TSO Chorus Director Dr. Molina Strives to Reflect Tucson Community Through Partnerships and Accessibility

by Tucson Symphony
TSO Chorus Director Dr. Molina Strives to Reflect Tucson Community Through Partnerships and Accessibility

Stepping into a TSO chorus rehearsal is a joyful and powerful experience. The volunteer ensemble has been rehearsing for Handel’s Messiah and Verdi’s Requiem since early September. This season is the first year the chorus has been under the full direction of Dr. Marcela Molina. After a pandemic-related pause in performances, Dr. Molina stepped into her mentor’s shoes (TSO Chorus Founder Bruce Chamberlain) as interim co-director alongside Dr. Benjamin Hansen during the 22-23 season. Dr. Molina has been affiliated with the Tucson Girls Chorus (TGC) since 2006, first serving as Artistic Director and taking the helm as Executive Director in 2011.

“Having Dr. Marcela Molina in Tucson is a huge privilege since she is one of the most talented and prepared chorus directors that I have had the chance to work with during my career. She is a great teammate, sensitive to the diversity of repertoire and inspiration to all of us at the TSO. She is admired and hugely respected in the whole choral community of this country, and we are blessed and honored to have her with us at the TSO”

Maestro José Luis Gomez

As Executive Director of the TGC, Dr. Molina has a lot of creative ownership in the type of programming they perform and the overarching artistic vision of the organization. For the TSO Chorus she works closely with Maestro Gomez to bring his vision to life. “I feel very fortunate that I have such a great rapport with José Luis,” says Dr. Molina. “He is open and listens to my suggestions and he is inquisitive, and so am I. We both come into the conversation with huge respect for each other, so I trust the process. When I go into the chorus rehearsal, I have all his marks and his vision of the work permeated into the rehearsal process, so the singers are not surprised by anything and there is consistency between the two of us. The rapport that we have as a team is just crucial to the success of both entities when they come together.”

Dr. Molina’s partnership with Maestro Gomez is also a crucial component of her vision for the chorus going forward. “We share some of the same principles: I know that it’s important for him to reflect the community and to program works that that include the people who are part of the tapestry of our community.” Dr. Molina has extensive experience with expanding TGC into areas of the community that, prior to her leadership, lacked access to music programming. Her vision is to “expand the accessibility of our orchestra and our chorus and the partnership with José Luis is just so imperative to do that. I’m excited to be able to think outside of the box artistically, in terms of what we can do and how we can better serve the community in a way that is meaningful for the community.” An equally important partnership for the success of the chorus is the one between Dr. Molina and Dr. Hansen. This year Dr. Hansen has undertaken the role of assistant chorus director and chorus manager. “I think we have a great partnership. We both respect each other immensely, and I have enjoyed working with him. I think that we have transitioned really well and have clarity about what the mission is. We are both coming into this space with like a huge desire for this to succeed and really clear about what we are there for so it’s great.”

Dr. Molina is not the only member of TGC to join the TSO Chorus. Several TGC alums and board members have joined the TSO chorus. “Nothing compares to seeing my former singers being part of this because it just shows that singing and music is a lifelong endeavor.” Dr. Molina has known many of the TGC alum from a very early age, “I’ve known them for a long, long time, for the better part of their lives. It’s just such joy to see them singing still.” This is part of what makes the TSO chorus so special, it allows for the continuation of music outside of the professional setting. “Music and singing are a lifelong activity that they could keep doing even if they decide that music is not part of their professional lives. The TSO chorus is where they can still sing and contribute to an end goal.”