Arizeder Urreiztieta was born in the idyllic New Forest in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England on June 28, 1957, the third child of Iñaki Urreiztieta and Belén Mosquera de Urreiztieta, who were at the time in the middle of a four-year residence there with their daughter Irel and son Lirain.
In 1959, the family returned to Venezuela, where Iñaki had fled to during the Spanish Civil War, and where Arizeder’s siblings were born, including his younger brother Izaro later that year. Two years later, Iñaki lost his life due to a heart attack, and overnight Belén became a widow with four children: Irel (14), Lirain (11), Arizeder (3), and Izaro (1). In 1966, doctors in Caracas recommended the dry climate of Arizona to relieve her sons’ asthma, and Belén moved with her children to the United States and settled in Tucson as permanent residents. Arizeder flourished in Arizona and participated in many sports including football, wrestling, and track. He did well in school and his musical talents quickly began to show. In addition to singing, he played the violin and joined the Tucson Junior Strings. He graduated from Amphitheater High School in 1976, and then earned a bachelor of music from the University of Arizona, and a master of music in vocal performance from Indiana University School of Music.
Arizeder went on to perform as a professional bass soloist on the stages of six world capitals and 30 U.S. states. Excelling in repertoire that spans everything between ancient monody and electronic music, and with a two-and-a-half-octave vocal compass, he earned critical praise both in solo performances and with groups as diverse as the Boston Camerata, the New York Philharmonic, Tafelmusik, and San Francisco Chanticleer. In 2014 he celebrated his 20th season as a member of the New York-based, Grammy-nominated ensemble Voices of Ascension, with whom he made numerous recordings. Arizeder also gave the U.S. or world premieres of a half-dozen compositions by Russian/American composers, some written especially for him. His expertise in Russian language and literature led him to coach soloists and ensembles, including Tucson Chamber Artists, in Russian and Old Church Slavonic pronunciation.
Concurrently with his professional singing career, Arizeder pursued advanced studies in communications, public relations, political discourse, project management, and media studies. After his graduate studies, he worked for the Arizona Daily Star as the music critic from 1985 to 1988. His near-encyclopedic knowledge of music, coupled with his communications training, made him uniquely qualified to excel in future positions with the New York Philharmonic (Public Relations Editor, 1995-98), Indiana University School of Music (Communications Director, 1998-2000), and Indianapolis’s Anglican Cathedral (Executive Communications Director, 2000-05). In 2005, he turned to freelance writing and editing, amassing a client portfolio that included the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Arizeder met Dianne, the love of his life, in New York City in 1989 while he was touring with Chanticleer. He was suave and debonair and found his way into her heart with the help of good food, beaucoup wine, and bouquets of red roses. They wed in Syracuse in the fall of 1991 and spent the early years of their marriage in New York and Indiana. In 2001 they welcomed their beautiful daughter, Belén, into the world, named after Arizeder’s mother.
In 2005, Arizeder, Dianne, and Belén moved to Tucson to be closer to Arizeder’s family. They found a spiritual home at St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church, sharing their and their daughter’s musical talents with that community. However, dark clouds began to appear on the horizon.
A couple of years after moving back to Tucson, Arizeder was diagnosed with lymphoma and began chemotherapy treatments at the U of A Cancer Center. He hated the treatments, but had true grit and endured them. Over the years, the cancer played cat and mouse games with him: it improved or it hid, but then resurfaced again. During these years he continued to work, briefly for the Tucson Citizen, and subsequently returning to public relations work at Gordley Design Group, where he led teams creating community relations strategies for public works projects. In 2009 he accepted a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense as a technical writer-editor, frequently commuting between Tucson and Sierra Vista. In 2012, he became executive communications manager for Dr. Ann Weaver Hart, at that time president of the University of Arizona. He also continued to sing professionally with various choral groups in Tucson and New York, including serving as bass soloist and staff singer at St. Philip’s in the Hills.
Over many years, Arizeder valiantly battled two types of lymphoma. He read widely, researching cancer treatments including natural methodologies, which he integrated into his daily life. There were periods where he regained strength, but in early 2018 doctors discovered a malignant tumor and suggested Arizeder go to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to receive a new and promising treatment called CAR-T cell therapy. After many months in Houston, accompanied by his wife and siblings, Arizeder was released in full remission. He returned to Tucson and was able to spend time with his mother, Belén, before she passed away in October of that year.
Sadly, the cancer returned, and in the spring of this year Arizeder began experiencing neurological symptoms that doctors eventually diagnosed as John Cunningham virus. Despite Arizeder’s incredible strength and optimism, he was taken into the arms of his Savior on August 15, 2019, surrounded by his wife, sister-in-law, and sister, and awaited by loved ones who have gone before him.
Throughout the years, Arizeder was an indomitable force, an indefatigable warrior, a Christian full of faith and hope and love. He never wavered and never admitted defeat. His wife Dianne was an incredible force as well, providing support and care all along the way.
Arizeder is predeceased by his father, Iñaki Urreiztieta; mother, Belén Mosquera de Urreiztieta; and nephew, Lezo Urreiztieta. He is survived by his wife, Dianne Iauco; daughter, Belén Luisa; siblings Irel, Lirain (Marisol Agraz), and Izaro (Melissa Harnage) Urreiztieta; nephews Lirain Francisco (Melissa Hart), Andrés, Gaizka, and Iñaki; and grand-nephews Unai and Ander. He is also survived by his father-in-law, Louis Iauco and Dianne’s siblings Suzanne (John) Cerrone, David (Stephanie), Marianne (Mary Blocher), and Mary Lou (Tom) Bewley; nieces and nephews Jennifer (David) Cole, Marybeth (Michelle Chin) Cerrone, John (Kelly) Cerrone, Elena (Richard) Mann, Nicholas (Molly) Iauco, Johanna (Trask) Hughes, Wil Bewley, and Roma Bewley; and many grand-nieces and -nephews.
We all mourn him, but at last his long suffering has ended. Rest in peace, Arizeder, and sing God’s praises with that incredible bass voice He Himself gave you. We will see you again, of that we have no doubt.