Award-winning Phoenix Chorale artistic director Charles Bruffy to step down after 18 seasons


TED SIMONS: PHOENIX CHORALE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR CHARLES BRUFFY IS STEPPING DOWN AFTER 18-SEASONS WITH THE GRAMMY WINNING GROUP.

VIDEO: *CHORALE SINGING*

TED SIMONS: CHARLES BRUFFY JOINS US NOW TO TALK ABOUT HIS TIME WITH THE PHOENIX CHORALE AND ABOUT HIS PLANS FOR THE FUTURE. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. YOU ARE STEPPING DOWN AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR. WHAT IS GOING ON? ARE WE NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

CHARLES BRUFFY: I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR 18 YEARS. WHEN I FIRST STARTED, I SAID I WOULD DO IT FOR ONE YEAR. WELL, OF COURSE, THEN I FELL IN LOVE AND HERE WE ARE 18 YEARS LATER AND ONE BLINK AND YOU REALIZE OH, MY, GOODNESS, 18 YEARS HAVE GONE BY. I HAVE THREE MORE CHOIRS IN KANSAS CITY WHERE I LIVE MOST OF THE TIME AND I HAVE A FARM WITH ARABIAN AND SADDLE BRED HORSES AND A DOG AND A CAT AND A COUPLE OF CHICKENS AND AS SILLY AS IT SOUNDS -- I AM NOT A YOUNG MAN. IT IS TIME TO GO HOME.

TED SIMONS: YOU MENTIONED YOU WANT TO PURSUE OTHER ARTISTIC POSITIONS. DOES THAT MEAN PURSUE WHAT YOU HAVE MORE OR FIND NEW THINGS?

CHARLES BRUFFY: IN THE WORLD WHERE I LIVE WE DO A LOT OF DREAMING. I THINK THAT ALL CREATIVE PEOPLE DO. BUT IT HAS TURNED INTO WHEN I AM IN REHEARSAL SIX NIGHTS A WEEK I DON'T HAVE TIME TO THINK, LET ALONE DREAM. AND THAT IS BIG.

TED SIMONS: THE DREAM THAT GOT YOU HERE TO PHOENIX, WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT? THIS WAS A BACH CHOIR BACK THEN, CORRECT?

CHARLES BRUFFY: IT WAS. THEY CALLED ME UP OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE AND SAID, WE’RE LOOKING FOR A NEW CONDUCTOR AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO A CONCERT? AND I SAID OKAY AND CAME OUT HERE AND THEN I REALIZED THEY WERE INTERVIEWING ME AND AUDITIONING ME, I THOUGHT I WAS JUST DOING THE CONCERT. SO THEN THEY OFFERED ME THE JOB AND I SAID I CAN'T POSSIBLY AND THEN I SAID I WILL DO IT FOR ONE YEAR AND HERE WE ARE.

TED SIMONS: AND WHEN YOU STARTED BACK THEN AND IN YEAR TWO OR THREE WHEN YOU REALIZED THIS WASN’T JUST GOING TO BE A ONE-YEAR GIG, DID YOU SENSE THE PROFILE OF THE CHOIR BEING WHAT IT IS NOW BACK THEN?

CHARLES BRUFFY: WOULDN'T IT BE NICE IF THIS STORY COULD BE THAT OF A DREAM COME TRUE? BUT IT ISN'T. WHAT WE HAVE DONE IS WE JUST DO OUR WORK. WE TRY TO BRING OUR AUDIENCES CONCERTS THAT EVOKE SOME SORT OF FEELING AND SENSATION AND ILLUMINATE TEXTS SO OUR LISTENERS CAN REALIZE MEANINGS OF WORDS AND THEN WE WON A GRAMMY AWARD JUST BECAUSE WE TRIED REALLY HARD TO DO FOR OUR LOCAL AUDIENCES WHAT THEY DESERVED.

TED SIMONS: HOW MANY GRAMMY AWARDS? HOW MANY GRAMMY NOMINATIONS?

CHARLES BRUFFY: I SHOULD HAVE THAT ON THE TOP OF MY HEAD BUT IN FACT THAT IS NOT WHY WE DO IT. I DON'T REALLY -- INNUMERABLE. I HAVE THE HARDWARE. I DUST THREE GRAMMYS.

TED SIMONS: WELL, YOU WILL HAVE A LOT MORE TIME TO DUST TOO. AS FAR AS INCREASING THE PROFILE -- I KNOW THAT HAD TO BE IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN YOU FIRST GOT HERE. AGAIN, MOST FOLKS DIDN'T HEAR ABOUT THIS BACH CHOIR BUT EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THE PHOENIX CORRAL.

CHARLES BRUFFY: IT’S KIND OF A COMPLICATED THING BECAUSE I TRAVEL BACK AND FORTH ON THE AIRPLANE ALL THE TIME AND I WOULD TELL PEOPLE, BECAUSE I TALK TO STRANGERS, I CONDUCT THE PHOENIX BACH CHOIR, AND THEY WOULD SAY THE WHAT? THE NAME WAS A LITTLE PROBLEMATIC. WE HAVE WORKED VERY HARD TO GET THE NAME OF THE PHOENIX CHORALE OUT ALL ACROSS THE VALLEY AND ACROSS THE STATE AND ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND AROUND THE WORLD LITERALLY NOW. JEN ROGERS IS VERY SKILLED AT PROMOTING US AND INVITING AND INVOLVING NEW AUDIENCES AND NEW LISTENERS AND WE WORKED HARD TOGETHER TO BRING PROGRAMS THAT WOULD BE APPEALING TO A WIDE VARIETY OF LISTENERS.

TED SIMONS: YOU ARE STEPPING DOWN AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR. WHAT DOES AN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE PHOENIX CHORALE DO?

CHARLES BRUFFY: DREAM. THEY ORGANIZE THE PROGRAMS. THEY REHEARSE THE SINGERS. THEY AUDITION THE SINGERS. THEY MANAGE THE SINGERS. THEY KEEP THEIR EMPLOYEES FROM CHEATING.

TED SIMONS: GOOD LUCK. DO YOU HAVE TO PUSH THE VOCALISTS? WE KNOW WHAT CONDUCTORS DO, THEY ARE THE DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER OF THE MOVIE. WHAT DO YOU DO?

CHARLES BRUFFY: I RECOGNIZE THE WAY I DO THINGS IS VERY PECULIAR TO ME OR MAYBE PECULIAR UNTO ITSELF. IN MY EARLY DAYS, I WAS NAMED THE ECCENTRIC OF VALLEY BY THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC.

TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS.

CHARLES BRUFFY: THANK YOU. I HAVE A CERTIFICATE. PART OF WHAT WE DO IS JUST EDUCATE OUR SINGERS TO THE LANGUAGE OF OUR HAND AND WHAT DOES A MOVEMENT MEAN AND BRING ALL OF THESE TALENTS AND, FRANKLY, OPINIONS TO ONE UNISON AND ONE UNANIMITY THAT IS AS STRONG A TEAM AS ANY BASKETBALL, BASEBALL, FOOTBALL TEAM. A TEAM OF SINGERS IS EQUALLY LINKED.

TED SIMONS: INTERESTING. AND YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU HEAR IT.

CHARLES BRUFFY: YOU DO. IT IS MAGIC.

TED SIMONS: THIS MONTH, BRUFFY’S BEST WILL BE PERFORMED. WHEN YOU HEAR THESE THINGS, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING TO BE? ARE YOU GOING TO BE MELANCHOLIC? ARE YOU GOING TO LOOK BACK IN ANGER? ARE YOU GOING TO LOOK FORWARD IN-

CHARLES BRUFFY: BITTERNESS.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO THINK?

CHARLES BRUFFY: YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH? OF COURSE I WILL. I WILL TRY TO NOT BREAK DOWN. I AM GOING TO TRY TO NOT MELT DOWN. I AM GOING TO TRY TO NOT GET SO SELF INVOLVED THAT I CAN'T HEAR WHAT THE SINGERS ARE DOING. I AM GOING TO TRY AND BE WITH THE SINGERS AND BE VERY PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. IT IS GOING TO BE A VERY EMOTIONAL TIME. A VERY EMOTIONAL TIME AND WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS? I AM GOING TO SING.

TED SIMONS: OH, MY, GOODNESS. WELL, THAT COULD BE AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT FOR EVERYBODY.

CHARLES BRUFFY: EVERYBODY IS GOING TO BE THROWING THE PROGRAM.

TED SIMONS: 18 YEARS OF YOUR LIFE. THE SUCCESS IS OUTSTANDING. LOSING YOU TO KANSAS CITY, BUT YOU ARE A PART OF PHOENIX HISTORY AND I AM SURE YOU WILL BE BACK A FEW TIMES. EVERYONE ALWAYS COMES BACK TO ARIZONA. CONGRATULATIONS ON A GREAT CAREER AND GOOD LUCK IN THE FUTURE. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

CHARLES BRUFFY: THANKS VERY MUCH. IT IS ALWAYS A PRESSURE TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

TED SIMONS: ON THE NEXT ARIZONA HORIZON, IT'S THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE, THE GOVERNOR'S PAY RAISES TO HIS PERSONAL STAFF AND AGENCY EXECS ARE RAISING EYEBROWS, AND TRUMP ADVISOR STEVE BANNON THROWS HIS SUPPORT BEHIND KELLI WARD'S SENATE CAMPAIGN. THOSE STORIES FRIDAY, ON THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE.

ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIEND OF ARIZONA P-B-S, MEMBERS OF YOUR P-B-S STATION. THANK YOU.

Phoenix Chorale artistic director Charles Bruffy says when he first started with the chorale his intention was to stay one year.

He’s now stepping down after 18 seasons, which includes recordings that have won three Grammys.

Bruffy talks about his time with the Phoenix Chorale and his plans for the future.

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In this segment:

Charles Bruffy, Artistic Director, Phoenix Chorale

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