Press & Blog

Back at the Sheldon, St. Louis

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
For the last 8-10 years we appeared annually at the St. Louis Cathedral. Before that in St. Louis our home was the Sheldon, a 700 seat room with a very clear acoustic built in 1912. We returned to the Sheldon tonight. The audience felt very familiar – to us, and with us- and rewarded us with several standing ovations during each half, as well as particular attention to solo performances.



LAB XII meets more composers

Monday, October 27th, 2014

 Education and LAB Choir Director Ben Johns reports:

LAB XII had a full weekend of performances and workshops with student composers. Our uniform T-shirts (CIA stands for “Chanticleer In-school Ambassadors) arrived just in time for the first performance on Friday evening at Miramonte High School, where we performed in the student-produced variety show, Performers for Progress. We premiered “Like an Eagle” by University of Miami student, Spencer Robelen, with whom we worked last weekend.


On Saturday we met with Kari Betton, a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, to work on her piece, “Morning Psalm.” Kari arrived just before we returned from lunch and held an impromptu sectional rehearsal. Under her brilliant profusion of encouragement and advice, “Morning Psalm” rose to another level. Now we know which spots should sound mysterious or sweet, how to shape the ends of certain phrases, and which sections carry over into the next without a breath. When we paused for some question and answer time, we learned that the piece is called “Morning Psalm” because Kari woke up one morning with one of the phrases in her head, fully formed with text and accompaniment. Having a sense that the text was bilblical, she looked up the psalm and kind of reverse-engineered setting the rest of the text from that phrase kernel.


As soon as the workshop with Kari wrapped up, we squeezed into my office for a Skype session with Julie LeDuc, an undergraduate composer and violin major at Indiana University. She gave us good feedback on her piece, “Kyrie.” While Kari’s influences were more along the lines of contemporary choral composers like Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, and Paul Mealor – flowing homophony with extended and lush harmonies – Julie’s compositional voice is more aligned with Arvo Pärt and Sven-David Sandström – minimalist and contrapuntal with great control of tension and release. We spent time infusing the Kyrie text with a sense of imploring and crying out. Julie told us, “When I look at the world I see so many people who are hungry for love and who are searching for meaning in their lives. The whole piece is a prayer crying out with sorrow for all those who have been hurt through lack of love and who are searching for healing and new purpose.” That insight definitely gave us new purpose in how to sing her work!


After the session with Julie, we fought World Series traffic for the second day in a row to perform again at Miramonte High School. Both the Friday and Saturday performances were well-received by the friends and family in attendance. Spencer told us last week that he initially wrote “Like an Eagle” for a different competition at school and it didn’t win. So he put it away, thinking it would never get the chance to be performed. Then he learned of the Chanticleer competition and sent the work our way. As LAB XII sang his piece this weekend, one phrase in particular seemed especially poetic: “…and I am finally taking wing.”

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How amazing that we’re in Kansas City right now!

Monday, October 27th, 2014
When our baseball team is playing the World Series against Kansas City in San Francisco!  We performed our sacred program for the first time since we were in Europe, in Leavenworth, near Kansas City and had a day off in KC before leaving for Warrensburg, MO. Leavenworth was our first tour stop NOT in Europe this year.  It was very heartwarming to be in the heartland and feel the longstanding affection of the fans there.  In Kansas City, Marques, one of our social media gurus,
ran into choral luminary Charles Bruffy, Director of the Kansas City Chorale along with Nick Stoppel who sings with Charles in the Chorale.IMG_0414

Ben Johns works with Stanford Chamber Chorale

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Chanticleer has a two part master class with the Stanford Chamber Chorale this season.  Last night Ben Johns, Chanticleer’s Education Director went to work with the chorale and reported that lots of fun was had.  The singers were excellent musicians, he said,  versatile and technically on point.  They worked on four pieces:  Hawley’s arrangement of “Beautiful River,” the first moment of Howell’s “Requiem, Stacey Gibb’s “Get Away Jordan,” and Antognini’s “There will come soft rains.”  The second installment of our
work with Stanford this year will be when the ensemble visits in May.unnamedunnamed-1

Cortez and Nate meet a mentor before heading out to Kansas City

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Yes, wrong direction, World Series-wise, but duty calls and we head out today for Kansas City and a performance at St. Joseph Church tomorrow night.  Seems like only yesterday we were in Sweden -and in fact it was only last Friday when we came back from that two weeks trip. After KC, there’s St. Louis, Holdrege, Nebraska and Morrow, GA for our appearance at the fantastic Spivey Hall  which is a long time Chanticleer presenter.  In Nate Pence’s rather unusual first few months as a member of Chanticleer, he has only appeared in Europe.  This will be his first ‘domestic’ tour.

The night before departure Cortez and Nate had dinner with famed countertenor David Daniels who is in SF appearing in Partenope at the Opera.  Cortez said of Davd:   “He has been an inspiration to us all, and a recording of his gave me hope and helped me switch to study as a counter tenor some 14 years ago.