Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Men's Voices

Get men together in a pub or a Tavern these days and it is unlikely they will burst into song, unless it is a Karaoke night. We don't have that here but hey, it is something to think about, eh?  And then too one can come across 'garage bands' doing a gig. But we do have a music area here which opens into the resaurant and patio and we do do entertainment. All three were busy today. But it is the bar where men used to sing a lot in an earlier era. And this evening we had not one mob of men but two, competing and cooperating to do the very best for us.

My friend Mary Sternhagen brought them in. "Hey, Sire", she smiled, "look at all the men who follow me around"  I was delighted. After days of dire and dark conversations we were in need of cheer. She had the choirs. The choirs had the best songs, most appropiate for this sort of Tavern.

Cantus is a full-time, professional vocal chamber ensemble, made up of eight men singing in a TTBB (tenor, tenor, baritone, bass), changed male voice arrangement. The artists are self-led, with programming and musical direction coming from within the group itself. The ensemble is known for innovative concert programming, often tying together works of numerous genres to explore a selected narrative, including classical music, orchestral-vocal repertoire, folk music, art song, popular songs, spirituals, and newly commissioned works.

These men of fine voice are....

Jacob Christopher, tenor
Zachary Colby, tenor
Adam Fieldson, tenor
Chris Foss, bass
David Geist, baritone
Matthew Goinz, baritone
Samuel Green, bass
Paul Scholtz, tenor

The vocal group maintains a schedule of around 70 live concert performances and 30-40 education/outreach activities in a given season, both in the United States of America and abroad. 

And the Knight & Drummer Tavern, of course.

Cantus is an active proponent of music education, encouraging people of all ages - especially men - to sing. The ensemble has worked with tens of thousands of singers throughout the country in educational activities ranging from master classes to festivals and collaborations. New members are acquired through annual national auditions.

The ensemble began as a student-run organization at St. Olaf College in 1995. After a successful northeast tour in the summer of 1998, Cantus transitioned into a professional ensemble and non-profit organization by 1999, based out of Minneapolis, MN.

Cantus is the only artist-led full-time vocal ensemble in the United States, and is one of two professional classical male vocal ensembles in the United States that pays its artists full-time salaries, while maintaining a year-round schedule of performances, the other being San Francisco’s Chanticleer.

So let us look at them too. But..... first. let's see and hear the all, by way of introduction to pub singing.

Called “the world’s reigning male chorus,” by the New Yorker magazine, and named 2008 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America, Chanticleer performs more than 100 concerts each year around the globe. These guys are.....

Gerrod Pagenkopf, countertenor; 
Logan S. Shields, countertenor;
Timothy Keeler, countertenor;
Cortez Mitchell, countertenor;
Adam Ward, countertenor;
Alan Reinhardt, countertenor;
Matthew Mazzola, tenor;
Brian Hinman, tenor & road manager;
Andrew Van Allsburg, tenor;
Matthew Knickman, baritone; 
Zachary Burgess, bass-baritone; and
Eric Alatorre, bass

Chanticleer - based in San Francisco - has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music. With its seamless blend of twelve male voices, ranging from countertenor to bass, the ensemble has earned international renown as “an orchestra of voices.”

This is Chanticleer.

Since 1994, Chanticleer’s recordings have been made available worldwide by Warner Classics. Most recently Let it Snow, a new collection of Christmas music, was on the BillBoard charts for twelve weeks. Colors of Love won the GRAMMY® Award in 2000 for Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without Conductor) and the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award for Best Classical Album. The world-premiere recording of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises was released in January 2002 to critical acclaim and garnered two GRAMMY® awards for Classical Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without Conductor) and for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

With the help of individual contributions and foundation and corporate support, the group brings the gift of singing to young people by conducting an extensive education program including in-school clinics and workshops, Chanticleer Youth Choral Festivals™ in the Bay Area and around the country, master classes for university students nationwide, and the Chanticleer in Sonoma summer workshop for adult choral singers. 2008 saw the release of The Singing Life- a documentary about Chanticleer’s 2007 Youth Choral Festival™.

I was reading and watching some American Civil War history the other evening and specifically the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Here is an echo.

Chanticleer’s long-standing commitment to commissioning and performing new works was recognized in 2008 by the inaugural Dale Warland Commissioning Award and the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming for the 2006-07 Season in which the group premiered ten new works. Among the seventy composers commissioned in the group’s history - past commissions include works by Mark Adamo, Régis Campo, Chen Yi, David Conte, Douglas J. Cuomo, Brent Michael Davids, Anthony Davis, Guido López-Gavilán, William Hawley, Jake Heggie, Jackson Hill, Kamran Ince, Jeeyoung Kim, Tania León, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Michael McGlynn, John Musto, Shulamit Ran, Bernard Rands, Steven Sametz, Carlos Sanchez-Guttierez, 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 Botto, who sang with the group until 1989 and served as Artistic Director until his death in 1997. In 1999, Christine Bullin joined Chanticleer as President & General Director. Artistic Advisor Joseph Jennings joined the ensemble as a countertenor in 1983, and shortly thereafter assumed the title of Music Director which he held until 2008. A prolific composer and arranger, Mr. Jennings has provided the group with some of its most popular repertoire, most notably spirituals, gospel music, and jazz standards. In 2008, tenor Matthew Oltman was named Music Director.

By the way, there is a lady choir called Cantus as well, and guess what. They came in too. Enough talk for the moment. Let's see and hear these fine gals.

I had a lot of exercise on the pumps and cork-puller this evening, I can tell you. Throats and vocal chords need lubricating and what better to do that with than the finest ale and wine from my Supplier.

Have a few yourself.



  1. What a delight you share with us. The male voices bring to me songs that I sung in a mixed voice choir. The men are so talented to get all the tonal range of male and female voices. Wow!

    The songs they sing bring back so many memories for me :-)

    I am still seeking to find a choir/singing group that I can join to lift me up into the participatory delights of music :-)

    1. You may need to be prepared to travel to find a great choir to join, and then if it is really great you could get to travel the world !!


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..