Joshua Harper, former director of Choral Activities with Yavapai College (YC), has returned to Prescott to conduct the choir he founded, Quartz Ensemble, in a presentation with Arizona Philharmonic (AZ Phil) at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at the Ruth Street Theater.

Harper is now director of Choral Activities at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “This is my first time back, and it feels like a homecoming,” Harper stated in a news release. “I’m excited about working with my colleagues in Quartz Ensemble and AZ Phil.”

Quartz Ensemble is made up of 12 singers, three on a part (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). Playing with them are 12 AZ Phil musicians on violins, violas, cellos, plus an organist.

“Come and enjoy the precision and elegance of the combined forces of these two esteemed ensembles,” said Abby Coffey, AZ Phil executive director.

Harper described this concert as similar to the first collaboration of Quartz and AZ Phil. “I wanted to revisit lots of different composers and work with strings and choir, which blend so well,” he said. “That was the germ of curating this program and there is a lot of repertoire for this combination. Henry Flurry, AZ Phil’s artistic director, proposed some pieces, and we whittled it all down to a program of seven works.”

The concert includes Johann Sebastian Bach’s, Der Herr denket an uns, and Felix Mendelssohn’s composition, Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten, which fits right in with use of strings interacting with the singers both in contrapuntal fugal passages, as well as doubling in the opening Chorale movement. The Mendelssohn will feature soprano soloist and Prescott local, Emily Spencer, the release stated.

More contemporary classical composer Eric Whitacre is on the program. “Whitacre is a rock star of classical choral music, if you haven’t heard of him, come to hear his Water Night composition, because he is among the most currently celebrated composers,” Harper said.<br />

Also on the program is Peteris Vasks’s powerful piece, Dona Nobis Pacem, a timely prayer for peace, and works by Rheinberger, Buxtehue and Caroline Shaw.

“Both Joshua and I are particularly excited about presenting Shaw’s To the Hands,” Flurry said. “Caroline Shaw was a featured composer on the TV Series Mozart in the Jungle and is the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music.”

Visit for a full concert listing and tickets.

Harper is the director of choral activities at Wilkes University, where he conducts the Chamber Singers and University Chorale. He also teaches music theory, private voice, and serves as the musical director for all musical productions. He moved to Wilkes from Prescott, Arizona, where he served as the director of Choral Activities at Yavapai College from 2019 to 2023. He has conducted multiple musicals, including Carousel, Fun Home, Hello, Dolly (starring Toni Tennille), and Jane Eyre.

Arizona Philharmonic is concluding its sixth season in 2023-24 as Prescott’s regional professional orchestra, presenting large and small concerts that engage and inspire listeners. Based in Prescott, AZ Phil draws musicians from across Arizona and is committed to offering transformative music, while nurturing community participation and supporting the needs and growth of the Prescott area performing arts scene.

Information provided by Arizona Philharmonic.

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