The Phoenix Chorale is proud to announce the five-year appointment of Christopher Gabbitas as Artistic Director beginning with the 2019/20 Season. Gabbitas succeeds Charles Bruffy who led the choir from 1999 until 2017.
Gabbitas' appointment concludes a search process that lasted nearly two years with applicants from across the United States and abroad, and resulted in four finalists who each conducted concert programs in the Chorale's recent 60th Anniversary Season.
'The Phoenix Chorale is arguably one of the world's most important contributors to the choral art form and we take that responsibility seriously,' said Rebecca McClain, Phoenix Chorale Board and Search Chair. 'The Artistic Director role is critical for the Chorale and while the search was long, it was truly delightful in every way. Chris has a very strong vision for the next stage of the Chorale's growth. It's such an exciting time for the Chorale, and we are all on pins and needles to see what new heights we will embark upon under his leadership.'
A two-time Grammy Award-winning singer and former member of The King's Singers, Christopher Gabbitas has toured the world visiting more than forty countries and performing almost two thousand concerts worldwide. Gabbitas appears on over thirty albums with The King's Singers, and served as a clinician in over five hundred masterclasses. As a managing partner for The King's Singers and a qualified attorney, Gabbitas helped set up charitable foundations in both the UK and US and worked to raise funds for numerous charities around the world.
'From the very beginning of this process, our top goal was to find a candidate that would lead the Chorale into the next sixty years and build upon the incredible success and legacy of the Chorale,' said Jen Rogers, Phoenix Chorale President and CEO. 'Chris's enthusiasm is contagious and inspires everyone that comes into contact with him. Right away, there was chemistry with Chris across the board. His experience with The King's Singers as both a performer and managing partner are impressive strengths he will bring to the position. I'm really looking forward to having Chris as a colleague, and to work side-by-side with him to take the Chorale into the next era.'
As Artistic Director, Gabbitas will lead all artistic and creative aspects of the organization, building and expanding the Phoenix Chorale's sixty-year legacy through long-term planning and visioning, increasing visibility at home and abroad, expanding outreach opportunities, and increasing the capacity of the Chorale to reach a broader audience.
'As a singer, the relationship between the conductor and the choir is so nuanced, yet has such power. Chris brought a combination of sensitivity and confidence that we all felt,' said Alison Chaney, Phoenix Chorale Singer and Board Representative. 'As a singer himself, he has an innate understanding of the connection and trust that grows between the choir and its conductor. He had a remarkable ability to bring all of us together to translate the notes into a highly emotional and moving experience for everyone involved. Such a talent - we are thrilled beyond measure to have him join us.'
Gabbitas' first concert series as Artistic Director will take place 18-20 October 2019. He will initially divide his time between the USA (Arizona and California) and the UK, and anticipates a move to Redlands, California with his American wife, Stephanie, and three daughters, Bella, Lyra and Ariana.
'I am thrilled and honored to have been appointed as Artistic Director of the Phoenix Chorale, one of the very finest choral ensembles in North America. As a custodian of this important position, I look forward to working with the wonderful singers of the Chorale and communicating with audiences across the Valley and further afield, through live concerts and recordings,' says Gabbitas. 'I'm also excited to be joining the wider Phoenix community and promoting the joy of singing and choral music as ambassador for the Chorale, in conjunction with CEO Jen Rogers. The Phoenix Chorale is a shining gem in the middle of the desert, and our mission is to ensure that we raise our voices in song, reaching as many people as possible and spreading the wonder of live music to all who will listen.'
Grammy Award-winning artist Christopher Gabbitas spent fifteen years as a member of The King's Singers, performing almost two thousand concerts worldwide, conducting in excess of five hundred masterclasses, and appearing on over thirty commercial recordings. Trained in the English choral tradition from an early age as a boy-chorister and later a choral scholar at St John's College, Cambridge University, Christopher began to direct and train ensembles as a teenager. A UK-qualified attorney, he held the position of Managing Partner within The King's Singers for a decade, during which time he was instrumental in the creation of two charitable foundations and led successful fundraising efforts across the world, as well as acting as in-house legal counsel. In 2018, he announced his resignation from the ensemble in order to concentrate on education and choral direction, with the intention of passing on the knowledge gained from well over a decade of elite performance.
In August 2019, Gabbitas will take up a position as Artist Professor at the University of Redlands, in Redlands, CA, USA, teaching a unique Master of Music degree course that focuses on elite choral performance alongside music business education, with the aim of bridging the gap between college education and a career in music, by producing professional musicians who understand the commercial reality of the industry. Gabbitas drafted the degree program alongside Nicholle Andrews and Joseph Modica of the University of Redlands, bringing together the trio's extensive experience of practical and academic aspects of music and business, to create a ground-breaking program.
Christopher has called the United States his second home for many years, having met and married his wife Stephanie in Kentucky. He has visited each of the lower 48 states many times over, both for work and on vacation, and looks forward to immersing himself in the landscape, history and culture of the beautiful state of Arizona.
The Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale is regarded as one of the finest choral ensembles in North America. The 28-voice chorus has developed its reputation through live performances across Arizona, the US and Canada, along with a series of recordings treasured by music lovers and played by radio stations around the world. The Phoenix Chorale began in 1958 as a small study group of singers performing music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and quickly evolved into a performing ensemble. In 1992, the ensemble transitioned into a professional choir, and to this day the ensemble's roster is made up of Arizona residents - highly educated and trained singers with a variety of careers, including teaching music. In 2004, the Phoenix Chorale became the first North American choir to record for the UK's Chandos Records, and since then the Chorale's recordings have earned a total of eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins. In its sixty-year history, conductors of the Chorale have included Millicent Wesley, Wallace Hornibrook, Dan Durand, Vance George, Anders Öhrwall, Jon Washburn and Charles Bruffy. The Phoenix Chorale's vision is to be the pre-eminent model for American choral music by redefining standards of excellence, and its mission is to enrich life through excellence and distinction in choral artistry.
The Phoenix Chorale, ensemble-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix, is sponsored in part through grants, funding, and support from the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Arizona Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.
The Phoenix Chorale's 2019/20 Season concert dates include 18-20 October 2019, 13-17 December 2019, 28-29 February and 1 March 2020, and 24-26 April 2020. The full concert season will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information about the Chorale and Artistic Director Christopher Gabbitas, visit phoenixchorale.org
Posted 8 May 2019 by Keith Bramich