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Season’s first HBPA event to feature Kansas City Chorale

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The first concert of the 2009-10 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series features a renowned vocal ensemble from Kansas City that includes a Bethel graduate.

The Kansas City Chorale, a Grammy®-winning professional chorus under the direction of Charles Bruffy, will perform Sunday, Oct. 11, at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel College campus. Its two dozen members include Garrett Epp, Olathe, a 1967 graduate of Bethel College.

Now in its 28th season, the Kansas City Chorale is known for its dedication to excellence in performing music from diverse historical periods. In the spring of 2000, the group received the ASCAP-Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming in recognition of its 1999 season.

In the spring of 2001, the Chorale sang for the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Houston, the only professional American choir invited to perform. In April 2003, the Chorale appeared in Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress’s “I Hear America Singing” series.

The Chorale has recorded for Nimbus Records as the first North American group signed by that label. Their CDs include Nativitas, a collection of American Christmas carols; Fern Hill, an anthology of American choral music; Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (the New York Times called it “...a project that must be rated a serious contender for record of the year...the chorus is everywhere remarkable”); Songs Ring Out to the Heavens, a recording of the choral music of Johannes Brahms; Alleluia: An American Hymnal, a collection of anthems, hymns and spirituals; and Words and Music, the music of James Mulholland.

The Kansas City Chorale’s most recent recordings, Grechaninov’s Passion Week, Music of Josef Rheinberger and Eternal Rest, featuring Frank Martin’s “Mass,” have been released on the Chandos label. The 2007 release Passion Week received a Grammy® award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Charles Bruffy is one of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, respected and renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral repertory and for championing new music. He is dedicated to commissioning and premiering works by contemporary American composers. Recent commissions and premieres include works by Jean Belmont, Matthew Harris, Libby Larsen, Zhou Long, Stephen Paulus, Stephen Sametz, Eric Whitacre, Rene Clausen and Chen Yi.

The Roger Dean Company, a division of the Lorenz Corporation, publishes a choral series under Bruffy’s supervision specializing in music for professional ensembles and high school and college choirs.

Bruffy has been recognized by many as the next great American choral conductor. In 1999, the New York Times named him a potential heir apparent to the late great Robert Shaw (in 1996, National Public Radio asked Bruffy to help celebrate Robert Shaw’s 80th birthday with an on-air tribute). In 2005, Fanfare magazine called Bruffy “one of the next big things in American choral music.”

Bruffy has been artistic director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988 and of the Phoenix Chorale since 1999. Both choirs are praised for their live performances as well as their recordings. Bruffy’s eclectic discography of more than 13 recordings includes music by Argento, Brahms, Corigliano, Gretchaninov, Martin, Mäntyjärvi, Rachmaninov and Vaughan Williams.

Bruffy conducts workshops and clinics across the United States. Increasingly busy on the international scene, he recently conducted performances of Verdi’s Requiem in the Sydney Opera House. Also an active tenor soloist, Bruffy performed with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings and concerts in France and in concerts at Carnegie Hall. He is a featured soloist on the Robert Shaw release Appear and Inspire.

Bruffy received his bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph and master’s degree in vocal performance from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as honorary doctorates from Baker University and Missouri Western State University.

Prices for single tickets for the Kansas City Chorale’s appearance at Bethel College range from $17 to $8 depending on seating section and discount eligibility (students and senior citizens). Season tickets prices range from $70 to $35 and include Ensemble Galilei with Neal Conan (Friday, Nov. 13); Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010); the Glenn Miller Orchestra (Thursday, March 18); and Chatham Baroque (Sunday, April 18). There is also a supplemental concert by the Lawrence Children’s Choir Sunday, June 6 (season tickets do not apply).

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 (Hesston College) or 316-284-5205 (Bethel College) or e-mail

This program is presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, and is supported by Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Arts Commission and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

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