Wednesday, June 30, 2010


As you may have guessed by the absence of posts - we're on vacation in locations ranging from Europe to right here at home in San Francisco. If you miss us while we're gone, you COULD go the store on the website, and download the live performance of "For Thy Soul's Salvation" (music by Fayrfax, Wyklynson, Cornysh, Tie, Tallis, Sheppard, Byrd, Tomkins, Gibbons) which we sang on June 5 in the Mission Dolores in San Francisco.  This is the first in our new CLIC series - Chanticleer Live in Concert. We will be releasing current concerts and concerts from our 'vaults.'  Hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June: our patrons stay in China

Every so often, when we have a destination we think might appeal, we ask La Fugue - a Parisian agency specializing in musical travel- to put together a tour for our supporters, patrons, and board members.  The last trip was to China for our debut tour in May.  This year two of our Board members ( Kathy Henschel, soon to be Chair of our Board, and Ann Goodbody - a board member from New York, one of their friends, and a group of French customers of La Fugue joined us in Shanghai - where we had two nice dinners together.  They came to our exchange at the Conservatory of Music, and then cheered us on through the unique experience of the San Francisco Gala on Saturday night ( see below.)  We then went on to Shenzen, and they went on to Shangri -La to stay here in the Banyan Tree Resort, at 11,000 feet.  The unusual weather this year - it doesn't usually rain up there- made for a trip which had to adapt to the conditions, but which ended with a spectacular dinner last night.

The itinerary had had to be changed today because the incessant rains had caused the Tiger Gorge to be closed. The patrons went instead to visit a Tibetan family and see a little of how they live, and to a famous temple in Shangri-La.  The altitude makes a set of steps like this a challenge.

Ann took a turn helping to turn the gigantic temple prayer wheel.  3 turns (and it's heavy) will bring you good luck.

Ann, Kathy and Fa at lunch after the Temple visit at a restaurant in the town of Shangri-La.
The vegetable dishes were delicious as was yak meat with mint!

La Fugue specializes in surprises.  For the patron group's last evening, dinner was served in a private Tibetan house - this was the dinner table.  Fruit juice and real French Champagne ( brought from Paris by La Fugue's Olivier Luciani - there were French people involved so he had to) preceded the meal, as everyone sat around the fire, then 8 or so courses were served including, again, yak, which is very good. The yak's belonging to this family live - as yaks do in this part of the world- right below, but they had apparently gone out during dinner.   A group of 5 young women (joined by one of their children) danced a dance of welcome.
The surprise ending of this magical candlelit evening in which the patrons were enveloped in the extraordinary hospitality of the occupants of the house was Chanticleer singing "Summertime."  Way up in Shangri-La in a Tibetan house, Ann Goodbody's I-Pod was rigged up to the speaker on which the dance music has been played to enable this experience of two worlds.

Ann Goodbody and Florence Liddell are warmly welcomed.

Kathy Henschel enjoys the fire.  It was a little cool in Shangri-La.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June: Shenzen Concert Hall

We were thrilled, with the help of Chinese friends, to be able to do a full-length concert in China, as well as the San Francisco Week events in Shanghai.  We were here in Shenzen last May on our debut tour, and loved the hall, and the Cantonese food and the tropical climate - even more so this year. Even after the post-concert dinner, the temperature didn't seem to have declined from the 88F announced when we arrived.  The concert was sponsored by China Merchants Bank as a gift to their customers who almost filled the hall and were a curious and warm audience.

Michelle Hu, Director of the Lily Children's Chorus - a very well known group in Shenzen- had contacted us in advance through a friend to propose that the children ( actually young women) might sing Molihua with us as a surprise encore.  They not only agreed to sing it the way we do, but added some wonderful touches of their own, including movement.
Not having seen them until warmup at 6pm, we had no idea how really fine they are.  It was a real pleasure singing through the song a few times together - we wish we had had longer with them.  They then waited backstage through the concert.  We've done a few notable collaborations this year - this will be a memorable one!

The audience seemed pleased, and, as last year when we were in this hall for the first time, we were given absolutely magnificent bouquets - no two alike.

We finished our concert and left the stage. When we came back the girls came with us and we sang Molihua together. The audience absolutely loved it, and so did we!

Lots of audience members stopped after the concert to contemplate the Mt. Rushmore-like frieze of us in the lobby.

Kids could have their pictures taken with the evening's entertainers!

Backstage after the show, the Lily Children's Chorus sang us three numbers before they left.  They are terrific! We congratulate their Director Michelle Hu for her very fine work, and thank her for having the idea to join our concert.  The participation of the girls really made it an evening to remember.

A delicious Cantonese dinner offered by the sponsors topped off the evening which was the last performance of this quick dash to China and back, and the last performance of the season before we go on vacation.  Tomorrow - back to Shanghai, meetings with tailors, attempts to see some of Expo, then home on Tuesday.  While it was a very quick trip here, we were happy to be back, and will be thrilled to be invited again.  Thanks again to the San Francisco Shanghai Sister City Committee for including us, and all the people who helped us while we were here.

June; China day 4, we arrive in Shenzen.

The temp as we got off the plane was announced as 88F.  We're not far from Hong Kong, and it's very tropical. We were here last May on our inaugural China tour, and loved the city and the food, and the concert hall. In order to be able to accept the invitation of China Merchant Bank to perform tonight, we had to fly from Shanghai this morning.

Brian spent a lot of time on the phone over our run-out to Shenzen since it was an independent arrangement for us with new partners.  Everything was very smooth, considering that Shenzen is in the south of China which continues to be afflicted with very heavy rains and flooding.  If you look at that big circle over China indicating the affected area - that's what we flew over.  Our other cultural delegate colleagues from San Francisco were set to perform outdoors at the Expo grounds today.  Hopefully the rain seemed to be impending as we left will hold off.

A nice young guy called Bo Lu - a friend of a friend- guided us into the airport and into the right line.  It's always good to have help when you understand nothing at all of what's going on around you.

Watching world cup while waiting for news of our flight.  It was announced to have a half hour delay, then an indefinite delay (nervewracking when there's a concert tonight.)  Then right on the original schedule everybody got up and rushed to the gate, we followed them and boarded, then we waited about half an hour to take off, which put us into Shenzen about an hour late, time to rest for an hour or so before going over to the Shenzen Concert Hall.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June: Day 3 Shanghai; the Sister City Celebration Gala

We left the hotel at about 2.30pm to go over to the Shangri-La for rehearsal for the banquet and performance.
The banquet was to celebrate 30 years of Friendship between San Francisco and Shanghai. The Glide Memorial ensemble, Northern Lights (a children's chorus from Oakland) and two instrumental groups from the San Francisco Conservatory represented our city. There were several pop acts contributed by Shanghai, as well as a charming finale (including Aulde Lang Syne) sung by a large chorus of Chinese children. We were honored to be part of it and thank the Sister City committee for inviting us.

We paused upon leaving our hotel to pay attention to the orchestra which had started playing in the lobby bar - perhaps thinking that in a few hours it would be our turn to perform for people doing other things.

Arriving at the Shangri-La in Pudong we contemplated new information about what the rehearsal and performance schedule would be and took a vote about everyone’s dinner desires... before the show? after the show? 

We arrived and awaited further instructions...

Brian is feeling pretty good about having an iPad right about now.

A bit more waiting & we arrived in the banquet hall to see the hi-tech stage.

Rehearsal consisted mostly of adjustments in the sound system. We were hoping there would be bubbles - since we saw the bubbles released during our rehearsal, but alas - no bubbles for us.

A bit more waiting was followed by dinner. The evening started with a number by a Chinese pop star, followed by quite a lot of speeches and greetings and exchanges of gifts. The Vice Mayor of Shanghai presented Mayor Newsom with a sculpture representing hands holding a magnolia. Mayor Newsom reciprocated with a sculpture of a foot. We came on as dinner was being served.

We sent a sort of medley of Summertime and Straight Street out into the room.... and imagine... a few people caught it!

Our board member Kathy Henschel and our friend Florence Lidell send out good vibes and give us a standing ovation at the end.

Goodbye to glamorous Shanghai for the moment. We go to Shenzhen tomorrow - hopefully all will run smoothly since the concert is tomorrow evening.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June: end of day 2 in Shanghai

This is sort of the feeling of modern Shanghai during Expo - a blaze and a blur of light.  This is the famous bridge - which changes color which goes by the Expo site.  Our patron group had enjoyed our session at the Conservatory, and had dinner at the intimate  Foo Yong Elite Club.  On the way back they drove by the Expo site  to look at the pavilions which are lit.  Many other buildings are lit as well.

Our Board members Ann Goodbody and Kathy Henschel, Ann's friend Florence Lidell, La Fugue's Olivier Lucciani, Zheng Zhou, professor from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Conservatory's choir conductor enjoy outdoor dinner at the Foo Yong Elite Club a beautiful and historic setting in which one feels far away from modern Shanghai.

Matt entertains our French friends (he speaks French.

June: 2nd day, Shanghai Conservatory of Music

In our mission to represent San Francisco and the Sister City Committee - which brought us here as part of the city's delegation to Expo 2010- we continued on to the Shanghai Conservatory where we had spent a wonderful few hours on our inaugural China tour last year.  We sang a few numbers - including Chen Yi's Spring Dreams - then the conservatory chorus sang Beethoven and Chinese songs, representing the two different axes of its vocal program - bel canto and Chinese.

Matt expressed his thoughts about the Beethoven sung by the conservatory chorus.

Legendary Conservatory professor Mme. Zhou Xiao Yen greeted us as warmly as she had the year before and participated in the session - observed by our travelling patron group.  The conservatory group had sung a Chinese song wishing that strangers would come back and stay.  Mme. Zhou said that that should be our case as well - and she and Professor Zheng Zhou said that they would like us back every year.  It might not be possible every year, but we feel a strong attachment here and we certainly won't wait too long.

After we worked together on the Conservatory choruses Beethoven oratorio peace, Matt asked the students and director to help us with Chen Yi's Spring Dreams by singing it with us -  in the hopes it might become more Chinese.

Last year when we were here, we finished with an impromptu performance of the Chinese folk song Molihua with a mezzo soprano from the Conservatory.  We decided to make it a tradition, and Matt invited everyone to join in.

Madame Zhou bids us goodbye.