It was the last performance of She Said/He Said, the last performance of the 13-14 season, and Gregory’s last appearance as a member of Chanticleer – Gregory joined up in 2008 and has given it his all as a singer and assistant music director. We will miss him for sure! Nate Pence arrives on Monday to take Gregory’s Chair ( #1) and begin the 14-15 season with us. We have been on the most enchanting little tour of Massachusetts this week, starting in Tanglewood, proceeding to Cape Cod, and today to Rockport on Cape Ann ( north of Boston.) Three years ago Rockport opened the Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center to house the Rockport Music Festival. Named for the Taiwan-born philanthropist Shalin Liu, its a perfect place for chamber music. The wall behind the stage is glass, offering a spectacular view of the water. We did two concerts – at 5pm many audience members were wearing sunglasses – at 8pm the fading light was absolutely magical. A lot of fun to come to where people are enjoying summertime – fortunately for us we will continue doing that in August in France, Germany and Italy, as soon as we learn a couple of new programs.
Press & Blog
A very worthy organization in Mashpee, MA on called Recovery Without Walls was the presenter of our Cape Cod concert in the auditorium of Mashpee High School – home to the Cape Cod Symphony. The packed audience was extremely enthusiastic and happy to have us on the Cape, where, of course, we’d return anytime. Tomorrow we proceed north of Boston to Rockport, MA to perform a new concert hall overlooking the water which we can’t wait to see. We’ll do two performances which will be Gregory’s last as a member of Chanticleer, and our last of She Said/He Said.
After a lovely performance in Ravinia, we did a ‘fly-sing’ to Ottawa. That was a day that had given us some concern on paper but that went swimmingly. Yesterday we were to leave Ottawa, fly to D.C. and on to Albany to get to Tanglewood, in Western Massachusetts. Well, not so fast. A major weather event over upstate New York took out Albany in a tangled sequence of postponed and cancelled flights, waiting for luggage, Brian’s luggage going to Albany anyway, vouchers for replaced flights which didn’t go anyway and more. After a frenzy of re-organization, we spent the night at Dulles airport, and came on to Tanglewood by bus starting at 7.45 this morning, and arriving at 4pm. Not the way we would have chosen to spend the day of an engagement to which we have looked forward all year. Our last appearance in Ozawa Hall was in 2008, so we were really ready for it. Storm clouds gathered as we rehearsed, and the people sitting on the lawn who are incredibly hardy, put up their umbrellas and hunkered down under rain which lasted on and off much of the first half of the concert. Still, it was wonderful to sing in the magnificent acoustic of Ozawa Hall, and seeing the people outdoors under their ponchos and umbrellas made it even more special.
Last week at Chorus America’s annual conference, Chanticleer’s General Director Emeritus Joseph H. Jennings was the inaugural recipient of the Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award. The award was established this year with generous assistance from Wayne Brown, former head of the N.E.A.’s music program, now head of the Michigan Opera Theater in his native Detroit. Among other things, the award honors service to the living legacy of African American music – something to which Joe has devoted his musical life. There is rarely a Chanticleer concert which does not include an arrangement by Joe – either in the jazz/pop or traditional spiritual and gospel repertoire; Chanticleer has been Joe’s instrument in celebrating the African American musical tradition for hundreds of thousands of listeners live and on radio around the world over the 30+ y ears since he joined the ensemble as a singer, and quickly became music director – a post he held until 2009. We salute Joe who is still so much a part of our lives here at Chanticleer, as did the many at Chorus America who were so glad to see him.
Our Russian Dreams series came to a very steamy ending in Sacramento ( see below) where it was 104, and the audience highly enthusiastic Audiences in San Jose ( which included quite a number of Russians, old and young) and the very full Mission Dolores in San Francisco were on their feet in appreciation of the panorama of Russian music old and new, and the sheer beauty of it. Much of the 20th century music we sang is little known here and we were happy to be able to make it known. It was a big sing, and a very rewarding experience to take on. After some down time we’re on the road again in mid July, on a tour which will include Ottawa, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Mashpee and Rockport, MA where we will bid farewell to Gregory Peebles. On July 14 we will regroup with new soprano Nate Pence to embark upon the 14-15 season which starts with a tour in France, Germany, and Italy. Thanks to all of you for following us; see you in July.