About

The Helios Ensemble is a 60-person community vocal performance group based in Tucson, Arizona founded and directed by Benjamin Hansen.

The group creates heartfelt, professional level performances through creative and uplifting group vocal technique.

Dr. Benjamin Hansen, Artistic Director

Dr. Benjamin Hansen is the founder and Artistic Director of The Helios Ensemble and the Director of Music at the Catalina United Methodist Church. Hansen received his BA from Yale, singing in the Yale Whiffenpoofs, his MM in voice from The Catholic University of America, his MM in conducting from The College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and his DMA in choral conducting from The University of Arizona.

Hansen has conducted such works as Carmina Burana, Bach's Mass in B minor, Rachmaninoff's Vespers, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Howells’ Requiem, Duruflé’s Requiem, Poulenc’s Mass in G, and Vaughan Williams’ Three Shakespeare Songs. Dr. Hansen has studied conducting with Bruce Chamberlain, Elizabeth Schauer, Leo Nestor, Jerry Blackstone, Mark Gibson, Earl Rivers, Fiora Contino, and Robert Sund. Hansen was the director of choral activities at Cincinnati State College, and a Conducting Fellow at the Chorus America Conducting Symposium in 2010 in Houston, TX.

James Higgs, Conducting Intern

James Higgs

James Higgs is a DMA student in choral conducting at the University of Arizona studying with Dr. Elizabeth Schauer. Currently, James is pianist and organist at Abounding Grace Lutheran Church, a conducting intern with The Helios Ensemble, and has worked with the University of Arizona’s Treble Glee and Symphonic Choirs. James was awarded the John Bloom Choral Scholarship at the University of Arizona. As both soloist and collaborative pianist, James has performed in master classes for Sergei Babayan, Daniel Shapiro, Jake Heggie, Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, and Graham Johnson. Originally from the Bay Area, James attended Chapman University where he received a B.M. in Piano Performance and a M.M. in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Chia-Chun Ko, Collaborative Pianist

Chia ChunChia-Chun Ko received a D.M.A. degree in Piano Performance from the University of Arizona, where she studied with Prof. Tannis Gibson. She is the recipient of various scholarships from NTUE, University of Arizona, the Yamaha Music Foundation, Ivancovich Music Scholarship, and Simpson Scholarship.

Dr. Ko has performed actively in solo and chamber music concerts, and has also participated in various competitions. She received first place in the Elite Cup Musical Competition of Taichung Harbor, first place in the Chamber Music competition of NTUE, and received the distinction of TCMS Young Star of Chamber Music.

Dr. Ko was the winner of the University of Arizona President’s Concerto Competition and performed as soloist with the Arizona Symphony Orchestra in 2012. She was first place prizewinner in the Lois Trester Piano Competition in 2013 and second place prizewinner in 2011. She performed in the 2014 Dove of Peace concert series, featuring Beethoven sonatas. Dr. Ko presented several shared recitals in the Southwest as UA Pianists on Tour in 2014 and was thrice invited to be a guest artist in the Viola Voice Festival in Mexico City in 2017-19. She has served as the rehearsal accompanist for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Chorus in 2015-18 and currently for the Helios Ensemble. Dr. Ko has also served as the teaching artist for OperaTunity at Arizona Opera since 2019.