Tucson Chamber Artists take C-minor Mass to Phoenix debut

2013-10-31T00:00:00Z Tucson Chamber Artists take C-minor Mass to Phoenix debutBy Cathalena E. Burch Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The first time was a charm, but can Mozart’s monumental C-minor Mass work its wonder and magic for Tucson Chamber Artists the second time around?

The professional chorus’  founder and Music Director Eric Holtan is banking on it.

“It was the event that catapulted us to a whole new level in the community,” he said last week as the choir prepared to revisit the Mass for its Phoenix solo debut on Friday.  “We got the critical acclaim, we had our largest audiences to date with that project and we have been growing ever since.”

That first performance took place seven years ago, when the choir was in its third season and had spent most of its infancy flying below the radar. This weekend’s performance could be a good barometer of how far the group has come in the seven seasons since.

“That was the first big work I conducted,” Holtan recalled. “I remember being so nervous before that first concert. The butterflies in my stomach felt more like vultures. Now I am approaching this after having conducted the Brahms German Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B minor, Haydn’s ‘The Creation.’”

Holtan said the chorus’  roster has grown in artistic sophistication over the past seven years, as well.

“We have the best local choral artists and we have complemented them with people from Boston, New York, Denver, L.A. — folks who represent the top of their careers in the choral community,” he said, adding that he expects this performance will be “crisper, cleaner.”

The chorus will perform the C-minor Mass three times this weekend, starting with the concert in Phoenix Friday with the notable Camelback Bible Church concert series, which hosts some of Arizona’s finest vocal and instrumental ensembles. This is the second time TCA has played in Phoenix; it was an invited guest at the Arizona Bach Festival in January.

For most professional choirs — even those whose tenure stretches beyond the TCA’s decade — Mozart’s C-minor Mass would be the season highlight. For the Tucson Chamber Artists it is among the highlights. Also this season, the chorus will tackle Bach’s “St. John’s Passion” in late March.

“(The C-minor Mass) is one of the most important works in the repertoire that should be done every seven to 10 years,” Holtan said.

In addition to the Phoenix concert, TCA will perform the Mass at two Tucson concerts. The concert opens with Tucson Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Alexander Lipay performing Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1. 

“When we did the work the first time in our third year, it was such a major turning point for our organization,” Holtan said. “I have felt that that event in November 2006 was the beginning of a growth spurt that we are continuing to this day.”

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