“Bruffy seemed to be sculpturing in air: carefully molding each finely hued note he coaxed from his choristers…the choirs performed with a buoyant pulse and energetic finesse.”
—The New York Times
Since the debut performance in 1982, the Kansas City Chorale has provided audiences with a high caliber of choral artistry, performing a diverse repertoire of new and traditional music. Under Charles Bruffy’s leadership the choir has garnered international recognition for artistic merit, having been praised for its refined sound, phrasing and flawless intonation.
As a cornerstone of the Kansas City performing arts community, the Chorale creates concert programs and recordings that educate, engage, provoke, and inspire listeners. The Chorale’s ongoing outreach efforts facilitate the development of local talent, while providing students and their instructors with the opportunity to learn from world-class vocalists.
Beyond the traditional season of local concerts, Bruffy has brought the choir’s talent to the global stage. In 2009, Bruffy led the Kansas City and Phoenix Chorales in a moving performance at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Highlights from the a cappella concert included “Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae” by Jaakko Mantyjarvi and “Drei Geistliche Gesänge” by 19th-century composer Josef Rheinberger.
The New York Times review noted that Bruffy “…seemed to be sculpturing in air: carefully molding each finely hued note he coaxed from his choristers,” and “the choirs performed with a buoyant pulse and energetic finesse.” In the same year, the Kansas City Chorale was invited as one of four choral groups to perform at the prestigious Incheon Choral Festival in South Korea.
The Kansas City Chorale has an award-winning collection of albums with Chandos Records, Naxos Records, Nimbus Records, and 2Foals Records. The Chorale's album Life and Breath: Choral Works of René Clausen, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Choral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical. Additionally, SoundMirror senior producer Blanton Alspaugh won the GRAMMY® Award for Producer of the Year, Classical, for Life and Breath and Artifacts: The Music of Michael McGlynn.
Between 2007-2015, the Kansas City Chorale joined with the Phoenix Chorale for three albums including Rheinberger: Sacred Choral Works, which received 2 GRAMMY® nominations, Grechaninov: Passion Week, which won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Engineered Classical Album along with 5 nominations, and Rachmaninoff: All Night Vigil, which won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Choral Performance along with 3 nominations.
One of the most admired choral conductors in the United States, GRAMMY® winner Charles Bruffy began his career as a tenor soloist, performing with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in recordings as well as concerts in France and at Carnegie Hall. 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 80th birthday with an on-air tribute. In 1999, The New York Times named him as the late, great conductor’s potential heir.
Bruffy has been artistic director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988. He has been chorus director for the Kansas City Symphony Chorus since 2008 and was artistic director of the Phoenix Chorale from 1999-2017. He has been director of music at Rolling Hills Church since 1994. He conducts workshops and clinics across the U.S., including teaching at the Westminster Choir College Summer Conducting Institute since 2006.
In the summer of 2013, Bruffy was involved with the Anúna International Choral Summer School in Dublin, Ireland, and in 2014 conducted the Kansas City Chorale in a performance at the
Association of Canadian Choral Communities convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has conducted performances in Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Incheon Cultural and Arts Center in South Korea, and the Sydney Opera House.
Bruffy is a member of the advisory boards of the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde and WomenSing in the San Francisco Bay area, and served on the board of Chorus America for seven years. He is an advisor for MusicSpoke and has a choral series on their marketplace, MusicSpoke.com. A graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Dance and Music masters program in conducting, Bruffy was recognized in 2016 as the Conservatory’s Alumnus of the Year.
Bruffy is renowned for his fresh and passionate interpretations of standards of the choral repertoire and for championing new music. He has commissioned and premiered works by Kansas City composers Jean Belmont Ford, Zhou Long and Chen Yi, as well as works by Ola Gjeilo, Matthew Harris, Anne Kilstofte, Libby Larsen, Michael McGlynn, Cecilia McDowall, Stephen Paulus, Stephen Sametz, Philip Stopford, Steven Stucky, Joan Szymko, and Eric Whitacre.
Bruffy’s eclectic discography includes six recordings with Nimbus Records and seven with Chandos Records. The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has recognized five of these recordings with a total of 12 GRAMMY® nominations and 3 GRAMMY® wins, most recently in 2015 for “Best Choral Performance” for his recording of Rachmaninoff’s “All-night Vigil.” In his spare time, Bruffy breeds and raises Arabian and Saddlebred horses on his ranch just south of Kansas City in Cass County.