We’re in Atlanta for a few days to work with our Music Director Designate Fred Scott, currently Director of the choral program at The Westminster Schools. We enjoyed interacting with his students yesterday and another chance to enjoy Darita’s mother’s cooking. Monday we head for Miami and other points in Florida. We’re very happy to reconnect with Casey Breves who’s joining us for the next few months.
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.
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Today we spent the day with choirs from the Crystal Children’s Choruses on the Peninsula, Hoover Middle School, Giannini Middle School, and Presidio Middle School, as well as Ragazzi – also from the Peninsula. It’s very good to see middle school students singing – so many middle school programs have been cut – at least in the Bay Area Ben reports Today marked the first of three youth choral festivals Chanticleer will be producing this season. This one, a Bay Area middle school festival, saw 230 students from five choirs: Presidio Middle School, A.P. Giannini Middle School, Ragazzi Boys Chorus, Herbert Hoover Middle School, and Crystal Children’s Choir. It was a day filled with beautiful music and profound artistic dialogue. Thank you to Anna Karney, Courtney Lindl, Joyce Keil, Kenneth Koppes, Stella Lin, Karl Chang, Anna Lin, Suzanne Garramone, and Othello Jefferson for their work in preparing the choirs and making today possible! For the combined choir portion, we sang the aleatoric, “A Pentatonic Alleluia” by Ross Whitney, Rollo Dilworth’s “Shine on Me,” and Jim Papoulis’s “Amani (A Song of Peace).” We addressed what goes into making an especially effective performance, including how to use the voice, the body, the face, and the heart. We delved into spiritual style and crafted long, shapely phrases. We even incorporated some choral-ography; which isn’t as elaborate as choreography, but definitely involves changing formations and accented movements. In the afternoon, members of Chanticleer gave workshops to each choir on their own repertoire. It’s here that the most detailed work and glorious transformations occur. In my drifting from one classroom to the next, I witnessed one of the most beautiful moments in my education career. After an especially moving rehearsal of “Down By the River to Pray” where the singers breathed as one and sang unconducted, their teacher remarked, with tears, the pride in witnessing the middle schoolers’ transformation in that moment from mere singers to true musicians. This is why we educators do what we do – we live to facilitate and witness moments like these that are bound to change our students for the better. The hard work pays off and we glimpse a brilliant future in the luminous present. Our next choral festival happens in Darien, Connecticut on March 4, to be followed shortly by our second ever mega-festival, The Singing Life. This second National Youth Choral Festival involves 10 schools from around the country and four days of choral nerd-dom, capped by a performance at Davies Symphony Hall on Monday, March 30. We fill the stage to overflowing with students – it’s an event not to be missed. -B .
We often finish our Christmas tour at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, where the audience is very loudly appreciative, sending us off to our holiday break with very good cheer and a sense of satisfaction. We’ll scatter now, and see you in January. Happy holidays and all the best for the new year, to all of you.
Louis Botto, our founder, was passionate about the California missions. Chanticleer’s first concert in 1978 was in the old Mission Dolores; Santa Clara and Carmel became regular stops soon after. Our appearance in the Carmel Mission is always very close to Christmas day.We always look forward to the intimacy and the warmth of the faithful audience. This year we’re also enjoying sultry temperatures of 60 and up. One more performance tomorrow night in Livermore
Another sultry evening -what passes for Christmas weather in Northern California- found St. Ignatius packed to the sides and the top as we haven’t seen her in a few years. The church was decorated for Christmas, with a large black forest of trees on stage, which won’t be lit until Christmas. Never mind, the many many longtime fans who come to this concert – many with family members who have arrived for the holidays- light up the church. We like to get as close to everybody as we can – the caroling choreography needs to be pretty precisely timed and requires a certain amount of rehearsal. From our largest venue tonight, we go to the smallest tomorrow – the very intimate Mission Carmel – another magical experience.