activities Elizabeth Schauer at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 in Holsclaw Hall at the Fred Fox School of Music. The public is invited to attend free of charge.
Arizona Early Music was founded by a group of friends that included UA faculty members James Anthony and John Boe in the spring of 1982 to bring early music from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods to Tucson. The band’s annual concert series includes some of the world’s most celebrated ensembles as well as contemporary artists who perform early music to younger audiences.
Giardino said his organization is also focused on giving back to the community, including with events like the Tallis Scholar masterclass. Arizona Early Music also offers $5 tickets to anyone 30 and under in order to bring younger audiences to its concerts.
“That’s a big part of what we envision for Arizona Early Music,” Giardino said. “If we’re going to have these really great artists here in Tucson…then we’ve got to have a way to impact the next generation.”
The Tallis Scholars concert caps off a season that included the final tour of the Aulos Ensemble, the Parthenia Viol Consort and the dueling lutes of renowned lutenists Paul O’Dette and Ronn McFarlane. Arizona Early Music hoped to stage its first Tucson Baroque Music Festival in late January, but the three-day event was postponed due to the pandemic.
“To be able to end the year in this way is to end on such a note of optimism,” said Giardino. “We are so thrilled that this could happen and thrilled to be able to share some kind of unique opportunity to hear arguably the best Renaissance ensemble in the world.”
Tickets for Wednesday’s concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Grace St. Paul’s, 2331 E. Adams St., are $30 until azearlymusic.org. The $5 youth discount tickets are only available at the door.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected] On Twitter