Three-time Grammy Winning vocal group Chanticleer makes their return to Caramoor after their sold-out performance in 2018! Their program, which spans six centuries of music, focuses on the themes of reawakening and dawn as they perform works by Monteverdi, Ayanna Woods, Villa-Lobos, Augusta Read Thomas, and other works from their extensive and varied repertoire. Hear why The New Yorker calls this San Francisco-based group “the world’s reigning male chorus.”
Cortez Mitchell, Gerrod Pagenkopf, Kory Reid, Alan Reinhardt, Logan Shields, Adam Ward, countertenors
Brian Hinman, Matthew Mazzola, Andrew Van Allsburg, tenors
Andy Berry, Zachary Burgess, Matthew Knickman, baritones and bass
Tim Keeler, Music Director
Ayanna Woods: close[r], now (commissioned by Chanticleer in 2021)
Monteverdi: Lauda Jerusalem from Vespro della Beata Vergine
James Macmillan: O Radiant Dawn from The Strathclyde Motets
Lusitano: Regina caeli – Resurrexit
Augusta Read Thomas: The Rewaking
Agricola: Regina caeli
Bárdos: Elmúlt a tél
Bartók: Négy Regi Magyar Népdal
Kay: Music from Triumvirate
Lane: On a Clear Day (arr. Gene Puerling)
Michelle: Sunrise (Arr. by Tim Keeler)
Byrd: Laudibus in sanctis
Augusta Read Thomas: The bird her punctual music brings, from Purple Syllables
Janequin: Le chant des Oiseaux
Steven Sametz: Birds of Paradise (commissioned by Chanticleer in 2020)
Richard Evans/Norman Gimbel: Journey to Recife (Arr. by Joseph H. Jennings)
The GRAMMY® Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer has been hailed as “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker, and is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for its wide-ranging repertoire and dazzling virtuosity. Founded in San Francisco in 1978 by singer and musicologist Louis Botto, Chanticleer quickly took its place as one of the most prolific recording and touring ensembles in the world, selling over one million recordings and performing thousands of live concerts to audiences around the world.
Chanticleer’s repertoire is rooted in the renaissance, and has continued to expand to include a wide range of classical, gospel, jazz, popular music, and a deep commitment to the commissioning of new compositions and arrangements. The ensemble has committed much of its vast recording catalogue to these commissions, garnering GRAMMY® Awards for its recording of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations & Praises, and the ambitious collection of commissioned works entitled Colors of Love. Chanticleer is the recipient of the Dale Warland/Chorus America Commissioning Award and the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming, and its Music Director Emeritus Joseph H. Jennings received the Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award for his contribution to the African-American choral tradition during his tenure with Chanticleer.
Named for the “clear-singing” rooster in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Chanticleer continues to maintain ambitious programming in its hometown of San Francisco, including a large education and outreach program that recently reached over 8,000 people, and an annual concert series that includes its legendary holiday tradition A Chanticleer Christmas.
Chanticleer — a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation — is the current recipient of major grants from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Dunard Fund/USA, The Bernard Osher Foundation, The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Bob Ross Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Chanticleer’s activities as a not-for-profit corporation are supported by its administrative staff and Board of Trustees.
The sun peeks through, painting soft lines on the wall. The smell of coffee seeps under the door. It’s time to wake up. After the longest performance break in Chanticleer’s history, we are thrilled to sing together again. Finally disentangled from our isolation, we return with a renewed sense of community and purpose. It’s time to come together. It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to sing!
At the height of the pandemic, we commissioned composer Ayanna Woods to write us a piece that touches on some of the shared experiences of the past year. Specifically, we wanted to explore questions of concealment and revelation that arise when wearing masks. Masks allow us to hide, but the disguise also acts as a window through which we are free to reveal a more full and true version of ourselves.
The text for close[r], now is an erasure poem created by Woods. The source material is an L.A. Times editorial from March 2020 detailing the reasons why theaters and the performing arts should “close, now.” Woods restructured and resampled the article to create a new text full of questioning and yearning. She highlights the changes we’ve had to make to connect. Through isolation and distance, we’ve been forced to “hone the dexterity of love” and to be creative with how we care for each other.
Woods closes the piece with an imperative for the world: “come back to life.” In Chanticleer, it’s our hope that the life we return to is more compassionate, more caring, and more creative than the one we left in 2020.
To celebrate that return, we move immediately to Claudio Monteverdi’s Lauda Jerusalem from his Vespers of 1610. The psalm chant, sung throughout by tenor Andrew Van Allsburg, is flanked by dueling choirs that bring the text to life. Monteverdi treats the delicate snow, the blowing wind, and the flowing water with hallmarks of his famous secular madrigals. Here, however, the sacred chant adds heft and majesty to these vivid musical depictions.
In the Christian religious calendar, a new day and new beginnings have long been associated with Jesus Christ’s birth. O Radiant Dawn is James Macmillan’s tribute to the O Antiphon for December 21st, “O Oriens” – often translated as “O Morning Star.” It’s a prayer to beckon the new day; it’s a prayer for light to shine in darkness.
Regina caeli, a text associated with Easter, is a Marian antiphon calling for joy and celebration at Christ’s rebirth. Alexander Agricola and Vicente Lusitano employ very different compositional styles for their settings of the text – the former showcasing the contrapuntal ingenuity of early Franco-Flemish polyphony, and the latter residing in the sublime and carefully constructed world of the late Renaissance – but both capture feelings of elation, excitement, and joy.
Carefully nestled between these two motets, Augusta Read Thomas’s The Rewaking creates a meditative space that extends the metaphor of the rebirth to the “rewaking” and recreation of a new day. “And so by / your love,” the poem reads, “the very sun / itself is revived.”
We emerge from our hibernation with Elmúlt a tél (Winter is gone) by Lajos Bárdos. Along with Zoltán Kodály, Bárdos brought music pedagogy to new heights in Hungary in the 20th century. His many choral compositions display his complete mastery of the human voice, his fluency with formal compositional techniques, and his appreciation of Hungarian folk music.
Béla Bartók was at the forefront of that reemergence – that reawakening – of a national folk identity in Hungary. Through his ethnomusicological work, his field recordings, and his many compositions, he helped to create a Hungarian musical identity both rooted in tradition and forward thinking in purpose and construction. Négy régi magyar népdal (Four old Hungarian Folksongs), written in 1910, is one of Bartók’s first forays into this genre. Bárdos’s Dana-dana is a setting of a celebratory folk tune from the Bačka region between Serbia and Hungary.
We conclude the first half of our program with a piece by Ulysses Kay. His Music comes from a set of three pieces written for the de Paur Infantry Chorus in 1953, and Kay uses the Ralph Waldo Emerson poem of the same name as his text. The piece is a forceful reminder that beauty exists even where we least expect it. It serves as a fitting tribute to the difficulties of the past year; as the last line states, even “in the mud and scum of things / There alway, alway something sings!”
Gene Puerling’s arrangement of On a clear day, commissioned by Chanticleer in 2000, perfectly captures the clarity of a bright, sunny morning. His classic jazz harmonies and rock-solid voice leading lend the piece a feeling of certainty and assurance. The clear day represents a clear path forward – and a new understanding of what was left behind. That bright confidence overflows in Sunrise, arranged by our music director, Tim Keeler. Originally written and performed by the New York City-based band MICHELLE, and here sung by tenor soloist Matthew Mazzola, the piece possesses an aura of cool self- confidence.
William Byrd’s motet Laudibus in sanctis closes this set with a raucous celebration. While generally grouped with the generation of composers just prior to Monteverdi, the versatility of Byrd’s writing here shows him to be intimately familiar with the intensely colorful melodic language of his successors. The writing is exciting, spontaneous, and practically leaps off the page.
Fans of Chanticleer know that our name comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s clear singing rooster in The Canterbury Tales. And while a rooster’s crow is a splendid way to ring in a new day, we thought some subtler interpretations of birdsong would be more appropriate for our collective musical awakening. Augusta Read Thomas composed The bird her punctual music brings for Chanticleer in 2004 as part of a larger work, Purple Syllables, which contains various settings of Emily Dickinson poems about birds. This movement in particular captures the ingenuity and playfulness of birdsong.
Birds of Paradise, by Steven Sametz, takes inspiration from a much older choral work about birds, Clément Janequin’s Le chant des oiseaux. Bird sounds from this Renaissance chanson find their way directly into Sametz’s composition. Even the opening text, “Réveillez vous, coeurs endormis” (“Awake, sleepy hearts”) appears amongst the dream-like flutter of the modern composition. Commissioned by Chanticleer in 2019, Birds of Paradise explores Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Paradise: In a Symbol.” The singers of Chanticleer become the birds, or the symbols, themselves. Repetitive, wing-like motives flit from tree to tree as the birds call to one another on their ascent to “the paradise of God.”
Finally, we end our program with a journey to “a place where you can find joy and release.” Our music director emeritus, Joseph H. Jennings, created this masterful and classic arrangement of the bossa nova standard, Journey to Recife.
Our place of joy and release is on stage. It’s singing. It’s interacting with our audiences and sharing our music. We’re so thankful to be back, and we’re so thankful you’re here to share in our return. It’s a new day for us all. It’s time to stretch; it’s time to open the blinds; it’s time to wake up!
All artists and dates are subject to change and cancellation without notice as we work closely with local health experts and officials. Please note that all performances at Caramoor are in compliance with current New York State Regulations. Read our latest Health & Safety updates.