In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Charles Bruffy is one of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, respected and renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral repertory and for championing new music. He currently conducts the Kansas City Chorale, the Kansas City Symphony Chorus and the Phoenix Chorale, and is Director of Music at Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church.
He is dedicated to commissioning and premiering works by contemporary American composers, and has received ASCAP's Adventurous Programming award. Recent commissions and premieres include works by Jean Belmont, Matthew Harris, Libby Larsen, Zhou Long, Stephen Paulus, Stephen Sametz, Eric Whitacre, Rene Clausen and Chen Yi. The Roger Dean Company, a division of the Lorenz Corporation, publishes a choral series under Bruffy's supervision specializing in music for professional ensembles and sophisticated high school and college choirs.
Bruffy has been Artistic Director of the Phoenix Chorale since 1999 and of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988. The choirs are praised for both their live performances and recordings. Bruffy's eclectic discography of over 13 recordings includes music by Argento, Brahms, Corigliano, Gretchaninov, Martin, Mantyjarvi, Rachmaninov and Vaughan Williams. Released in 1996, the Kansas City Chorale's recording of Rachmaninov's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Nimbus NI 5497/8), garnered praise by the New York Times stating "...a project that must be rated a serious contender for record of the year...the chorus is everywhere remarkable." In 2008, Mr. Bruffy and the Phoenix Chorale received a Grammy award for their Chandos recoding, Spotless Rose, "Best Performance by a Small Ensemble."
Mr. Bruffy conducts workshops and clinics across the United States. Increasingly busy on the international scene, he has conducted performances in Australia's Sydney Opera House and most recently in South Korea. Also an active tenor soloist, Bruffy performed with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and concerts in France, and in concerts at Carnegie Hall. He is a featured soloist on the Robert Shaw release Appear and Inspire.
Mr. Bruffy received his Bachelors degree from Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph, Missouri and a Master's degree in vocal performance from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri Kansas City. Mr. Bruffy has received honorary doctorates from Baker University and Missouri Western State University.
Displaying 1-11 of 11 items.
Review: In this their fifth recording for Nimbus, the Kansas City Chorale are very much on their home turf, with a programme of American sacred music, which includes Randall Thompson's famous Alleluia.
Songlist: Southern Harmony, Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal, Come Away to the Skies, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, Shaker Songs, I Want to Shake with Indignation, I've Set My Face for Zion's Kingdom, The Precious Way of Go, Encouragement, The Sacred Harp, Wondrous Love, Saints Bound for Heaven, Sunday Morning, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Alleluia, E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name, Sing Me to Heaven, Spirituals, I Wanna Be Ready, We Will March Thro' the Valley, I Want Two Wings, Is There Anybody Here, My God is a Rock, Give Me Jesus
Review: This collection opens with a group of four songs scored for three-part women's chorus and the unusual combination of two horns and harp. They are settings of an interesting spread of poems including one by Ossian and the Clown's song from the thrid act of Twelfth Night. Other items include Three Songs Op. 42, Two Motets, Op. 29 and, to finish with, one of the songs from Brahms much loved 'Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes', Op. 65.
Songlist: Four Songs for Women's Chorus, 2 Horns and Harp, Op. 17, Three Songs, Op. 42, Four Quartet, Op.92, Two Motets, Op. 29, Op. 112, Nos. 1 and 2, Five Songs, Op. 104, Neue Liebeslieder, Walzer, Op. 65, No. 15
Review: Listening to this new CD was a sublime pleasure, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the choral tone, at once warm and pure. The repertoire is a magnificent blending of the familiar... with previously unrecorded works of John Corigliano, Conrad Susa, and Jean Belmont. This recording is a necessity for all choral conductors. It represents the best of choral singing and introduces some fine new works. Choral Journal
Songlist: At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners, L'Invitation au Voyage, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, The Roadside Fire, A Red, Red Rose, Reincarnations, Op. 16, Fern Hill, Shenandoah, Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier, Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye, I'm Goin' Away, Deep River
Review: A program of Christmas music by American composers, the Kansas City Chorale sings pieces from the late nineteenth century to the present. Composers include Ned Rorem, Norman Dello Joio and Charles Ives. This recording also contains several premier recordings, including 'Nativitas' by Jean Belmont. This cycle of eight choral cameos depicts the ceremony of Christmas with texts from the fourth through seventeenth centuries. According to the composer, 'The intent in 'Nativitas' is to create a musical shape which conveys some of the anticipation, reverence, mysticism and celebration surrounding the Birth of Jesus Christ.' This is a great alternative to traditional Christmas recordings.
Songlist: Three Mystical Carols, In the Time of Softest Snow , Shout the Glad Tidings , Silent Night, Nativitas , Love Came Down at Christmas, A Christmas Carol , Three Shepherd Carols , The Holy Infant's Lullaby, There Is No Rose , I Saw Three Ships , Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sung , "Silent Night" from Three Carols, Op. 20
Review: Although he writes in all genres, Rene Clausen is today one of America's most popular choral composers, and for more than twenty years he has been the conductor of the internationally acclaimed Concordia Choir of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. On this release, choral works by Clausen are performed by the Kansas City Chorale, another choir of great international renown, whose recording, with the Phoenix Chorale, of Grechaninov's Passion Week won a Grammy award in 2008, in the category Best Classical Recording, Engineering. 'Set me as a Seal' is arguably the composer's best-known work, and has long been popular at weddings, funerals, and in the concert repertoire. Clausen has described the work as 'various kinds of discussions between God and humans, both from the human aspect and from the God aspect, so a lot of variationsÉ of love, of disappointment, of anxiety, of doubt'. All that hath life and breath is one of Clausen's earliest works, and a favourite of choirs across the world. The Mass for Double Choir was commissioned by the Kansas City Chorale. The composer, who had never written a mass before, looked on it as an 'interesting challenge'. In the work emotions ebb and flow kaleidoscopically, taking the listener from the strength of the unison writing at the opening, to the sorrowful falling lines of the Crucifixion of Christ and the bubbling, dancing figures for the Resurrection. Expressions of praise spill forward atop one another in the Sanctus, a choir of angels too exuberant to be contained.
Songlist: All that Hath Life and Breath Praise the Lord, O magnum mysterium, The Tyger, The Lamb, Mass: Kyrie, Mass: Gloria, Mass: Credo, Mass: Sanctus, Mass: Agnus Dei, Magnificat, Prayer, O vos omnes, A New Creation: Set me as a seal
Review: Finnish composer Jaakko Mantyjarvi (b. 1963) writes some of today's more innovative choral music. It's not only creatively interesting but it also maintains the qualities of tonal/harmonic accessibility and text-centered immediacy that allows it to register with a broad spectrum of listeners. His collections of Shakespeare Songs, More Shakespeare Songs, and No More Shakespeare Songs show a composer at once in love with his subject and fully in tune with his audience - and one clearly in possession of a sense of humor! On this recording we hear a profoundly serious work, in memory of the victims of a terrible Baltic Sea tragedy in September, 1994, in which the luxury ferry Estonia sank in a storm, killing 852 passengers. Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae incorporates elements of Psalm 107 ('They that go down to the sea in ships...') with news accounts of the disaster (taken from a Latin-language Finnish radio broadcast), employing dramatic, rich-textured choral utterances (including the whispered prayers of the opening and closing bars) along with chant-inspired passages and an occasional folk-song-like melody, all of which culminates in an extended passage of beautiful and often surprising harmonies, ideally defining the text at the end of the Psalm: 'He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still...' This is a moving and memorable work, one that these choirs perform with care and confidence under Charles Bruffy's artful direction. Frank Martin's Mass for double choir has been recorded many times--and mostly very well--and this is another fine rendition of a work that seems to register its 'classic' credentials more impressively every time you hear it. Rene Clausen's In pace, cut from the same vibrant-colored harmonic cloth as the Ticheli, is another work that deserves repertoire status, and again, Bruffy's singers perfectly capture its nuances of texture and dynamics and give full measure to the big sonorities. The complementary acoustics of Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona, expertly recorded for this hybrid SACD, complete a program that should have strong appeal to all choral music fans.
Songlist: Cabticum Calamitatus Maritimae, There Will Be Rest , In Pace, Messe Pour Double Choeur
Review: Founded in 1958 as the Bach and Madrigal Society, the Choir originally focused on Renaissance and baroque period music, but today is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music. They are conducted by Charles Bruffy, one of the most highly respected choral conductors in the US. The CD features 23 songs, beginning with 7 cuts from Matthew Harris' 'Shakespeare Songs,' and 5 'Songs of Ariel from Shakespeare's 'The Tempest.' Steven Sametz' lovely 'When He Shall Die,' Jaakko Mantyjarvi's 'Four Shakespeare Songs,' Nils Lindberg's minor-key 'Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day,' Dominick Argento's 'Sonnet No. LXIV,' Alan Murray's 'O mistress mine,' and the CD finishes strong with Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'Three Shakespeare Songs.' The Choir beautifully takes us into the drama, moodiness, pathos, romance and celebration of these songs, most of which are new to our ears. A worthy project, and a winning CD for Bruffy and his talented Phoenix Bach Choir! Extensive, colorful liner notes.
Songlist: Shakespeare Songs , The Tempest , When He Shall Die , Four Shakespeae Songs , Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? , Sonnet No. LXIV , O mistress mine!, Three Shakespeare Songs
Review: The Grechaninov 'Passion Week' is a setting of thirteen pieces with texts in Church Slavonic meant to be sung individually over the period of Passion Week, the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Russian Orthodox Church has a tradition of morning and evening services during Passion Week when the passion week's events are recalled almost in 'real time.' The music itself is generally slow, meditative, largely monophonic and almost trance-like. One notices that the usual number of singers in these two choirs has been supplemented by several additional basses, no surprise considering the long legato lines required of that section. Their low C's and even B's resound like the tolling of great bells throughout the work. One could almost surmise, if one didn't know, that this was the singing of a Russian choir, so noted for their deep basses, except that the blending and rounding of the choral tone is so very much more subtle than is generally heard from Russian choruses. The work is entirely a cappella and there are occasional soprano, tenor and baritone solos which consist mostly of chants sung against the main body of massed sound.
Songlist: Behold, the Bridegroom, I see Thy bridal chamber, In Thy Kingdom, Gladsome Light, Let my prayer be set forth, Now the powers of heaven, At Thy mystical supper, The wise thief, Thou who clothest Thyself, The Lord is God... The noble Joseph, Weep not for me, O Mother, As many of you... Arise, O God, Let all mortal flesh
Review: 'The massed forces of the Phoenix Bach Choir and Kansas City Chorale 'make a formidable choral machine' (BBC Music Magazine) and the choirs under the baton of Charles Bruffy here present a collection of unaccompanied sacred choral works by Josef Rheinberger. The disc includes the only available recordings of his Oster-Hymne for double chorus and Four Six-part Motets, op.133. The Oster-Hymne is a setting of two ancient Easter texts, particularly the famous sequence Victimae paschali laudes. During his lifetime, Rheinberger was lauded as a talented performer, prolific composer and masterful teacher. He observed that his primary consideration in music 'is that it shall be beautiful; music that does not sound beautiful has no attraction for me'.
Songlist: Oster-Hymne, Op. 134 for Eight Voices (Double Choir) for Church and Concert, Vier sechsstimmige Motetten, Op. 133 for Church and Concert, Mass, Op. 109 in E flat major for Double Choir, Drei geistliche Gesange, Op. 69 for Mixed Choir
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.
Songlist: Splendid Jewel, A Hymn to the Virgin, Ave, Regina, Ave, Maria, Regina Caeli, A Spotless Rose, Ave, Maris Stella, Ave, Maria, Fair in Face, I Beheld Her, Beautiful as a Dove, Rise up, My Love, My Fair One, De Profundis, Asperges me, Domine/Credo, Ave, Dulcissima Maria, Magnificat anima mea
Review: The Grammy-award-winning Phoenix Chorale explores the magnetic music of New York-based, Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo, Northern Lights contains five world premiere recordings and three choral pieces which were either commissioned, composed, or dedicated to the Phoenix Chorale. When he first heard Gjeilo's Ubi caritas, Charles Bruffy was instantly hooked, finding the music refreshing and magnetic. Bruffy brought Gjeilo's music to the Chorale and its audiences, and the response was immediate. Soon after, Gjeilo was invited to be the Chorale's first Composer-in-Residence. Phoenix, a setting of the Agnus Dei, is dedicated to Charles Bruffy and the Phoenix Chorale in honour of its fiftieth anniversary. When Gjeilo first visited the choir in Arizona, he had never been to the desert before, and the 'quiet beauty and barrenness of the landscape' moved him deeply. He describes Phoenix as 'symphonic in nature... one of those pieces where the text is very much the servant of the music, not the other way around'. In contrast, Northern Lights takes its inspiration from Gjeilo's homeland, Norway, and the 'terrible beauty' of the natural phenomenon that may be observed there. The music reflects the powerful and electric quality of the northern lights, which must have seemed both mesmerising and terrifying to people in the past when no one knew what they were, and superstition prevailed.
Songlist: The Ground , Serenity, Ubi caritas, Northern Lights, Dark Night of the Soul, The Spheres, Tota pulchra es, Prelude, Phoenix, Unicornis captivatur, Evening Prayer
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