Phoenix Chorale was limited to online performances in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 60-year-old organization will return to live performances this fall, however, with a new leader at the helm.

After a six-month, nationwide search of more than 30 choral leaders, Phoenix Chorale hired Nicole Belmont as its executive director.  Belmont was a unanimous pick of the search committee.

The soprano and media strategist replaces Jen Rogers, who stepped down in January after more than a decade with the downtown Phoenix organization.

“Choral music for me is the magical meeting of voices and space. Whether you encounter it in a lofty cathedral, or a resonant unconventional space, it’s an art form that cannot help but to move the listener,” Belmont said in a statement.

She added: “Composers both ancient and contemporary have spoken to the human condition through music, and they allow us to explore our personal and collective thoughts, beliefs and emotions in a truly healthy way.

“It is my utter passion to bring people closer to this transformative artform and to hold up the people who make it and shape it.”

Making music during COVID-19: How Arizona arts groups are working to keep live music going during the COVID-19 era

Phoenix Chorale Director Nicole Belmont’s background

Belmont has experience with not only singing in choral groups but also leading them.

In New York, she performed with The Choral Society of Grace Church and Choral Chameleon’s semi-professional chorus.

She was also most recently the executive director of Choral Chameleon, where she was credited for helping generate “significant growth.” According to the press release about her hiring, she brought in new audiences with “production innovations” and by showcasing “the work of a wide array of composers, styles and collaborators from other disciplines.”

As a former senior strategist with marketing communications company Dentsu International and media communications network MDC Media Partners, Belmont’s expertise also lies in creating business development and marketing strategies.

Christopher Gabbitas, Phoenix Chorale’s artistic director, said Belmont’s love of music was evident throughout her interview sessions.

“I am excited to continue strengthening our excellent team at the Phoenix Chorale and to further our vision of creating a community through song,”  Gabbitas said in a press release.

Phoenix Chorale’s last search for leadership

Gabbitas was part of the Chorale’s last big search for leadership.

The Chorale’s artistic director has been in his role since May 2019 . He had auditioned for the job during the 2018-19 season, which saw four guest conductors — and finalists — lead four concerts.

He had previously performed with the King’s Singers — a six-man ensemble at King’s College in Cambridge, England — for 15 years and won two Grammys during that time. Gabbitas replaced Charles Bruffy, who won two Grammy Awards with the choir before he left the organization in 2017.

With the leadership of both Belmont and Gabbitas, the 2021-22 season — Phoenix Chorale’s 62nd — is scheduled to begin on Oct. 9. The 28-voice chorus will perform “an intimate one-time live concert for film” at Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, which will have limited attendance.

Details: Phoenix Chorale, 100 W. Roosevelt St, Phoenix. 602-253-2224, phoenixchorale.org

Reach the reporter at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.

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