by Megan M. on November 27, 2007 · View Comments (Music) |

I started posting about Michael’s visit a few weeks ago. A bit of background is here.

It’s a Thursday night—November 8th.

Marty and I are sitting in the First Presbyterian Church, because Michael found us two tickets to tonight’s performance—Michael Match, whose first soprano line, if I recall correctly, was with Dr. Buch’s Early Music Ensemble. How long ago was that?

Though I saw Chanticleer years ago, the memory isn’t comparable to this. Tonight when they begin, you could hear a pin drop in the audience—and no one is going to be so thoughtless, because we’re all in thrall. Chanticleer doesn’t just sing—it pulses. The twelve of them are this incredible living organism. No conductor, no instruments. They are a single instrument, tuxes and tails and white bow ties. The whole result is like one voice, in a way I can’t possibly describe in text, or even by handing you a recording. You had to be there for this one.

Each member seems charismatic and engaging; between sets one singer and then another introduces the program notes, making us smile and fall in love with them, one at a time. And then they all start to sing again, changing configuration between pieces like a flower, or an alien spaceship, and we realize that these songs are perfect. This is the way these songs are meant to sound.

I want to know what each of them is like at home, in San Franscisco. The tall one with the subtle mohawk, the older one with the awesome moustache—twisted ends! I wonder about all of them and soak up the sound, try to see into their souls. This is deceptively difficult (I’d guess) even while they’re singing, something that is so bearing and opening. In our conversations, Michael playfully referred to the others as his “co-workers”, and I try to see them that way. Co-workers. Real, individual people. Not just flat images on a screen, but people with lives that they’re living.

It’s a little bit hard, because what they do is so magical. Or maybe that makes it easier?

“Et pro nobis Christum,” they are singing. The end is Michael’s: a savory “exora,” intertwining harmonies, end of piece. I have seen various sources call Chanticleer an orchestra of voices. They’re not screwing around.

This is their 30th season, and Michael’s first season singing with them. Some of them have been with the group for many years; some for just a few. But hearing Michael Match in this context thrills me to the core—seeing Chanticleer without the familiar, personal flavor of friendship would be missing something amazing and still be breathtaking, but with that thing, with that person for whom I have such an affection… geeze. It’s unbelievable.

Some of you already know how difficult it’s been for me to write this entry, and it’s certainly taken me long enough. But none of the words I type seem to convey the breadth of feeling there is in something like this, at least for me. And as you might have guessed, there’s more on the way. But for now—best to get started, yes?

  • C. Michael Bailey
    I had a similar experience seeing Chanticleer in San Francisco in 1997. I wrote about it in I was given your Chanticleer link by our mutual friend, Melissa Hughes.
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