Annbritt (Gemmer) duChateau
1965 –  Class of 2012  Conductor
In a field dominated by men, Annbritt (Gemmer) duChateau has broken the glass ceiling and is recognized as one of the top conductors in musical theatre today.  The daughter of Donna and the late Robert Gemmer, Annbritt was born in Aurora, Illinois, on October 1, 1965. She graduated from West Aurora High School in 1983, and then went on to earn both Bachelor’s (1987) and Master’s (1989) degrees in Music and Piano Performance at DePaul University, Chicago.  After graduation, she played with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago until 1990.  Her next two years were spent teaching keyboard skills for music majors of all levels at Northwestern University.

Annbritt first learned to play the piano “by ear” as a three-year-old.  As a teenager, she was a student of Elaine Jones in Aurora and played horn and piano in the Fox Valley Youth Symphony.  Susan Starrett recognized her ability and helped get Annbritt accepted as a student by the first chair horn in the Chicago Symphony when she was only 13 and where she performed with the Chicago Youth Symphony.

Annbritt is quick to credit her private teachers and public music teachers at both Washington Middle School and West Aurora High School because they “encouraged and challenged” her every day.  “Having lived in New York City, you have no idea how often I fondly look back on living in Aurora and am grateful for experiencing some of the finest arts educators in the world.”

Shirley Calby, writing for the fall 1993 issue of the magazine Arts Beat, acknowledged Annbritt’s enormous range of musical talent in a feature story about the young musician.  In that article, Annbritt commented, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get…You never know when opportunity is going to be there for you.  You have to be ready – and courageous enough – to take it.”

Professionally, Annbritt duChateau has excelled as a keyboardist or conductor for nearly twenty major productions, with Broadway musicals becoming her “specialty.” Some of the productions with which Annbritt has been involved as keyboardist, musical director, and/or conductor include Pal Joey, Les Miserables, Oklahoma, A Christmas Carol, and Phantom of the Opera, plus the national tours of Miss Saigon and Aspects of Love.  Her keyboard skills have been captured on numerous Tony and Grammy-nominated cast albums.  As conductor, she opened the international showing of Mary Poppins in Chicago in 2009.

Also in 2009, the men of the popular musical group ABBA personally selected Annbritt to play piano for their concert “Kristina” in Carnegie Hall.  From there, they took the show to the Royal Albert Hall in London, England.  She was honored to perform for Stephen Sondheim’s 80th Birthday Celebration at Lincoln Center in New York with the New York Philharmonic.  Other prestigious venues where she has performed include Madison Square Garden and Studio 54.  She was musical director and conductor of the national tours of Kiss Me Kate, Into the Woods, and The FROGS.  All three productions were nominated for music awards.

Approaching her life and career with the philosophy “I can do that,” Annbritt has steadily moved up in her profession causing her colleague, Mark Mitchell, also a pianist and music director, to comment, “Her musicianship, intelligence, diplomatic skills, adaptability, clarity, enthusiasm, empathy and wit have collectively conspired to earn her a respected spot on the Great White Way.”  She has definitely earned a top spot in the highly competitive and primarily male-dominated field of musical directors in the Broadway theatre industry.

Annbritt has been a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society since 1987.  She is also a member of the American Federation of Music.  In 2010, she was inducted into the West Aurora High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor.  In 2011, she served as musical director for The New York Musical Theatre Festival.  And, at the time she was inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame in the spring of 2012, Annbritt was the associate conductor of the Billy Elliot production on Broadway in New York City.

Annbritt and her husband, fellow musician Charles duChateau, are residents of Tuckahoe, New York, and are the parents of two boys, Julien and Fabien.
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 Musical director and conductor of nearly 20 major Broadway