The 2023 Tucson Desert Song Fest will expand into spring


In the world of vocal music, Angel Blue tops the wish lists of many presenters, including the Tucson Desert Song Festival.

The festival had a chance to nab the famous soprano for its 2023 event on one condition: the festival had to slip her in two months after the festival ended on February 19.

“When we find a great artist but they’re only available at a certain time, we’re not going to say no,” said song festival coordinator George Hanson.

Thus, this year, the festival has added a second three-week edition, from March 24 to April 6. The Grammy-winning Blue, who will travel to the Met in March to sing the role of Violetta in ‘La Traviata’ followed by a weekend of dates with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, performs a recital with the Song’s partner Arizona Opera Festival on April 1.

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“That’s our whole goal, to bring the best, world-class singers to the festival,” said Song Festival president Jeannette Segel, a former opera singer who took over as head of the board during the Founding President Jack Forsythe passed away in 2020. “One of our goals is to change the perception of Tucson so that (people) don’t think of it as just a cowboy town. Here’s all that amazing music. Tucson is a cultural destination especially for voice artists.

This is the second time since the festival launched as a 10-day concert series in 2013 that it has extended beyond February. The 2022 festival extended through mid-March to host festival partner Arizona Theater Company’s production of “Nina Simone: Four Women.”

The second leg of the festival next March will also include performances from longtime Song Fest partners, True Concord Voices & Orchestra, who will perform Rachmaninoff’s Vespers from March 24-26; and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, performing Mahler’s magnificent “Resurrection” symphony with soprano Kelley Nassief and contralto Emily Marvosh on March 31 and April 2.

Susanna Phillips will perform the world premiere of Jocelyn Hagen’s “Here I am” with True Concord.

Courtesy of Tucson Desert Song Festival

Two events organized by the Tucson Guitar Society, which has been part of the festival for several years, close the spring stage. The company is teaming up its guitar orchestra with mezzo Mack Wolz, a former member of Arizona Opera’s Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio, to present the world premiere of “Pulling Down the Clouds” on April 2. On April 6, the Guitar Society hosts a recital with guitarist Rafael Aguirre and soprano Fatma Said.

The TSO opens the 2023 festival with Beethoven’s Ninth on January 20 and 22. Other highlights include soprano Susanna Phillips and True Concord performing the world premiere of Jocelyn Hagen’s ‘Here I Am’, which was on the 2022 festival program but was postponed when COVID-19 cases began to rise. last winter; and the first Tucson Baroque Music Festival, which was also scheduled for 2022 but was derailed due to the pandemic.

For the full schedule of concerts and guest artists, visit

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at [email protected]

On Twitter @Starburch


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