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HBPA to feature “the world’s reigning male chorus”

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A popular vocal ensemble – which also happens to be known as “the world’s reigning male chorus” (The New Yorker) – makes its fifth appearance in the Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Series.

Chanticleer comes to the Memorial Hall stage on the Bethel College campus Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m.

“Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts has a long tradition of presenting the world’s finest choral groups, and Chanticleer forms a significant part of that heritage,” said HBPA director Matthew Schloneger. “They remain the world’s pre-eminent male a cappella chorus, and it is a great privilege and a testament to our community’s love of excellent vocal music that we’ve been able to bring them back so many times.”

In addition to Chanticleer’s concert appearance, the group’s music director, Matthew Oltman, will present a free public choral master class on the Memorial Hall stage from 4-5 p.m. on the day of the concert. Performing ensembles will include Bethel College’s Concert Choir, directed by William Eash, its student-organized male vocal ensemble Open Road, and Hesston College’s Bel Canto Singers, directed by Bradley Kauffman. The master class is free and open to the public.

The San Francisco-based Chanticleer is now in its 33rd concert season and is scheduled to perform more than 100 concerts in 2010-11, in venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, and the National American Choral Directors Association conference, Chicago. The HBPA event is Chanticleer’s only Kansas concert in the current tour.

Chanticleer – whose name comes from that of “the clear-singing rooster” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – is known worldwide as “an orchestra of voices” for its seamless blend of 12 male voices, ranging from soprano (countertenor) to bass, and its original interpretations of vocal literature from Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony and Romantic art songs to jazz, gospel, world music and new music.

Some recent highlights for Chanticleer have included being named “Ensemble of the Year” by Musical America in 2008; making its debut tour in China in 2009 and returning to the country in June 2010 as part of the San Francisco delegation to Expo 2010 in Shanghai; appearing on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion”; and, during the just-passed Christmas season, releasing A Chanticleer Christmas, a collection of favorite Christmas music from live performances as broadcast by American Public Media.

Chanticleer received the inaugural Dale Warland/Chorus America Commissioning Award in 2008, recognizing the group’s longstanding commitment to commissioning and performing new works. Among the 70 composers that Chanticleer has commissioned throughout its history are Chen Yi, Brent Michael Davids, Guido López-Gavilán, William Hawley, Jeeyoung Kim, Tania León, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Shulamit Ran, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Jan Sandstrom, Steven Stucky, John Tavener, Augusta Read Thomas and Janike Vandervelde.

Also in 2008, Chanticleer was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. It received the Education and Outreach Award from Chorus America in 2010 and is on Billboard magazine’s Top 10 list of best-selling classical artists.

Chanticleer has several Grammy® awards to its credit, including one in 2000, for Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without a conductor) for the album Colors of Love, and two in 2002, for Classical Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without a conductor) and Best Classical Contemporary Composition for the world-premiere recording of John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises.

Tenor Louis Botto founded Chanticleer in 1978, sang in the ensemble until 1989 and served as artistic director until his death in 1997. Music Director Emeritus Joseph Jennings joined Chanticleer as a countertenor in 1983 and shortly thereafter assumed the role of music director, a position he held until he retired in 2008. Jennings has arranged some of Chanticleer’s most popular repertoire, most notably spirituals, gospel songs and jazz standards. Current Music Director Oltman began his tenure in 2008 after singing with the ensemble as a tenor starting in 1999.

Single ticket prices for Chanticleer at Bethel College range from $23 to $19, depending on seating section, with discounts available to students and senior citizens.

Remaining performances in this HBPA season are Lyric Arts Trio (vocal and instrumental), Sunday, Feb. 20, and Three Part Invention (instrumental), Sunday, April 17, both at Hesston Mennonite Church.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 (Hesston College) or 316-284-5205 (Bethel College), e-mail hbpa@hesston.edu or see www.hesston.edu/hbpa/.

This program is presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes a great nation deserves great art, and is supported by Mid-America Arts Alliance, with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Arts Commission and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series, now in its 29th year, started in 1982 as Hesston Performing Arts (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College, North Newton, and the series name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College and Bethel College host five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year.

(For Chanticleer photos, go to http://www.chanticleer.org/photos/ )

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