Based in San Francisco, California, Chanticleer is a full-time male classical vocal ensemble in the United States. Over the last three decades, it has developed a major reputation for its interpretations of Renaissance music, but it also performs a wide repertoire of jazz, gospel, and other venturesome new music and is widely known as an "Orchestra of Voices". It was named for the "clear singing rooster" in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.
Chanticleer was founded in 1978 by tenor Louis Botto, who sang with the group until 1989, and served as Artistic Director until his death from AIDS in 1997. As a graduate student of musicology, Botto found that much of the medieval and Renaissance music he was studying was not being performed, and, because of this, he formed the group to perform this music with an all-male ensemble, as it was traditionally sung during the Renaissance.
Originally, the group contained ten singers, but its size has varied from eight to twelve. Currently, Chanticleer comprises twelve men, including two basses, one baritone, three tenors, and six countertenors (three altos and three sopranos).
The original members included Jim Armington (tenor), Ted Bakkila (baritone), Rob Bell (countertenor), Louis Botto (who sang alto as well as tenor), Sanford Dole (tenor), Kevin Freeman (bass), Tim Gibler (bass), Tom Hart (baritone), Jonathan Klein (baritone), Neal Rogers (tenor), Randall Wong (countertenor), and Doug Wyatt (bass). However, only ten of the singers were available to go on tour.
When the ensemble first became full-time in 1991, its members included Eric Alatorre (bass, and currently the longest standing member), Frank Albinder (baritone), Kevin Baum (tenor), Kenneth Fitch (countertenor), Joseph Jennings (countertenor and Music Director), Tim Krol (baritone), Corey McKnight (countertenor), Andrew Morgan (tenor), Richard Morrison (baritone), David Munderloh (tenor), Chad Runyon (baritone), and David Shaler (countertenor).
- 1987 - Byrd: Music for a Hidden Chapel
- 1988 - The Anniversary Album, 1978-1988
- 1991 - Psallite! A Renaissance Christmas
- 1992 - Josquin: Missa Mater Patris; Agricola: Magnificat and motets
- 1993 - Byrd: Missa In Tempore Paschali
- 1993 - Cristóbal de Morales: Missa Mille Regretz and Motets
- 1993 - Mysteria: Gregorian Chants
- 1994 - Where the Sun Will Never Go Down
- 1994 - I Have Had Singing: A Chanticleer Portrait
- 1994 - Mexican Baroque
- 1994 - Out of This World
- 1994 - Our Heart's Joy: A Chanticleer Christmas (Remastered in 2004)
- 1995 - Sing We Christmas
- 1996 - Lost in the Stars
- 1998 - Wondrous Love: A World Folk Song Collection
- 1997 - Reflections
- 1998 - Jerusalem: Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe, 1764
- 1999 - Colors of Love
- 2000 - Magnificat
- 2001 - Christmas with Chanticleer
- 2002 - John Tavener: Lamentations and Praises
- 2002 - Our American Journey
- 2003 - Evening Prayer: Purcell Anthems and Sacred Songs
- 2003 - A Portrait
- 2004 - How Sweet the Sound: Spirituals and Traditional Gospel Music
- 2005 - Sound in Spirit
- 2006 - Palestrina: Missa pro defunctis; Motets
- 2007 - And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass
- 2007 - Let it Snow
- 2008 - Mission Road
- 2010 - A Chanticleer Christmas
- 2011 - Our Favorite Carols
- 2011 - Between Two Wars
- 2011 - Chanticleer Takes You Out of this World!
- 2011 - For Thy Soul's Salvation
- 2011 - Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur: Annunciation
- 2011 - Ludus Paschalis: Resurrection Play of Tours
- 2011 - My Chanticleer: A Collection for Chanticleer
- 2011 - The Boy Whose Father was God
- 2011 - With a Poet's Eye
- 2012 - Love Story
- 2012 - By Request
- 2013 - The Siren's Call
- 2013 - Someone New
In May 2007, Chanticleer released "And On Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass" (Warner Classics) a new mass written by five contemporary composers. Israeli-born composer Shulamit Ran wrote the Credo to the Hebrew text "Ani Ma'amin"; US composer Douglas Cuomo contributed the Kyrie; Turkish-American composer Kamran Ince composed the Gloria section to a sufi text; English composer Ivan Moody composed the Sanctus; and Irish composer Michael McGlynn (director of Anúna) composed the Agnus Dei. The Mass was premiered in performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and was followed by six performances throughout the San Francisco Bay area.
On 16 October 2007, Chanticleer released "Let it Snow," the group's 29th recording. A portion of the album is accompanied by orchestra and/or big band; as such, the album brings a new sound to Chanticleer's almost exclusively a cappella repertoire.
(list taken from official website)
- Eric Alatorre (bass)
- Brian Hinman (tenor)
- Darita Mara Seth (countertenor, soprano pitch)
- Marques Jerrell Ruff (bass-baritone)
- Kory Reid (countertenor, soprano pitch)
- Ben Jones (tenor)
- Gregory Peebles (countertenor, soprano pitch)
- Alan Reinhardt (countertenor, alto pitch)
- Cortez Mitchell (countertenor, alto pitch)
- Adam Ward (countertenor, alto pitch)
- Michael Bresnahan (tenor)
- Matthew Knickman (baritone)
Notable past members
- Casey Breves (counter-tenor, soprano pitch)
- Matt Alber (counter-tenor, soprano pitch)
- Frank Albinder (baritone), designed the concept and chose the repertoire for Chanticleer's Grammy Award-winning album Colors of Love
- Terry Barber (counter-tenor)
- Ian Howell, (counter-tenor, soprano pitch)
- Philip Wilder, counter-tenor
- Jesse Antin (counter-tenor, alto pitch) founder of the men's ensemble Clerestory
- John Bischoff, bass singer for Clerestory
- Kevin Baum, tenor singer for Clerestory
- Chris Fritzsche, soprano singer for Clerestory
- Michael Lichtenauer (tenor and counter-tenor, alto pitch), currently with Los Angeles Master Chorale
- Clifton Massey (counter-tenor, alto pitch) singer for Clerestory
- Justin Montigne (counter-tenor, both soprano and alto) singer for Clerestory
- Corey McKnight, counter-tenor
- Tom Hart, bass-baritone singer for Clerestory
- Kevin Freeman (bass)
- Neal Rogers (tenor)
- Jonathan Goodman, tenor and member of Steve Reich Ensemble
- Randall Wong (counter-tenor, soprano pitch)
- Steven Rickards (counter-tenor)
- Fraser Walters, tenor for Canadian Tenors
- Ted Bakkila (baritone)
- Todd Wedge (tenor) current director of vocal music at San Francisco School of the Arts
- John Goldsmith, counter-tenor, Director Heinz Chapel Choir, University of Pittsburgh, a cappella specialist
- Mark Keller (bass)
- Matthew Oltman (tenor) former Chanticleer Music Director
- Jace Wittig (baritone) current Chanticleer [Interim] Music Director
- Joseph Jennings (counter-tenor) former Chanticleer Music Director and Artistic Director
- Joel Diffendaffer (baritone)
- Jeffrey Keim (tenor and counter-tenor, alto pitch)
- Richard Morrison, baritone
- Benjamin Rauch, counter-tenor
- Tim Krol (1991-2000), (lyric baritone)
Awards and honors
In 2003, Chanticleer won two Grammy Awards (Best Small Ensemble Performance and Best Classical Contemporary Composition) for Lamentations and Praises by John Tavener.
In November 2007, whilst in its 30th Anniversary Season, Chanticleer was named Musical America's 2008 Ensemble of the year. This marks the first time a vocal ensemble has received this award. Additionally, on October 9, 2008, Chanticleer became the first vocal ensemble to be inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- "Louis Botto, 45, Choir Founder - The New York Times". 1997-03-01. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
- The New York Times has more on the repertoire here.
- The Chanticleer website has more information, including a listing of tracks, here.
- Joe Jennings On The Podium, Arts Journal, June 29, 2006. Retrieved January 5, 2013.