The Healdsburg Chorus has a new director at the helm, former Ukiah Symphony director and music professor, Les Pfützenreuter. Along with the new director comes a new piano accompanist, Chris Alexander, a seasoned musical director, coach and accompanist.
The all-volunteer chorus announced the change earlier this month. Pfützenreuter is taking the spot of Jim Humphreys, who lead the chorus for six years, while Alexander is taking over for former accompanist Susan Nelson.
Nelson was the group’s accompanist for 30 years.
Both Humphreys and Nelson announced their retirement from the chorus in December 2018.
The groups’ organization and sense of community struck a chord with Pfützenreuter, who said he was drawn to the Healdsburg Chorus for its sense of equality.
“I really like the philosophy that they do not turn anyone away. It’s not elite and they have a variety of all levels,” Pfützenreuter said.
He’s also excited about the variety of music the group performs, from Christmas classics to oldies and classic tunes.
As director, Pfützenreuter will be in charge of picking the music for the December and spring concerts as well as preparing practice recordings and conducting rehearsals every Monday night.
While it may seem like he has a lot of responsibilities, for Pfützenreuter, music is a labor of love.
“I was always involved with music. I knew while growing up I’d be a teacher or be involved with music,” he said.
And just as predicted, Pfützenreuter ended up working in both fields.
Pfützenreuter worked as a full-time music professor at Mendocino College for 32 years. He retired from the college in May 2017.
He also served as the music director of the Philharmonic Healdsburg and the North Bay Stage Company.
He has a master’s degree in music in conducting and literature from the University of Northern Colorado and a bachelor’s degree in music education from South Dakota State University.
Hillary Kambour, the group’s volunteer spokesperson, said she is thrilled to have Pfützenreuter on board.
“He’s got tough shoes to fill but I do not think he’ll have a problem,” Kambour said. “He has enthusiasm and he is smart and funny and has great ideas.”
Kambour said he also makes a great team with Alexander since the two have worked together for more than 20 years in various theatre-related roles.
“He’s very good, we have the same philosophy and he’s a good singer,” Pfützenreuter said.
Alexander has been a musical coach and accompanist since 1990.
Since moving to Santa Rosa in 1999, Alexander played for the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, the 6th Street Playhouse, Cinnabar Opera Theater of Petaluma and Sonoma Bach.
Prior to his work in the Sonoma County music and arts scene Alexander played for the San Jose State Chorale, including a tour to Russia in 2000.
“Chris has an amazing reputation and people say he can do whatever you want and then some,” Kambour said.
Rehearsals for the Healdsburg Chorus start on Aug. 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. All who are interested are welcome to attend, no experience required.