Press & Blog

We’re all about education these days: Kirby School visits us

Friday, March 20th, 2015
We’re turning our attention to education these days.  After preparing with Ragnar Bohlin the tutti numbers for the National Youth Choral Festival –  by Larsson, Rossini, and Zajick among others- we will plunge next Wednesday into the extreme intensity of that 5 days with our l0 visiting choirs.  Today we had a master class with the choir from the Kirby School in Santa Cruz which included a visit with us on the Bay Area tour.  They were very impressive and we enjoyed the time we had with them.  Plans are also heating up for our second Youth Choral Festival hosted by Palm Desert High School in Southern California which will happen in early April.


National Youth Choral festival coming soon!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
Our second National Youth Choral Festival is almost upon us and we’re looking forward to welcoming ten high school choirs ( listed below) and their directors for five days of workshops, lectures, demonstrations, rehearsals and a concert.  The grande finale is in Davies Symphony Hall on March 30, under the direction of Ragnar Bohlin ( Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus) with Dolora Zajick ( operatic megastar, composer, and educator.  We’re looking forward to singing with Dolora ourselves, then with the combined choirs in her newly composed piece “Birdsong.”  Alan and Marques will be featured soloists in what we think is the W. Coast premiere of Larks-Erik Larssons’  ”God in Disguise”  a choral work beloved in Sweden and less known here.   Lots to do to prepare for a big event like this -from t-shirts and pencils, to organizing all of the spaces needed for all of this activity, learning new repertoire.  LAB XIII even gave over part of its rehearsal last Saturday to helping us prepare ( below).  The Louis A. Botto (LAB) program was actually invented at the last NYCF five years ago when we assembled an honors choir to be the laboratory choir in the sessions for Choir Directors.  That was LAB I.  Five years later there have been XIII sessions and the current group will have a featured role in this year’s National.

Participating choirs this year are:  Acalanes High School Chamber Singers, Cibola High School Performing Choir, Lowell High School Chamber Singers, Stapes High School Orphenians,  Albany High School Chamber Singers, Powell High School Chamber Singers,  Bishop Amat Memorial High School Chamber Singers,
Waubonsie Valley High School “Varsity Singers,” Santa Rosa High School Chamber Singers, Mt. Eden High School Chamber Singers.IMG_20150314_155651247

After seeing out the end of an era in New Canaan and Darien, we have to drive to Detroit!

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

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.

Review from our Madison, WI performace

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Here is a great review in the Madison Magazine from our February 21st performance: 

Chanticleer still sets the standard

The “world’s reigning male chorus” still gets it right after all these years

Not everyone was in a hurry to leave their seats at intermission of the concert presented by [Chanticleer] 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.

It’s COLD here

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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.