The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park concludes its 2011–2012 season with “Spring in Vienna” on Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 29, at 3 p.m. at Knowles Memorial Chapel, Rollins College. Tickets range from $20 to $50. Call the Box Office at 407-646-2182 or visit www.BachFestivalFlorida.org
Some years ago in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, my beautiful wife (b.w.) and I heard a remarkably sung concert by Chanticleer, the extraordinary 12-member male vocal group from San Francisco. Shortly thereafter we founded the Festival of Orchestras in Orlando, and Chanticleer was one of the first attractions we booked. Chanticleer scored brilliantly and has been heard at Rollins College in concert since then. On Sunday afternoon, April 15, in the Rollins Chapel, the Bach Festival Society presented Chanticleer once again. The name “Chanticleer” is taken from Geoffrey Chaucer’s clarion-voiced rooster.
Not surprisingly, Chanticleer opened the program with 15th and 16th century sacred music of Sebastian de Vivanco and Tomas Luis de Victoria. Two contemporary songs from “Le Cantique des Cantiques,” much in the ancient style, followed.
Chansons of Claudin de Sermisy, Clement Janequin and Claude Le Jeune utilizing antiphonal singing, interesting modulations and intricate counterpoint followed. The first Chanson by de Sermisy was sung by a quartet. A second quartet of four other voices sang “Toute les Nuits” by Janequin. Then a quintet sang the last Chanson by Le Jeune, “Revoici venir du Printemps,” a very intricate and exacting selection.
Three songs from Richard Strauss’ “Männerchore” showed an enticing variety of styles by the great German romantic. Modulating sections, some recalling the sounds of Richard Wagner and resplendent with lush harmonics, ended in a final galloping waltz a brim with happiness. Contemporary composer Steven Sametz brought lyricism to the fore in his “Not an End of Loving.”
“This Marriage” of Eric Whitacre, and “A Village Wedding” of Sir John Tavener opened the concert’s second half. Tavener’s music was of special interest because of its introduction of Greek harmonies sung in a circle by the 12 singers.
Three engaging songs of Stephen Paulus based on Chinese poems of Tzu Yeh added captivating color to the afternoon.
Perhaps the programs most appreciated moment occurred when Chanticleer assumed the role of a ‘20s blues band — each member imitating with amazing and amusing effect the sound of a (wa-wah) Dixieland jazz player. Here the audience rose to its feet in thunderous applause. The lovely “My Romance” by Rodgers and Hart was given appropriate romantic treatment and full vocal beauty. An encore of sorts, “Somebody to Love,” originally written for the rock group Queen, left the Rollins Chapel full of rock more than of the Rock of Ages — a very fun afternoon!
Throughout the concert, Chanticleer was a professional musician’s delight to hear.
Intonation, with an occasional pitch pipe, was flawless.
Attacks and cutoffs, sans conductor, were models of precision.
Tone was beautiful, raucous, solemn, ethereal, crisp and fun-filled — as the occasion demanded.
Chanticleer’s excellent solo voices demonstrated that this virtuoso chorus is made up of thoroughly trained individual singers. Chanticleer lived up to its reputation as “America’s premier vocal ensemble.”