The Grammy® Award-winning Phoenix Chorale, led by Artistic Director Christopher Gabbitas since 2019, is regarded as one of the finest choral ensembles in North America of the western classical tradition. All of the 28-voice ensemble’s members are professional singers who currently reside in Arizona.
The mission of Phoenix Chorale is to nurture and amplify the strength and resonance of Arizona’s choral artistry.
Founded in 1958 as the Bach & Madrigal Society of Phoenix, then known as the Phoenix Bach Choir, from 2008 the choir became Phoenix Chorale. The choir has been fully professional since 1992.
Previous Phoenix Chorale conductors have included Millicent Wesley, Wallace Hornibrook, Dan Durand, Vance George, Anders Öhrwall, Jon Washburn, and Charles Bruffy.
The Chorale typically presents four concert programs per Season in Oct/Nov, Christmas, March and May, featuring a wide range of composers and eras, including one Masterworks Series featuring a longer work. Since 2019, the Chorale has been committed to commissioning one new work per season from female composers.
Phoenix Chorale also serves a large digital audience through radio broadcasts, performance videos, and via streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, where the Chorale maintains a listenership of over 35,000 fans each month. The Chorale’s recordings have spent over 20 weeks on the Billboard Charts and have earned a total of ten Grammy® nominations and three Grammy® wins.
Annually, the Chorale’s video, audio, and broadcast recordings through YouTube and Arizona PBS reach over one million listeners around the world. The Chorale is ensemble-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix.
CONDUCTOR & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Christopher Gabbitas was appointed Artistic Director of Phoenix Chorale in May 2019, and is delighted and honored to be leading an ensemble with such a rich tradition of spreading the joy of music through song!
Starting as an 8-year-old boy chorister in England, Chris has been singing ever since in various chapel, cathedral and professional choirs including three years as a choral scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge and a year as a lay clerk at Christ Church, Oxford, as well as directing choral ensembles throughout this time.
His singing career culminated in 15 years spent with The King’s Singers performing around 2,000 concerts across six continents, and making in excess of 50 recordings which were recognized with various awards including two Grammy Awards as a singer/producer. In 2013 The King’s Singers were inducted into the inaugural Gramophone Hall of Fame.
Also in 2019, Chris was appointed as Artist Professor at the University of Redlands, California, teaching a unique Master of Music in Vocal Chamber Music with a Commercial Music element, which aims to produce professional choral musicians for the next generation. He maintains a busy teaching and performing schedule across the US.
Outside music, Chris qualified as an attorney in 2003 and maintains a growing legal practice in London, representing clients in the creative commercial sector.
Much though he loves to make music, more than anything Chris enjoys returning home to his wife Stephanie - who hails from the great Commonwealth of Kentucky - and their three girls Bella, Lyra and Ariana, each of whom loves to sing! He also enjoys explaining the rules of cricket, to anybody who will listen.
Assistant Conductor & Outreach Coordinator
Jay Good / J. Good Productions
Artistic Operations Manager
ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Tom Peterson is the music director at Christ Church of the Ascension in Paradise Valley, and served for two years as Artistic Director of the Master Chorale of Flagstaff, where he initiated their Big Sing Flagstaff and Festival of Women Composers.
Tom is also a composer, and won the 2019 Stephen Paulus Emerging Composers Competition for his work, Being Many, Seeming One, which was subsequently published by E. C. Schirmer on the Dale Warland Choral Series. Tom is a graduate of Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the Royal College of Music in London.
Lies’l HILL is an artist, musician, and educator from Mesa. She earned her B.M. from Northern Arizona University in Choral Music Education, Lies’l sings with Phoenix Chorale and Canto Vivo Chorale. She serves on the boards of the Phoenix Chorale and Arizona Music Educators Association, is the Executive Director of the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers and Assistant Choral Director at Mesa Community College. Lies’l works with many local arts organizations, including Arizona Commission on the Arts, Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Children’s Chorus, Arizona Musicfest, and more. www.etsy.com/shop/Lies’lMadeThis.
Katherine Rosenfeld graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2019 with a degree in choral music education. Rosenfeld grew up singing in Arizona and is an alumnus of the Phoenix Children’s Chorus and Horizon High School in Scottsdale. She has sung with many Arizona-based ensembles including the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Quartz Ensemble, Canto Vivo, the Sedona Academy of Chamber singers, and the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. Rosenfeld loves sharing her passion for music through education. She currently teaches junior high and high school choir at Arizona School for the Arts, runs a private voice studio in North Phoenix, and serves on the Arizona state board of the American Choral Directors Association. She is thrilled to be singing with the Chorale for her second season!
Sarah Smith made her professional debut in Arizona as a concert soloist with the Phoenix Symphony in 2010, and has since been featured with the Arizona Philharmonic, Symphony of the Southwest, Desert Stages Theater, Arizona Musicfest, and the Arizona Bach Festival. With a deep passion for choral repertoire, Sarah also sings with Quartz Vocal Ensemble, Solis – Choir of the Sun, Arizona Opera Chorus, North Valley Chorale, Arizona Masterworks Chorale, and the St. Barnabas Choir.
Danya is Adjunct Professor of Music at both Phoenix and Glendale Community Colleges. For ten years, Danya was the Artistic Director of the Phoenix Girls Chorus, making her conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in 2016 with Vivaldi’s Gloria and 200 singers from across the USA. In 2019, she was Acting Assistant Conductor for Phoenix Chorale. She is a founding member of Helios, in its seventh season and releasing its first recording this fall. She founded her business, Aria Music Studio, which has grown to include two vocal ensembles in addition to private lessons and coaching.
Kira is the Artistic Director of Solis (Choir of the Sun). She has taught as choral, music education and musical theatre faculty at Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Christian University and Scottsdale Community College. Her choirs have performed at ACDA conferences, in several local concert series, with Andrea Bocelli, and for Game of Thrones tours. Recently, Kira has found tremendous musical joy in working as a choral composer. Kira was recently named the third prize winner in The American Prize for choral works and a semi-finalist with the Ernst Bacon Award for American Music.
Abigail Fischer birthed A Big AUM, offering private and communal breathwork and sound healing, writing music for breathwork and inspirational song to bring community together in embodied authenticity. A versatile “chest- heavy soprano,” Abigail has enjoyed singing any repertoire that connects her to embodied wisdom and truth. Some examples of this include Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar (at Cincinnati Opera), Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs (with Columbus Symphony), Handel’s Messiah (with Kansas City Orchestra), Mahler 3 (with Santa Rosa Symphony), Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; collaborating with Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Baroque, and touring internationally performing music by John Zorn.
Leslie is a Texas native who moved to Arizona to study voice. She has a Bachelor of Music from Baylor University and a Master of Music from Arizona State University. While at ASU, Leslie performed the roles of Emmie in Albert Herring, Alma Hix in The Music Man, and Adele in Die Fledermaus. Leslie has been the soloist in several concerts, including Rutter’s Gloria, Shubert’s Mass in G, and Mozart’s Vespers. She has been singing in the Phoenix Symphony Chorus the last five years and is excited to be joining the Phoenix Chorale this series.
Christina is delighted to sing with the Phoenix Chorale for her second season. She graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s in Choral Music Education and is a native of Walla Walla, Washington. She is the choir director at Millennium High School and the Co-Founder of The Choral Window–a free and accessible resource for choral educators. Christina serves on the ACDA Western Region board as the Youth Repertoire & Resources Coordinator. Christina has performed with world-renowned singers Sarah Brightman and Josh Groban. She currently teaches private voice, piano, and guitar.
Cara is a native of Southern California, where she earned her Bachelor of Music Education at La Sierra University. Cara toured internationally with the University Vocal Octet. She has served as the vocal director for On Stage Theatre Company and taught choir and musical theatre at the Coachella Valley Performing Arts Academy. Cara is a registered nurse and works as a poison information specialist at Poison Control. She will be graduating this month with her Masters of Science in Nursing in the Nurse Practitioner track at Northern Arizona University.
Lisa is thrilled to be singing in her third season with the Phoenix Chorale SPEM series. A native of Napa, California, Lisa earned both her Bachelor of Voice and Master of Elementary Education from NAU. Lisa is currently teaching General Music and Choir for Mesa Public Schools. When she is not singing or teaching, she enjoys time with her husband Gavin, a music educator and their two teenagers, Emma and Paul.
Danielle earned a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Brigham Young University. Since moving to Arizona in 2013, Danielle has spent four seasons in the Arizona Opera chorus and four seasons with the Goode Time Carolers. Danielle has performed in musical theatre productions throughout the valley—Mesa Encore, Hale Center, and Fountain Hills theaters. She has been a volunteer choir director for a local church group and elementary school choir. Danielle enjoys traveling with her husband, eating delicious food, and spending time at home with her three young children.
Carol is honored to be in her twentieth season with the Chorale. She is privileged to have sung as a soloist and chorister in Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand, and has also enjoyed performing with other professional ensembles. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Oklahoma, she moved to the Valley of the Sun to continue her education. When she’s not singing or teaching voice, she’s often found baking, walking, practicing yoga, or daydreaming about returning to New Zealand.
Holly is in her 1tth season with the Chorale. She performs with the Phoenix Opera in a variety of concerts around the Phoenix metro. Holly is a member of the Arizona Opera Chorus. Holly has spent her career as a 3D and motion graphics artist in the video game and slot machine industries. She currently works as a Sr. Environment Artist at Rainbow Studios -THQ Nordic creating off-road racing environments. Holly has continued her vocal education, studying with voice instructor Gail Dubinbaum. Holly and her husband George are outdoor enthusiasts living in Mesa with their two birds, Pico and Olive.
Anjelica is ecstatic to be returning for her fifth season with the Phoenix Chorale. Anjelica attended Northern Arizona University. Anjelica freelances as a soloist, choral performer and church cantor around the valley. She sang for 5 years at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, is a founding member of the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers and has been a member of Solis Camerata. Outside of music Anjelica works full time as an Accounting Specialist at a CPA firm in Chandler and enjoys cooking, traveling, and fishing with her fiancé.
Stephanie is in her fifteenth season with the Chorale. A native of Ohio, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music business and a Master of Arts degree in music education from The Ohio State University. She moved to Phoenix to attend graduate school at ASU and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in music education. Stephanie currently teaches choir, guitar, and AVID at North Canyon High School in the Paradise Valley School District and is a member of Helios, a seven-voice early music ensemble. She loves being around water–-swimming, snorkeling, water skiing, and wake surfing!
Hannah is excited to be in her fifth season with the Phoenix Chorale! She graduated in 2018 from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Music Education with a Choral Emphasis. Hannah teaches Chorus and Music Exploration at Kyrene Middle School and Pueblo Middle School, and serves as the Artistic Director of the Phoenix Women’s Chorus.
In her time at NAU, she participated and toured with the Shrine of the Ages Choir under the direction of Dr. Edith Copley, and Vocal Jazz groups Northern Voices and High Altitude under the direction of Dr. Ryan Holder. In her senior year, she served as the music director of the award-winning all-female a cappella group the NAU Axecidentals. Hannah studied private voice with Dr. Ricardo Pereira and Dr. Judith Cloud.
She enjoys singing in assorted choral projects across Arizona, including many with the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers, and has sung as a section leader in assorted church choirs across the Valley. In her free time, she enjoys roller-skating and thrifting, but maybe not both at the same time.
Ariana is a mezzo-soprano and a native of Phoenix, Arizona. She currently studies under the prestigious tutelage of Gail Dubinbaum Massaro. She has been praised for her musicianship, full sound, colorful tone, and attention to technique. Ariana holds both a masters and bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance from the University of Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, journaling, and traveling.
Courtney is a choral director, singer, choreographer, and pianist from Phoenix. As a third-year choir director at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, she conducts four ensembles and serves as faculty advisor in the Marcos Fine Arts Academy. In 2019, she was recognized as “Future Choral Educator of the Year” by the Arizona Music Educators Association. She performs with various professional choirs including the Canto Vivo Chorale, Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers, and the Phoenix Chorale. Courtney graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Choral Music Education.
Josiah Hagstrom is excited to enter into his seventh year with the Chorale. Josiah is an Arizona native and after growing up in Mesa, he now resides in Gilbert with his amazing wife Mindy, his beautiful six-year-old daughter Kayla, awesome three-year old Noah, and their golden retriever pup Windsor.
Luke currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Music at Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, AZ. He is also a professional chorister singing with the Grammy-nominated True Concord Voices and Orchestra. Luke earned his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona and the Bachelor of Music Education from Louisiana Tech University. While living in Tucson, Luke was the Assistant Director of True Concord Voices & Orchestra, Artistic Director of Tucson Masterworks Chorale, and served as Director of Music at various churches.
Gabriel is excited to be a member of the Phoenix Chorale for a sixth season. Gabriel graduated from the University of Arizona with his bachelor’s in Choral Music Education. Gabriel was the music director at Apollo High School in Glendale teaching and conducting choir and piano students for 8 years. He has served as the Repertoire and Resources Chair for male choirs for the Arizona branch of the American Choral Director’ Association, works as a freelance vocalist and choral conductor around the valley, including conducting the Middle School All-State choir in March of 2020. He is currently an Academic Success Advisor for the W.P. Carey School
James is ecstatic to be joining the Phoenix Chorale for his second season. A native of Prescott, Arizona, he obtained his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Oklahoma City University. Since moving to Phoenix three years ago, he has served as the tenor section leader at Saint Maria Goretti Parish in Scottsdale, and has performed with other ensembles around the valley including Canto Vivo, Arizona Musicfest, The King’s Carolers, and the men’s schola at the ASU Newman Center. James has served as an Education Outreach Artist for Arizona Opera, and currently works for a legal process serving company.
JJ is excited to continue his seventh season with the Chorale. An Arizona native, he resides in Peoria with his musical wife, Genny, his favorite accompanist, and five children: Rylie, Jace, and triplet boys Asher, Brooks, and Caden. J.J. graduated from Grand Canyon University with a B.S. in Music Education with Choral Conducting emphasis. He later earned his Master’s in Music Education from Kent State University. J.J. is in his nineteenth year of teaching and is the Director of Choral Activities and Performing Arts Department Chair at Greenway High School in Phoenix.
Jacob Verhine is a tenor from Marietta, Georgia. He attended Auburn University where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree. He has lived in Tempe since 2019, and attended Arizona State University where he earned a Master of Music in musical theater and opera. He is a member of the Arizona Opera chorus and an active performer in several valley metro theatres. Recent roles have included “Little Bat” in Carlisle Floyd’s SUSANNA, “Daniel Buchanan” in Kurt Weil’s STREET SCENE, and “Frederic” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s PIRATES OF PENZANCE.
A Phoenix native,Elijah has performed with many ensembles in and around the Valley including the American Bach Series, AZ Masterworks Chorale, Canto Vivo, Canticum Novum, Solis Camerata, the AZ Bach Festival Singers, and the newly formed Quartz Ensemble. Outside of AZ, Elijah has sung with Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys Indianapolis, Mon Choeur, Indianapolis Pro Musica, and the Intercontinentaal Projectkoor in the Netherlands. He has been a part of many recordings including the Chorale’s Grammy Award winning album: “Passion Week”.
Caleb French currently resides as Music Director at Arrowhead Christian Academy, where he directs its graded choirs and vocal ensembles. He also serves as Worship Director at Northwest Valley Baptist Church, where he conducts its volunteer choir. Caleb has served as vocal coach, choral clinician, and church music seminar presenter here in Phoenix and beyond. Two of his sacred choral anthems are published with Beckenhorst Press.
Christopher has been singing professionally and teaching in the Phoenix area since moving to Arizona in 2012. He is currently enjoying his current career instructing young minds at North Phoenix Prep Academy in the areas of music theory, music history, and chorale singing! He has been seen performing locally with Arizona Opera, Phoenix Opera, and the Phoenix Symphony.
Joshua is in his eighteenth season with the Chorale. He holds a DMA and MM in Piano Performance, from Arizona State University and a BM in Piano Performance from the University of Kansas. Joshua was named “Most Outstanding Arizona Pianist” at the 4th USASU Bösendorfer International Piano Competition. As either a singer or pianist, he has collaborated with: Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire, Grammy-nominated True Concord: Voices and Orchestra, Anúna, Spire Chamber Ensemble, and Grammy-winning Kansas City Chorale. He’s been a featured soloist with The Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Bach Festival, and Anúna. Joshua teaches piano privately at Hillmann Piano Studio, LLC in North Phoenix.
Toby received his BM and MM degrees in Vocal Performance from Northern Arizona University under Dr. Judith Cloud. Toby has been regularly sought after as a performer throughout the Southwest. Toby has been involved with Arizona Opera, ArtSong Rising, and is a founding artist of Helios: a modern renaissance. Recent recordings include the 2015 Grammy award winning Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil (soloist), Nils Lofgren’s 2019 album Blue with Lou (backup vocalist), and Helios’ 2021 debut album à7. Toby remains active in arts leadership and higher education.
Jason grew up singing and learning music in the Phoenix Boys Choir and has gone on to perform as a soloist with the Flagstaff Master Chorale and Early Music Michigan. More recently, he spent 4 seasons performing with Helios: A Modern Renaissance. He would go on to work as a judge and clinician for various choral events. Currently, Jason is director of a large mixed high school choir at Arizona School for the Arts. He earned a B.M. in Music Education from Western Michigan University and an M.M. in Choral Conducting from Northern Arizona University.
David has sung with the Chorale for over 28 seasons. He earned degrees in choral music from California State Fullerton and Arizona State University. He has soloed with the Chorale, Arizona Bach Festival, Phoenix Symphony, MusicaNova Orchestra, Sommerakademie J.S. Bach (Stuttgart, Germany), Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and numerous choral ensembles. David participated in all four of the Grammy-winning albums of the Phoenix and Kansas City Chorales. His wife, Jody is Pastor of Song of Life UMC in Queen Creek and they have two adult children, Ryan and Erika.
Jordan Murillo is a Bass Baritone from Arizona with strong ties to operatic performance as well as A cappella arranging and directing. In the summer of 18’ Jordan attended the Taos Opera Institute in Taos, New Mexico. Taught by former operatic superstars such as Mary Jane Johnson, Stanford Olsen, James Patrick Raftry, and many more. Jordan was able to hone in on his craft and learn much more about his voice and abilities. From this program Jordan was able to perform with the Amarillo Opera House in their production of Michael Chings Speed Dating Tonight! Through the Inner Voice Studio based in Tucson, Jordan has been able to teach lessons to many communities on growing stylistic approach in contemporary singing, as well as vocal percussion (beatboxing). Eager to create impactful performances that enrich our communities, Jordan Murillo has been described as having a “…controlled and effortless singing style [that] gives the performance an acoustic feel that’s simply impressive.” (Alexander, 2018).
Aaron M. Villalobos
Patron Services and Communications Manager
Publicity (Audience Magnets)
Bookkeeping (SIM Consultants)
Nicole Belmont was appointed Executive Director of The Phoenix Chorale in 2021, relocating to Phoenix from New York City, where for 17 years, she had balanced a career as a Senior Strategist in global media agency networks for Fortune 500 clients, with a growing expertise in the choral field, built on a pro bono basis, as a Board Chair, arts administrator, event producer and performer; networking and marketing her organizations to punch above their budgetary weight.
Before moving to the States, Nicole worked in London as a Director of Content Development for AOL UK and as Client Services Executive in the pan-European sales and sponsorship department at MTV Europe. Born in the US but raised in London, Nicole graduated Oxford University with a BA in Politics, Philosophy & Economics. Musically, she is an active choral soprano, in Phoenix and beyond, and credits having Westminster Abbey as her high school chapel as giving her a head start on a love of all things choral!
Patron Services and Communications Manager
Aaron M. Villalobos joins the Chorale after an accomplished 15-year career in the Sports & Entertainment industry where he specialized in marketing, creative and patron experience initiatives that set attendance and revenue records along the way.
In his free time, Aaron is an active singer in his own right, having performed with Canterbury Voices in Oklahoma City, the Grammy® Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Chorus in Atlanta and most recently, the Phoenix Symphony Chorus.
A 2006 graduate of New Mexico State University, Aaron received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with a minor in Music.
He has been a friend of the Chorale for some years. He began attending Chorale concerts just days after moving to Phoenix in 2016 and became a volunteer in 2019.
With his unique background and passion for choral music, Aaron hopes to create a new and engaging audience experience for Phoenix Chorale’s fans in the Valley and beyond.
Alison Chaney, Chair
Kathy Leffler, Vice Chair
Mary Farrington-Lorch, Secretary
Ellen Wesley, Treasurer
Carol Platt Jennings, Singer Representative
Jason Raetz, Singer Representative
Charles “Carlos” Oldham
Nicole Belmont, Ex Officio - Executive Director
Christopher Gabbitas, Ex Officio - Artistic Director
Lynne Traverse, Ex Officio - Immediate Past Board Chair