On March 18, 2002, I attended a concert put-on by Chanticleer in Richmond, VA.
This evening I had the opportunity to hear the all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer perform at the University of Richmond. Dubbed as the only “full time, professional choral organization devoted to classical music,” the 12 members performed everything from spirtuals, renaissance madrigals, and the Scott Joplin tune “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.” First, it is always disappointing to go to a concert here, at the University of Richmond, only to see more people with white hair than you see anyplace else, save for a retirement home with assisted living services. The sold-out concert though, did bring a crowd, and the triple standing ovation at the end was a testament to their success as an ensemble. After hearing early music performed for quite some time, I must admit it still gets to me —> that sound of a falsettist rising above a thick sound. It’s a fascinating thing. One of the best examples I have on CD is a Gabrieli work entitled “In Excelsis” by the ensemble Musica Fiata, Köln. They way that high voice just soars. As Martha might say, “It’s a Good thing.” Indeed, I’d agree. There’s something about the voice quality — perhaps the urgency at high volume — that commands your attention. Chanticleer has three great counter tenors for this effect. Then, as a balance, is a great bass section that was able to bring chills up and down my spine as they entoned these perfectly-tuned chords with sevenths in the ensemble. It was that kind of magic that makes you smile, as if to say to someone else, “that’s how you do it.” The variety programmed into the concert was admirable, as was the ability of the ensemble to perform for two hours with a small intermission. While this style of music is not among my most favorite, I’d have to include this performance among one of the best I’d ever witnessed.