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Chanticleer is a San Francisco-based, classical male vocal ensemble that has garnered significant critical acclaim for its representations of Renaissance music in the last three decades. Though the ensemble is best known for its classical performances, it also plays playing from several other genres on the music spectrum including gospel, jazz, as well as other more novel styles and has come to be known as the ‘Orchestra of Voices’. The New Yorker has described the ensemble as the reigning male chorus of the world, while Music America called it the Ensemble of the Year in 2008. In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle has expressed much admiration for its ‘crisply etched clarity’ and ‘tonal luxuriance’. The ensemble comprises of twelve male vocalists ranging from those specializing in bass all the way to countertenor. The group has spurred overwhelming intrigue among classical music fans that search for the kind of artistic finesse promised by Chanticleer tickets.
Chanticleer was formed in 1978 by Louis Botto who sang in the ensemble till 1989 and continued as its Artistic Director until 1997. Botto felt the need for the performance of Renaissance and medieval music, which he was studying at the time, and for this reason created such as ensemble consisting of all male vocalists in keeping with the tradition of the Renaissance. The original group comprised of ten singers, though the number as varied between eight and twelve. The current ensemble consists of six countertenors of which three are sopranos and three are altos; three tenors, one baritone and two basses. The members of the original group included Doug Wyatt, Randall Wong, Neal Rogers, Jonathan Klein, Tom Hart, Tim Gibler, Kevin Freeman, Sanford Dole, Louis Botto, Rob Bell, Ted Bakkila and Jim Armington.
The group began full-time practice in 1991, by which time it included Frank Albinder, Eric Alatorre, Kevin Baum, Philip Wilder, Matthew Thompson, Foster Sommerlad, Chad Runyon, Joseph Jennings, Jonathan Goodman, Tim Gibler, Kenneth Fitch and Mark Daniel.
Chanticleer issued the album AChanticleerMass in 2007 that contained the works of five contemporary composers including American-Turkish composer Kamran Ince who composed the Gloria to a sufi themed text; Shulamit Ran who wrote the Credo section with the Hebrew text of Ani Ma’amin; American composer Douglas Cuomo who worked in the Kyrie; Irish artist Michael McGlynn who composed Agnus Dei; and English composer Ivan Moody who composed the Sanctus. The Mass premiered in live performance In NYC at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art, after which it was performed six times across the well-known San Francisco Bay Area. A few months later the ensemble released its twenty-ninth album called Let it Snow, a section of which contains an orchestra performance, while the album has added a new sound to the mainly a cappella repertoire of the group.
In year 2000, Chanticleer and its then artistic director Joseph Jennings, won a GrammyAward for their original interpretation of compositions by masters such as Rands, Tavener, Stucky, Works of Thomas and Colors of Love, in the category of BestSmallEnsemblePerformance. Colors of Love also brought the ensemble a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award in the category of Best Classical Album. Two years later in 2002, the world-premiere recording of Lamentations and Praises composed by Tavener, won two Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best ClassicalSmall Ensemble Performance. In 2007, upon the celebration of its thirtieth anniversary season, the ensemble was named Ensemble of the Year by classical music magazine MusicalAmerica, which marked the first time the award was given to a vocal ensemble.
In 2008, Chanticleer was added to Cincinnati’s American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Some of its most notable past performers includes the likes of Frank Albinder who conceptualized as well as selected the suitable repertoire for their award-winning studio offering Colors of Love. Other well-known artists include Ian Howell, Matt Alber, Todd Wedge, Benjamin Morrison and Tim Krol among many others.
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