Group Dynamics

Classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer

Chanticleer, America's only full-time classical vocal ensemble, enters its 24th season with a triumphant stride. The Grammy-winning 12-man group seamlessly sings everything from Renaissance to jazz to gospel—three male soprano and three male alto voices add transparent texture and church-choir purity to the mix. Countertenor and group artistic administrator Philip Wilder says that the ensemble's new Christmas recording, with soprano Dawn Upshaw, is "a true love-fest," and will perhaps top their other recent CD on Teldec, Magnificat, which reached the top five on Billboard's classical chart. Planning their annual Christmas concerts across the country, including the one at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on December 9, says Wilder, "is a bit like opening presents on Christmas . . . gathering with the family to share the music." January will feature the beginning of a world premiere tour of a work commissioned by the San Francisco-based group, Lamentations and Praises, by the English composer Sir John Tavener. Chanticleer follows in the tradition of its late founder, tenor Louis Botto, whose personal style, says Wilder, was "stubborn, charming, and outrageous—it was magic." It was Botto who inspired the ensemble, which he named after the "clear-singing" rooster in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, to its trademark sassy, yet laid-back, style.