In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
The Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale, in residence at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix, is regarded as one of the finest professional choral ensembles in America. The 27-voice chorus, under the direction of Artistic Director Charles Bruffy, is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music, which is intermingled with more traditional concert literature.
Audiences around the world have been treated to the sounds of the Chorale through live performances across the United States and in Canada, and in live broadcasts and recordings on radio stations across the globe.
In March 2009, the Phoenix Chorale made their New York debut with their sister organization, the Kansas City Chorale, at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. The New York Times referred to the Chorales' "...refined sound and elegant phrasing..." with "vivid intensity..." and the performance had a "...buoyant pulse and energetic finesse."
In 2004, the Phoenix Chorale released Shakespeare in Song and became the first North American choir to release an album on U.K.-based Chandos Records, one of the world's largest independent classical record labels. Since that release, the Phoenix Chorale has received a total of eight Grammy Award nominations, receiving nominations in the following categories two years in a row: "Best Classical Album," "Best Choral Performance," and "Best Surround Sound." Their latest solo recording, Spotless Rose, received a Grammy Award for "Best Small Ensemble Performance" in 2009. In 2008, Grechaninov: Passion Week, a joint-recording with the Kansas City Chorale, also won a Grammy Award for "Best Engineered Album, Classical." Two other joint-recordings with the Kansas City Chorale have been released on Chandos; Eternal Rest and Rheinberger: Sacred Choral Works.
Originally called the Bach & Madrigal Society of Phoenix, the Phoenix Chorale was founded in 1958 as a small study group in the living room of Drs. Hal & Timona Pittman. At that time, the group focused on the music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Most recently, the Phoenix Chorale was known as the Phoenix Bach Choir, a name the group performed under for nearly twenty years.
In its fifty-two year history, the Phoenix Chorale's conductors have included Millicent Wesley, Wallace Hornibrook, Dan Durand, Vance George, Anders Öhrwall, Jon Washburn, and Charles Bruffy.
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A Spotless Rose
Review: 'Choral singing just doesn't get much better than this. When it comes to purity of tone, daunting precision and superfine blend, Charles Bruffy's remarkable Phoenix Chorale have it all - and then some!' - Gramophone Magazine. Praise indeed for this multiple Grammy nominated recording. Unified by its Marian idea, the program mixed classic British and contemporary American pieces in a novel way, and it provides an excellent window for the world on the vigorous tradition of a cappella choral music that has evolved independently of academic trends and their strictures. All the music here exploits, to a greater or lesser degree, the acoustic effects possible with an a cappella chorus in a large space, and Chandos, turning its engineers loose in an Arizona desert megachurch called the Camelback Bible Church, achieves spectacular results. The standout is perhaps the final four-movement Electa, by Kansas City composer Jean Belmont Ford, with its intense passages of overlap between a solo soprano tone and the choir and its haunting use of solo timpani and bass drum, the only instruments heard anywhere on the disc. Both the Ford work and the Two Marian Pieces by Spanish-born Javier Busto are world premieres, and both are likely to be eagerly adopted by other choirs. The singers shine equally in the subtle dissonances of the first of Busto's pieces and in the tricky artlessness of Benjamin Britten's A Hymn to the Virgin. This is a triumph of engineering, of choral singing, and of conducting on the part of Charles Bruffy, a protege of fabled American choral conductor Robert Shaw, who, like his mentor, has achieved impressive, sensuously irresistible results in a city without a deeply ingrained tradition of classical singing. Booket notes are in English, French, and German.