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Chanticleer Launches 2023-2024 Season on Sep 22 with Nature-Inspired “Music of a Silent World” Program, Featuring Majel Connery’s The Rivers are our Brothers and a World-Premiere Commission from Composer-in-Residence Ayanna Woods

(August 2023) — Multiple Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer – a group that “fascinates and enthralls … through luxurious perfection” (Los Angeles Times) – launches its 2023-24 season with the nature-inspired program “Music of a Silent World,” a program featuring newly commissioned choral arrangements from The Rivers are our Brothers by Majel Connery and the world-premiere commission “I miss you like I miss the trees” on the subject of wildfires by Chanticleer composer-in-residence Ayanna Woods. Connery’s piece, originally a solo song cycle, takes its inspiration from California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains; the six choral arrangements co-commissioned by Chanticleer and Musica Sierra for the upcoming season will be debuted in the Bay Area, including with local schools in the Sierra region, prior to a series of national tours. Of special note on tour will be Chanticleer’s debut at Koerner Hall at Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (Oct 27); performances and a workshop at the American Choral Directors Association Southern Region Conference in Louisville, Kentucky (Feb 22 & 23); and a residency at Princeton University Concerts in collaboration with Princeton University Glee Club (Oct 11 & 12). Among other highlights for the new season, the group performs its beloved holiday program, “A Chanticleer Christmas,” in late November and December at venues across the country, from New York City to Los Angeles and San Francisco (Nov 25–Dec 23); home-region performances around San Francisco’s Bay Area in the spring will feature Western music’s first notated large-scale, multi-movement work: Machaut’s landmark Messe de Nostre Dame (June 2–9).

Music Director Tim Keeler explains:

“Being based in San Francisco, Chanticleer is acutely attuned to the majesty of the Sierra Nevadas, as well as to the effects of climate change on these and other natural treasures around our home state of California. With ‘Music of a Silent World’ and Majel Connery’s song cycle The Rivers are our Brothers, we hope to share our love of these landscapes with audiences around the country and to contribute to the current dialogue on world-wide environmental and ecological preservation.”

“Music of a Silent World”

Chanticleer’s new program, “Music of a Silent World,” centers on Majel Connery’s The Rivers are our Brothers, a song cycle on ecological responsibility told from the point of view of the land. Each movement represents a different part of the Sierra Nevada’s natural beauty, from its mountains to its forests, rocks, rivers, and snowbanks. The title of the cycle is based on a quote from the Native American leader Chief Seattle, who believed humans must relate to their environment the way they relate to their closest kin. “The goal,” says Connery, “is to give nature a voice. I wanted to allow these vibrant things to speak on their own behalf.” As a solo song cycle, the work was first performed in the Sierra Valley as part of Musica Sierra’s Musical Headwaters program in 2021, and Musica Sierra served as co-commissioner with Chanticleer of the six choral arrangements to be performed in the coming season. In addition to the new commission from Chanticleer composer-in-residence Ayanna Woods, “Music of a Silent World” also includes music by Heinrich Isaac and Max Reger; and new arrangements of “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty and “The Weather” by Lawrence.

Two of the new choral arrangements from The Rivers are our Brothers were made with educational collaboration in mind. One is written to be performed by Chanticleer along with a middle school or elementary school choir; another with a high school or collegiate ensemble. Following collaborations with schools in California’s Sierra region, the first leg of Chanticleer’s 2023-24 national tour is highlighted by a residency at Princeton, the alma mater of both Chanticleer Music Director Tim Keeler and composer Majel Connery, which includes a collaboration with the Princeton Glee Club, of which both are also former members.

“A Chanticleer Christmas”

This season, “A Chanticleer Christmas” will be performed across the country from New York City to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with additional stops in Chicago, Louisville, at a favorite venue in Goshen, Indiana, and more. The program previously reached national audiences through a PBS special and multiple appearances on NBC’s Today show, and also furnished the repertoire for the ensemble’s 2020 album, Chanticleer Sings Christmas. From its opening candlelit chant procession to its triumphant gospel conclusion, the program hearkens back to some of the group’s most cherished traditions and the original vision of its founder, Louis Botto. A performance of “Silent Night” from 2020’s virtual Christmas concert can be seen here.

Machaut Mass

In addition to their many performances of the “Music of a Silent World” and “A Chanticleer Christmas” programs, the outstanding range of Chanticleer’s repertoire is on display in a trio of other programs both on tour and in their Bay Area home.

The first of the special programs is in Michigan, taking place in Ann Arbor and presented by the Academy of Early Music: an all-William Byrd program titled “Music for a Hidden Chapel” (Oct 21).

When the ensemble returns to the Bay Area for a series of performances in the spring, they present the program “Breathe together, Sing together,” in which ancient traditions give structure to a timeless evening ritual of contemplation and reflection. Music includes prayerful Gregorian and Buddhist chant, meditative Renaissance polyphony, and soothing contemporary compositions (March 21–24).

Later in the spring, Chanticleer presents a program focused on French composer and poet Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame. With this masterpiece, Machaut – one of the leading minds of the Middle Ages – created one of the first multi-movement, large-scale notated compositions to exist in the Western canon; the LA Times has called it the “genesis of modern music.” Sharing the program with Machaut’s magnum opus are secular songs of minstrels and bards from the Middle Ages, and performances culminate at the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition of early music (June 2–9).

Chanticleer’s 2023-24 season will mark its biggest since the start of the pandemic, prior to which the twelve-voice ensemble – performing repertoire that spans ten centuries, from Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Romantic art song to contemporary music, jazz, spirituals and world music – kept up a schedule of approximately 100 performances a year around the world, cultivating an enormous and unswervingly loyal global family. Chanticleer’s latest album, On a Clear Day, released earlier this year, earned a five-star review in Gramophone, which declared: “The group’s make up has changed often in the almost half-century of its existence, but the quality and commitment they bring to this recording must have been present from the beginning. … The entire programme is delivered with the skilful aplomb one expects from these voices.” The album joins a catalogue of more than 40 titles, released over four decades, which have sold well over a million copies.

Chanticleer’s President and General Director, Philip Wilder, who began his career as a countertenor with the ensemble 30-plus years ago, looks ahead eagerly to the coming season:

“This season marks our biggest touring season since before the pandemic, taking us to 24 states across the country, and Canada. Under Tim Keeler’s leadership, the ensemble’s sound is shimmering with the highest possible level of precision and virtuosity. We can’t wait to share the unique Chanticleer experience with our fans and supporters around the country this year.”

Long-known for their stylistic versatility, in the era of social media marketing Chanticleer is especially well-positioned to appeal to a broad range of listeners. Some of the group’s most recent and vocal enthusiasts have been reached through platforms like TikTok, on which they recently released a cover of Kansas’s “Carry on Wayward Son” that has received more than 2 million views since it was posted on July 31.

About Chanticleer

The Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer 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 more than one million recordings and performing thousands of live concerts to audiences around the globe.

Rooted in the Renaissance, Chanticleer’s repertoire has been expanded to include a wide range of classical, gospel, jazz and popular music and to reflect a deep commitment to the commissioning of new compositions and arrangements. The ensemble has dedicated much of its vast recording catalogue to these commissions, garnering Grammy Awards for its recordings of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations & Praises and the ambitious collection of commissioned works entitled Colors of Love. Chanticleer is the recipient of Chorus America’s Dale Warland Singers Commission Award and the Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. During his tenure with Chanticleer, its Music Director Emeritus Joseph H. Jennings received the Chorus America Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award for his contribution to the African American choral tradition.

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, and an annual concert series that includes its legendary holiday tradition, “A Chanticleer Christmas.”

High-resolution photos can be found here.

Chanticleer: 2023-24 Engagements
“Music of a Silent World”
Majel CONNERY: The Rivers are our Brothers
ISAAC: “Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen,” “Cibavit eos”
REGER: selections from Zehn Gesänge für Männerchor, Op. 83
Tom PETTY: “Wildflowers” (new arrangement)
LAWRENCE: “The Weather” (new arrangement)
Ayanna WOODS: “I miss you like I miss the trees” (world premiere)
Sep 22: San Jose, CA (Harker School)
Sep 23: Santa Clara, CA (Mission Santa Clara)
Sep 24: San Francisco, CA (SFCM – Hume Concert Hall)
Sep 26: Sacramento, CA (St. John’s Lutheran Church)
Sep 28: Musica Sierra School Shows
Sep 29 & 30: Reno, NV (Musica Sierra Concerts)
Oct 3: Macon, GA (Mercer University)
Oct 5: Atlanta, GA (Emory University)
Oct 6: Carrollton, GA (Carrollton Center for the Arts)
Oct 8: Loudon, TN (Community Church at Tellico Village; Best of Chanticleer popular-focused program)
Oct 11 & 12: Princeton, NJ (Princeton University)
Oct 14: Henderson, NV (Best of Chanticleer popular-focused program)
Byrd program, “Music for a Hidden Chapel”:
Oct 21: Ann Arbor, MI (Academy of Early Music)

“Music of a Silent World”:
Oct 22: Grand Rapids, MI (First Congregational Church UCC)
Oct 23: Holland, MI (St. Francis de Sales Church)
Oct 26: London, ON (Aeolian Performing Arts Center)
Oct 27: Toronto, ON (Koerner Hall at Royal Conservatory of Music; Chanticleer debut)
Oct 28: Kingston, ON (Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts)
Nov 6: San Francisco, CA (California Festival at St. Joseph’s Art Society)

A Chanticleer Christmas”:
Nov 25: Fairfax, VA (George Mason University)
Nov 26: Clarksburg, WV (Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center)
Nov 28: Frederick, MD (Weinberg Center for the Arts)
Nov 29: Lancaster, PA (Trust Performing Arts Center)
Nov 30: South Orange, NJ (South Orange Performing Arts Center)
Dec 1 & 3: New York, NY (St. Ignatius Loyola)
Dec 5 & 6: Chicago, IL (Chicago Symphony Orchestra – 4th Presbyterian Church)
Dec 7: Goshen, IN (Goshen College)
Dec 9: Louisville, KY (Cathedral of the Assumption)
Dec 13: Los Angeles, CA (LA Phil – Walt Disney Concert Hall)
Dec 14: Stanford, CA (Memorial Church)
Dec 15: Petaluma, CA (St. Vincent de Paul)
Dec 17: Oakland, CA (Cathedral of Christ the Light)
Dec 18: Sacramento, CA (Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament)
Dec 19: Berkeley, CA (First Church Berkeley)
Dec 21: Santa Clara, CA (Mission Santa Clara)
Dec 22: Carmel, CA (Carmel Mission)
Dec 23: San Francisco, CA (St. Ignatius)

“Music of a Silent World”
Jan 14: Kalispell, MT (Flathead Valley Community College)
Jan 16: Spokane, WA (Gonzaga University)
Jan 19: Portland, OR (Kaul Auditorium)
Jan 21: Eugene, OR (Beall Concert Hall)
Jan 25: Beaver Creek, CO (Vilar Performing Arts Center)
Jan 26: Greeley, CO (Union Colony Civic Center)
Jan 27: Phoenix, AZ (Camelback Bible Church)
Feb 18: La Jolla, CA (St. James-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church)
Feb 21: Louisville, KY (ACDA Southern Region)
Feb 22 & 23: Louisville, KY (Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts; ACDA Conference Workshop performance)
Feb 24: Evansville, IN (University of Evansville)

“Meditation: Breathe together, Sing together”
March 21: Berkeley, CA (St. Mark’s Lutheran Church)
March 22: Santa Clara, CA (Mission Santa Clara)
March 23: San Francisco, CA (SFCM – Hume Concert Hall)
March 24: Sacramento, CA (St. John’s Lutheran Church)

“Music of a Silent World”
April 2 & 3: Brookings, SD (South Dakota State University)
April 5: Ames, IA (Iowa State University)
April 8: St. Louis, MO (Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis)
April 11: College Station, TX (Rudder Theatre)
April 12: San Antonio, TX (University of the Incarnate Word)
April 14: Pittsburgh, PA (Shadyside Presbyterian Church)
April 16: Selinsgrove, PA (Susquehanna University)
April 18: New York, NY (Kaufman Music Center, Merkin Hall)
April 19: Pawling, NY (Trinity-Pawling School)
April 20: Kennett Square, PA (Longwood Gardens)
April 27: Columbus, OH (Southern Theatre)
May 3: Kansas City, MO (Atonement Lutheran Church)

“Machaut – Messe de Nostre Dame
June 2: Sacramento, CA (St. John’s Lutheran Church)
June 7: San Francisco, CA (Grace Cathedral Quire)
June 8: Santa Clara, CA (Mission Santa Clara)
June 9: Berkeley, CA (First Church Berkeley)

“Music of a Silent World”
July 1: Oakland, CA
July 7: Newport, RI

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© 21C Media Group, August 2023

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