Chanticleer
Thursday July 26 7:00pm

Chanticleer

Overview

Three-time Grammy-winning vocal group Chanticleer makes their Caramoor debut in our stunning Spanish Courtyard. Celebrating their 40th Anniversary, they will perform works by Palestrina, Lassus, Gibbons, Byrd, Steven Stucky, Chen Yi, Matthew Aucoin, Ellington, Rodgers & Hart, Berlin, and other classics from their extensive and varied repertoire. Hear why The New Yorker calls this San Francisco-based group “the world’s reigning male chorus.”

“The singing of Chanticleer is breathtaking in its accuracy of intonation, purity of blend, variety of color and swagger of style.” — The Boston Globe
Artists

Eric Alatorre, bass
Zachary Burgess, bass-baritone
Brian Hinman, tenor
Tim Keeler, countertenor
Matthew Knickman, baritone
Matthew Mazzola, tenor
Cortez Mitchell, countertenor
Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor
Alan Reinhardt, countertenor
Logan S. Shields, soprano
Andrew Van Allsburg, tenor
Adam Ward, alto
William Fred Scott, Music Director

Program

Palestrina Gaude gloriosa
Lasso Surrexit pastor bonus
Gibbons O Clap Your Hands
Byrd Ave verum corpus
Stucky Whispers*
Salazar Salve Regina
R. Strauss Drei Männerchöre
Morley Now is the Month of Maying (arr. Evan Price)
William Hawley Io son la Primavera*
Arcadelt Il bianco e dolce cigno
Gershwin “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess (arr. Kirby Shaw)
Traditional Irish Dúlamán (arr. Michael McGlynn)
Traditional Hungarain-Romani Járbǎ, Máré Járbǎ* (arr. Stacy Garrop)
Spiritual I Want to Die Easy (arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw)
Alexander and Whitaker Straight Street* (arr. Joseph H. Jennings)
Spiritual Keep Your Hand on the Plow* (arr. Joseph H. Jennings)

*works written or arranged for Chanticleer


Chanticleer

Chanticleer

Artist Website Listen Watch

Called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by the New Yorker, the San Francisco based GRAMMY® award-winning ensemble Chanticleer will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018. During its 2017-18 season, Chanticleer will perform 52 concerts in 23 of the United States, 27 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 8 in Poland, Germany, France, and Spain. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for its seamless blend of twelve male voices ranging from soprano to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz and popular genres, as well as contemporary composition.

Chanticleer’s 2017-18 season is the third under the direction of Music Director William Fred Scott. Heart of a Soldier features new compositions by Mason Bates and John Musto in a program about the art of soldiering, the pageant of war, the absurdity of battle, the loves left behind and the hope of peace. Included are new arrangements by ensemble members Brian Hinman and Adam Ward. Chanticleer’s popular A Chanticleer Christmas was heard this year in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and Indiana before coming home for 13 performances in the Bay Area and Southern California. A Chanticleer Christmas is broadcast annually on over 300 affiliated public radio stations nationwide. Looking back to its roots in early music and its 40 years of performing music written for the Missions of New Spain, Chanticleer offered Saints Alive in March and April in the Missions Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose, and Sonoma. In June, Then and There, Here and Now will take a panoramic look back at Chanticleer’s favorite composers and repertoires, along with a world premiere by Matthew Aucoin. A post-season concert on June 27, 2018 in the Old Mission Dolores will commemorate the first San Francisco performance of Chanticleer, there, on that day 40 years earlier.

Bay Area-based ensemble, Chanticleer, are a Grammy award-winning male chorus who present concerts around the country, have commissioned new vocal pieces, and work with over 5,000 young people annually.

With the help of individual contributions, government, foundation and corporate support, Chanticleer’s education programs engage over 5,000 young people annually. The Louis A. Botto (LAB) Choir — an after-school honors program for high school and college students — is now in its eighth year, adding to the ongoing program of in-school clinics and workshops; Youth Choral Festivals™ in the Bay Area and around the country; Skills/LAB-an intensive summer workshop for 50 high school students; master classes for university students nationwide. Chanticleer’s education program was recognized with the 2010 Chorus America Education Outreach Award.

Since Chanticleer began releasing recordings in 1981, the group has sold well over a million albums and won two GRAMMY® awards. Chanticleer’s recordings are distributed by Chanticleer Records, Naxos, ArkivMusic, Amazon, and iTunes among others, and are available on Chanticleer’s website: www.chanticleer.org.

In 2014 Chorus America conferred the inaugural Brazeal Wayne Dennard Award on Chanticleer’s Music Director Emeritus Joseph H. Jennings to acknowledge his contribution to the African-American choral tradition during his 25-year (1983-2009) tenure as a singer and music director with Chanticleer. The hundred plus arrangements of African-American gospel, spirituals, and jazz made by Jennings for Chanticleer have been given thousands of performances worldwide — live and on broadcast — and have been recorded by Chanticleer for Warner Classics and Chanticleer Records.

Chanticleer’s long-standing commitment to commissioning and performing new works was honored in 2008 by the inaugural Dale Warland/Chorus America Commissioning Award and the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming. Among the over eighty composers commissioned in Chanticleer’s history are Mark Adamo, Matthew Aucoin, Mason Bates, Régis Campo, Chen Yi, David Conte, Shawn Crouch, Douglas J. Cuomo, Brent Michael Davids, Anthony Davis, Gabriela Lena Frank, Guido López-Gavilán, Stacy Garrop, William Hawley, John Harbison, Jake Heggie, Jackson Hill, Kamran Ince, Jeeyoung Kim, Tania León, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Michael McGlynn, Peter Michaelides, Nico Muhly, John Musto, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Stephen Paulus, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Steven Sametz, Carlos Sanchez-Guttierez, Jan Sandström, Paul Schoenfield, Steven Stucky, John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas, and Janike Vandervelde.

Named for the “clear-singing” rooster in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Chanticleer was founded in 1978 by tenor Louis A. Botto, who sang in the Ensemble until 1989 and served as Artistic Director until his death in 1997. Chanticleer became known first for its interpretations of Renaissance music, and was later a pioneer in the revival of the South American baroque, recording several award winning titles in that repertoire. Chanticleer was named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America in 2008, and inducted in the American Classical Music Hall of Fame the same year. William Fred Scott was named Music Director in 2014. A native of Georgia, Scott is the former Assistant Conductor to Robert Shaw at the Atlanta Symphony, former Artistic Director of the Atlanta Opera, an organist and choir director.

Chanticleer — a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation — is the recipient of major grants from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Dunard Fund/USA, The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, the Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, The Bob Ross Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Chanticleer’s activities as a not-for-profit corporation are supported by its administrative staff and Board of Trustees.

About the Music.

GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA
1525–1594

Gaude gloriosa

The Virgin Mary is the focal point for some of the most inspired writing in musical liturgy. Composers from the Middle Ages to the present day have composed countless works — from brief motets to elaborate masses — in Her honor. Full of adoration, reverence, passionate pleas for mercy, and solemn prayers for intercession, the Marian motet was perhaps most perfectly realized in the hands of Renaissance masters from Italy and Spain.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born in the Italian town from which he took his name. He was maestro di cappella at St. Peter’s in Rome from 1551-1554 and from 1571 until his death in 1594. His fame as the outstanding representative of the Roman school caused his name to be directly associated with the “strict” style of Renaissance counterpoint used as a pedagogical model by students of nearly every succeeding generation.

In Gaude gloriosa, Palestrina demonstrates his mastery of these contrapuntal techniques. The meticulous voice-leading and refined dissonance treatment now universally idealized as the “Palestrina style” are pervasive, and the composer infuses this motet with a celebratory spirit.

Gaude gloriosa

Gaude gloriosa,
super omnes speciosa,
Vale, valde decora,
et pro nobis semper Christum exora.

Rejoice, glorious one,

Rejoice, glorious one,
surpassing all others in beauty,
Fare you well, fair Lady,
and intercede for us to Christ.

 

ORLANDO DI LASSO
1530–1594

Surrexit pastor bonus

To his contemporaries, he was the “Prince of Music,” the “King of Musicians,” the “Divine Orlando.” We speak of Orlando di Lasso, born in the French-speaking province of Hainault in present-day Belgium in 1532. Today it is clear that di Lasso’s compositional voice is recognized as one of the great ones of his time. It was, however, his singing voice that got him abducted no fewer than three times during his childhood. His teens were spent in southern Italy and Rome, where he became choirmaster of the basilica of St. John Lateran in 1551, a position which would be held by Palestrina following his departure in 1554.

By 1556 he had entered the service of the Bavarian court at Munich, and there he remained until his death in 1594, working not only as court composer but also in equal demand as a singer. It was in Munich that Lasso was visited by Andrea Gabrieli, who was impressed enough with the court to remain for at least a year. Di Lasso took charge of the ducal chapel in 1563, and, based on a number of Magnificat settings, it seems the duke had a preference to celebrate Vespers in a solemn fashion.

A master of all of the major vocal genres of his time — French chanson, Italian madrigal, German lied, as well as Latin Mass and motet — Lasso became the most published composer of the 16th century. His Surrexit pastor bonus for five voices is a perfect example of his mastery of the polyphonic motet. The opening ascending interval announces the resurrection of Christ, while fluid descending passages quite literally paint Christ laying down his life.

The Easter-tide motet is dominated by a peal of “Alleluias,” (nearly half of the motet is comprised of this section) the voices tumbling over each other, volleying the text back and forth — perhaps a reaction to the absence of “Alleluia” for the entire Lent season.

Surrexit pastor bonus

Surrexit pastor bonus,
qui animam suam posuit pro ovibus suis,
et pro grege suo mori dignatus est.
Alleluia

The good shepherd has arisen

The good shepherd has arisen,
who laid down his life for his sheep,
and for his flock deigned to die.
Alleluia

 

ORLANDO GIBBONS
1583–1625

O Clap Your Hands

Organist, composer, teacher, and singer, Orlando Gibbons was born into a musical family and was one of the last of a musical dynasty which began with the composers of the Eton Choir Book and ended with the death of Gibbon’s contemporary, Thomas Tomkins. He joined the ranks of the Chapel Royal in 1603 upon the ascension of James I to the English throne.

By 1625, he and Tomkins were senior and junior organists of the Chapel, respectively (positions once held by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd). Gibbons wrote somewhat fewer pieces than many of his predecessors, but they are each exquisite in their detail and technical brilliance.

O Clap Your Hands was composed by Gibbons on behalf of William Heyther, who was given an honorary Doctor of Music degree at Oxford University in 1622, to fulfill the University’s requirement of a ‘commencement song’ composition from all doctoral candidates. Gibbons was also awarded the Doctor of Music degree on the same day. This splendid anthem has no solo passages, and is therefore what was known as a ‘full anthem’ in the 17th century. It is composed in eight parts, sometimes all heard together, elsewhere marshaled into two four-part choirs, especially in the second section of the work, where rhythmic drive becomes more intense as the music reaches its climax.

O Clap Your Hands

O clap your hands together, all ye
people: O sing unto God with the voice
of melody.

For the Lord is high, and to be feared:
he is the great King upon all the earth.

He shall subdue the people under us:
and the nations under our feet.

He shall choose out an heritage for us:
even the worship of Jacob,
whom he loved.

God is gone up with a merry noise: and
the Lord with the sound
of the trumpet.

O sing praises, sing praises unto our
God: O sing praises, sing praises unto
our King.

For God is the King of all the earth:
sing ye praises with understanding.
God reigneth over the heathen: God
sitteth upon his holy seat.

For God, which is highly exalted, doth
defend the earth, as it were with a
shield.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and
ever shall be world without end.

 

WILLIAM BYRD
1540–1623

Ave verum corpus

The conversion of England from the Roman Catholic Church to the Church of England by King Henry VIII (and later Queen Elizabeth I) forced those who wished to practice Catholicism to do so covertly, as penalties included fines, scrutiny, torture or death.

All vestiges of the “old religion” were summarily prohibited, including the use of Latin (only English was permitted). In this highly volatile and oppressive atmosphere, Byrd played a dangerous game.

Refusing to conform to the new religion, he composed music for use in Catholic services (held secretly in private residences), more often than not in Latin. He managed this rebellion without loss of life or livelihood due to his exemplary musical skill and by frequently dedicating his publications to the Queen.

It is widely accepted that Byrd intended his Latin motets for use either in underground Masses or for publications in books for use in homes, much like madrigals.

The four-voice motet, Ave verum corpus was published in 1605, in his first collection of Gradualia. Rich with imitation, lush suspensions and startling chordal progressions, Byrd provides a moving setting for this plaintive text.

Ave verum corpus

Ave verum corpus
natum de Maria Virgine,
vere passum,
immolatum in cruce pro homine:
cuius latus perforatum
unda fluxit sanguine.
Esto nobis praegustatum,
in mortis examine.
O Dulcis, O Pie,
O Jesu fili Mariae;
miserere mei. Amen.

Hail true body

Hail true body,
born of the Virgin Mary,
truly suffering,
was sacrificed on the cross for all men.
From whose pierced side
flowed blood.
Be a foretaste for us
in the trial of death.
O Sweet, O Merciful,
O Jesus, Son of Mary.
Have mercy on us. Amen.

 

STEVEN STUCKY
1949–2016

Whispers

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky was widely recognized as one of the leading American composers of his generation. He wrote commissioned works for many of the major American orchestras and such prestigious organizations as the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Corporation, as well as Chanticleer. He was long associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was resident composer from 1988–2009 (the longest such affiliation in American orchestral history).

Commissioned for Chanticleer’s 25th anniversary in 2002, Whispers was conceived as a companion piece to his “Drop, Drop Slow Tears” which was premiered in 1979. The earlier work is constructed around a reminiscence of the music of Orlando Gibbons. Similarly, “Whispers” recalls fragments of William Byrd’s “Ave verum corpus,” surrounding those fragments with his own setting of lines from Walt Whitman’s Whispers of Heavenly Death (1868).

Stucky writes:

In both the Whitman and Byrd, thoughts and images of death are so transmuted by the power of great art that the result is not sadness, but instead a kind of mystical exaltation. This is a blessing that we need more than ever in our own time, and one that the superb singing of Chanticleer has delivered to listeners (and composers) for twenty-five years. Inspired as much by Chanticleer’s own artistry and style as by Byrd or Whitman, this piece is offered in celebration of those twenty-five wonderful years.

Whispers

Whispers of heavenly death,
murmer’d I hear,
Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,
Footsteps gently ascending,
mystical breezes wafted soft and low,
Ripples of unseen rivers,
tides of a current flowing,
forever, flowing,
I see, just see skyward,
great cloud-masses,
Mournfully slowly they roll,
silently swelling and mixing,
With at times a half-dimm’d
sadden’d far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

— Walt Whitman

 

ANTONIO DE SALAZAR
c. 1650–1715

Salve Regina

For many years, historians and musicologists have assumed that Salazar was born in Spain, perhaps in Seville, but there are no records of his early life and training. What is sure is this: in 1679, at age 29, he began his tenure as maestro de capilla at the Puebla Cathedral, located halfway between Veracruz and Mexico City. Puebla Cathedral was the wealthiest and most prominent cathedral in the New World, with a large choir of fourteen boys and twenty-eight men and numerous instrumentalists. In 1688, he was then appointed to the same position at the Mexico City Cathedral. Salazar was a great master of contrapuntal technique, unifying his works with recurring motives rather than with imitation. His style is unusually conservative, with transparent textures, subtle contrast, and very few touches of word painting.

Salazar’s Salve Regina, scored for eight voices in two choruses, begins in an unhurried, leisurely fashion with the unmistakable reference to the Salve Regina chant melody from the Roman rite. Only gradually picking up in momentum, the excitement begins at the words “spes nostra” (“our hope”) with more florid writing for the voices, followed by back-andforth homophonic exclamations of “ad te clamamus” (“to the we cry!”). Breathless, broken phrases characterize “ad te suspiramus” (“to thee we sigh”), while sighing motives and suspensions paint “gementes et flentes” (“weeping and mourning”). The most florid and joyous section arises at Salazar’s rapid-note runs at the mention of Jesus. In the closing moments of the composition, Salazar sets the sighs of “Oh” with full, slow sonorities, and unhurried, consonant descents on each tender word, “Oh gentle, Oh loving, Oh kind Virgin Mary.” Furthermore, he takes his time, separating each exclamation from the next by inserting long, expansive rests. The silence is as powerful as the sung sonorities.

Salve Regina

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, Salve!
Ad te clamamus,
exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes,
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo, advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos
ad nos converte.
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum
ventris tui,
nobis, post hoc exsilium, ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis
Virgo Maria.

Hail, Holy Queen Hail

Holy Queen, Mother of mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To you we cry,
poor banished children of Eve,
to you we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping
in this vale of tears.
Then, most gracious advocate,
turn your eyes of mercy
toward us.
And after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Oh compassionate, loving, sweet
Virgin Mary.

 

RICHARD STRAUSS
1864–1949

Drei Männerchöre, Op. 45 Von den Türen
Traumlicht
Fröhlich im Maien

Richard Strauss is best remembered today as the composer of strikingly original orchestral tone poems and operas that continued and extended the groundbreaking changes to harmonic language and musical structure made by Richard Wagner. Strauss also wrote little-known works for the male singing-societies of Germany, including these Drei Männerchöre, composed for the Cologne Männergesangverein in 1935. Though written after the height of his prowess as an operatic and symphonic composer, these pieces exemplify Strauss’s masterful command of his musical language and his great sensitivity in setting the poetry of the great German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866).

Von den Türen (“At the Gates”) is a metaphorical journey through the life of one man, from his early struggle for wealth and love to his final resting place.

Von den Türen

Ich habe geklopft an des
Reichtums Haus;
man reicht mir ‘nen Pfennig zum
Fenster heraus.
Ich habe geklopft an der Liebe Tür;
da standen schon fünfzehn
andre dafür.
Ich klopfte leis’ an der Ehre Schloß;
hier tut man nur auf dem
Ritter zu Roß.
Ich habe gesucht der Arbeit Dach;
da hört’ ich drinnen nur
Weh und Ach!
Ich suchte das Haus der Zufriedenheit;
es kannt’ es niemand weit und breit.
Nun weiß ich noch ein Häuslein still,
wo ich zuletzt anklopfen will.
Zwar wohnt darin schon mancher Gast,
doch ist für Viele im Grab noch Rast.

At the Gates

I knocked at the house of Wealth;
they handed me a penny through
the window.
I knocked at Love’s door;
fifteen others were already
standing there.
I knocked softly at the castle of Honor;
here they only open for the knight
on horseback.
I sought Labor’s floor;
inside there I heard only
“woe” and “alas!”
I sought the house of Contentment;
far and wide, no one knew of it.
Now I know of another quiet,
little house,
where I want to knock at last.
True, some guests already dwelt there,
but for the Many, there is still rest
in the grave.

Traumlicht (“Dreamlight”) paints an almost impressionistic vision of light and dreams.

Traumlicht

Ein Licht im Traum hat mich besucht,
es nahte kaum und nahm die Flucht.
Der Blick ist tief hier eingesenkt,
den, als ich schlief, du mir geschenkt
Hell dämmert mild am
Tage wach,
O Nachtgebild’, dein Glanz mir nach.
Komm oft, o Stern, in meiner Ruh’!
Dir schließ’ ich gern die Augen zu.
Hell dämmert mild ein Licht im Traum
am Tage mir nach. during the day.
Komm oft, o Stern, in meiner Ruh’!
Dir schließ’ ich gern die Augen zu.

Dreamlight

A light visited me in my dream,
it barely came near before
taking flight.
The image is here deeply embedded,
that which you sent me as I slept.
Even in my waking hours, your luster
shines brightly upon me,
O nocturnal image.
Come often, O star, during my rest!
For you, I gladly close my eyes.
I often see the bright light of my dream
Come often, O star, during my rest!
For you, I gladly close my eyes.

Fröhlich im Maien (“Joyous in May”) is a strophic romp, treating the listener to a number of unexpected harmonic detours and calling on everyone to “dance, joyous in May.”

Fröhlich im Maien

Blühende Frauen,
lasset euch schauen
fröhlich im Tanze
unter dem Kranze!</em

Tanzet zu zweien
unter Schalmeien,
tanzet am Reihen
fröhlich im Maien!

Prüfende Kenner,
kommet, ihr Männer,
sehet die klaren
Bilder sich paaren.

Tanzen zu zweien…

Freut euch, ihr Alten,
junger Gestalten!
Wie ihr gesprungen,
springen die Jungen.
Tanzen zu zweien…

Junge und schöne
Töchter und Söhne,
Enkel nicht minder
reizend als Kinder.

Tanzen zu zweien…

Junges Gelichter,
ihr seid nicht Richter;
Jünglinge, wählet,
eh’ es euch fehlet!

Tanzet zu zweien…
(Tra la la…)

Blossoming young women

Blossoming young women,
let yourselves be seen
dancing joyously
under the wreath!

Dance in pairs
to the sound of shawms*
dance in rows,
joyous in May!

The demanding connoisseurs!
Come, you men,
see the bright
figures couple off.

Dance in pairs…

Rejoice, you elders,
in the youthful figures!
As you once did leap,
so now the young ones leap.

Dance in pairs…

Young and beautiful
daughters and sons,
and grandchildren no less
charming than children.

Dance in pairs…

Young rascals,
you are not judges;
Young men, choose
before you miss out!

Dance in pairs…
(Tra la la…)

*wind instruments

 

THOMAS MORLEY
1557–1602
arr. Evan Price

Now is the Month of Maying

Thomas Morley had the rare privilege of seeing most of his works published while he lived. Why? In the England of Elizabeth I, the license to print and publish works was granted to few. One of the holders of that license was William Byrd. When Byrd’s monopoly on publishing expired in 1596, his industrious and clever pupil, Morley, applied for the license; after two years of waiting, Morley finally received the license.

While Byrd published primarily sacred works, Morley focused his efforts in a surge of secular music. His madrigals could be sung in a casual setting as easily as they could be in a more formal one. A paradigm of the English madrigal, Now is the Month of Maying is perhaps one of Morley’s most famous compositions, even though it (like a number of Morley’s other works) is based on an Italian canzonet by Orazio Vecchi. Passages of joyful homophony are interspersed with trademark “fa-la-la” polyphony, creating an ebullient and effervescent song that happily welcomes the return of spring and its “lustier” activities.

Now is the Month of Maying

Now is the month of Maying when merry lads are playing.
Fa la la la la la la la la!!
The spring, clad all in gladness, doth laugh at winter’s sadness
Fa la la la la la la la la!!
Each with his bonny lass upon the greeny grass
Fa la la la la la la la la!
And to the bagpipes’ sound the nymphs tread on the ground.
Fa la la la la la la la la!
Fie, then, why sit we musing, youth’s sweet delight refusing?
Fa la la la la la la la la!
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak. Shall we play barley break?
Fa la la la la la la la la!

 

WILLIAM HAWLEY
b. 1950

Io son la Primavera

William Hawley is a versatile and prolific composer whose works have been commissioned by such widely varied groups as the Seattle Choral Company, the Dale Warland Singers, the Aspen Music Festival, and the New London Singer. The New York native studied at Ithaca College and the California Institute of Arts. Initially a composer of avant-garde instrumental music, Hawley’s love of poetry led to his eventual place as one of his generation’s leading vocal composers.

His Io son la Primavera, from Six Madrigals, originally composed for Chanticleer in 1986, blends the madrigalian style of Monteverdi with 20th century compositional techniques. The madrigal begins with cascading descending lines in the upper voices, lush with warm cluster chords, accompanied by interjections from the basses. An equally lyric middle section becomes more impassioned, as little cupids aim their arrows at lovers. The opening strains return, but instead of spring’s inviting welcome, the text now warns the listener that spring won’t last forever.

Io son la Primavera

Io son la Primavera
Che lieta, o vaghe donne,
a voi ritorno
Col mio bel manto adorno
Per vestir le campagne d’erbe
e fiori
E svegliarvi nel cor novelli a mori.
A me Zefiro spira,
A me ride la terra,
e’l ciel sereno;
Volan di seno in seno
Gli Amoretti vezzosi a mille.
Chi armato di stral, di chi faville.
E voi ancor gioite,
Godete al mio venir
tra rise e canti;
Amate i vostri amanti
Or che’l bel viso amato april
v’infiora;
Primavera per voi non torna ognora.

I am Spring

I am Spring
who gladly, lovely women,
returns to you
with my beautiful, embellished mantle
to dress the countryside in greenery
and flowers
and to arouse in your hearts new loves.
For me Zephyr sighs,
for me the earth laughs,
as do the serene heavens;
from breast to breast fly
the charming Amoretti by the thousands
armed with arrows and with torches.
And you, again delighted,
take pleasures in my coming amidst
laughing and song;
love your lovers
now, while April adorns lovely faces
with flowers;
Spring for you will not return forever.

— Torquato Tasso, translated by William Hawley

 

JACQUES ARCADELT
1507–1568

Il bianco e dolce cigno

While little is known about Jacques Arcadelt’s early life, he was one of the oltremontani, the group of Franco- Flemish composers imported “over the Alps” to glorify the wealthy courts and chapels of Italy. Most likely from present-day Belgium, he moved to Italy as a young man, and was in Florence by the late 1520s, affording him at least the opportunity to meet, if not to work with, Philippe Verdelot, one of the earliest madrigalists. (Arcadelt would certainly model his mature compositional style after Verdelot.)

In the late 1530s he moved to Rome where he obtained an appointment with the Papal Choir at St. Peter’s Basilica, and eventually became a member of the Sistine Chapel, where he was appointed magister puerorum (director of the boys choir), remaining there until 1551. The same year saw the publication of no fewer than four books of his madrigals. The first of these collections went through 45 editions, becoming the most widelyreprinted collection of madrigals of the time. He left Italy in 1551 to return to France, where he spent the remainder of his life.

Arcadelt’s legacy rests largely on his more than 200 Italian madrigals, composed early on in his career. With his contemporaries, Verdelot and Costanzo Festa, Arcadelt set the style for a generation of madrigal composers. Stylistically his madrigals are melodious and simple in structure, singable, and built on a clear harmonic basis, usually completely diatonic. The music is often syllabic, and while it sometimes uses repeated phrases, is almost always through-composed (as opposed to the contemporary French chanson, which was often strophic). His madrigals best represent the “classic” phase of development of the form, with their clear outline, four-part writing, refinement, and balance. The simple clarity of his style would influence later composers like Palestrina and Cipriano de Rore.

Undoubtedly Arcadelt’s “greatest hit,” Il bianco e dolce cigno is a jewel of musical simplicity contrasted with poetic eroticism, declaimed in direct homophony until the poem’s final lines about “death,” which are rendered in rhapsodic waves of counterpoint.

Il bianco e dolce cigno

Il bianco e dolce cigno
cantando more, ed io piangendo
giung’ al fin del viver mio.
Stran’ e diversa sorte,
ch’ei more sconsolato
ed io moro beato.
Morte che nel morire
m’empie di gioia tutto e di desire.
Se nel morir, altro dolor non sento,
di mille mort’ il di sarei contento.

The white and sweet swan

The white and sweet swan
dies singing, and I, weeping,
reach the end of my life.
Strange and different fate,
that he should die disconsolate
while I die blessed.
[I die] a death which in dying
fills me full of joy and desire.
If in dying, were I to feel no other pain,
I would be content to die a thousand
deaths a day.

— Giovanni Giudiccioni

 

GEORGE GERSHWIN
1898–1937
arr. Kirby Shaw

Summertime

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian- Jewish immigrants, and grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he was exposed to influences from Yiddish, Eastern European, Russian, and African-American cultures. His musical career began at fifteen, when he got a job as a “plugger,” a pianist who sat in the music publisher’s shop and banged out the latest tunes to encourage passersby to come in and buy sheet music.

By the time he was 18, Gershwin was already writing songs, and in less than ten years, had contributed songs to nearly three dozen musicals and revues. His last show of 1924, Lady, Be Good, with its jazzy, pulsating music set to lyrics by his brother Ira, helped shoot him to stardom at the age of just 26.

His only full-length opera, Porgy and Bess, had its beginnings in a novel called Porgy by American author DuBose Heyward, in which the title character is a beggar in Catfish Row, a slum in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1926 Gershwin read the novel and was inspired to collaborate with Heyward to create a truly American opera that would cross musical lines. In order to write Porgy and Bess, Gershwin lived for several weeks with the Gullah Negroes on the waterfront in Charleston, South Carolina.

Finally, in 1935, just two years before Gershwin’s untimely death at age thirty-nine, the opera debuted, receiving mixed reviews. The initial run lasted only 124 performances — not even enough to make up its original investment — and has remained somewhat controversial, even though a film version and several revivals.

Easily the most famous number from Porgy and Bess, “Summertime” takes place at the opening of the opera, sung by the character Clara as a languid lullaby to her baby. In Kirby Shaw’s arrangement, the arching solo vocal line is accompanied by a jazzy choral underpinning with frequent interjections. Between the two verses, an extended improvisational section recalls the rhapsodical scat stylings of artists like Ella Fitzgerald.

Summertime

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich
and your mama’s good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’t you cry.
One of these mornin’s
you’re gonna rise up singing
then you’ll spread your wings
and you’ll take to the sky
But ‘til that morning,
there’s a nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by.

— DuBose Heyward

 

TRADITIONAL IRISH,
arr. Michael McGlynn

Dúlamán

Dublin-born Michael McGlynn, who cites traditional and medieval music as his chief inspirations, is best known as the composer for and director of the highly successful vocal ensemble Anúna, which he founded in 1987. His works have been widely recorded by Anúna and performed by hundreds of choirs worldwide, including Chanticleer. Dúlamán appears on the Chanticleer albums A Portrait and Wondrous Love, his arrangement of “Stille Nacht” can be heard on the group’s Christmas with Dawn Upshaw, and “Agnus Dei” is featured on And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass.

McGlynn shares the following thoughts about his setting of Dúlamán, a popular Irish text: This traditional Irish text tells of a marriage involving the king of seaweed. Texts such as this were sung by people as they gathered seaweed from the barren west coast of Ireland. It was then laid on the land, and eventually this land was used for planting crops.

Dúlamán

A níon mhín ó,
sin anall na fir shúirí
A mháithairin mhín ó
cuir na roithléan go dtí mé.

Refrain

Dúlamán na binne buí Gaelach
Dúlamán na farraige
Dúlamán na binne buí Gaelach

Rachaidh mé chun ‘lúir leis a’
dúlamán Gaelach,
Ceannódh bróga daor’
arsa dúlamán Gaelach.

Bróga breátha dubh’ ar a’ dúlamán
Gaelach,
Bearéad agus triús ar a’ dúlamán
Gaelach.

A ‘níon mhín ó,
sin anall na fir shúirí
A mháithairin mhín ó
cuir na roithléan go dtí mé.

Tá ceann buí óir ar a’ dúlamán Gaelach,
Tá dhá chluais mhaol ar a’ dúlamán
Maorach.

Seaweed

Oh gentle daughter, here come the
wooing men, Oh gentle mother, put the wheels in motion for me.

Refrain

Gaelic seaweed of the yellow peaks,
Seaweed from the ocean,
Gaelic seaweed of the yellow peaks.

I would go to Dore with the
Gaelic seaweed
“I would buy expensive shoes,”
said the Gaelic seaweed.

The Gaelic seaweed has beautiful black
shoes
The Gaelic seaweed has a beret and
trousers.

Oh gentle daughter, here come the
wooing men,
Oh gentle mother, put the wheels in
motion for me.

There is a yellow gold head on the
Gaelic seaweed,
There are two blunt ears on the Gaelic
seaweed.

Translation by Michael McGlynn

 

TRADITIONAL
Hungarian-Romani
arr. Stacy Garrop

Járbă, máré járbă

The folk music of Eastern Europe, filled with dance rhythms and the unique harmonic language of its native country, is rich and varied. The Romani people comprise a large portion of the presentday population in Serbia, Hungary, and Romania, and have contributed to the canon of folk music in each country they inhabit. Their songs often tell of daily life — simple, charming, or otherwise.

The folk song, Járbă, máré járbă, comes from the Romani people in Hungary, and has been recorded by many popular gypsy artists and ensembles, including Gothart, Zoltán Horváth, Finisterrae Tatri & Walkin Brass, and Luminescent Orchestrii.

Award-winning composer, arranger, and professor Stacy Garrop arranged this popular tune for Chanticleer in 2014. Garrop, a Chicago-based composer and San Francisco Bay Area native, composes and arranges for choirs, singers, chamber ensembles, and orchestras. Her choral works have been performed around the United States and she has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, the Detroit and Albany Symphonies, and the Kronos Quartet, among others.

Járbă, máré járbă

Járbă, máré járbă,
más dusjé ákásză,
dá nu pot,
kă ám zsurát.
Máré járbă,
vergyé járbă nu mă pot dusjé ákásză!

O métsz mámá dă pîn szát,
áj lăszát kulyibá gală,
Inpunzîtă, ingurzită dá-j plyină dă
szărăsjijé,
Máré járbă, vergyé járbă
nu mă pot dusjé ákásză!
Járbă, máré járbă,
más dusjé ákásză,
dá nu pot,
kă ám zsurát.

Green grass, tall grass

Green grass, tall grass,
I would like to go home
but I cannot,
because I have sworn not to.
Tall grass, green grass,
I cannot go home!

My mother has left the village;
she left the hut empty,
adorned with leaves but full of
poverty.
Tall grass, green grass,
oh I cannot go home!
Green grass, tall grass,
I would like to go home,
but I cannot,
because I have sworn not to.

 

TRADITIONAL SPIRITUAL
arr. Alice Parker and Robert Shaw

I Want to Die Easy

From the Ainsworth Psalter of 1618, one of the earliest song books to appear in the American colonies, on through the collection of Southern Harmony from the 1850s, and into the vast collection of hymnals of every color, stripe and denomination available today, one can see that Americans of every race and creed have never been ashamed to express their affirmation of deep faith through the medium of song. Conductor Robert Shaw’s and Alice Parker’s countless arrangements of folk songs, spirituals, and hymns – in every language and style – remain popular with choruses today not only because of their immediacy and appeal but also due to the singability, the simple sophistication of the harmonies and counterpoint, the desire to communicate to “scholar and civilian” alike. Written for a tenor soloist with accompanying chorus, I Want to Die Easy is exemplified by a slow, relaxed tempo, “easy” swung triplets in the repeated interjections of the chorus, and a slow build-up to a corporate cry for salvation near its end. This is clearly the song of a slave who has toiled in the fields and is ready to enter over into the next world.

I Want to Die Easy

I want to die easy when I die
Shout salvation as I fly
I want to die easy when I die.

I want to see my Jesus when I die
Shout salvation as I fly
I want to see my Jesus when I die.

I want to go to heaven when I die
Shout salvation as I fly
I want go to heaven when I die.

 

JAMES WOODIE ALEXANDER
1916–1996
JESSE WHITAKER
1920–2006
arr. Joseph Jennings

Straight Street

Over its 40-year history, several pieces stand out as quintessential “Chanticleer” songs: “Shenandoah,” “Dúlamán,” certainly Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” Straight Street could easily be included on this list. Introduced to the ensemble by Joseph Jennings in the 1980s, at a time when Chanticleer was beginning to incorporate different genres of music into its repertory, “Straight Street” was originally the creation of JW Alexander and Jesse Whitaker, two members of the classic gospel ensemble, the Pilgrim Travelers. Dubbed “gospel’s first showmen,” the Pilgrim Travelers were formed in Houston in the late 1930s, one of several traveling gospel ensembles in the United States, but their immensely popular percussive foot tapping (which ended up being mic’d) and solid lead vocals set them apart as one of the most popular and successful. Their wild church performances saw them running off stage and up the aisles in order to, in the words of JW Alexander, “pull the sisters out of their seats.” Between 1947 and 1956, the Pilgrim Travelers recorded over one hundred sides on Specialty Records.

Recorded in 1955, “Straight Street” proved to be one of the group’s most significant recordings, embodying both the walking-in-rhythm sound and spiritual essence that were so unmistakably the soul of the Pilgrim Travelers. During their reign, they influenced such singers as Ray Charles, Lou Rawls and Sam Cooke.

Straight Street

Well, I used to live up on Broadway
Right next to a old liar’s house
My number was self righteousness
Had very little guide of mouth
So I moved, I had to move
And I’m living on Straight Street now.

One day my heart got troubled
All about my dwelling place
I saw the Lord ‘round my settlement
And He told me to leave that place
So I moved, I had to move
And I’m living on Straight Street now.

Oh since I moved, I’m really living
I got peace within.
I thank the Lord for ev’ry blessing
I’m glad I found new friends.

Before I moved over here
Let me tell you how it was with me
Old Satan had me bound up
And I had no liberty
So I moved, I had to move
And I’m living on Straight Street now.

 

TRADITIONAL SPIRITUAL
arr. Joseph Jennings

Keep Your Hand on the Plow

The songs we know as spirituals are generally thought of as religious music, but they represented much more to the people who created them. Often, the slaves used their music as a vehicle for resistance, subversion, and rebellion. “Steal Away” may have been a signal for secret meetings, “Crossing Jordan” and “going to Canaan” could indeed mean dying, but it could also mean crossing the Ohio River and entering a free state. So too does Keep Your Hand on the Plow contain these secret messages. Yes, it’s steady beat and driving rhythm make it a useful accompaniment to a hard, repetitive job like hoeing cotton, but in realizing that “the Plow” is another name for the Big Dipper that points to the North Star, it becomes encouragement to head north. The text “If you want to get to heaven let me tell you how…” could have been a slave preacher explaining a way to escape. Even if it was not signaling a specific service, or an immediate escape plan, singing this song while working in the fields would have been a reminder that there is something better, and people do make it there.

In the course of his extended tenure with Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings’ arrangements have become popular favorites with audiences worldwide. “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” is an example of his ability to inject the vocal freedom inherent in the Southern Baptist tradition into the structure of classical music.

Keep Your Hand on the Plow

Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!
Paul and Silas locked in jail,
Didn’t have no one to go their bail.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!
Mary wore three links of chain
Ev’ry link was in my Jesus name.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!

When the storms come raging high,
You suffer wrong
and you can’t tell why.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!
Keep on plowing, don’t you tire,
Ev’ry round goes higher and higher.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!

I told you once, and I’ll tell you again,
You can’t get to heaven drinking gin.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!
If you want to get to heaven
let me tell you how,
Just keep your hand
on the gospel plow.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!
Got my hand on the gospel plow,
Wouldn’t take nothin’
for my journey now.
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!