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

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Last month, the GRAMMY® Award winning Phoenix Chorale released the first recording of choral works by young Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (Yay-lo) with Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo on Chandos Records. Since then, Northern Lights has climbed the industry charts coming in at #4 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart (excludes crossover albums) and climbing to #5 on the Gramophone Specialist Classical Chart since debuting at #15 in mid-February.

“Making the Billboard charts is an indication of the wide appeal of the music on this recording. It also signifies the growing popularity of Ola’s music,” said Artistic Director Charles Bruffy. “It is very gratifying that Northern Lights has been a success from the beginning, and we can’t wait to see where this ride takes us.”

Northern Lights debuted at #31 on the Billboard Classical chart, which includes crossover classical albums like Yo-Yo Ma’s The Goat Rodeo Sessions and groups like Il Volo. The debut at #31 was based on download sales alone and since then, it has climbed to #20.

“The initial successes of Northern Lights have included many firsts for the Phoenix Chorale. The airplay it has received on Classic FM in the UK is unprecedented for us,” said Executive Director Joel Rinsema. “Having the number five best selling recording on the Gramophone charts in the UK and hitting the Billboard classical charts is unique for American classical performing ensembles. Not many American choral groups can claim this achievement.”

“I’m very excited that the first CD of my choral music on a major classical record label is doing so well on the charts and getting so much play on my favorite radio station, Classic FM, and all thanks to the immaculate artistry of the Phoenix Chorale and Charles Bruffy,” said composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo.

Northern Lights was the featured “CD of the Week” on Classic FM and continues to be prominently featured on the UK radio station, which has a weekly listenership of over 6 million. Northern Lights also broke into the top 100 of best selling CDs on Amazon UK across all musical genres (pop singer Adele’s album 21 is #1 on this list).

 Lea Maitlen, Senior Marketing Manager at Naxos America, commented on the success of Northern Lights: “I am glad to see that the American public is recognizing the work of young choral composers like Ola Gjeilo, and am thrilled that recognition is reflected in the excellent chart placement of the Phoenix Chorale’s Northern Lights CD.”

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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.  

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.

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 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 five recordings for Chandos Records.

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.

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.