Christopher Gabbitas, a former member of the renowned vocal group The King’s Singers, has been appointed Artistic Director of The Phoenix Chorale.
He was chosen following a two-year search process by the American choir - which involved the four finalists each conducting a concert programme in the Chorale’s recent 60th Anniversary Season - as it looked for a replacement for Charles Bruffy, who had held the post from 1999 until 2017.
During his 15 years with the King’s Singers, Gabbitas appeared on more than 30 albums and performed in almost 2000 concerts. He’d joined the group having been a choral scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, subsequently singing with groups including Polyphony, The King’s Consort and the choir of the Temple Church while working as a lawyer. Reflecting on his appointment, and his experience of English and American choral traditions, Gabbitas said: ‘During my time with The King's Singers I learned a great deal about the differing sounds of the English and American choral traditions, having grown up believing them to be identical! Each has incredible strengths: the English tradition possesses warmth and honesty; the American tradition a clarity and finesse that can be breathtaking.
'I'm excited to be able to bring these two great traditions together as I lead The Phoenix Chorale, and look forward to combining the best of both in choral performances and recordings of the highest standard, as well as increasing awareness of this wonderful ensemble - and American choirs in general - across the world.’ His first concert series as Artistic Director will take place on October 18-20 this year, and the role will see Gabbitas lead all artistic and creative aspects of the organisation. In August he will also take up a position as Artist Professor at the University of Redlands, California.
Founded in 1958, the 28-voice Phoenix Chorale has recorded for Chandos Records, including a highly-praised recording of the Rachmaninov Vespers, performed along with the Kansas City Chorale and conducted by Bruffy. Jen Rogers, Phoenix Chorale President and CEO, said: ‘Chris’s enthusiasm is contagious and inspires everyone that comes into contact with him. Right away, there was chemistry with Chris across the board. His experience with The King’s Singers as both a performer and managing partner are impressive strengths he will bring to the position.’