ASU Choirs 2022–23 season celebrates the joy of singing in community

October 18, 2022

Six choirs take the stage this year as part of the Arizona State University School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s upcoming choirs season.

The choirs in the choral program — Barrett Choir, Concert Choir, Gospel Choir, Choral Union, Canticum Bassum and Sol Singers — include nearly 300 students and 100 community members each semester. Students singing in a choir. Six choirs take the stage this year as part of the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s upcoming choirs season. Download Full Image

“Our choirs are diverse and purposeful,” said David Schildkret, professor and co-director of choral activities. “We make it a priority to learn about the pieces we choose to sing. Our time together is spent learning not just the notes on the page, but also exploring their context, relevance and importance.”

New to the choral program this year is Jace Kaholokula Saplan, co-director of choral activities and associate professor of music learning and teaching. Saplan was recently named an Obama Asia-Pacific Leader for their work with decolonizing classical music spaces and music teacher training programs.

“What I bring to ASU and the community is an embodied lens of decolonization,” Saplan said. “I come to this role knowing that choral music and global communal vocal music are the same phenomena.”

Saplan is the primary conductor for the ASU Concert Choir, a diverse group of people with different levels of musical experience that is composed mostly of undergraduate music majors but is open to all ASU students.

Schildkret is the primary conductor for the Barrett Choir and the Choral Union. The Barrett Choir, founded by Schildkret in 2011, is composed mostly of students in Barrett, The Honors College, but any ASU student may join. Members participate in all aspects of the choir, from choosing repertoire to organizing social events and day-to-day musical decisions. The Choral Union, an intergenerational ensemble united in a common love of singing large-scale works for chorus and orchestra, includes ASU students, faculty, alumni and staff members as well as residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The ASU Gospel Choir, led by Assistant Professor Nathan De’Shon Myers, is a mixed-voice ensemble that includes people of all faiths and backgrounds and is devoted to the unique repertory of gospel music in the United States, both past and present.

Graduate students Iese Wilson and Colin Cossi are the primary conductors for Canticum Bassum and the Sol Singers, respectively. Canticum Bassum is a tenor-bass ensemble of music majors, non-music majors and community members from a variety of backgrounds singing music ranging from challenging to entertaining. The Sol Singers, a soprano-alto choir, brings people together to create music that is inclusive, informative and a catalyst for friendship and community. Members include music majors, non-music majors and community members from all different backgrounds.

“Participating in the choirs refines the members’ musicianship, prepares members for a lifetime of choral singing, whether in professional or volunteer capacities, and provides fulfilling musical experiences,” Schildkret said.

All six choirs collaborate frequently with each other, with various music ensembles and with other groups in the community and schools and programs at ASU, such as the ASU Symphony Orchestra, ASU Dance and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School.

The choirs, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area’s vibrant musical scene, have performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and in France. They also periodically work with leading composers, conductors, educators and performers.

2022–23 Choral Season

Canticum Bassum, Sol Singers
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 19
Katzin Concert Hall
Tickets $12 at Herberger Institute Box Office (students of any institution or level free with ID).
Sol Singers, the soprano-alto choir, and Canticum Bassum, the tenor-bass ensemble, present their fall concert.

Barrett Choir, Choral Union
4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22
First United Methodist Church, Central and Missouri, Phoenix
Tickets $12 at Herberger Institute Box Office (students of any institution or level free with ID).
Barrett Choir and Choral Union fall concert, featuring the Choral Union performing Mozart’s "Requiem."

Concert Choir, Gospel Choir
4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23
Dayspring United Methodist Church, 1365 E. Elliot Rd., Tempe
Tickets $12 at Herberger Institute Box Office (students of any institution or level free with ID).
Fall concert of the Gospel Choir and Concert Choir, featuring the Concert Choir singing “Romancero Gitano” by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Concert Choir
guest artists Miriam Camerini and Manuel Buda
Katzin Concert Hall
7:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 6
Tickets: $12 at Herberger Institute Box Office.
In cooperation with the Jewish studies conference on Italian Jewish music, the ASU Concert Choir performs Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Romancero Gitano.” Miriam Camerini and Manuel Buda offer a unique look at Italian Jewish music.

Holiday Choral Gala
7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2
ASU Gammage
Tickets: $12  ASU Gammage Box Office (ASU students free with ID).
All six ASU choral ensembles will present a concert of seasonal favorites old and new. Choirs include Barrett Choir, Concert Choir, Gospel Choir, Choral Union, Canticum Bassum and Sol Singers.

Barrett Choir
7:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19
Tempe Center for the Arts
Tickets: $12 at Tempe Center Box Office (students of any institution or level free with ID).
The annual Pops Concert, with music chosen by the choir and solos and ensembles prepared by the choir members.

Gospel Choir, Canticum Bassum, Sol Singers and Concert Choir
7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 25
Dayspring United Methodist Church, 1365 E. Elliot Rd., Tempe
Tickets: $12 at Herberger Institute Box Office (students of any institution or level free with ID).
Gospel Choir, Canticum Bassum, Sol Singers and Concert Choir will present their spring concert.

Gospel Choir Workshop
April 21–23
Tempe Center for the Arts

ASU Choirs and ASU Symphony Orchestra
7:30 p.m., Friday, April 28
ASU Gammage
Tickets: $12 at Gammage Box Office (ASU students free with ID).
The ASU Symphony Orchestra and ASU Choirs will celebrate the end of the 2022–23 season with Beethoven’s monumental utopian vision of the unity of humankind, "Symphony No. 9." The concert begins with Carlos Simon’s “Fate Now Conquers,” a brilliant new work inspired by an emotional journal entry from Beethoven’s notebooks.
Carlos Simon: "Fate Now Conquers" (orchestra)
Beethoven: "Symphony No. 9," “Ode to Joy” (soloists, choir and orchestra)
• Kaitlyn Sabrowksy, soprano.
• Stephanie Weiss, mezzo-soprano.
• Bille Bruley, tenor.
• Gordon Hawkins, bass.
• Jeffery Meyer, conductor.

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music


A hydrogen-rich first atmosphere for Mars inferred from clays on its surface

October 18, 2022

According to new research, Mars may have been born a blue and water-covered world, long before the Earth had even finished forming. The discovery could open a window for scientists on an overlooked chapter in Martian history. 

In a recent study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a team of researchers, including several from Arizona State University, found that Mars’s earliest atmosphere was much denser than today, and primarily composed of molecular hydrogen, very different from the thin, carbon dioxide atmosphere it retains today. Blue planet with clouds, seen from space. Image courtesy Planet Volumes Download Full Image

Even though it is the lightest molecule, hydrogen would have had big implications for Mars’ earliest climate. Molecular hydrogen, it turns out, is a powerful greenhouse gas.

“It’s a paradox that so many observations suggest liquid water on early Mars, even though water freezes on present-day Mars, and the ancient sun was 30% dimmer than today,” said Steve Desch, professor of astrophysics in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration and one of the team scientists. “Traditionally considered greenhouse gases like CO2 would freeze on an early Mars. Hydrogen in the atmosphere is an unexpected way to stabilize liquid water.”

According to the team’s calculations, molecular hydrogen is a strong enough greenhouse gas to have allowed very early warm-to-hot water oceans to be stable on the Martian surface for many millions of years, until the hydrogen was gradually lost to space.

A different type of atmosphere

To determine the composition of the ancient atmosphere on Mars, team scientists developed the first evolutionary models that include high-temperature processes associated with Mars' formation in a molten state and the formation of the first oceans and atmosphere. These models showed that the main gases emerging from the molten rock would be a mix of molecular hydrogen and water vapor.

The results from the models revealed water vapor in the Martian atmosphere behaved like water vapor in our modern-day Earth's atmosphere: it condensed in the lower atmosphere as clouds, creating a “drier” upper atmosphere. Molecular hydrogen, by contrast, did not condense anywhere, and was the main constituent of the upper atmosphere of Mars. From there, this light molecule was lost to space. 

"This key insight — that water vapor condenses and is retained on early Mars whereas molecular hydrogen does not condense and can escape — allows the model to be linked directly to measurements made by spacecraft, specifically, the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity," said Kaveh Pahlevan, a research scientist at the SETI Institute and lead author of the study.

Martian hydrogen, then and now

The new model has allowed new interpretations of deuterium-to-hydrogen (D/H) data from Mars samples analyzed in laboratories on Earth and by NASA rovers on Mars.

Hydrogen atoms in molecules can either be normal hydrogen (a nucleus with one proton) or "heavy" hydrogen, called deuterium (a nucleus with one proton and one neutron). The number of deuterium atoms in a sample divided by the number of normal hydrogen atoms is called the deuterium-to-hydrogen, or D/H ratio.

Meteorites from Mars are mostly igneous rocks, basically solidified magmas. They formed when the interior of Mars melted, and the magma ascended toward the surface. The water dissolved in these interior (mantle-derived) samples contain hydrogen with a D/H ratio similar to that of the Earth's oceans, indicating that the two planets started with very similar D/H ratios, and their water came from the same source in the early solar system.  

In contrast, when the Mars Science Laboratory measured the isotopes of hydrogen in an ancient 3-billion-year-old clay on the Martian surface, it found a D/H ratio value about three times that of Earth's oceans. Therefore, the hydrosphere of Mars — the surface water reservoir that reacted with rocks to form these clays — must have had a high concentration of deuterium relative to hydrogen. The only plausible way to have this level of deuterium enrichment is to lose most of the hydrogen gas to space: normal hydrogen is lost, but deuterium, being slightly heavier, is not lost as quickly. 

The research from this comprehensive model shows that if the Martian atmosphere were dense and hydrogen-rich at the time of its formation, then the surface waters would naturally be enriched in deuterium by a factor of two to three, relative to the interior, which is precisely what the Mars Science Laboratory observed.

“This is the first model that naturally reproduces these observations, giving us some confidence that the evolutionary scenario we have described corresponds to the earliest events on Mars,” Pahlevan said.

A boost for life on early Mars? 

Hydrogen atmospheres may even be favorable for the origin of life. The Stanley-Miller experiments dating back to the middle of the 20th century have shown that prebiotic molecules implicated in the origin of life form readily in such hydrogen-rich, "reducing" atmospheres, but not so readily in hydrogen-poor, "oxidizing" atmospheres like those of modern-day Earth or Mars. 

The team's research findings imply that early Mars was at least as promising a site for the origin of life as early Earth was, if not more promising — long before Earth existed. Earth as we know it did not finish forming until after the moon-forming impact, after tens of millions of years of solar system evolution. Long before that, Mars may have had a thick, hydrogen-rich atmosphere, clement temperatures and a surface covered in blue oceans.

In addition to Desch and Pahlevan, authors of the paper include Lindy Elkins-Tanton and Peter Buseck, both of whom are affiliated with ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration (Buseck is also affiliated with ASU's School of Molecular Sciences), and Laura Schaefer, who is affiliated with the Department of Geological Sciences at Stanford University.

Media Relations and Marketing Manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration