Saturday, October 31, 2009

October: Waco, Texas

Gregory was initiated into the cult of the Baylor Bear at our performance at Jones Concert Hall at Baylor University.
This gesture is called 'Sick 'Em"

The autograph line was very active! Perhaps because of Gregory's newfound bear status....

Last time we saw Michael's parents was in St. Paul! Here they are in Waco - which might just have had something to do with football...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Travelling by car from Tulsa to Fayetteville. Of course we live by our GPS's, but this time she took took several of us on the "scenic" route of highway 412...which included a mile or so on a single lane blacktop. Luckily, the entire detour was only about 5 miles long and we found ourselves back on the divided highway

Singing for students from NW Arkansas at the Walton Performing Arts Center. They were a very appreciative audience. While the ensemble got ready for the concert, Matt worked with a choir while the other students watched. The singers were strong and confident and we had a lively discussion.

The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas where we sang our concert.
On to Texas. We've already started with the barbecue on the road to Waco at a place called Hatch's Corner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October: Tulsa, Oklahoma

After a wonderful day on Friday at our Middle School Youth Choral Festival in San Francisco, we suddenly found ourselves on Sunday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of us comes from here. Do you know which one? Even the chilly weather couldn't keep the midwesterners off the basketball court. Gabe was apparently so excited to be back in the midwest and so close to Kansas where HE comes from, that, in his capacity as the opening speech giver, he told the audience in Holland Hall at the Walker Arts Center in TULSA how happy we were to be in Omaha! They forgave us...

At about this point on the tour, we start rotating in new repertoire to the second half of the program. Pretty soon, though, it will be all Christmas, all the time, and we're getting some of that up and running during our warmups as well.

And the answer is...Adam, whose appearance in Tulsa was greeted by many friends and family, his childhood music teacher and, of course, his parents! This pre-Christmas tour is not so long, nevertheless it takes in six states. Tomorrow, Fayetteville, Arkansas for a masterclass and a concert.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October: "Why we Sing"

Today was our Middle School Youth Choral Festival. Groups came from the Crystal Children's Choir, Graham Middle School, Giannini Middle School, and Ochoa Middle School. After a day of singing for each other and working, we gave a concert -we sang, each chorus sang, and we all sang two numbers together: "Cantar" and "Why We Sing." When we rehearsed them, Matt asked some students to say why they sing. The first answer was "Because it makes me happy." The second was "Because I can forget anything bad that's happening." That goes for all of us!

Here's a scrapbook of our day into which we packed warmups, rehearsal, a little performance by us, preparing for the concert, lunch with the choir directors, clinics with the individual choruses and then the concert which parents, chaperones, some of our Board and others attended.

To help us with Cantar which is in Spanish, we asked some Spanish speaking volunteers to correct our pronunciation.

A warm and sunny day in San Francisco enabled us to have lunch outside and get a little air.

Our Education Director Ben Johns meets with the wonderful choir directors: Hwei-Min Lu and Miao Hsieh from the Crystal Children's Chorus, Jennifer Gaderlund from Graham Middle School, Courtney Lindl from A.P.Giannini, and Victoria Schmidt from Ochoa. The kids were extremely well prepared by these devoted teachers!

Dylan conducted a break out percussion section in the garage...

A.P. Giannini Middle School

Ochoa Middle School

Graham Middle School

The Crystal Children's Choir middle school group.

A rousing end to the day. Thanks to all the individuals and foundations who make it possible for us to do this (with special thanks to the Walter and Elise Haas Foundation and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation who fund important aspects of our education program) everyone who attended (including the chorus from Martin Luther King Middle School) and the singers and choir directors who participated. We couldn't have enjoyed it more.

Back on the road again on Monday - see you soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October: it's getting to look a lot like....

Hi there from Matt
We are back in San Francisco braving very strange weather (two days of deluge in the past two weeks) and rehearsing for the upcoming Christmas concerts. Yes, Christmas is coming! This year will feature popular carols, audience favorites from past Chanticleer concerts (such as Cui's roof-raising Magnificat) and pieces brand new to the repertoire including a wonderful Christmas motet by the Italian Renaissance composer Nanino, a sweet setting of "There is no Rose of such virtue" by the American composer, Robert Young, and what may be the two earliest pieces composed and written down by a Native American--an Aztec Indian with the Spanish-given name, Don Hernando Franco.
Next week we leave on a tour of the Southwest, performing "In time of..." and when we return....Deck those Halls!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October: Coming Very Soon!!

Our Middle School Youth Choral Festival next week in San Francisco - the release of our new CD "Best of Chanticleer" (featuring 3 newly recorded tracks -"Summertime," "Ich bin der welt abhanden gekommen," and "Lullaby" from Shawn Crouch's The Garden of Paradise) our next tour to Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona... and more. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October: Poughkeepsie, New York

A beautiful day to drive from Corning, NY to Fishkill, NY for the last performance of this tour - in Poughkeepsie. How lucky we were to be able to see the leaves at almost the right moment. They'll be perfect in a week or so.

Our concert in the Skinner Hall of Music at Vassar College was one of the Barbara Woods Morgan Memorial Concerts - an endowment which enables the college to present the concerts free, first come first served. There was a line 90 minutes before the concert, 490 people got seats (including Vassar's President Hill who heard the buzz and slipped in), and about 10 were turned away. It's a hall we like to sing in (we were here a few years ago) and we were glad to come back to this very enthusiastic audience. Matt had given a masterclass for student choral singers earlier in the day, many of whom came to the concert.

Eric will always be happy to show pictures of his daughter Mia Isabel- now one month old. Eric's fans all over the country are keeping up with her.

The Reinhardt family turned out in force. Alan's parents pop up all over the place, and we're always glad to see them.

Home tomorrow for rehearsal (Christmas is coming!) and our Middle School Youth Choral Festival on October 23 when we'll spend a day with middle school choruses from around the Bay Area.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October: Houghton, New York

Rolling east from Ohio to New York State Jace, Michael and Ben took a small side tour to the "Grand Canyon of the East" Letchworth State Park, which, as you can see, was worth the detour -even in the rain. We were on our way to a concert at the Wesley Chapel at Houghton College. The last time Chanticleer was there was before Eric! Folks came from Buffalo and Niagara Falls in the pouring rain.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

October: three great days in Akron, Ohio

While we were driving from Granville towards one of our favorite unusual structures ( in Akron), we were lucky to view this even more famously unusual structure - it's the home of the Longaberger company which makes ---baskets.... You have to love it!

More mid-western lore: our destination was the Quaker Square Inn hotel whose pr says 'sleep in a silo' which is because this is actually a conversion of the silos where the Quaker Oats were stored and went to and fro on the train (which stops right beside it.) All the rooms in the building are circular - Matt especially likes returning to his room in the round on our every couple of year appearances for Tuesday Musical Association in Akron.

Another eye-catching structure right near the hotel is the Museum of Art with the new part leaning on the old part. But we digress... We came to Akron at the invitation of another old and august Akron cultural organization - the Tuesday Musical Association -for a three-day residency which started on the day of our arrival with an evening session at the public library for two choirs which came some distance to work with us.

The following day composer Mason Bates (who had come with us) and Matt gave a session at an Open Forum on the Creative Process. That evening we had our concert - a 2400 person sellout, including 900 kids in the balcony who sent masses of energy at us. Many of the high school choristers who would attend the Youth Choral Festival the next day were there. That was great, and we really appreciate Tuesday Musical's efforts to get students to the concerts - ours and others. This is the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall at the University of Akron.

Mason and Matt gave a pre-concert chat which was very well attended, and enabled the audience to learn a bit about Mason's piece "Sirens" which we sang for the first time outside of the Bay Area at this concert.

Then the big day arrived when we would spend all day with six high school choirs and their directors singing and learning together. Kenmore, Revere, Copley, Firestone, and Coventry High schools, plus Our Lady of the Elms came along - altogether close to 300 singers! We'll say up front that we had a wonderful day - the choirs were exceptionally well-prepared ( especially for so early in the school year), accomplished and receptive - and nice! It was great. We start out singing for everybody and then proceed to a warm up together and a reading of the tutti pieces we'll sing at the concert - Eric Barnum's "She walks in Beauty" ( which we're proud to say was the 2003 winner of our student composer competition,) and Wana Barata - a lively Kenyan song which gave a celebratory end to the evening.

After a morning's work together we get to have lunch with the choir directors.

Then after lunch the choirs sing their own pieces which we listen to attentively to see how we may try to help in the workshop sessions which follow.

For a 12 hour day, it goes by quickly, and soon we're rehearsing again for the evening performance, including the technicality of getting all 300 of us onto the stage.

An enthusiastic crowd of friends and family and members of the Tuesday Musical Association came to cheer us on at the evening concert. We sang, the choirs all sang their own pieces, and we all sang together.

One of the choir directors asked how it is that we take so much time out of a pretty busy schedule to spend with high schoolers. That's easy: we were those kids, not so long ago.

Thanks again to all the singers who came and worked so hard, to their terrific directors Barbara Bellamy, Deb Devore, Basil Kochan, Sally Schneier, Sheila Hutzler, and Julie Strebler -we enjoyed meeting them all. And especially to Barbara Feld and the Tuesday Musical Association for bringing us again, and for organizing all the surrounding events - particularly this Youth Choral Festival - AND to the John S. and James Knight Foundation which helped make it possible. We hope we'll be back!