3:00 pm and 7:30 pm performances due to limited seating for Covid-19 social distancing requirements.
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Over the years, Chanticleer founder Louis Botto was often asked if, at that first convening of singers around a dining room table in San Francisco he had any idea it would become what it is today. He would usually answer, “yes,” with a broad smile and a twinkle in his eye. As a graduate student in musicology, Louis found it odd that much of the repertoire he was studying–vocal music of the medieval and Renaissance periods–was not being performed. He decided to form a group to sing this neglected repertoire, using only male voices, as was the tradition in most churches during the Renaissance. Louis turned to members of choirs in which he sang, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, asking if they might be interested in this endeavor. Nine members were selected, including Louis (who sang tenor), and rehearsals began for their debut performance.
Chanticleer’s first tours covered every state in the union. International recognition came in 1984 when the ensemble performed a Mass at the International Josquin Symposium held in Belgium. Chanticleer was invited to replace a last-minute cancellation by another group, which required the Mass to be rehearsed on the plane! Today, Chanticleer tours biannually to Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, including the Musikverein in Vienna, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Prague’s Rudolfinum, Budapest’s Bela Bartok Hall, among others. Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have offered concerts regularly, and in 2009 Chanticleer made its debut in the People’s Republic of China.
In those early years, Chanticleer was the beneficiary of good luck and good friends. It could not have succeeded in those early years through hard work alone. In 1980, the group participated in the Festival of Masses, a large choral festival held in San Francisco with the legendary Robert Shaw serving as Festival Conductor. Chanticleer performed a solo concert of 3 complete masses: one in plainchant and polyphonic settings by Dufay and Byrd. Mr. Shaw attended the performance and told the group “it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.” Louis, ever the entrepreneur, wrote down the Maestro’s statement and asked him to sign it the next day. He did so, with one addition: stating that it was one of the most beautiful musical experiences of his life.
More than one hundred men have sung in the ensemble each leaving an individual legacy. In what was to be a defining moment in 1983, Joseph Jennings joined the group as a countertenor. His talents quickly led him to be named Music Director, a post he held until 2008. His legacy is far-reaching, and includes a wealth of gospel and jazz arrangements, as well as a long list of works commissioned by Chanticleer under his direction.
It was obvious that recording would increase the ensemble’s exposure, but difficult to find a label willing to venture into the varied repertoire that the group performed. In 1987, with its tenth anniversary approaching, Chanticleer decided to create an independent label to release its first CD, and Chanticleer Records was born. The risk paid off: the ensemble released a total of ten discs over a period of only six years. These recordings were successful enough that in 1994, Teldec signed Chanticleer to an exclusive recording contract, which lasted until 2008. Teldec recognized the appeal of Chanticleer’s diverse repertoire, making the CD’s available in more than 60 countries, and vastly increasing Chanticleer’s name recognition internationally. Colors of Love, Chanticleer’s 1999 release devoted to contemporary choral works, won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance (With or Without a Conductor.) Lamentations and Praises won two GRAMMY® awards in 2001.
From time-to-time Chanticleer collaborates with other artists. In close collaboration with musicologist Craig Russell, Chanticleer has performed and recorded three programs of unknown works by 18th-century Mexican composers Manuel de Zumaya and Ignacio de Jerusalem with a period-instrument orchestra (Mexican Baroque, Matins fo
Road). Chanticleer presented a fully staged opera by Benjamin Britten, Curlew River, to critical acclaim, a musical play about Hildegard Von Bingen, and dramatic work by Sir John Tavener entitled Lamentations and Praises. Chanticleer has performed with Frederica Von Stade, Al Jarreau, Garrison Keillor, the Shanghai Quartet, as well as the New York, San Francisco, and St. Paul orchestras.
Chanticleer has commissioned over seventy composers who have written over ninety pieces premiered by the group.
Its education program was recognized in 2010 with the Chorus America Education and Outreach Award and serves over five thousand students every year in a sequence of programs supervised by a full-time Education Director.
Chanticleer has had the opportunity to sing in some of the most beautiful concert halls and churches in the world. But the group has also sung in a barn in Canada, a roofless church in the former East Germany, a gymnasium in Sweden, and in Central Park with the New York Philharmonic. No matter where the group travels, Chanticleer has become a “polished performing machine that … could fairly be called Botto’s miracle” (The Wall Street Journal). Louis should be proud.
For more information on the group, visit www.chanticleer.org
Tim Keeler, Music Director, sang as a countertenor in Chanticleer in the 2017-18 season. In Chanticleer’s history he will be the fourth of its six Music Directors to have been a member of the ensemble. Prior to moving to San Francisco, Tim forged a career as an active conductor, singer, and educator. He performed with New York Polyphony, The Clarion Choir, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. He also performed frequently as a soloist, appearing regularly in the Bach Vespers series at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City, as well as with TENET, New York’s preeminent early music ensemble. An avid proponent of new and challenging repertoire, Tim remains a core member of Ekmeles, a vocal ensemble based in New York City and dedicated to contemporary, avant-garde, and infrequently performed vocal repertoire.
While transitioning to his role as music director of Chanticleer, Tim is in the midst of completing his DMA in Choral Conducting at the University of Maryland where he studies with Dr. Edward Maclary. As an educator, Tim directed the Men’s Chorus at the University of Maryland, served as director of choirs at the Special Music School High School in Manhattan, and worked closely with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City as a vocal coach and satellite school conductor. He was also the choral conductor for Juilliard’s new Summer Performing Arts program – a two-week intensive summer course in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tim holds a BA in Music from Princeton University with certificates in Vocal Performance and Computer Science, an MPhil in Music and Science from Cambridge University, and an MM in Choral Conducting from the University of Michigan. While studying with Dr. Jerry Blackstone at the University of Michigan, Tim served as assistant conductor of the Grammy award-winning UMS Choral Union, preparing the choir for performances with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His dissertation at Cambridge explored statistical methods used in natural language processing and unsupervised machine learning as applied to musical phrase detection and segmentation.
For more information, please visit www.timkeeler.net