Mezzo-soprano Kaitlin Bertenshaw (left), tenor Kyle DeGraff, and pianist Bonnie Bird

The upcoming 2018 Tucson Desert Song Festival’s theme is “Bernstein at 100 – A Celebration of the Life and Music of Leonard Bernstein.” Over a period of 18 days in January and February, Tucson’s leading arts organizations will present some 30 events honoring the famed conductor, composer, pianist and educator.

The annual Tucson Desert Song Festival provides a world-class experience for music enthusiasts, with internationally celebrated soloists joining forces with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, True Concord Voices and Orchestra, Arizona Opera and the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music. Performances will include solo, choral, chamber and orchestral formats along with related lectures and master classes at the university.

The Arizona Senior Academy is once again pleased to whet your appetite for the Tucson Desert Song Festival with a preview recital by students from the UA School of Music. Mezzo-soprano Kaitlin Bertenshaw and tenor Kyle DeGraff, along with pianist Bonnie Bird, will perform selections from Bernstein’s West Side Story and On the Town, as well as art songs from Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The concert is scheduled for Tuesday (Oct. 10) at 11:30 a.m.

Currently a student of Kristin Dauphinais at the UA, Kaitlin Bertenshaw completed an Artists’ Diploma at the Boston University Opera Institute. She has performed with the Boston Lyric Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Chautauqua Opera.

Kyle DeGraff studies voice with Andrew Stuckey, and recently won the UA Concerto Competition, Voice Area. Both students are currently in preparation for opera productions at the university.

Bonnie Bird is a coach and accompanist with the Fred Fox School of Music who maintains a private voice studio as well. She most recently appeared at the Arizona Senior Academy this past June with The Strauss Divas.

Written by Leslie Nitzberg, Academy Village Volunteer

More Info on attending an event
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center. Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Parking for visitors is in the lot behind the Community Center. All parking spaces in front of the Academy building are reserved.

Preview Desert Song’s Tribute to Bernstein: October 2017