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Chanticleer Biography

Season Listing | Biography | Program | Program Notes

CHANTICLEER – AN ORCHESTRA OF VOICES

Called “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker magazine, and named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America in 2008, the San Francisco-based, GRAMMY® award-winning ensemble Chanticleer embarks upon its 36th season in 2013-14, performing in 23 of the United States. A winter international tour of 9 European countries will see debuts in Dublin, Moscow, and St. Petersburg; and returns to Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Bruges. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for their “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for the seamless blend of its twelve male voices ranging from countertenor to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music.

Chanticleer’s 24-concert 2013-14 Bay Area Season opens in September with the launch at SF Jazz of a new studio album, Someone New, a collection of jazz/pop tunes by composers such as Brubeck, Jobim, Gotye, Waits, Mercury, Elbow, M83 and others newly arranged for Chanticleer. The concert season opens with She Said/He Said, featuring music by Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Brahms, Ravel, Barber, as well as the premieres of “Give Me Hunger” by Stacy Garrop and Vince Peterson’s arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” A Chanticleer Christmas is in high demand at the Christmas season with performances from coast-to-coast in venues including New York’s St. Ignatius Loyola, Chicago’s First Presbyterian Church, Walt Disney Concert Hall and churches and missions in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Chanticleer Christmas is broadcast annually on over 300 affiliated public radio stations nationwide.

Two unprecedented collaborations round out the Bay Area season. Atlantic Crossing in March, with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, recalls the period of electric creativity before World War I through the music of Rosza, Bartok, Weill, Ellington and Gershwin and features special arrangements by Clarice Assad. Concluding the season in June will be Chanticleer’s first all Russian program, Russian Dreams, featuring music written for Russian male choruses–from chant, folk songs, and battle songs, to secular chorales and Romantic liturgical masterpieces–all prepared by Elena Sharkova.

Since Chanticleer began releasing recordings in 1981, the group has sold well over a million copies and garnered two GRAMMY® awards. Chanticleer’s recordings are distributed by Chanticleer Records, Naxos, Rhino Records, ArkivMusic, and iTunes among others, and are available on Chanticleer’s website: www.chanticleer.org. In addition to Someone New, Chanticleer will release a live recording of She Said/He Said on its Chanticleer Live in Concert (CLIC) series.

With the help of individual contributions, foundation and corporate support, the Ensemble involves over 5,000 young people annually in its extensive education programs. The Louis A. Botto (LAB) Choir—an after school honors program for high school and college students—is now in its fourth year, adding to the ongoing program of in-school clinics and workshops, Chanticleer Youth Choral Festivals™ in the Bay Area and around the country, master classes for students nationwide, and the Chanticleer in Sonoma summer workshop for adult choral singers. The Singing Life—a documentary about Chanticleer’s work with young people—was released in 2008. In 2010, Chanticleer’s education program was recognized by the Chorus America Education Outreach Award.

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 for the 2006-07 Season in which ten new works were premiered. Among the eighty composers commissioned in Chanticleer’s history are Mark Adamo, Mason Bates, Régis Campo, Chen Yi, David Conte, Shawn Crouch, Douglas J. Cuomo, Brent Michael Davids, Anthony Davis, Guido López-Gavilán, Stacy Garrop, William Hawley, Jake Heggie, Jackson Hill, Kamran Ince, Jeeyoung Kim, Tania León, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Michael McGlynn, Peter Michaelides, 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 Botto, who sang in the Ensemble until 1989 and served as Artistic Director until his death in 1997.

Chanticleer, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, is the current recipient of major grants from Chevron , The Dunard Fund/USA,  The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund , The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts , The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Bob Ross Foundation, and The Wallis Foundation. Chanticleer’s activities as a not-for-profit corporation are supported by its administrative staff and Board of Trustees.

2013-2014 Season Individual Biographies

ERIC ALATORRE, bass, joined Chanticleer in the last century. Really. Now the provider of much of the Chanticleer lore from former times, he is enjoying sharing the joy of singing with some of his colleagues who are, quite literally, a new generation of singers. He still enjoys being able to perform all over the country and the world, which gives him plenty of time to explore his other passion: food. A part-time hedonist and full-time wine enthusiast, he is always looking for another wonderful dining experience to share with friends and his fellow singers on the road. His other passions include promoting Apple products to others, eating his way around the world, being married to his wonderful wife Dorothee, and enjoying watching his daughter Mia discover the joys of learning English, German and Spanish.

MICHAEL BRESNAHAN, tenor, is thrilled to be in his second year with Chanticleer.  A West Virginia native, he received his B.M. in Vocal Performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where he studied with Mark Crayton and Matthew Chellis and sang several leading roles.  He then received a Master’s Degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and worked as a choir teacher at a high school in downtown Chicago. He sang with some of the finest church choirs in Chicago, including the choirs of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and Fourth Presbyterian Church.  His other interests include country two-stepping, random adventures, and delicious food.

BRIAN HINMAN, tenor, is in his eighth season with Chanticleer. Born in the suburbs of Chicago, he spent his childhood singing in choirs.  Brian studied vocal performance at the University of Tennessee in addition to acting at the Larry Singer Studios and jazz with Joe Solomon, both in New York City. He has sung with rock bands, bluegrass bands and gospel choirs and has a long string of theater credits including lead roles in regional productions of Company and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  This is also Brian’s eighth season as Chanticleer’s Road Manager.  He recently Co-Produced Chanticleer’s latest pop/jazz studio album, Someone New, with Leslie Ann Jones and Jace Wittig.

BEN JONES, tenor, is in his fifth season with Chanticleer. Before joining the ensemble, he enjoyed a career in theatre and solo singing, performing professionally in productions including Follies (Buddy), Show Boat (Ravenal), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy), Cats (Munkustrap/Quaxo) and Sweeney Todd (Tobias) in addition to skewering multiple figures from pop culture (Michael Jackson, George W. Bush, John Travolta, Bill Clinton, Michael Phelps) in the long-running San Francisco revue, Beach Blanket Babylon. Jones’ versatile voice can be heard on recordings on the Albany label and on national commercial spots for Meow Mix and Coors Light. As a concert soloist, he has shared the stage with Nathan Gunn, Rita Moreno, Helmuth Rilling, Val Diamond and Ian Hobson. Jones is an avid arts educator, having lectured regularly on music form and analysis in addition to conducting for multiple Bay Area youth orchestras, including the San Jose Youth Symphony. Jones holds a bachelors degree in film theory and analysis from the University of Illinois as well as a masters degree in music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied voice with Cesar Ulloa and conducting with Michael Morgan.

MATTHEW KNICKMAN, baritone, is proud to be in his third season with Chanticleer. Born in Korea, he started singing as a member of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Westminster Choir College of Rider University with a B.M. and M.M. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy. While at Westminster, he sang with the critically acclaimed Westminster Choir and Westminster Kantorei in multiple performances with the NY Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic & New Jersey Symphony. Prior to joining Chanticleer, he also performed with various organizations such as Les Violons du Roy et La Chapelle de Québec, Early Music New York, Masterwork Chorus, Antioch Chamber Ensemble, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Weston and Spoleto Festival U.S.A.  He has been a soloist in numerous oratorios and Bach cantatas including the St. John and St. Matthew Passions with early music organizations such as Fuma Sacra, the Philadelphia Bach Festival and Carmel Bach Festival. In 2010, he was a Finalist in the Sixth Biennial Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers. When not singing, Matthew enjoys skydiving, comfort foods and is an exercise and nutritional science enthusiast.

CORTEZ MITCHELL, alto, is a native of Detroit, MI. He graduated from Morgan State University with a B.A. in music and a B.S. in mathematics and holds an M.M. in voice from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.  As Minnesota Opera’s first resident artist countertenor he performed the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and covered Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les Contes de Hoffman.  With Urban Opera he performed the role of 1st Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aneas.  He has been featured in solo performances of J.S Bach’s Cantata#147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben with the Dayton Philharmonic, R. Nathaniels Dett’s The Ordering of Moses and Adolphus Hailstork’s Done Made My Vow with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Rachmaniov’s Vespers in St. Petersburg Russia, and Wynton Marsallis’s All Rise with the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble. Cortez has received awards from the National Opera Association, The Washington International competition and the Houston Grand Opera Elleanor McCollum competition. Mr. Mitchell is in his seventh season with Chanticleer.

GREGORY PEEBLES, soprano and Assistant Music Director, is thrilled to be returning for his sixth season with Chanticleer. Originally from Hartselle, Alabama, he first performed for the public as a very young boy with his family singing gospel music. Eventually, he left the revival circuit for The University of Mississippi in Oxford. After graduating cum laude from “Ole Miss”, he found his way to Chicago, where he sang with musicians in such prestigious ensembles as Schola Antiqua, an ensemble in residence at the University of Chicago, as well as the choruses of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. More recently, he completed his graduate degree in Vocal Performance at Chicago College of the Performing Arts, where he studied with Mark Crayton. In addition to his singing he is also a composer whose works have been performed in the USA and Europe. In his spare time, he enjoys poetry and exploring San Francisco, the most recent addition to a list of beautiful cities he can call Home.

KORY REID, soprano, is in his third season with Chanticleer. He studied music education at Pepperdine University and completed a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California. Kory is a sought after countertenor soloist who has sung for Los Angeles Zimriyah Chorale, Los Robles Master Chorale, Catgut Trio, USC Chamber Singers, Pepperdine University Concert Choir and Collegium Musicum, and for many diverse choral recitals and church music programs in Southern California. He is a barbershop music enthusiast, was a district finalist in the quartet contest and a past member of the Westminster Chorus, winning the International Barbershop Chorus Contest in 2010. Kory also served as the Music Director for St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Newbury Park, CA. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies, tasting new wines, and eating Doritos.

ALAN REINHARDT, alto, is pleased to be in his eighth season with Chanticleer. He grew up in Long Island, N.Y. and prior to joining, sang with various ensembles in New York City including The Men and Boys choir at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue, Early Music New York and choral performances with the N.Y. Philharmonic. In 2005, he sang the lead countertenor role in the premiere of the dance/opera A More Perfect Union in the State Theatre in Perm, Russia as part of the Sergei Diaghilev Festival. Recently, he has been exploring his love of poetry on the website Voetica.com where you can find him reading classic American poets Robert Frost and Richard Wilbur. Alan holds degrees from SUNY Potsdam and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

MARQUES JERRELL RUFF, bass-baritone,  is elated to begin his journey with Chanticleer. A New England native (Connecticut), Marques is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University where he received a B.A. in Voice Performance and also founded and directed the all-male a cappella ensemble, DIVISI. He has been privileged to appear in concert as a soloist with the Hartford Symphony, Voce, Inc. and CONCORA. He has been the recipient of top honors from the National Association of Teachers of Singing Voice Competition and the Classical Singer Competition. A lover of classical and choral music, he is also an avid jazz, gospel and Broadway performer, and has been featured in the Hartford Jazz Festival, Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival and appeared in regional theater productions of Rent and Ain’t Misbehavin’. He wishes to send all of his love to his family and friends back home, and a special shout-out to his inspiration and love, Beyoncé!

DARITA MARA SETH, soprano, is honored to be in his first season with Chanticleer. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, he gained recognition as a young church musician singing and playing piano in worship teams.  Darita attended the Conservatory of Music at Capital University, studying vocal performance.  While at Capital, Darita sang with the renowned Chapel Choir, was a founding member of the chamber ensemble, Philomel, and performed in numerous productions.  While completing his undergraduate degree, Darita served as artistic director for the Hillcrest Baptist Sanctuary Choir and first gained experience singing countertenor at Saint Joseph Cathedral. Additionally, Darita has recorded with AireBorn studios for various new music publications. He is a proud alumnus of the Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp, where he participated in the composition, opera, and choral programs. Darita enjoys serving his time as a mentor for young choral students.  His other interests include cooking meals of his Cambodian-American roots, video blogging, and walking dogs.

ADAM WARD, alto, is originally from Tecumseh, Oklahoma. At an early age Adam became fascinated with the voice of Patsy Cline and as a child he made a number of television appearances singing Cline’s songs. Mr. Ward began singing countertenor while studying French horn performance at Yale University. There he was also a founding member of the Yale Schola Cantorum. He has since performed as soloist with the International Contemporary Ensemble and was a member of the Choir of St. Mary the Virgin at the famed “Smoky Mary’s” in midtown Manhattan. As a horn player, Adam was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, winner of the concerto competitions at Yale and Stony Brook Universities, and was a top prize-winner at the Coleman, Fischoff and Yellow Springs national chamber music competitions. He is currently composer-in-residence for the New York City based Choral Chameleon directed by Vince Peterson. Adam holds a BM from Manhattan School of Music, MM from Yale School of Music and additional years of study at the Hartt School, Royal College of Music (London) and Stony Brook University. Adam is overjoyed to be in his eighth season with Chanticleer.

JACE WITTIG, Interim Music Director, is pleased to be in his eighth season with Chanticleer. An Indianapolis native, he began his musical training early with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, touring often in North America and Europe. He received his B.M. in Vocal Performance at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, studying voice with Dr. Craig Priebe and piano with Dr. Jim Helton. Before joining Chanticleer, he sang in Indianapolis with Cantabile and also worked as a studio singer at AireBorn Studios. He has worked as an Artist in Residence at the San Francisco School of the Arts, teaching in the classroom and directing small ensembles.  His other interests include stumbling through old piano music and cooking for his loved ones. He is glad to have the unending support of his friends and family, and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Chanticleer.

BEN JOHNS, Director of Education, finished his master’s degree in Choral Conducting in 2009 at the University of California, Irvine and holds undergraduate degrees in Dance, Vocal Performance, and Chemistry.  Mr. Johns earned merit-based graduate fellowships, teaching assistantships and scholarships from the Tom and Elizabeth Tierney, Ann and Gordon Getty, Mary and Philip Lyons, and Sunny Brown Scholarship Foundations.  He also earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for his honor’s thesis topic, “Exploring the Neurobiological Basis for the Effect of Movement on the Voice,” a topic he presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers conference at California State University, Sacramento in 2004.  Ben sang in the Chanticleer ensemble for three years before moving to his current position as Chanticleer’s Director of Education.  His education duties include, but are not limited to, directing Chanticleer’s LAB Choir and giving master classes to Bay Area high school and middle school choirs.  Outside Chanticleer, Mr. Johns is artistic director of Musae,  teaches voice privately, and continues to sing and conduct.

CHRISTINE BULLIN, Chanticleer’s President and General Director, oversees the organization’s artistic and administrative activities.  Prior to joining Chanticleer, Ms. Bullin served as the Director of the Centre de formation lyrique for the Opéra National de Paris, directing a new training center for singers.  During her tenure there, she managed all administrative, financial and artistic activities, and produced numerous operas and concerts.  From 1982-1993, Ms. Bullin was the Director of the San Francisco Opera Center, which she created from existing and new programs and which is now revered throughout the operatic world.  Among her initiatives were a long-term exchange program with the Shanghai Conservatory; and Pacific Voices, a project which involved ten Pacific Rim countries.  She was the Executive Producer for three video documentaries about the SF Opera Center, including the Rocky Mountain Emmy-winning Scaling the Wall, featuring the historic visit of Western Opera Theater to China.  In recognition of her work in San Francisco, she was the recipient of the Bernard Osher Cultural Award.  Prior to joining the San Francisco Opera, she directed the touring company of the Opera Company of Boston.

Ms. Bullin is a frequent panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, and a frequent jury member for vocal competitions.  A native of New Zealand, she holds degrees from Wellesley College and Simmons College, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia.

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