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

For Immediate Release 

GRAMMY Winning Phoenix Chorale
Celebrates Women’s History Month

“Vox Femina” concerts held March 2 & 3 and
feature two world premieres by Cecilia McDowall and Joan Szymko

(Phoenix, AZ) – The GRAMMY Award-winning Phoenix Chorale celebrates Women’s History Month with “Vox Femina,” on March 2-3, 2013. “Vox Femina” features music by female composers, compositions based on poems by and about women throughout history, and two world premieres by composers, Cecilia McDowall and Joan Szymko.

The “Vox Femina” concerts celebrate notable female figures throughout history in song with pieces including: Prayer of Eleanor Roosevelt by Timothy Hagy; Hymn to St. Cecilia by Benjamin Britten; Prayer, a tribute to Mother Teresa by René Clausen and more. Other featured female composers include Arizona resident Anne Kilstofte and 11th century nun Hildegard von Bingen. The concerts feature special guest artists including percussionist Sonja Branch, cellist Maria Simiz, and pianist Deanna Wehrspann.

“For me, it’s about illuminating that voice of strength,” said Artistic Director Charles Bruffy. “That so much of the program is written by female composers is incidental – it’s about the unifying voice that women share.”


Night Flight is about the first successful flight across the English Channel in 1912, made by Harriet Quimby, “America’s First Lady of the Air.” Cecilia McDowell wrote Night Flight to honor Quimby and her achievement, which went largely unrecognized due to the unfortunate sinking of the Titanic the day before her takeoff. Night Flight begins with the jerking, swaying uncertain moment of takeoff and transitions as the flight reaches altitude, capturing the wonder of looking down from above. This will be the world premiere of the entire piece, written for chorus and cello, with special guest, cellist Maria Simiz.

The second world premiere is Todo o Meu Ser by Joan Szymko, a song with Portuguese roots and Brazilian flavor inspired by a quote from an Inuit shaman named Orpingalik: How many songs I have I cannot tell you. All my being is a song, and I sing as I draw breath. The women of the Phoenix Chorale will perform a second Szymko piece called Despertar al Amor, in which Habanera rhythms combine with beautiful melodic lines, translated into Spanish, drawn from three varied sources: the traditional greeting of the Camino de Santiago, Buddha, and Teresa of Avila.

Composter, educator and Valley resident, Anne Kilstofte is a strong advocate of the work of women in music. She wrote Soft Footfalls, Song of the Anasazi about the lives of the Anasazi people and their transition from a nomadic tribe to a stationary society.  The elegiac piece is intended to interpret Anasazi treading over the rocks of Northeastern Arizona centuries ago, descriptive of high cliff dwellings, waterfalls, and women with baskets on their heads padding through the dust.

Hildegard von Bingen was born in 1098 and is well known for her musical, literary, and scientific writings based on dazzling visions from God. Despite living in a world accustomed to male governance, she held a commanding spiritual authority and music was an essential part of her life. Her liturgical compositions, including the piece Sequentia de sancto Maximo were unusual in structure and tonality and have been described by contemporaries as “chant of surpassing sweet melody” and “strange and unheard-of music.”

Written by well-known composer René Clausen, Prayer is a tribute to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, setting her gentle words of prayer focusing on the God in each one of us, with long, arching phrases and gentle dissonances. Prayer was featured on the Kansas City Chorale’s “Life and Breath” disc which was recently nominated for two GRAMMY Awards.

A lovely work as a choral benediction as well as an anthem, A Prayer for Eleanor Roosevelt by Timothy Hagy was originally composed for anniversary celebrations at St. Thomas’ Parish in Washington D.C., where President Roosevelt and his family were longtime members. The prayer is a self-examination and vision for our relationship with God, written by Eleanor Roosevelt herself, which she recited nightly.  The song honors the revolutionary first lady who dedicated so much of her life to creating political and social change and offers a real insight into her heart, mind, and strength.

Interviews and press tickets can be arranged by contacting Jen Rogers, at 480-204-0101 or

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

HOW TO BUY TICKETS – Subscriptions are still available. Tickets can be purchased through the Phoenix Chorale’s website at or by calling 602-253-2224.

25 & UNDER RUSH TICKETS – Starting 15 minutes before concert time, anyone 25 years and younger (with ID) can purchase Rush Tickets for just $5. Rush Tickets are subject to availability, cannot be reserved in advance, and are not guaranteed.


“Vox Femina”

March 2, 2013 – Saturday at 2:00 pm
American Lutheran Church (17200 Del Webb Blvd., Sun City 85373)

March 2, 2013 – Saturday at 7:30 pm
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (100 W. Roosevelt St., Phoenix 85003)
* KBAQ 89.5 FM Talks at Trinity starts at 6:30 pm

March 3, 2013 – Sunday at 3:00 pm
Christ Church of the Ascension (4015 East Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley 85253)

Tickets: $28 General Admission; $12 Students
Seniors & Military receive $5 off General Admission
All tickets are an additional $5 at the door

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About the Phoenix Chorale: The Phoenix Chorale is regarded as one of the finest professional choral ensembles in North America. What began in 1958 as a small study group of singers became a fully professional choir in 1992 made up of Arizona residents: highly educated and trained singers, teachers and professionals. In 2004, the Phoenix Chorale became the first North American choir to record for the U.K.’s prestigious Chandos Records and since then, the Chorale’s recordings have earned a total of eight GRAMMY® nominations and two GRAMMY® wins. The Phoenix Chorale aims to be the preeminent model for American choral music by redefining standards of excellence and its mission is to enrich life through excellence and distinction in choral artistry. All Phoenix Chorale recordings can be found at 

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.