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March 14, 2009

Chanticleer celebrates its 30th year with works by 30-ish composers

San Jose Mercury News (CA):

In the life of an artist, the early 30s is an age of promise. For an ensemble, surpassing a third decade speaks to creative accomplishment. Last year, multi-Grammy-winning Chanticleer decided to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a program of newly commissioned works by three young composers, born around the same year the choir was launched.

"It's a new generation of composers," says Christine Bullin, president and general director of the San Francisco a cappella ensemble. "We have composers we've worked with over the years who are wonderful, but we wanted to forge ties with some of the brilliant young composers who grew up at the same time as Chanticleer."

As part of its birthday celebration, the chorus performs the three world premieres in the program "Composers/Our Age" Wednesday at Mission Santa Clara. (The program also is being presented Tuesday at Berkeley's First Congregational Church and Friday through March 22 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.) It features the politically charged "Garden of Paradise" by New York City-based Shawn Crouch, "No Matter" by London-born Tarik O'Regan and "Sirens" by Berkeley-based Mason Bates.

O'Regan's piece is a setting for Samuel Beckett's poetry, and Crouch's composition intersperses verse by the Persian Sufi mystic Rumi with a poem by an American veteran of the war in Iraq. With "Sirens," Bates delivers an ambitious choral song cycle that begins and ends with text from Homer's "Odyssey"; the poetry in between is in German, Italian and English.

"I didn't want to write one monolithic piece," says Bates, 32, one of the highest-profile young composers in the region. "I wanted to create something that could be an excerptable song cycle but that also had some unity ..., to explore different kinds of beautiful and alluring and magnetic music. I started researching different siren texts. I wasn't interested in a literary exploration of the concept of sirens, more the human side of what it means, the beautiful and dangerous." Read more.

Posted by acapnews at March 14, 2009 12:00 AM


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