After ten happy years doing a concert at St. Mark’s in New Canaan and a Youth Choral Festival in Darien under the auspices of our Board member Dudley Roski, the tradition comes to an end. Snow was falling just before the concert so some people chose not to drive over, but others came from significant distances, many of them having come every year for the last l0 and were very appreciative. Today our Youth Choral Festival was attended by Darien High School’s Combined Choirs, along with choirs from Trumbull H.S., Foran H.S., Avon H.S. and Greenwich H.S. As always at the heart of the day are the breakout sessions when ensemble members work with the choirs individually, hoping to give them something they can take away and try. The evening concert shows off the individual choirs and their take-aways from the day, some numbers by Chanticleer and two tutti pieces conducted by Ben Johns – Locus Iste by Bruckner and Keep Your Hand on the Plow. We’ll certainly be back in Connecticut, but we will always have a special affection for Fairfield County. Our flight has been cancelled for tomorrow so we will be piling into vans and driving to Detroit for our Friday masterclass and concert in Brighton, MI. Considering all the weather related things that might have happened on this winter tour, that’s probably not so bad.
Chanticleer still sets the standard
The “world’s reigning male chorus” still gets it right after all these yearsNot everyone was in a hurry to leave their seats at intermission of the concert presented by [Chanticleer] www.chanticleer.org in Shannon Hall Saturday night. Some of us just had to catch our breath, even if the dozen men on stage never seemed to. A gentleman one row back was heard to say: “They’re so precise!” Italics and exclamation point were in his voice, not an editorial addition. Few better descriptions could have been given more succinctly: In half a program that already spanned over four hundred years, Chanticleer again and again made each style authentic with energy and yes, precision that may be matched, but hard to imagine it being exceeded. Yours truly expected no less, although it has been at least sixteen years since I’d heard the ensemble in live performance. Not surprisingly, only one current member was singing with them back then—but the group had already been around for a little over twenty years, and personnel turnover is a gradual, but regular thing. This season’s program is “The Gypsy in My Soul,” music inspired by, if not originally from, the spirit of the nomadic folks of central Europe. Fittingly, the group opened with an arrangement of “Wayfaring Stranger,” that began with a single voice, then two, gradually building to the full complement of voices. Next came part of what the group does best (which is saying something): A set of three motets from Palestrina, Byrd and Victoria, with the outer examples each a setting of lines from the Jews’ exile in Babylon. Astonishing variety of mood, language and style followed in selections from Poulenc’s sassy and saucy “Chansons Francaises,” modern folk-like original songs by Ligeti, and actual Hungarian folksongs arranged by Bartok. In between came a stunning arrangement of Villa-Lobos “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5,” that ubiquitous and seductive music originally for soprano and eight cellos. Alto Cortez Mitchell was the hypnotic soloist, and the ensemble made the “accompaniment” virtually orchestral. The second half featured some extraordinary rarities from Rautavaara and Falla, with a compelling “Nino de rosas” of contemporary composer Steven Sametz. His setting of the seventeenth-century text of Jacinto de Evia describes an encounter between a gypsy girl and Christ as a child, and the result was mesmerizing and provocative. Too many tantalizing possibilities were listed from the closing set of “to be selected from,” but we were treated to an amusing and beguiling “Caravan” of Duke Ellington, “Journey to Recife” by Dick Evans and Brian Hinman’s arrangement retitled “Swing Down, Chariot.” Many in the nearly sold-out house must have had their appetites whetted, as a throng lingered to talk with members of the group and purchase a CD or two in the Sunset Lounge adjacent to the Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. It had been a night to recall memories … and make some new ones.Author: Greg Hettmansberger
Amazingly, we’ve been through some of the most famously winter-ish places in the U.S, in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and on to Pennsylvania and New Jersey and arrived in New York which is the coldest place so far. No snow-related travel issues, for which we can be grateful. Last night we returned to the Oratory of San Boniface in Brooklyn, which now feels like home to us – so warm and attentive is the audience, and so intimate the room. Today Old Saybrook Connecticut, then two days in Fairfield County for the l0th and final concert at St. Mark’s in New Canaan and Youth Choral festival in Darien, both presented by our longtime board member Dudley Roski. Marques is happy to be in his home state.
You can see 7 states from the bridge! Home on Friday.
What Casey is up to these days, aside from coming home to Chanticleer for a bit: Casey Breves performs across the United States, Europe, and Asia as both classical and pop vocalist. Born and raised in New York, he sang with Chanticleer for three seasons, 2010-2013. Chanticleer was his first professional engagement after graduation from Yale University, where he was a member of the Schola Cantorum and the Whiffenpoofs. He recently served as Vocal Director for the National Tours of Guys and Dolls and Hello, Dolly!, and was featured in a solo spot on Saturday Night LIve in the sketch “Christmas Album”. He was a soloist in the world premiere of the oratorio A Melancholy Beauty at the Kennedy Center and Avery Fisher Hall, starred in The Fall of the House of Usher at the NYC Fringe Festival, sang the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and appeared as the principal soloist in Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah with the Symphony Silicon Valley. He currently lives in New York City, where he is performing regularly while writing and recording a debut original album. As a cabaret artist, he has a standing engagement at Feinstein’s in San Francisco, and a weekly show (on hiatus for the moment) at Whitman and Bloom in Manhattan. You can also find him on YouTube. Casey is thrilled to re-join Chanticleer as a guest artist.