What’s in a Name? The evolution of True Concord

Eric-Holtan-HSEric Holtan, Music Director

Today marks an exciting event in this organization’s history: the changing of our name. True Concord Voices & Orchestra is born, carrying with it the great responsibility of holding the soul of Tucson Chamber Artists in its breast, moving the indelible spirit of our music forward.

Upon founding Tucson Chamber Artists in 2004, I came up with the name. Over the next several years, the board of directors and I would discuss changing that name on more than one occasion. It turns out that the name created confusion in the community about the type of music we perform, and we have often been confused with other local chamber music organizations. When the possibility of our first national recording contract became a reality last fall, it became obvious that we needed to stem the confusion and launch a new brand that would resonate with classical music lovers everywhere. Shakespeare was the source of True Concord, which is a timeless concept about the transcending power of music and its ability to bring people together.

As we celebrate this milestone today, I cannot help but reflect back on our genesis. For years, I had dreamed of leading a professional ensemble of singers and instrumentalists, and as I was finishing my graduate studies at the University of Arizona it occurred to me that there was a need for just such an organization in Tucson. We had a professional symphony orchestra, opera company and theater company, but Tucson didn’t have a professional chamber choir and orchestra. And unlike Europe, there are actually very few ensembles of this type in America. For years I had been drawn to the European model as exemplified by my favorite and venerable Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in England.

So, seeing a need locally, I decided to launch this enterprise, not knowing where it would lead. Naturally, I went first to my music school friends and offered them $100 for a few rehearsals and two performances in November 2004—good money for grad students at the time! While the two concerts were well received, after counting all the money, I realized I could only pay my friends $50 for their work. This was my first encounter—but certainly not my last—with the many challenges of sustaining a professional organization. Thankfully, they all came back for a second concert series later that year, as did larger audiences. We’ve been growing our concerts, audiences and musician pay ever since!


Composer Stephen Paulus

There have been many highlights and pivotal events along the way, most notably the critically acclaimed and sold-out performances of Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor in 2006 and Bach’s Mass in B-minor in 2010, and the commemorative concert we presented to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2011. For that concert, we commissioned Prayers and Remembrances from Stephen Paulus. According to the composer, the work was meant to “suggest hope, light and a future…going at least some distance towards repair and healing.” The reception to the program and especially Paulus’s piece was profound, and it was that concert in which I became most intensely aware of music’s power to draw people together around common needs and aspirations–in this case, hope and renewal.

That experience of and deeper awakening to music’s power culminates in the adoption of True Concord as our new name. It is fitting that we make our debut as True Concord Voices & Orchestra with Paulus’s piece this September 11 in New York City, the epicenter of those tragedies 14 years ago, and the same day we release our Stephen Paulus CD. With the concert and album, True Concord seeks to bring people together from Tucson to New York and around the world through the transformational power of classical music.