ASU choral season celebrates joyful music-making through song


September 18, 2023

This fall, the Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre welcomes a new choral director and a 2023–24 season that celebrates the joy of singing in community. 

“Our work this year centers on abundance,” said Jace Kaholokula Saplan, associate professor and director of choral activities. “As our choral program evolves to reflect the diverse tapestry of our students and our local, national and global communities, it is crucial in our program's growth to show that the music of the entire world must catalyze the artistry of our students.” Collage of photos of students singing in choirs. Jace Kaholokula Saplan, director of choral activities, said the seven ASU choral ensembles — Concert Choir, Barrett Symphonic Choir, Canticum Bassum, Sol Singers, Gospel Choir, Choral Union and the new Graduate Recital Choir — provide opportunities for all interested singers, from community members to students of any major or skill set. Download Full Image

Saplan said the choral program strives to cultivate globally empathetic artists and wants students to know that singing in the ASU choirs means they are worthy of abundance.

“Our charge is to share the abundance of the world's repertoire with our community,” Saplan said. “Our program's growth and development means engaging with cultures and perspectives within and outside of their perspectives.”

This year’s season highlights community concerts, collaboration with other schools and community choirs, and repertoire that encompasses a diverse tapestry of works and awakens new beginnings.

For the fall semester, Saplan said the choirs are excited to host and perform with the Phoenix Chorale and the University of Redlands' Vocal Chamber Music Program on Oct. 12, along with composer Dale Trumbore. Students from the ASU Concert Choir will be sharing music from New Zealand, Japan and Estonia, and they will be singing with the Phoenix Chorale under the direction of Christopher Gabbitas. Another season highlight, they said, features the ASU Concert Choir performing "The Sacred Veil" on Nov. 15, a beautiful and heart-wrenching work by Eric Whitacre and Toni Silverstri. The concert also features violinist and composer Daniel Roumain, Herberger Institute Professor, along with dance and film compiled by students from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

The acclaimed Westminster Chorus joins the Canticum Bassum singing music for tenor/bass voices on Oct. 13. Duruflé’s famous "Requiem" with woven interpolations of modern dance, spoken word and visual projections spotlighting Stephanie Weiss, associate professor, is presented on March 21, 2024. The season culminates with an event for all choirs at ASU Gammage on April 17, 2024.     

This season welcomes new faculty member Joshua Palkki, assistant professor of music learning and teaching and choral conducting, and associate director of choral activities, who conducts the Barrett Symphonic Choir. 

Saplan said the seven choral ensembles — Concert Choir, Barrett Symphonic Choir, Canticum Bassum, Sol Singers, Gospel Choir, Choral Union and the new Graduate Recital Choir — provide opportunities for all interested singers, from community members to students of any major or skill set. 

Each semester, nearly 300 students and 100 community members participate in ASU choirs.

“Our season reflects the direction of our program,” Saplan said. “As we honor the work and vision of my predecessor, Professor Emeritus David Schildkret, we hope to ensure that our choral program is rooted in our community, actively supports and engages with other choral programs throughout our state, models culturally responsive and global practices of communal vocal music for all collaborators, and roots ourselves in joyful music-making. Cantamos con Alegria!” 

For ASU Gammage ticketed events, tickets are available for $12 in person at the ASU Gammage box office and online at Ticketmaster (fees apply). For ticketed events in the Music Building, tickets are available for $12, online only, at the Herberger Institute Box Office. Free admission for ASU students with ID at any venue. Herberger Institute faculty and staff are eligible for complimentary tickets through the ASU Gammage box office.

Choral Season 2023–24

Sept. 13
Rebirth: Sol Singers, Canticum Bassum and Choral Union
7:30 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Sept. 18 
Louis Vierne’s "Messe Solennelle"
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Oct. 12
Woven: ASU Concert Choir, The Phoenix Chorale and The University of Redlands Vocal Chamber Music Program
7:30 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Oct. 13
Tenor/Bass Extravaganza!
Canticum Bassum and the Westminster Chorus
7 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Oct. 19 
Together: The Barrett Symphonic Choir and ASU Gospel Choir
7:30 p.m., Dayspring United Methodist Church, Tempe

Oct. 30
Igor Stravinky’s "Symphony of Psalms"
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Nov. 6
Singing the New Year: All ASU Choirs
7:30 p.m., ASU Gammage

Nov. 15
Eric Whitacre’s “The Sacred Veil”
Concert Choir
7:30 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Nov. 27
Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Serenade to Music"
Benjamin Britten’s "Rejoice in the Lamb"
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Organ Hall

Feb. 12
Graduate Conducting Recital
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

Feb. 14
On The Voice: Sol Singers, Canticum Bassum and Barrett Symphonic Choir
7:30 p.m., Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

March 13
In Community: Gospel Choir and Choral Union
7:30 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

March 21
Duruflé’s "Requiem": The ASU Concert Choir
Soloist: Stephanie Weiss
7:30 p.m., Organ Hall

March 25
Graduate Conducting Recital
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Katzin Concert Hall

April 17
Singing the Year: ASU Choral Ensembles
7:30 p.m., ASU Gammage

April 22
Graduate Conducting Recital
Graduate Recital Choir
8 p.m., Organ Hall

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music, Dance and Theatre

480-727-7189

Archaeologist focused on community-based Indigenous research joins ASU faculty


September 18, 2023

With a career focused on Indigenous archaeology, Davina Two Bears is excited to be back in Arizona and researching at Arizona State University. 

Two Bears is joining the faculty at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change this fall as a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Scholar. Her research focuses on the Old Leupp Boarding School on the southwest Navajo reservation.  Portrait of ASU scholar Davina Two Bears. Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Scholar Davina Two Bears is joining the faculty at ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Download Full Image

“I will be further researching and writing a book about the Old Leupp Boarding School's history,” she said. “I will also research the Old Leupp Boarding School's reuse as a Japanese isolation center during World War II.”

Two Bears is Navajo from Birdsprings, Arizona, and is happy to be back in the state. She earned her PhD in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology from Indiana University-Bloomington and obtained a minor in Native American and Indigenous studies. 

“I enjoy my career because I enjoy educating people about Native Americans, both in the past and present," Two Bears said.

ASU News spoke with Two Bears about her work and plans at Arizona State University

Editor's note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Can you tell us about your current research?

Answer: I am researching the history of the Old Leupp Boarding School on the southwest Navajo reservation. It was a federal Indian boarding school that was open from 1909 to 1942. In 1943 it was reused as a Japanese isolation center (the Leupp Isolation Center) during World War II, where the U.S. government imprisoned Japanese Americans who were "troublemakers" from all the other Japanese incarceration camps. This school has a unique history of oppression and injustices committed against Navajo children and Japanese Americans by the U.S. government. My research of this historical archeological site is decolonizing and community-based, and I incorporate non-destructive research methods to tell the story of Old Leupp.

For my postdoc, I will be further researching and writing a book about the Old Leupp Boarding School's history. I aim to conduct oral-history interviews with Navajo people from the Leupp and Birdsprings community to investigate the history of the Leupp Isolation Center and Japanese American imprisonment on Navajo lands.

I will also partner with my colleagues, Dr. Jun Sunseri and Dr. Koji Lau-Ozawa, historical archaeologists experienced in community-based archaeology and the use of non-destructive archaeological field methods, to map the Old Leupp Boarding School historical site. We plan to invite the local community and students as well to assist in this project, and we aim to develop educational products and materials. 

Davina Two Bears

Davina Two Bears holds an Archaic projectile point that is approximately 8,000 years old during work on a survey of Navajo sites in Chaco Canyon Cultural Historical Park. Photo courtesy of Davina Two Bears

Q: Why do you enjoy your career, and what you are looking forward to at ASU?

A: I enjoy being out in the field conducting archaeological survey work at Native American/Navajo sites, as well as interviewing Navajo elders — learning about the past from tribal cultural knowledge-keepers. 

I look forward to being back home in Arizona where I am from and being closer to my research sites on the Navajo reservation. I also look forward to mentoring students here at ASU, especially Native American and Indigenous students interested in the field of archaeology.

Q: Anything else you would like others to know about you? 

A: I am Navajo, originally from Birdsprings, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. My clans are Bitter Water, and I am born from Red Running into the Water clan. My maternal grandfather's clan is Edge Water, and my paternal grandfather's clan is also Bitter Water. I previously worked for the Navajo Nation for 14 years as a tribal archaeologist and program manager at the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department – NAU Branch Office. I enjoy spending time with my three young adult children and my extended family.

Nicole Pomerantz

Communications specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

480-965-0610