Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April: Shanghai

Looks like lots of other tours, but remember we just flew 13 hours non stop from San Francisco and got through the airport in Shanghai in an amazingly short time, considering that announcements seemed to be indicating people arriving from the West Coast might be quarantined. We weren't...

After a few hours in the now legendary Shanghai traffic, we arrived to a warm welcome from our hotel where we'll be for the next five days.

Our little corner of Shanghai. Upon arrival we ventured out to the corner for dinner to be amazed ( some of us) at the vast variety of things that get eaten here. We've led a sheltered life! Today Thursday is our day off to recover from the journey, so we'll go see the town ( and of course rest up some). Our patron group assembles this afternoon, then it's all go for the next 10 days...

Our tour will begin tomorrow night in the famous garden city of Suzhou at the Grand Theater, opened less than two years ago, which houses a concert hall, dinner theater and Imax - an ingenious combination! We'll travel there by bus tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April: off to China!

Here's our poster at the Shanghai Concert Hall. We can't wait!

Chanticleer fans Amy Heerspink Ruis & Steve Ruis sent us this picture from Hong Kong.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April: Moorhead, Minnesota

Yesterday it was 85 and summertime - that seems to be over in favor of the weather we were expecting up here.
We arrived in cold and rain and saw for ourselves how high the Red River still is. We were resolved to come on ahead even if we had to sing on the sandbags... it is great that the waters have subsided, the concert could go ahead, and there was a huge turnout. The performance at Concordia College in Moorhead is the last event in our Minnesota residency, organized by Minnesota Public Radio.

Concerts here are held in front of and under Wanger shells on the basketball court. A really warm and present sound!

Concordia is yet another choral center in Minnesota, where we've performed a number of times over the years. The audience (including lots of students) clearly loves vocal music and gave us a deafening ovation. This was a great week, and we look forward to coming back often.
In four days we'll be in China. Hope you'll follow along!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April: St. Paul

Our Minnesota residency under the auspices of Minnesota Public Radio brought us today to St. Paul, where suddenly it is summertime, and all we had to do was walk a few blocks to the lovely Ordway.

In the afternoon Matt, Jace, and Eric were interviewed by Fred Child for Performance Today. MPR also recorded the concert for broadcast.

Performing in the Twin Cities is always a homecoming for us - there isn't a warmer or more appreciative audience in our universe. In addition to many longtime fans and supporters and colleagues, the composers come out! Minnesota seems to have more of them - and great ones!- than any other state we know of. Here's Matt with Jan Gilbert ( whose compositions we've performed and recorded over the years,) on the left and Janika Vandervelde. Tonight we performed Janika's piece "All Things Resounding" which the Jerome Foundation commissioned for us last year. We also sang Shawn Crouch's "The Garden of Paradise" tonight and we were very happy that Shawn was here to hear it. We premiered it last month in San Francisco, and it's currently playing on Chanticleer Radio.

Another composer we've happily worked with over the years is Brent Michael Davids. We're currently touring his piece "Night Chant."

You can just see Eric on the right in the scrum being photographed while several young women held on to his mustache.
He seemed to be OK with this.
Tomorrow we drive up to Moorhead for the final event in our Minnesota week.

Always nice to see the parents

Matt and parents.

Michael and parents.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April: St. Cloud, Minnesota

Minnesota has always been really important to us. As everybody knows, it's the home of the most vibrant choral tradition in the U.S., and people here have always offered Chanticleer enormous support and appreciation. Dale Warland ( Founder of the Dale Warland Singers) was a source of wisdom and encouragement to our founder, Louis Botto, and Minnesota Public Radio started broadcasting us almost immediately in those early days, bringing us to an enormous audience we could never have reached otherwise. They still do broadcast us regularly. So we're very happy to be here collaborating with them on this residency. Today we drove l80 miles or so from Hibbing to St. Cloud where we met and worked with the Apollo High School Concert Choir. The high school was built around l970, named for NASA's Apollo Space program then in its heyday, and acquired this genuine space artifact.

As always, we introduce ourselves by singing - this time with a barbershop arrangement of the early 20th century classic "Without a Song"...

and Matt tells the students the story of Chanticleer.

The chorus sings a piece called Abendlied for us, and Eric takes on German pronunciation. ( He's our expert, as he should be, since his wife is German.) Young choristers of course focus on their sound - the next step is communicating the text with clarity and conviction.

We then join the chorus to sing it with them.

We finish by singing their other piece - 'Joshua fit the battle of Jericho' with them, after talking about the particular challenges of this kind of music. Then a q and a, and we have to leave. We enjoyed this choir very much, and are glad that MPR introduced us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April: Hibbing Youth Choral Festival

Here's Hibbing - the furthest north in Minnesota we've ever been - where Hibbing High School will host our Youth Choral Festival. It's 40 degrees here, ironically during one of those very rare heat waves in San Francisco that we always seem to miss! Upon arrival, we went to eat at Zimmy's ( on the right) a restaurant-museum honoring Robert Zimmerman, Hibbing High School class of l959 (later known as Bob Dylan...)

...who lived in this house, near the High School, on what is now Bob Dylan Drive.

Hibbing High School is one of the most beautiful High Schools we've seen. Earlier in the last century iron ore was discovered under the town ( and high school) in Hibbing. The iron ore company moved the town, and rebuilt the High School, completed in l924.

Lucky students to walk these lovingly maintained halls every day!

Two choral groups from Hibbing High School participated, as did groups from Virginia High School, and Duluth Central High School.

The University of Minnesota at Duluth choir joined in the afternoon, giving us the opportunity to work with them in a master class observed by the high school groups.

The big finish in which we all sang separately and together was very well supported by the community in Hibbing - lots of people of all ages came and we all felt very good about the day. The numbers which we all sang together ( having rehearsed them in course of the day) were Eric Barnum's "Afternoon on a Hill" and Steve Kim's "Sanctus." We're very proud that these two composers were winners of our Student Composer Competition, and we're happy to keep supporting their music. Tomorrow we leave for St. Cloud to work with the students at Apollo High School on our way to St. Paul.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April: Huntsville to Hibbing

How do you get from Huntsville, Alabama to Hibbing, Minnesota in one day? Our Logistics Committee worked hard on this so if you have better ideas, don't write us - it's too late!

You leave Huntsville at 7am (escaping the storm which did serious damage to Northern Alabama where we were) and drive for two and a half hours to Nashville International Airport. Turn in the rental cars.
Wait a few hours.
Fly to Minneapolis-St. Paul, wait a few hours,
fly to Duluth, Minnesota, rent some more cars and drive an hour and a half to Hibbing. All of this took about an hour less than it will take us to fly from San Francisco to Shanghai next week! That's one way to think of it.

While everybody works very hard to make our routing as logical as possible, sometimes it's just not - nobody's fault. On our tour in Europe this July, we will have some very big days crossing the entire country of France to get to the next gig. On the other hand, if you check out the blog for last August, you can see that spending whole days rolling around France in a bus in the summer is not really not such a hardship.

You just have to like moving around or the Chanticleer life is not for you.
We're in Hibbing at the start of a week of workshops and concerts which we've organized in collaboration with Minnesota Public Radio. We wanted to kind of cover the state -Hibbing
(near to Canada) is certainly a place to start! It's ever so slightly snowing...

arriving in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April: Huntsville, Alabama

We drove a few hundred miles in the rain past many beautiful trees and mountains and parts of Tennessee - from Morrow, Georgia to Hunstville, Alabama- to appear for the Huntsville Chamber Guild at the Trinity United Methodist Church. This engagement has become a regular love-fest - for us, and apparently for them too. Talk about southern hospitality! Basically, though, this time we were 11 guys accompanying Gregory Peebles back home. He comes from Hartselle, down the road, much of whose population was there. His appearance had been heralded in the paper a few days before.

The rain didn't let up. By the time we arrived at warm up a pretty impressive electrical storm was in the making. The primary effect of that on us was that a very large performing troupe which was occupying our whole hotel refused to leave their rooms because the weather was affecting their travel plans. Which meant no rooms for us. We went to another hotel after the concert.
These are the things that happen on the road -fortunately not too often, and fortunately we take just about anything in stride.

We prepare to sing Wondrous Free not so much a cappella, but accompanied throughout by rolling thunder and lightning.
As it turns out, a tornado warning arrived during the performance. We didn't hear it, nor were we particularly aware that this church had been completely destroyed by a tornado 15 years ago.

We carry on, however. Gabe gave his usual greeting with location-appropriate references. Often they involve sporting or meteorological events and/or flora and fauna. This one involved fishing. For some reason.

This is one very warm audience, AND they had come through the pouring rain to fill every seat! There was a lovely reception with afterwards at the beautiful 1902 home of David and Margie Williams. He's President of the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Gregory and family.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Morrow, Georgia - Spivey Hall

We're in Atlanta ( actually Morrow) Georgia and there's a Dogwood Festival tomorrow! This is the back side of Spivey Hall, opened in l990, as a result of the dream and the generosity of Emilie Spivey. Mrs. Spivey, said Robert Shaw ( who had a choral program here,) had the 'gift of thinking small' and she built a 392 seat acoustical gem on the campus of Clayton State University.

By the way, nice review from the New York Times for the other night. Something about 'remarkable elegance and fluidity...':

You don't see swans from the lobby of too many theaters.

The entrance of Spivey Hall. We'll do two performances this time - "Wondrous Free" tonight, and an all-sacred program Saturday night.

Matt in the lobby - delighted to be back. We were also very happy with the afternoon's workshop at Starr's Mill High School with their men's ensemble and men's ensembles from Sandy Creek High School and McIntosh High School. Three good groups!

Spivey receives the greatest artists in the world whose autographs all attest to the pleasure of performing here.

It's always good to commune with the performers who have been here before us.

Most halls favor some sounds more than others-sometimes the high voices, sometimes the low ones. As Todd said at warmup, Spivey favors everything.

Brian's parents came over for the Saturday concert.

There's never a shortage of people who want to hear whether Eric's speaking voice is as low as his singing voice.

Likewise, Michael's always happy to answer questions about the counter tenor voice.