Renowned male chorus Chanticleer is coming to Kalamazoo’s Chenery Auditorium Friday at 8 p.m. to perform their program The Siren’s Call. Music director Jace Witting says the idea for The Siren’s Call came from the tale of the sirens in Greek mythology, but Chanticleer expanded the theme to include songs that reflect temptation, desire, and journey.
Witting says the lineup spans from Gregorian chants up to pieces that were written for Chanticleer just a few years ago. The lineup includes works by Carlo Gesualdo, Andrea Gabrieli, and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, as well as folk songs from all over the world. Chanticleer will perform a special selection about a maritime disaster called Canticum calamitatis maritimae by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi. The song is about a cruise ship that sank near Estonia in the 1990s.
The group will also sing their traditional mix of jazz and spirituals, along with their rendition of Temptation by Tom Waits. Witting says themes like The Siren’s Call create a story that helps to keep the vocalists interested after performing a piece dozens of times.
The Siren’s Call marks the ensemble’s 35th anniversary. Wittig says the fact that the model for the group hasn’t really changed speaks to the strength of vision the founders had for the chorus. He says Chanticleer still explores the same composers and styles of music that the group was founded to explore.
Witting says Chanticleer is always holding auditions, even when there aren’t openings in the chorus. Staff at Chanticleer review tape from hundreds of vocalists and then invite six to 12 people to San Francisco for an in-depth audition.