Monday, May 24, 2010

May: we honor Eric's first 20 years in Chanticleer

It was a fun party Friday night - our annual Gala with a couple hundred of our friends.  This year, we honored Eric's 20th anniversary with Chanticleer with the help of Ann Meier Baker, Executive Director of Chorus America (pictured with Eric above) and Vance George - Music Director Emeritus of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.  Ann very kindly said that while there are hundreds of thousands of choruses all over America, there is only one Chanticleer.   Vance and Eric have known each other for over 20 years. When Eric auditioned for the Symphony Chorus, Vance didn't have a professional position available to offer him... and the rest is Chanticleer history. The Bently Reserve ( the former Federal Reserve Bank) is a good place for a party with those great old bank acoustics - we sang Straight Street to get things started, then the Lord's Prayer by John Shepapard from our new Tudor program "For Thy Soul's Salvation" (opening next week) then Wade in the Water ( one of Eric's great vocal  moments.)  We all put on mustaches for El Manisero, then we ended with Summertime... Before the encore Matt bid our official farewells to Dylan and Gabe who are both retiring from the ensemble at the end of the season, and we did Journey to Recife - in which Gabe has been solo-ing ..well.. since he got here.  Now back to the Queens and Kings of England.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May: preparing for the Ethnic Dance Festival

A way-station in our time travel from Queen Elizabeth I to modern Shanghai will be the Benefit Gala of the Ethnic Dance Festival on June 11.  We were asked to perform Chen Yi's Spring Dreams with choreography.  The dancers (China Dance school and Theatre - featuring Crystal Lee, Miss Chinatown USA) have been rehearsing to tape - yesterday they came and heard us live, showed us what they were thinking and what our choregraphy would be.  It was REALLY exciting, and we look forward to doing it.  Funny - the last time we became dancers ( sort of) was in connection to a Chen Yi project with
the Women's Philharmonic here -the Chinese Myths Cantata. We recorded that piece with the Women's Phil at the time on a CD called "The Music of Chen Yi." 
There's rarely a dull moment -even, we're quite sure, on the 12 hour plane ride
on June 15 to Shanghai with all the performers (Samoan and Irish dancers, singers from Glide Memorial and others) for San Francisco Week. You'll want to stay tuned for that! We will sing Spring Dreams again at our concert in Shenzen, China on June 20. Wish we could take the dancers with us! Chen Yi and movement of all kinds seem to go together in our lives! If you want to see us 'dance' to Chen Yi on June 11, you can get a ticket by calling 415 474 3914 or visiting

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May: announcement of our trip to Shanghai for San Francisco Week at Expo 2010






San Francisco/Shanghai Sister City Relationship celebrates 30 Years


SAN FRANCISCO, May 20, 2010—Chanticleer, the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble, will make several appearances during "San Francisco Week" from June 17 - 25 at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.  Chanticleer is part of the official San Francisco delegation of political, business, tourism and cultural leaders representing the 30-year Sister City relationship between Shanghai and San Francisco.  The delegation will be led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Sister City Committee Chairman James Fang.


Chanticleer appeared in the People's Republic of China for the first time last year, when the ensemble was invited to give six concerts in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, and Shenzen, two of them with The Shanghai Quartet. That tour also included a return to Hong Kong. In Shanghai the ensemble visited the choral department at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.  Chanticleer was awarded two of the Best Concerts in Shanghai Awards in fall 2009:  Best Choral Concert, and Most Innovative Concert for the joint concert with Shanghai Quartet.


"Chanticleer's involvement with China has its roots in the l993-96 residency with the ensemble of now internationally acclaimed composer Chen Yi.  She taught us how to pronounce Chinese and left us with a number of arrangements of Chinese Folks Songs as well as original works, which are a permanent part of our repertoire. She also gave us the desire to go to China," stated General Director Christine Bullin,  "and was instrumental in last year's tour finally becoming a reality."


As a member of the Sister City Committee during its early days, Bullin visited China many times, organizing exchanges between the San Francisco Opera Center and the Shanghai Conservatory and Opera Company.  She was quick to point out that cultural exchanges helped paved the way for the huge commercial relationship that now exists between China and the U.S. "The visits of artists and musicians were a big part of the "opening" of China where cultural exchange is a vital accompaniment to diplomatic communication," she said.


The Chanticleer tour in June includes participation in the Expo's Gala banquet on June 19, a return to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music for additional exchange, and a return to the Shenzen Concert Hall in Shenzen, sponsored by China Merchant Bank.


The Shanghai World Expo with its theme "Better City, Better Life" opened on May 1 and continues through October 31, 2010.  Some 60 million Chinese and 10 million international travelers are expected to visit the pavilions and presentations of more than 170 participating nations.


Prior to the trip to China, Chanticleer returns to the Bay Area for the final four concerts of the current season.  For Thy Soul's Salvation: Music for England's Monarchs featuring the magnificent liturgical music of 16th and 17th century England, will by performed in Berkeley, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Francisco from Wednesday, June 2 through Saturday June 5.


Memorable highlights of the current season include the ensemble's fifth appearance in as many years on NBC TV's popular Today show and on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and Frederica von Stade; a European tour taking in many of the continent's legendary halls; and, most recently, the group's first National Youth Choral Festival.  The festival featured Chanticleer hosting twelve high school choirs – 416 students in all – from across the country in a four-day choral immersion, including master classes, language coaching, and a host of interactive educational activities, culminating in a gala concert with the massed choirs, an orchestra comprised of Bay Area student instrumentalists, and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.  Chanticleer was recently awarded Chorus America's prestigious Education and Outreach Award for 2010.  


Called "America's favorite choral ensemble," by the New Yorker magazine, Chanticleer has developed a worldwide reputation for its impeccable musicianship, beauty of sound, and wide-ranging repertoire from Renaissance and Mexican Baroque to jazz, gospel, folk, and adventurous new music.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May: getting ready for our Tudor program - concerts June 2-5

A nice intro to the program and why we love to sing early music.

May: Santa Barbara - "In time of..." one last time (almost)

Lovely Santa Barbara California was the site of the last concert of our last U.S. tour this season. You can bet we were happy to be back in California, closer and closer to home. Before Santa Barbara was Malibu where we did a masterclass with three choirs, then a concert in the Smothers Theatre. Then on up the coast a little way to Santa Barbara which is ridiculously beautiful (like Malibu) and where everything smells like jasmine! Our before concert snacks were set up outside.

Campbell Hall at the University of California at Santa Barbara. We hadn't been here for about 11 years -when the youngest among us was 14 years old.

It started out as usual. Then by intermission Jace, who had a 103 degree temperature, was feeling wobbly. One of the most FAQ's is - what happens when somebody is sick? The answer is - he carries on. We took a stool on stage and Jace sat for the second half. He was fine singing, just not standing up. He felt bad about it, but the audience was very supportive and solicitous!

It all ended well, and Jace was recovered by the next day. Perhaps because we hadn't been there in so long, people at the CD table had lots of questions.

Eric could let his daughter Mia know that he was coming home soon - and for a month, before we go to China. This Friday night we will have our annual Gala which this year honors Eric's first 20 years in Chanticleer.

The next day (Saturday) we did a master class with a Santa Barbara group called Quire of Voices, at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.

We really liked the sound of the choir. They had a LOT of basses who really sounded like basses!

Quire of Voices had brought Biebl's "Ave Maria" (the song that follows us everywhere!) to work on.
We ended the session by singing it together.

We pause under a palm tree before running off to the airport, with Nathan J. Kreitzer the director of this wonderful chorus. A short flight to San Francisco, and then we're home to rehearse for our next Bay Area concert series: "For Thy Soul's Salvation: Music for England's Monarchs." We often return to early music at the end of the year, and it's always an inspiring way to end the season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May: Chorus America recognizes our education program

Chorus America today announced that we have won the 2010 Chorus America Education Outreach Award. As all of you who follow the blog know, we have had a big year in education, especially featuring our first ever National Youth Choral Festival attended by 416 high school choral singers in March. We estimate that we have worked with over 6,000 students this year. Our Education Director Ben Johns has worked very hard all year managing and coordinating everything we've been doing - and is, in fact, giving clinics in schools in the Bay Area all this week. Recognition from your peers is always the most rewarding; we thank Chorus America very much for this honor.

Chorus America gives a number of awards each year to member choruses. Two years ago we were honored by the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming, and the inaugural Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with which we commissioned Shawn Crouch's wonderful piece "The Garden of Paradise.") Below is this year's list.

Congratulations to all of our colleagues who are recognized this year, and thanks to Chorus America for urging us all on to higher levels of achievement!

2010 Chorus America Award Winners Announced

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2010 Chorus America Awards! Please join us in congratulating these outstanding choruses and choral leaders. We invite you to celebrate with the entire Chorus America family at the Awards Banquet & Auction on June 18th at the Conference, where we'll present many of these awards in person.

2010 Chorus America Award Winners:

Chorus America Distinguished Service Award
H. Royce Saltzman (inaugural recipient), co-founder & director emeritus, Oregon Bach Festival; former president, International Federation for Choral Music; former national president, American Choral Directors Association; former faculty member and associate dean of the School of Music, University of Oregon; former board member, Chorus America.

Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming

  • Cantori New York (Mark Shapiro, artistic director)
  • Los Angeles Master Chorale (Grant Gershon, music director)
  • Young People's Chorus of New York City (Francisco Núñez, founder/artistic director)

Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award
WomenSing (Martin Benvenuto, artistic director)

Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal
Jordan Sramek, founder & artistic director, The Rose Ensemble

Dale Warland Singers Commission Award
(presented in partnership with the American Composers Forum)
Conspirare (Craig Hella Johnson, founder & artistic director) & composer Eric Banks

Chorus America Education Outreach Award
(honoring the best program from choruses with budgets over $200,000)
Chanticleer (Ben Johns, director of education)

Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence
(honoring a volunteer chorus)
Choral Arts (Robert Bode, artistic director)

Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art
Robert L. Simpson, founder & artistic director, Houston Chamber Choir

Michael Korn Founders Award for Philanthropic Contribution to the Arts
Mrs. Jean Riddell, arts patron, Washington, DC

Chorus America Philanthropy Award
(honoring supporters of our Conference host, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus)
The Halle Foundation

More information about their award-winning activities will be shared at the Conference and in the Fall 2010 issue of The Voice magazine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May: Shanghai Expo 2010

You've certainly seen the photos of the opening of Expo 2010 in Shanghai - pretty exciting and we can't wait to be there next month. San Francisco is the only city in the world with an official participation; "San Francisco Week" in Shanghai will be June 17-25. We'll be singing at the Gala San Francisco dinner, visiting the Conservatory, doing a performance in another city and seeing what we see! Our delegation will be headed by Senator (and former SF Mayor) Dianne Feinstein and Mayor Gavin Newsom. Other members of the performing delegation will be singers from Glide Memorial Church, dancers representing the Irish, Samoan, and Mexican cultures, and instrumentalists from the San Francisco Conservatory.

Here's a little video about it:

In honor of the 30 years of friendship between San Francisco and Shanghai, Mayor Newsom today 'unveiled' ( as it were - it's too big to get a veil over) a copper sculpture by Zhang Huan which will live here for l8 months. We'll see it when we get home next week. It's 26 feet tall, 15 tons, called Three Heads Six Arms and represents the arms legs feet hands and heads of Buddhist sculptures. An eclectic group of San Franciscans (there wouldn't be any other kind...) greeted the addition to City Hall Plaza. James Fang, Chairman of the Sister City Committee spoke about the coming S.F. week in Shanghai, and the participation of Chanticleer and others in the delegation. It all begins to be real... we have a few things to do first, but this time next month, we'll be flying to China!

May: St Cecilias in Omaha

Here is we were last night, in Omaha.  Today we're winging westward, in a California state of mind, for concerts in Malibu and Santa Barbara.  You can imagine that we're looking forward to being home for a month before we leave for Shanghai.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May: review from Lincoln, Nebraska

Review: Chanticleer returns to Lincoln for winning concert
Lincoln Journal Star
Say the name Chanticleer in performing arts circles, and the music world knows it's all about a dozen men who form one of America's top vocal ensembles. ...

May: Lincoln Nebraska

Wonderful evening at the First-Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska - the audience loaded with friends and family and Students and teacher from Hesston College...faithful attendees at Chanticleer in Sonoma, our biannual  summer workshop for adult choral singers.

Gabe's family

Michael's family and former teachers

We're nearing the end of our last stateside tour for this season. Tomorrow we drive over to Omaha for a concert in St. Cecilia Cathedral. The day after that will no doubt bend our minds as we travel from Omaha, Nebraska to Malibu, California for a performance and masterclass at Pepperdine University. Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday will wrap it up for this year. Of course there's our annual Gala, our last Bay Area concert set "For Thy Soul's Salvation," and, oh yes, Shanghai coming up, but more about all that soon!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May:the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

St. Louis is an annual and much anticipated stop for us. We always do a sacred program in the Basilica, and it's always a high point. This time it was "The Divine Orlando" - a beautiful program which seems to have been a hit from the Bay Area ( where we first did it last season,) to Paris to Portland, and now St. Louis.

 Orlando from up in the rafters at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May: school's not out yet!

And while there are still choirs rehearsing, Education Director Ben Johns is still giving clinics. Earlier this week he went to the North Bay (around Santa Rosa) to visit some schools we don't yet know very well. Today he went over the Bay Bridge to Acalanes High School. We have a long history with them and their Director Bruce Lengacher. Ben listened to three songs they were preparing for the Golden State competition soon, and shared some of his ideas, particularly about an Indonesian piece to which the choir had added some movement. Ben is a trained dancer, as well as a singer, so he's especially attentive to choreography when it's added.

May: heading for St. Louis

We're on a bus from Madison to St. Louis - this review from last night caught up with us.
Glad the reviewer enjoyed seeing it as much as we enjoyed singing it!

Chanticleer presents unfamiliar music in an accessible, human way
They were primed and ready to welcome Chanticleer, the 12-person, all-male choir. In a program titled "In time of…," which one singer described as an ...
See all stories on this topic

May: Madison, Wisconsin

Switzerland? The French Alps? No, it is beautiful Lake Mendota abutting the beautiful campus of The University of Wisconsin.  The festive atmosphere surrounding the Wisconsin Union Theater certinly made us feel like summer had finally arrived, and we really enjoyed the concert.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May: Portland, Oregon

Today we're flying to Madison, Wisconsin after a two day residency in Portland, Oregon - a place we love to visit because we have some serious fans and connections here! Last night we sang our Orlando program at St. Philip Neri Church.  We had last sung this program  in Paris in January at L'Oratoire du Louvre at the very beginning of our winter European tour.

The night before we sang "In time of..." at Reed College. An incredible crowd of people who have made our annual visit to Portland a tradition. Many students from several schools. Notice all the cell phones out for our twitterpause!

We loved seeing familiar faces from the Pacific Youth Chorus, members of which had been part of our National Youth Choral Festival in March.

Ben: Arriving in Portland, Alan, Dylan and I had lunch at Kenny and Zuke's delicatessen, then grabbed a coffee at the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters, just next door. And did the photo booth thing. Great way to spend an afternoon before our first performance of the Divine Orlando of this tour tonight.

Matt reports from Des Moines

Matt Oltman was in Des Moines last week (did you know that that's where he comes from?)  On Friday he worked with Valley High School  in preparation for a combined concert with the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble on  Sunday.  The two choirs sang sets of music on their own as well as a combined "Chanticleer" set which included Gabrieli's "Deus Meus", Jennings' "Calling My Children Home" and "Keep Your Hand on the Plow", and, of course, Biebl's "Ave Maria".

Valley High School Singers under the direction of Linda Vanderpool.