Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August: Satellite Sounds

We were in the stars with Monteverdi when Mason Bates arrived and hauled us from the l7th to the 21st century and into the Magellanic Cloud. He had come to have his first hearing of his piece in which ancient maoris are picked up by a satellite in the cloud. Some of us are the maoris and some of us are the satellite. A lot of discussion was had about the right sound for the satellite's beeps - finding a vowel for it that isn't like a maori vowel or a regular a e i o u vowel. Adam came up with one which we thought sounded more like a submarine than a satellite. We'll be experimenting for a while.
Cool piece. It was good to have Mason back and he said he had really enjoyed writing for us - this time knowing exactly how everybody sounds (or everybody but 2) and being able to write music in 12 parts knowing that we will sort it out and make a fabulous texture of it. We hope we do. Last season our program "in time of..." included "Stelle" and "Sirinu" from his cycle "Sirens" written for us in 2008. Another movement from that cycle will be included in our April 2010 Bay Area program "The Boy Whose Father Was God." This year "Observer in the Magellanic Cloud" will have 50 or so peformances in our season program "Out of this World!" in which we're also repeating "Stelle" - which we've also recorded. It's a big Mason Bates year!

Here on earth in San Francisco we are in our own cloud - of fog and overcast, and we have to wear jackets to rehearsal! But we know many of you would trade places with us...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August: What we're up to!

Here's the new soprano section ( Michael McNeil, our twittermeister Gregory Peebles, Casey Breves) + Jace + Cortez, starting the day as usual viewing something on the I-phone.

Same activity over in the bass section, where Michael Axtell has taken up residence.

Today we're working on Britten's "Hymn to Saint Cecilia." Tomorrow Mason Bates will come along to help us on the new piece we commissioned for "Out of this World!" the new program we'll be singing for you soon. Mason's piece is called "Observer in the Magellanic Cloud," in which the voices of ancient maoris are heard in said cloud. We're looking for a native maori speaker to make sure we get the text right.

Last week we got our new photos done. Eric's done this a lot.

Christmas will come sooner than we all think! We have a new Christmas album for you - "A Chanticleer Christmas" put out by us and National Public Radio - featuring your favorites from our most recent Christmas broadcasts. Available mid-September at our concerts and our web-site. Then there's our burning log which maybe you didn't pick up last year.. and the premiere of a new piece for Christmas we commissioned from Jan Sandstrom and...ho, ho, ho...

Friday, August 6, 2010

August: "Out of this World!" - the 2010-11 season is here

The last concert of last season was Monday night in Ravinia which was a hot and buggy change from freezing cold San Francisco and where there seemed to be a record number of live cell phones going off at curiously strategic musical moments. It was also our last performance with Dylan and Gabe, who have now gone on to their post-Chanticleer lives, Gabe in Kansas City, and Dylan here in San Francisco.

Eric, whose 21st year in Chanticleer officially begins on August 20, welcomes counter-tenor Casey Breves and bass-baritone Michael Axtell. With first-day donuts supplied by Ben Jones, and piles of music for the 25 or so numbers we will learn for this year's touring program "Out of this World!" our work is cut out for us.

Meanwhile upstairs Ben Johns is auditioning high school singers for the Louis A. Botto (LAB) Choir. As you may remember, the pilot for this idea happened during our National Youth Choral Festival in March. With their first session on September 3, we will be realizing a long-held dream to start an honors ensemble for the best Bay Area high school singers, working with us after school and on weekends having a very intensive choral experience, and performing at schools and community centers. There will be three sessions a year lasting 10 weeks each. The big debut of the LAB Choir will be on October 22 at our Youth Choral Festival in San Francisco.
There are close to 20 singers signed up already, with room for 5-10 more!

We hope you're going to love "Out of this World!" There will be music by composers from Monteverdi to Mahler and Britten and Sarah Hopkins and two world premieres - an original piece and an arrangement- commissioned by us: "Observer in the Magellanic Cloud" by Mason Bates which is about a satellite in that cloud picking up Maori chants. We will be adding Maori to the long list of languages in which we have to try to be authentic. Then Chanticleer meets indie-pop in an arrangement by Vince Petersen of Erica Lloyd's "Cells Planets." You can see the original on Youtube performed by Erica and Little Grey Girlfriend, then you can decide how you like our arrangement.
So here we'll be with piles of music in front of us until we open our season on September 14 in San Luis Obispo. See you soon.