JUNE 2 – 9, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, March 29, 2012—Chanticleer, the renowned 12-member all-male choral ensemble, concludes its 2011-12 Bay Area season in June with Mission Road: six concerts in the historic California Missions from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. A small chamber ensemble of violin, cello, lute, and guitar will accompany most of this program.
Chanticleer has gloried in the beauty and perfect acoustics of the California missions ever since its very first 1978 concert in the old Mission Dolores. In 2008, Chanticleer presented an innovative program as part of the California Arts Council’s American Masterpieces – California, entitled El Camino Real: Chanticleer Travels the Mission Road, recreated on a documentary DVD and CD of the same name. Mission Road will see the Ensemble back on the historic route, with an entirely new program featuring recent discoveries of centuries-old music written in the New World during the period of Spanish colonization. 
The music in this program will illuminate a musicological bridge from high Renaissance masters in Europe to the next generation of composers who studied their music and brought it to the New World.  Much of this music originated in cathedrals of Mexico and was heard and performed in the mission churches all over New Spain.
More than two centuries before the Declaration of Independence was signed, music of surprising complexity was being composed and performed throughout New Spain, an area encompassing Central America through Mexico and north to the modern-day border of California and Oregon.  As the Spanish spread their customs, language, and religion throughout their newly conquered kingdom, they spread their musical traditions as well, often importing musicians and composers from the Old World to train musicians of both Spanish and Native American ancestry.  Music by these composers—liturgical and otherwise—was performed all over the vast territory, including the Missions of California.

Of all the composers of the latter half of the seventeenth century in New Spain, few had as great an impact on the musical style of the time as Antonio de Salazar, who held the position of chapel master in Mexico City from 1688 until his death in 1715, teaching various pupils, including the notable composer Manuel de Sumaya.

Although Salazar was employed exclusively in the New World churches, his compositions exhibit much of the complexity and intricate counterpoint one would expect from European masters like Victoria and Palestrina.  Since much of the genius of his music is in Salazar’s vocal writing, Chanticleer will focus primarily on his work for Mission Road, together with that of his pupil Sumaya.
A significant portion of the liturgy in the Mission churches was sung as plainchant, taken from standard Roman Catholic liturgy still in use today.  Additionally, an entirely separate chant liturgy existed in New Spain, and Mission Road will feature plainchant in both styles; sourced from the standard European liturgy and also from books of New World chant dated 1701, when Salazar was chapel master in Mexico City.
As was the custom in the era, all music performed inside the sanctuary was part of the formal church liturgy, and sung in Latin.  Salazar's skills in counterpoint and beautiful vocal writing are most evident in these liturgical pieces, including the celebratory responsory "Conception Gloriosae" (accompanied by continuo) and the reverent, a cappella "Salve Regina,"-- each substantial works in eight parts.  Additionally, Salazar and Sumaya both wrote scores of villancicos (folk-carols) sung in Spanish.  These lively songs were used for celebrations both in the church and outside of it, and often served the dual purpose of entertaining and teaching key biblical stories to the native population.  Villancicos were popular in Spain and in the New World, and were inspired by folk dances and rhythms of the locals.  As such, these charming pieces offer a unique spirit of time and place in New Spain in the 1700s.  
Repertory guidance for Mission Road was provided by Dr. Craig Russell, author of From Serra to Sancho (Oxford University Press), who has collaborated with Chanticleer on all of its Mexican Baroque projects. Dr. Russell has spent countless hours photographing the archives in Mexico City, where much of the music of that era is preserved.  Centuries old, the original parts for the singers (which were printed individually, in the fashion of orchestral scores) were processed into microfilm in the 1960s.  Each piece of music the singers will perform has been painstakingly reconstructed from Dr. Russell's digital photos of these microfilms.  Music Director of the program is Antoine Plante, founder and artistic director of Houston’s Mercury Baroque.

Chanticleer’s Louis A. Botto (LAB) Choir, the small, mixed youth chorus for Bay Area singers aged 14-20, has been presenting Music of New Spain: Exploring California’s Missions and Mexico’s Cathedrals at Bay Area Elementary Schools, and at the Mission San Rafael Arcangel, and will sing some of these songs in pre-concert performances of Mission Road.
Mission Road is made possible by the generous donations from Dunard Fund USA, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, National Endowment for the Arts,
Rabobank, and The E. Nakamichi Foundation.
Called “America’s favorite choral ensemble,” by The New Yorker magazine, Chanticleer has developed a worldwide reputation for its impeccable musicianship, beauty of sound, and wide-ranging repertoire from Renaissance and Mexican Baroque to jazz, gospel, folk, and adventurous new music. Chanticleer Records releases live and studio recordings on CD and in downloads, which may be found through the organization’s website:
 Tickets may be obtained online at, where additional information may be found.     
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For Calendar Editors:
Chanticleer presents
MISSION ROAD June 2-9, 2012
Mission Dolores, San Francisco, June 2, 8 pm
Mission San Jose, Fremont, June 3, 5 pm
Mission Santa Clara, June 4, 8 pm
Carmel Mission, June 7, 8 pm
Mission San Luis Obispo, June 8, 8 pm
Mission Santa Barbara, June 9, 8 pm
Tickets: $20 - $44
Box Office:  415/392-4400 OR 800/407-1400  Also online at
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