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Phoenix Chorale Announces 60th Anniversary Season

Phoenix Chorale Announces 60th Anniversary Season

Originally founded in 1958, the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale announces its milestone 60th Anniversary Season with expanded programming, guest conductors from around the world, and continuing its Search for the next Artistic Director.

"Sixty years of music-making in the Valley is a huge milestone for the Chorale and this season is going to be our biggest yet! Not only is this an anniversary year, we are continuing our Search journey to find the Phoenix Chorale's next Artistic Director. The four finalist candidates - Jenny Wong, James K. Bass, Christopher Gabbitas, and Brian A. Schmidt - are an incredibly talented group and each will conduct their own series of concerts," said Jen Rogers, President & CEO of the Phoenix Chorale.

"We can't wait to work with each conductor and share their talents with the entire community. The programs they have created are unique, stunning, and offer wonderful spine-tingling experiences."

The Chorale's 60-year history is woven into the four finalists' concert programs: Concert 1 sets the stage where the Chorale began in the Arizona desert with Jenny Wong's "Desert and Rivers;" Concert 2 offers an interesting twist on the Chorale's mid-century founding in 1958 with James K. Bass's "Mid-Century Modern;" Concert 4 highlights the Chorale's specialty of sacred and secular choral music with Christopher Gabbitas's "Pathways of Devotion;" and Concert 5 returns to the ensembles' J.S. Bach roots with Brian A. Schmidt's "Reflections."

For A Chorale Christmas, the Chorale welcomes internationally renowned conductor Dr. Anton Armstrong, of Minnesota's St. Olaf Choir. Dr. Armstrong has led the St. Olaf Choir at St. Olaf College for nearly 30 years and this December, he'll bring the spirit of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival to Arizona. One of the pre-eminent choral conductors in the world, Dr. Armstrong has conducted choirs around the world from Taiwan to Walt Disney Hall, Prague to Lincoln Center, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the American Boychoir, and many more.

The 60th Anniversary Season opens in September with Desert and Rivers, (Sept. 28-30, 2018); Mid-Century Modern (Oct. 26-28, 2018); A Chorale Christmas (Dec. 14-18, 2018); Pathways of Devotion (Feb. 22-24, 2019) and concludes in April with Reflections (Apr. 5-7, 2019).

Season subscriptions for the 2018/19 Season are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 602-253-2224. Single tickets and online sales begin August 1, 2018 at Season subscriptions of 3, 4, and 5 concerts start at $115; single tickets start at $35, with discounts available for students, seniors and Military.

The Artistic Director Search process began in the summer of 2017 and by November, fifty qualified individuals from across the United States and abroad had applied for the position. The Search Team reviewed the first round of materials: cover letters, resumes, and both audio and video files, narrowing the field to 11 Semifinalists. The Semifinalists submitted a second round of materials including additional video and audio files, sample concert programs, and each semifinalist was tasked with designing a concert program for the Chorale; interviews were held, and references were checked. At the end of that round, four finalists were identified and invited to continue in the Search process.Each finalist will come to Phoenix and lead the Chorale in rehearsals and concerts and will meet with the board, staff, singers, and the Phoenix community over the course of their concert series. The final selection for the Artistic Director position is expected in late spring of 2019, with the new Artistic Director taking the helm in the 2019/20 Season.

2018/19 Season - 60th Anniversary

Desert and Rivers
Jenny Wong, conductor
September 28-30, 2018
Our 60th Anniversary Season opens with "Desert and Rivers," with music inspired by the contrasting landscapes of our home state of Arizona, a unique environment of stunning desert scenery, fed by the rushing rivers that have shaped it for eons. Jenny Wong leads this program exploring desert-inspired themes of solitude and exile, to rushing flowing rivers conjuring images of healing, mystery and rebirth with music by Moira Smiley, Palestrina, C.P.E. Bach, John Adams, Ola Gjeilo, and more.
September 28, 2018 - FRI 7:30 PM Church of the Epiphany, 2222 S Price Rd, Tempe
September 29, 2018 - SAT 7:30 PM Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
September 30, 2018 - SUN 3:00 PM Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley

Mid-Century Modern
James K. Bass, conductor
October 26-28, 2018
1958 was the height of the Mid-Century Modern era and also the year the Phoenix Chorale was founded as the Bach and Madrigal Society. For centuries, choral music has incorporated the ideas, sounds, and texts of our modern lives. This program offers a glimpse into this practice with an interesting twist on 'Mid-Century Modern,' featuring music by composers born in the middle of the 20th Century and music from the middle 19th Century. James Bass leads this program from Brahms's O schöne Nacht to Paul Crabtree's Romantic Miniatures from The Simpsons, and more, this concert displays how our tastes in musical styles have built upon the past and continue to shift to suit our modern selves.
October 26, 2018 - FRI 7:30 PM American Lutheran Church, 17200 N. Del Webb Blvd, Sun City
October 27, 2018 - SAT 7:30 PM Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
October 28, 2018 - SUN 3:00 PM Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley

A Chorale Christmas
CONDUCTOR: Anton Armstrong
December 14-18, 2018
It just isn't Christmas until you hear the Phoenix Chorale sing! Join us this holiday season when internationally renowned conductor Dr. Anton Armstrong leads the Chorale in our annual holiday concerts, 'A Chorale Christmas.' One of the world's pre-eminent choral conductors, Dr. Armstrong has led Minnesota's St. Olaf Choir for nearly 30 years and has conducted choirs around the world from Taiwan to Prague to Lincoln Center and more. Don't miss this very special holiday event when Dr. Armstrong brings the spirit of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival to the desert!
December 14, 2018 - FRI 7:30 PM American Lutheran Church, 17200 N. Del Webb Blvd, Sun City
December 15, 2018 - SAT 7:30 PM Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
December 16, 2018 - SUN 3:00 PM La Casa de Cristo, 6300 E Bell Rd, Scottsdale
December 17, 2018 - MON 7:30 PM Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley
December 18, 2018 - TUE 7:30 PM Brophy Chapel, 4701 N Central Ave, Phoenix

Pathways of Devotion
CONDUCTOR: Christopher Gabbitas
February 22-24, 2019
Adoration, faithfulness, dedication, longing: humanity's expression of spiritual and worldly devotion has inspired choral composers since before the Renaissance - and for sixty years, the Phoenix Chorale has honored many of their works in performance. In 'Pathways of Devotion,' Christopher Gabbitas presents exquisite representations of spiritual adoration and worldly affection from the last 500 years. Featuring music from Purcell to Pärt, Mendelssohn to Larsen, the program concludes with five "Musical Valentines": folk songs from Britain and the Americas, originally arranged for The King's Singers.
February 22, 2019 - FRI 7:30 PM American Lutheran Church, 17200 N. Del Webb Blvd, Sun City
February 23, 2019 - SAT 7:30 PM Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
February 24, 2019 - SUN 3:00 PM Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley

CONDUCTOR: Brian A. Schmidt
April 5-7, 2019
In the founding years as the Bach and Madrigal Society, the Phoenix Chorale quite literally focused on madrigals and the music of J. S. Bach, along with championing new music. With 'Reflections,' Brian Schmidt brings our 60th Anniversary Season full circle performing J.S. Bach's magnificent Jesu meine Freude (which we first performed in 1959), along with John Rutter's delightful Birthday Madrigals. The celebration continues with a variety of music new to the Chorale, with jazz-influenced works by Reena Esmail and Anders Paulsson to name a few, and closes with jubilant spirituals.
April 5, 2019 - FRI 7:30 PM American Lutheran Church, 17200 N. Del Webb Blvd, Sun City
April 6, 2019 - SAT 7:30 PM Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, Phoenix
April 7, 2019 - SUN 3:00 PM Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Dr., Paradise Valley

About guest conductor Anton Armstrong: Dr. Anton Armstrong, is one of the top choral conductors in the world, leading the renowned St. Olaf Choir for nearly 30 years. Dr. Armstrong is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned advanced degrees at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University. He has taken the podium in some of the world's most prestigious concert halls, including choral festivals at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, collaborations with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, California, and serving multiple years as clinician for the annual World Symposium on Choral Music (Australia, Denmark and Argentina). Dr. Armstrong is a distinguished leader for the choral field, serving on the boards of trustees for Chorus America, the American Boychoir School, as well as co-chair for the Artistic Committee for the World Symposium of Choral Music held in Seoul, Korea. In recent years he has guest conducted such noted ensembles as the Utah Symphony and Symphony Chorus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Westminster Choir, and the American Boychoir. He has also collaborated in concert with Garrison Keillor and Bobby McFerrin.

About finalist James K. Bass: Three-time Grammy nominated artist James K. Bass is the Director of Choral Studies for the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA, Artistic Director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers, and Associate Conductor for the Miami based ensemble Seraphic Fire. As a conductor, he has prepared choirs for Sir David Willcocks, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Gerard Schwarz and many others. He has appeared as soloist or ensemble artist with some of America's most important choirs including Conspirare, Seraphic Fire, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and Trinity Wall Street among others. Recently, James launched a new collaboration between UCLA and Seraphic Fire, an "Ensemble Artist Program," designed to train the next generation of high-level ensemble singers as well as co-founding the Aspen Music Festival's new Professional Choral Institute.

About finalist Christopher Gabbitas: Double Grammy-winning artist Christopher Gabbitas has spent the last fifteen years as a member of The King's Singers, performing almost 2,000 concerts worldwide, conducting in excess of 500 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, he began to direct and train ensembles as a teenager. A UK-qualified attorney, he recently announced his retirement from The King's Singers to take a position at the University of Redlands, teaching a new Master's degree course focusing on elite choral performance along with music business education.

About finalist Brian A. Schmidt: Grammy-nominated artist Brian A. Schmidt is the founder and Artistic Director of the South Dakota Chorale, a professional choir in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is also Associate Professor of Choral Music at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Since founding the South Dakota Chorale in 2009, the SDC has released three commercial recordings through Pentatone and Gothic, performed at the 2015 National ACDA Conference in Salt Lake City, and just last month, Brian attended the 2018 Grammy Awards as the SDC's recording, Tyberg Masses, was nominated for "Best Choral Performance." Previously, Brian worked at Duke University where he conducted the Duke Vespers Ensemble and developed and conducted a monthly Bach Cantata Series.

About finalist Jenny Wong: A native of Hong Kong, Jenny Wong is one of the youngest conductors to win two consecutive World Champion titles at the World Choir Games and the International Johannes Brahms Choral Competition. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California and is currently the Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC). In this position, she has prepared choruses for Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic, Susanna Mälkki, Eric Whitacre, and Grant Gershon. Last summer, Jenny conducted the LAMC in the world premiere of Moira Smiley's five-movement work, Time in Our Voices, in December she conducted the LAMC in the six Bach Motets, and she will lead them in Duruflé's Requiem in 2019

The Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale is regarded as one of the finest choral ensembles in North America. The 28-voice chorus has developed this reputation through live performances across Arizona, the U.S., and in 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 U.K.'s Chandos Records and since then, the Chorale's recordings have earned a total of eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins. In its 60-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 preeminent 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.

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