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Chanticleer: A Portrait

C. Michael Bailey By

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The all-male vocal orchestra Chanticleer is touted as "the only full-time classical vocal ensemble in the United States." The group is composed of 12 male voices: one bass, two baritones, three tenors, three altos, and three sopranos. They have earned a reputation for its crystalline a cappella interpretations of everything from Renaissance liturgical music to jazz vocals. The group was named for the "clear singing" rooster in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and was formed in 1978 by tenor Louis Botto, who sang with the group until 1989 and served as artistic director until his death in 1997. Countertenor Joseph Jennings took over as artistic director after Botto's death and has remained in that capacity.

Chanticleer is currently celebrating its Silver Jubilee with a series of concerts and the release of A Portrait, a compilation representing the group’s previous 25 releases. Specialists in Renaissance polyphony, Chanticleer have recorded several notable works of early music, which include the music of Byrd, Brumel, and Palestrina. The group has also concentrated on Mexican baroque music and jazz, as well as world folk music. But perhaps the most popular of their many releases are their Christmas Collections , which number five. Chanticleer has been awarded three Grammies, for Colours of Love in 2000 (Best Small Ensemble Performance, with or without Conductor); and for Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises in 2003 (Classical Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without conductor) and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

All of these recordings plus more are included on the present compilation that very adequately represents the depth and breadth of this fine vocal ensemble. Borrowing from popular music practice, Chanticleer has included a previously unreleased piece, Vince Guaraldi’s "Christmas Time Is Here," from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Arranged by music director Jennings, the piece is a perfect addition to the group’s repertoire. If the listener desires a taste from the Chanticleer table, they need go no further than A Portrait.

For more information, visit Chanticleer and Teldec Classics .


Track Listing: Hymn: Quem Terra Pontus Sidera; Ave Maria; Alma Redemptoris Mater; The Angel Cried Out; Recessional: Angelicas Milicias; Wherewithal Shall A Young Man; Love Is A Beautiful Dream; This Heart That Flutters Near My Heart; Wild Grass; Labra Vermiglie; E Belle; Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair; Dulaman; Shenandoah Spanish Carol; Love Is Letting Go; Blues In The Night; Wade In The Water; We Shall Walk Through The Valley Of Peace; Christmas Time Is Here.

Personnel: Chanticleer

Title: A Portrait | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Teldec


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