Phoenix Chorale singing

About

Phoenix
Chorale

One of the finest choral ensembles in North America of the western classical tradition.

Male Soloist

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.

Founded in 1958 as the Bach & Madrigal Society of Phoenix and subsequently known as the Phoenix Bach Choir, the Phoenix Chorale became a fully professional choir in 1992.

Previous Phoenix Chorale conductors have included Millicent Wesley, Wallace Hornibrook, Dan Durand, Vance George, Anders Öhrwall, Jon Washburn, and Charles Bruffy.

Phoenix Chorale’s digital audience continues to grow through radio broadcasts, performance videos, and streaming services like Spotify, 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 and audio recordings reach over one million listeners around the world. The Chorale is ensemble-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Phoenix.

Christopher
Gabbitas

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.

ARTISTIC STAFF

Christopher Gabbitas

Artistic Director

Tom Peterson

Assistant Conductor & Outreach Coordinator

Jay Good / J. Good Productions

Artistic Operations Manager

Our Singers

Lies'l Hill

Lies’l Hill

Soprano

Bio

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

Katherine Rosenfeld

Soprano

Bio

Katherine graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2019 with a degree in choral music education. She grew up in Arizona and is an alumnus of the Phoenix Children’s Chorus and Horizon High School in Scottsdale. She has sung with the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers, the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, and Canto Vivo. Rosenfeld loves sharing her passion for music through education. She currently teaches choir and guitar at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa, runs a private voice studio in North Phoenix, and serves on the Arizona state board of the American Choral Directors Association.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith

Soprano

Bio

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 Tiller

Danya Tiller

Soprano

Bio

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 Zeeman Rugen

Kira Zeeman Rugen

Soprano

Bio

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.

Leslie Ellingson

Leslie Ellingson

Soprano

Bio

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 Hall

Christina Hall

Soprano

Bio

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 Loveless-Faulkner

Cara Loveless-Faulkner

Soprano

Bio

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 Rittenhouse

Lisa Rittenhouse

Soprano

Bio

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 Hale

Danielle Hale

Alto

Bio

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 Platt Jennings

Carol Platt Jennings

Alto

Bio

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 Sheppard

Holly Sheppard

Alto

Bio

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 Simone

Anjelica Simone

Alto

Bio

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 Stickford

Stephanie Stickford

Alto

Bio

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!

Ariana Iniguez

Ariana Iniguez

Alto

Bio

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 Evans

Courtney Evans

Alto

Bio

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

Josiah Hagstrom

Tenor

Bio

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 Lusted

Luke Lusted

Tenor

Bio

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 Frongillo

Gabriel Frongillo

Tenor

Bio

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 Grandjean

James Grandjean

Tenor

Bio

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 Rafferty

JJ Rafferty

Tenor

Bio

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.

Elijah Frank

Elijah Frank

Tenor

Bio

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”.

Ben Shafer

Ben Shafer

Tenor

Bio

Ben seeks to create music that brings warmth and light. He draws inspiration from nature and the human experience. An Arizona native, he began singing with the Phoenix Boys Choir and has completed graduate degrees in choral conducting at Arizona State University. Ben is a devoted husband, father, and is currently a high school choral educator, director of church music and choral singer.

Caleb French

Caleb French

Bass

Bio

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.

Sha Appenzeller

Sha Appenzeller

Bass

Bio

Sha is in his fourteenth season with the Chorale. Sha received a degree in music education from The University of Northern Iowa and a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from The University of Texas at San Antonio. He has performed with San Antonio Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ Vocal Arts Symposium, Opera Theatre of the Rockies, and Opera Colorado. Sha’s concert performances include Haydn’s The Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers. He has worked for USAA for 19 years and is currently a claim litigation manager.

Christopher Herrera

Christopher Herrera

Bass

Bio

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 Hillmann

Joshua Hillmann

Bass

Bio

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 Kidd

Toby Kidd

Bass

Bio

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 Raetz

Jason Raetz

Bass

Bio

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 Topping

David Topping

Bass

Bio

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.

Stephen Schermitzler

Stephen Schermitzler

Bass

Bio

Stephen  is an established musical director, singer, and collaborative pianist who can be seen throughout the valley in various community ensembles such as Solis and the North Valley Chorale, among others. He is the Founder of the Sing Phoenix! Choral Festival, which hosted mass choir, orchestra, and guest notable composers Mark Hayes and Morten Lauridsen. A devoteé of musical theatre, Stephen is currently pursuing the creation of a local Musical Theatre Orchestra, expected to start this summer. Love always to Raylah.

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Nicole Belmont

Executive Director

Aaron M. Villalobos

Patron Services and Communications Manager

Laura Schairer

Publicity (Audience Magnets)

Melissa Smallwood

Bookkeeping (SIM Consultants)

TBD

Volunteer Coordinator

Christine Henry

Volunteer Assistant

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Lynne Traverse, Chair

Alison Chaney, Vice Chair

Mary Farrington-Lorch, Secretary

Gerry Sowers, Treasurer

Lies’l Hill, Singer Representative

Jason Raetz, Singer Representative

Gregg Ewart

Richard Gerig

Kathy Leffler

Charles “Carlos” Oldham

Lynn Ruby

Ellen Wesley

ADVISORY BOARD

Elayne Achilles

Blanton Alspaugh

Becky Bell Ballard

Kimber Lanning

Dorothy Lincoln-Smith

Joy Lubeck

Matthew Tresler

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