Press Room

Chanticleer’s First National Youth Choral Festival (March 26-29)

Called “stunningly expert” by the New Yorker, Chanticleer – Musical America’s 2008 Ensemble of the Year – takes its extensive nationwide education program to new heights with its first National Youth Choral Festival.  The festival, which takes place between March 26 and 29 in Chanticleer’s hometown, San Francisco, will bring together twelve high-school choirs comprising 416 student singers from across the country – five choirs from the Bay Area, and seven from as far east as Woodbridge VA and as far west as Honolulu HI (see complete list below).  The four-day choral immersion will place the visiting choirs in close, intensive interaction with the members of Chanticleer, who will coach them in all areas critical to the choral art.  The climactic event on March 29, “The Singing Life,” will feature Chanticleer and the choirs in a daylong residency at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, where the choirs will be given the opportunity to perform individually on the stage, and attend vocal master-classes led by the great mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade and Zheng Cao.  That evening, all twelve choirs will come together with Chanticleer and von Stade for a gala concert under the direction of the group’s music director, Matthew Oltman, for a program featuring the American premiere of L’Annonciation, a cantata by French composer Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur.

Ben Johns, Chanticleer’s Director of Education and a member of the ensemble between 2003 and 2006, comments:

“‘The Singing Life,’ Chanticleer’s National Youth Choral Festival, is the most comprehensive and specialized education event that Chanticleer has hosted to date.  It commemorates the 10th year of our Bay Area Youth Choral Festival and expands that festival from one day and six participating schools to four days and twelve participating schools.  ‘The Singing Life’ layers activities that are designed for students, teachers, conductors, composers, small ensembles, large ensembles, and honor choirs with Chanticleer interaction threaded throughout.  We’re thrilled to be working with special teaching guests including San Francisco Symphony Chorus Conductor Emeritus, Vance George and mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade and Zheng Cao.

“Considering how much energy flows through our normal Bay Area festival, this weekend in March is going to be absolutely atomic.  It’s my hope that this festival will impress indelibly on our collective social consciousness the relevance of music education in our schools.”

The participating choirs were selected by invitation, all of them having some prior experience in Chanticleer’s education programs here and across the country.  The gala concert program for “The Singing Life” will also include Renaissance masterpieces by Gabrieli and Byrd as well as the winning composition in Chanticleer’s bi-annual Student Composition Competition, Chou Nu Er, by Taiwanese composer, Yi-Wen Chang.  Irish composer Michael McGlynn, a Chanticleer favorite, is represented by a lively folk-song arrangement with the composer participating in the rehearsals via Skype, to help with tricky Gaelic pronunciation.  Von Stade will join the group for a performance of another Chanticleer staple: Shenandoah.

The music of Daniel-Lesur has become a favorite with Chanticleer audiences, thanks to performances of selections from his spectacular setting of The Song of Songs for twelve-part chorus.  L’Annonciation features the composer’s characteristically deft use of dense French harmonies and soaring melodic lines.  Scored for chorus, chamber orchestra, and tenor soloist, the piece also calls for dramatic narration, recited by von Stade in this performance. Daniel-Lesur sadly passed away recently, but his son is ecstatic about the American premiere and hopes to attend the performance and give the students further insight into his father’s music.

Chanticleer’s first National Youth Choral Festival™ marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of Chanticleer’s Youth Choral Festivals™, a central component of Chanticleer’s wide-ranging and multi-faceted education program.  In addition to Chanticleer Youth Choral Festivals™, which the group has offered in the Bay Area, around the country, and as far away as Tokyo, Japan, the ensemble regularly gives in-school clinics and workshops, master-classes for university students nationwide, and the Chanticleer in Sonoma summer workshop for adult choral singers.  This season, the group will preside over eleven interactive educational events, including one in Vienna, Austria, where the ensemble will perform this month in the city’s renowned Musikverein for the third time.  Additional Regional Youth Choral Festivals™ will also be held this season in Darien CT (March 9) and Lima OH (April 23).  Chanticleer will also participate in and perform at two meetings of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA): the Central Division conference in Cincinnati OH (Feb 25 & 26) and the Western Division conference in Tucson AZ (March 4 & 5).

 Chanticleer’s mission and remarkable ability to inspire young singers from across America was documented last season in The Singing Life – the inspiration for the title of the gala concert at Davies – which has aired extensively on public television stations and is now available on DVD.  The ensemble began its education program (originally called “Singing in the Schools”) in 1986, and with the help of individual contributions and foundation and corporate support, the program has evolved and grown substantially.

The National Youth Choral Festival is being funded primarily by a generous grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, along with other individual patrons.

Chanticleer’s full season calendar and other information are available at


Chanticleer’s First National Youth Choral Festival™ – the twelve participating choirs

San Francisco School of the Arts High School Choir
(Todd Wedge, Director, and former Chanticleer member)
San Francisco, CA
Sandy Creek High School Select Mixed Chorus
(Millie Turek, Choir Director)
Tyrone, GA
Pacific Youth Choir
(Mia Savage, Artistic Director)
Portland, OR
C.D. Hylton High School Troubadours
(Thomas Tutwiler, Director)
Woodbridge, VA
Members of Gioventù Musicale of the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus
(Nola Nahulu, Director)
Honolulu, HI
Templeton Concert Choir (Templeton High School)
(Jo Anne Stoddard, Director)
Templeton, CA
Lowell Choir (Lowell High School)
(Jason Chan, Director)
San Francisco, CA
Palo Alto High School Concert Choir
(Michael Najar, Director)
Palo Alto, CA
Santa Rosa High School Chamber Singers
(Kira Bombace, Director)
Santa Rosa, CA
Bishop Amat Memorial High School Choir
(Jennifer Srisamai, Director)
La Puente, CA
Piedmont High School Acappella Choir
(Joe Piazza, Director)
Piedmont, CA
Paso de Robles High School Las Voces Celestiales
(Mary Schmutz, Director)
Paso Robles, CA

# # #

© 21C Media Group, January 2010


Return to Press Room