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Media Contact:
Jen Rogers, Director of Marketing & Communications
480-204-0101 /

For Immediate Release: December 13, 2012 

“Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo” named Best Classical Vocal Album of The Year on iTunes Best of 2012

Phoenix Chorale’s “Northern Lights” remains Chandos Records’ best-selling US title for 2012; reached #4 on Billboard Chart & #5 on Gramophone Chart

(Phoenix, AZ) – On Thursday, December 13, 2012, Phoenix Chorale’s “Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo” has been named Best Classical Vocal Album of the Year on iTunes’ Best of 2012.

 “I’m thrilled that Phoenix Chorale’s Northern Lights album featuring my choral music is the iTunes 2012 Classical Vocal Album of the Year. The dominance of digital downloads is no longer the future; it is already here,” said composer Ola Gjeilo. “And with iTunes being the world’s number one music outlet, this is such a great honor. I have been a huge Apple fan for years.”

This recognition comes on the heels of last week’s news of two Grammy nominations awarded to Charles Bruffy’s other professional choir, the Kansas City Chorale.

“Sometimes reality even exceeds our dreams.  It’s so remarkable to have the Kansas City Chorale’s Life and Breath with a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Choral Recording’ and then to turn around and have the Phoenix Chorale’s Northern Lights named iTunes Classical Vocal Album of the Year,” said Charles Bruffy, Artistic Director of the Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale. “I knew we were onto something special with composers René Clausen and Ola Gjeilo and I’m so honored to have been a part of bringing their music to life. It is profoundly gratifying to receive this acknowledgement by our colleagues and the industry for our work.”

Northern Lights is still the top selling title for Chandos Records in the United States for the year, climbing industry charts and coming in at #4 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart and climbing to #5 on the United Kingdom’s Gramophone Specialist Classical Chart.

“Chandos Records has built up a reputation over the years for releasing many fine recordings of choral music,” said Ralph Couzens, Managing Director of Chandos Records in the U.K. “With choirs possessing the incredibly high standard of the Phoenix Chorale combined with the sort of imaginative repertoire found on their Northern Lights album, this legacy – which both inspires and is inspiring – continues.”

On February 28, 2012, Chandos Records released the first ever recording of choral works by young Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (Yay-lo) titled Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo.  Performed by Charles Bruffy, the Phoenix Chorale, The Harrington String Quartet, saxophonist Ted Belledin and the composer himself, Northern Lights contains five world premiere recordings and three pieces which were either commissioned, composed, or dedicated to the Phoenix Chorale.

“All of us here at Naxos of America knew from the very beginning that Northern Lights was a very special release, the fact that iTunes has chosen it as vocal album of 2012 is not only AWESOME but also confirms how special this recording truly is!” said Collin Rae, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at Naxos of America, the North American distributor for Chandos.

Review highlights for “Northern Lights”

“The Phoenix Chorale is a wonderful ensemble. It has just the right creamy sound for this music and I cannot imagine it sounding better.” – Fanfare

“Given the way director Charles Bruffy shapes and blends the velvety vocal textures of the fabulous Phoenix Chorale (formerly The Phoenix Bach Choir), his [Ola Gjeilo’s] plush and ecstatic music is well-nigh irresistible.” – American Record Guide

“The 27 professional voices of Arizona-based Phoenix Chorale under Charles Bruffy paint limpid washes of sound with polished intonation, ensemble and balance.” – Choir & Organ Magazine

“The Phoenix Chorale are on top form here, clearly fully at home with their new composer’s music and delighting in every magnetic moment. Charles Bruffy’s vastly-experienced direction is as usual sensitive and technically assured. I am trying not to be too effusive here, because this music (and its singing) had a considerable emotional effect for me. Gjeilo’s poise, depth of humanity and root simplicity comes across in every bar, making this a very memorable experience.” –

“Ola Gjeilo is one of those discoveries that Chandos and Hyperion have been making recently of young composers who write choral music in an approachable idiom… The quality of the performances has clearly contributed to the success of the recording and the sound is excellent…” – 

“If it was in question before, Ola Gjeilo is now officially a rising star, thanks to the release of the album Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo.” – Houston Press

“The music is wonderful, the performances could not be bettered. Engineering richly captures the choral textures. If you enjoy choral singing and unusual repertory, don’t miss this!” –

“…I can’t imagine any music lover not being enchanted with this superbly sung album, recorded in spacious Super Audio sound that is simply riveting. Highly recommended!” – Audiophile Audition

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Media Contact:
Jen Rogers, Director of Marketing & Communications
480-204-0101 /

About the Phoenix Chorale: Arizona’s professional choir, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Phoenix Chorale is the first North American choir to record for Chandos Records, having made its first appearance on the label in 2004 with Shakespeare in Song. The choir’s first joint recording with the Kansas City Chorale, Eternal Rest, was released in 2005. The second, of Grechaninov’s Passion Week, was released in 2007 and received GRAMMY® nominations in four categories, including Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance, and Best Surround Sound Album, and won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Engineered Album, Classical. In 2008, the Chorale released Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary which received GRAMMY® Award nominations in two categories, including Best Classical Album, winning a GRAMMY® for Best Small Ensemble Performance. Also in 2008, the choir’s third joint recording with the Kansas City Chorale, a disc of sacred choral works by Rheinberger, was released and received GRAMMY® nominations for Best Choral Performance and Best Surround Sound. Audiences around the globe have enjoyed the sounds of the Phoenix Chorale also through broadcasts, including American Public Media’s ‘Performance Today’. In 2009, the choir made its New York debut with the Kansas City Chorale (also under the direction of Charles Bruffy) in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The New York Times referred to the choirs’ ‘refined sound and elegant phrasing’ as well as ‘vivid intensity’, and praised the performance for its ‘buoyant pulse and energetic finesse’. Formerly known as the Phoenix Bach Choir, the Phoenix Chorale was founded in 1958 by Drs Hal and Timona Pittman. It originally focused on music of the Renaissance and baroque periods, but today is equally dedicated to the creation and performance of new music, which it intermingles with more traditional concert repertoire. The Phoenix Chorale is sponsored in part through grants and funding from Cathedral Arts, Arizona Commission on the Arts, the City of Phoenix’s Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Quail

About Charles Bruffy: One of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, the GRAMMY® Award winning conductor Charles Bruffy began his career as a tenor soloist, performing with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and in concerts both in France and at Carnegie Hall in New York. Shaw encouraged his development as a conductor and in 1996 he was invited by American Public Media’s ‘Performance Today’ to help celebrate Shaw’s eightieth birthday with an on-air tribute. In 1999, The New York Times named him as the late, great conductor’s potential heir. He has been Artistic Director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988, the GRAMMY-winning Phoenix Chorale since 1999, and of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus since 2008. He conducts workshops and clinics across the US; is a member of the Advisory Board of the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde; and served on the Board of Chorus America for seven years. Respected and renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral repertoire and for championing new music, Charles Bruffy has commissioned and premiered works by composers such as Jean Belmont, Ola Gjeilo, Matthew Harris, Libby Larsen, Zhou Long, Stephen Paulus, Stephen Sametz, Steven Stucky, Eric Whitacre, and Chen Yi. Under his supervision, the Roger Dean Company, a division of the Lorenz Corporation, publishes a choral series specializing in music for professional ensembles and sophisticated high school and college choirs. His eclectic discography includes six recordings for Chandos Records, receiving a total of ten GRAMMY nominations and two GRAMMY wins.

About Ola Gjeilo: Born in Norway in 1978, Ola Gjeilo moved to New York in 2001 to begin his composition studies with Robert Beaser at the Juilliard School, from which he graduated with a Master’s Degree in 2006. His first and possibly most musically influential teacher in Norway was Wolfgang Plagge, after which he pursued his Bachelor’s Degree including two years at the Royal College of Music in London where he studied with William Mival. He especially enjoys writing music for choir, orchestra, symphonic winds, and the piano, and is greatly influenced by the likes of jazz greats Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny, to name a few. Presently a full-time composer based in New York, he is also interested in film, and his style draws much inspiration from the cinema and film composers such as Thomas Newman and Howard Shore. Gjeilo’s published concert works, distributed by Hal Leonard, are performed all over the world. As a pianist, he has a great passion for improvisation, either solo or over his own ensemble works. His debut recording as a pianist/composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was released to critical acclaim in 2007 and its sequel is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012. 

Chandos Records was founded in 1979 by Brian Couzens and quickly established itself as one of the world’s leading classical labels. Universally acclaimed for the excellence of its sound quality and having won four GRAMMY® Awards, Chandos has always been at the forefront of technical innovation including being the first record label to produce and release Compact Discs. Championing a rare and neglected repertoire, Chandos’ diverse catalogue contains over 2000 titles, from early music to contemporary, with composers from around the world. The independent, family run company, which produces and markets its recordings from its offices in Colchester, England, is distributed world-wide.

Naxos of America: Headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, Naxos of America ( is the #1 independent classical music distributor in the U.S. and Canada. Specializing in state-of-the-art distribution, marketing and promotion, Naxos of America distributes nearly 30,000 SKUs to traditional brick and mortar retail, as well as offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to consumer direct fulfillment. Naxos of America is also the largest digital distributor of independent classical music, supplying a catalog of over 30,000 albums to hundreds of digital download and mobile outlets worldwide. Naxos of America offers marketing, e-marketing, publicity, e-publicity, physical and digital e-commerce services, licensing opportunities, streaming services, sales and customer service for all new releases and active catalog titles of Naxos Records and more than 125 distributed labels.