Kira Zeeman Rugen, D.M.A.
Dr. Kira Zeeman Rugen is a composer, conductor, academic professor, and professional soprano from Scottsdale Arizona. She founded and is the Artistic Director for Solis - Choir of the Sun, a professional choir, in 2011. Originally composed of ASU students, Kira converted the group from an amateur collegiate choir to a fully paid professional vocal ensemble in the Phoenix area. Now in their twelfth season, Solis’ collaborations include high-profile performances with Andrea Bocelli in Live Concert, The Eagles Hotel California Tour, Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses, Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy, plus performing with composer Ramin Djawadi for the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. Additionally, they performed with Irish band, The Chieftains, for their 50th-anniversary tour and they were invited to perform at the American Choral Directors Association Conference in Pasadena California. Furthermore, Solis has collaborated with Catholic Phoenix, Bartholomew Faire, Cornua Irae, the Irish Cultural Center, Arizona Pro-Arte Orchestra, and the Arizona Bach Festival. choral compositions every year, often highlighting local Arizona composers. During the 2022-2023 season, Solis - Choir of the Sun, will perform on the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church Concert Series.
Kira currently serves as choral and musical theatre faculty at Scottsdale Community College where she is music directed Clue: The Musical (Fall 2022) and will music direct RENT in spring of 2023. She is honored to be nominated for a 2022 AriZoni Theatre Award of Excellence for Musical Direction of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder for her work with the SCC Musical Theatre program in Spring of 2022. Now in her twenty-fourth year as a music educator, she is excited to direct and renew the performance spirit in Concert Choir and Community Choir at Scottsdale Community College. Over the years, Kira has greatly enjoyed being the Music Director of Broadway shows such as The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, The Music Man, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oklahoma, Godspell, Les Misérables (School Edition), Grease, and Once Upon a Mattress. Previously, she worked as the Director of Choral Activities and Musical Director for Musical Theater at Arizona Christian University. In December 2018, Kira prepared the ACU Firestorm Chorale to perform with Andrea Bocelli at Talking Stick Resort Arena and later she prepared the choir to sing with Irish band, The Chieftains. She also worked as a faculty member at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix where she taught Music History, Conducting, and Fundamentals of Music and Culture for Diverse Learners. As Faculty Associate at Arizona State University, Kira conducted Choral Union, the 100+ community member choir, and Schola Cantorum, the SATB choir predominantly for music majors. Her success at ASU included recordings that were used by Walton Music for their 2011 CD Sampler and Caldwell and Ivory for their promotional videos.
Kira is an emerging film composer and is a recent 2022 award winner for Best Original Score/Best Composer for the short film, MusArt, in twenty different film festivals. These awards include the Cine Paris Film Festival, Berlin Short Film Festival, San Francisco Arthouse Short Festival, New York Cinema Independent Awards, Tokyo Film Awards, Athvikvaruni International Film Festival, Diamond Bell International Film Festival, Dreamz Catcher International Film Festival, Halicarnassus Film Festival, Halo International Film Festival, Nitiin International Film Festival, Oregon Documentary Film Festival, Parai Musical International Awards, Phoenix Shorts, San Diego Art Film Awards, Vegas Shorts, and Moscow Shorts.
Kira’s choral compositions (found at the Fred Bock Group/Gentry Publications and MusicSpoke.com) have been performed around the world. Several of her scores will also soon be found on Graphite Publishing. She is a 2022 winner in the HerVoice Music Composition Competition in Chicago, and her music will be performed by the Vancouver Youth Choir conducted by Carrie Tennant this year, while she is mentored by composer, Chen Yi. Her music will also be featured in the 2022-2023 season by Vocore Ensemble in Poland conducted by Michael Malec, Resonance of Singapore conducted by Toh Ban Sheng, Phoenix Children’s Chorus directed Troy Meeker, The Phoenix Boys Choir directed by Herbert Washington, and Arizona State University Concert Choir under Jace Saplan. She was recently named as the 3rd Place Winner in The American Prize, professional choral composition division, and a 2022 finalist for both The American Prize and the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for Performance of American Music competition.
Kira’s compositions have been featured on several high-profile commissions and performances from the likes of the Phoenix Chorale, Vox Musica, Northwest Oklahoma State University Singers, CU Boulder Chamber Singers, THE CHORAL PROJECT, The Phoenix Boys Choir, Master Chorale of Flagstaff, Cor Cantiamo, Phoenix Chamber Choir, University of Redlands, Kansas City Chorale, ASU Men’s Choir, Orpheus Men’s Choir, Pinnacle Presbyterian’s Chancel, Youth and Children’s choirs, Inspirare Nova, Carolyn Eynon Singers, Pasadena Chorale, and the Master Chorale of Flagstaff. In November 2017, Kira traveled to France to conduct the premiere of her composition, Saint-Brieuc Magnificat, with the Saint-Brieuc Cathedral Children and Youth Choir. Under the direction of their conductor, Goulven Airault, they went on to perform the work in Saint-Malo de Dinan, Sainte-Croix de Sant Malo, Saint-Martin de Janze, Saint Sauveur La Rochelle, Sanctuaire de Rocamadour, Castell de Callonge, and for the Pueri Cantors in Congrès de Barcelone.
In addition to her work as a conductor, Kira has amassed a wealth of experience as a soprano soloist and is noted as having an “angelic and supple” voice, yet with an ethereal quality also described as “haunting.” She has performed with Norvis Early Music in Durham, England; at Carnegie Hall’s Young Artist Concert Series with Ton Koopman; at Korea’s Incheon International Choral Festival; and she toured with Anúna (Ireland’s National Choir) under Michael McGlynn throughout Ireland, Japan and China. Kira is a soloist on the album, From Graceful Fields, recently released by Canyon Records, featuring the eleven-time Grammy Award nominee, R. Carlos Nakai, on Native American flute. She sang for several seasons with Arizona Opera and Utah Opera in such shows as Lucia Di Lammermoor, Romeo et Juliette, La Traviata, La Boheme and Il Pagliacci.
Kira is in her nineteenth season as a soprano with the Phoenix Chorale, with whom she has won two Grammy Awards. Kira is a soloist on their Spotless Rose album, which won a Grammy for Best Small Ensemble in February 2009. Kira is also the featured soloist on their album Eternal Rest, a recording held on the Chandos label. She went on to sing the solo, Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, in the Phoenix Chorale's concerts at the Incheon International Choral Festival in Korea, at, in Salt Lake City’s Assembly Hall, Seattle’s First Presbyterian Church, Kansas City’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. She received a favorable mention in the New York Times in review for the NYC concerts. Kira sang on the Phoenix Chorale’s album highlighting the music of Ola Gjeilo, Northern Lights, released in February 2012, which climbed to Top 10 on the Classical Billboard Chart and Top 20 on the Gramophone Classical Chart 2013. Furthermore, she sang on the Phoenix Chorale’s album Rachmaninoff’s All-Night-Vigil, which was released in March 2015 and debuted at #1 on the Billboards Traditional Classical Chart, and #2 on iTunes Classical Top Albums and went on to win the Grammy for Best Choral Performance in February 2016. In February 2008, she sang in the Carnegie Hall Young Artist Concert Series under the direction of Ton Koopman, performing the music of G.F. Handel.
Kira taught high school choir and orchestra for six years in the Phoenix area. She served as the children and youth choir director for eleven years at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in North Scottsdale where she gave recitals for the church’s concert series, Time out for the Arts.
Kira received her Bachelor of Arts at Weber State University in 1998 where she studied choral conducting, viola performance and vocal performance. She earned her Masters in Music Education with an emphasis in Vocal Performance at Arizona State University in 2002. She then graduated with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting and a cognate in Vocal Performance at Arizona State University in May 2013 under Dr. Gregory Gentry.