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Tucson Desert Song Festival plans 2021 return

Tucson Desert Song Festival plans 2021 return

Tucson Desert Song Festival is returning next January with a beloved familiar face, a world-premiere by a pre-eminent opera composer and two world-class vocalists making their Tucson debuts.

The festival, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 12, 2021, also will pay tribute to its founder, Jack Forsythe, who died April 29 at the age of 72.

“Jack has left a remarkable, unique legacy in creating TDSF. Part of our mission now is to honor his contribution to the cultural life of Tucson,” song festival Board President and sponsor Jeannette Segel said in a written release. “The 2021 festival is dedicated to his memory.”

Soprano Corinne Winters, who was stunning in a Latin-inspired performance with True Concord Voices & Orchestra at the 2019 festival, returns for a concert with True Concord that celebrates women. The concert includes the world premiere of Jocelyn Hagen’s work commemorating the centenary of the U.S. women’s suffrage as well as the premiere of a piece composed by the 2020 Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition winner.

The festival also will premiere a new song cycle by opera composer Jake Heggie (“Dead Man Walking,” “Moby-Dick”) featuring renowned mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton; Heggie will accompany Barton on piano.

The festival commissioned the piece as part of its Wesley Green Composing Project, launched last year through a donation from Green Valley resident Wesley Green. It is the second commission in the project; the first, Richard Danielpour’s “Songs of Love With Loss,” premiered at the 2019 festival last January.

Other highlights of the 2021 festival include:

Soprano Erin Wall, who has sung with New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric, Vienna Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will perform Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: 1915” and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Tucson Symphony Orchestra. TSO Music Director and Conductor José Luis Gomez will be at the podium.

Tenor Bryan Hymel, who has appeared in major opera houses around the world including being a favorite at London’s Royal Opera, is the 2021 artist-in-residence. He will close the festival with an intimate recital.

Other guest artists include pianist Christopher Cano, Tucson vocalist and pianist/composer Carlos Zapién, British-Singaporean mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron, mezzo Kindra Scharich, Tucson mezzo Kristin Dauphinais, pianist Laurent Philippe, tenor Matthew White, Israeli mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani, Russian-born tenor Viktor Antipenko, soprano Erin Wall, and soprano Jolle Greenleaf with fellow TENET vocal artists Molly Quinn and Virginia Kelsey Warnken.

For the full schedule, visit

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

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