Chanticleer brings comfort and joy to Palladium

Indianapolis Examiner

By Tom Alvarez

Long before a cappella groups such as Straight No Chaser and the hit NBC TV show The Sing Off  became popular, Chanticleer was and continues to be known as “the world’s reigning male chorus.” On Saturday, the 12-man choral group performed at Carmel’s Palladium as part of the Center for the Performing Arts Holiday Series.

Commencing the concert, Chanticleer began its program singing Gregorian chant in the form of Rorate caeli (also known as The Advent Prose) backstage once the house lights went down and the stage was darkened.
Entering the stage carrying candles, they segued into O magnum mysterium by Tomas Luis de Victoria, followed by Quam vidistis pastores by Landrea Gabriel and Pastores loquebantur by Francisco Guerrero – all from the Renaissance period.

By the time this portion of the concert had completed, it was obvious that the Palladium venue, with its highly touted acoustics, was an ideal showcase for this group also known as “an orchestra of voices.”

Acclaimed for its vocal superiority, impeccable harmonies, distinctive arrangements, uncommon repertoire and showmanship, Chanticleer evidenced all those properties and more during the concert, which kept the audience spellbound throughout.

Highlights during Act l were the group’s performance of Star of the East, anonymously composed in Appalachia during the 19th century, which was a clear audience favorite, and Lulajze, Jezuniu, a Polish carol with a stunning solo by alto Adam Ward.

Act 2 began with the chorus singing a mellifluous rendition of Ave Maria by Franz Biebl, followed by Benjamin Britten’s A Hymn to the Virgin and continuing with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Gabriel’s Message, a Basque carol.

Standout solo performances were given later by bass Michael Axtell in I Wonder as I Wonder and tenor Matthew Curtis in O Holy Night.

Also receiving an enthusiastic audience response was a Christmas medley of three gospel songs that concluded the concert. It included Everywhere I Go, as well as Oh, What a Pretty Baby and Jesus, Oh What a Beautiful Child. The medley nicely showcased the stupendous voices of alto Cortez Mitchell, soprano Casey Breves and bass Eric Alatorre.

After taking its bows to cheers and a standing ovation, Chanticleer exited the stage, only to return for a predictable encore. It was prefaced with remarks by singer Matthew Curtis, also the assistant music director, who said, “During these times of stress, we hoped that we could bring you some comfort and joy,” after which the chorus delicately sang a serenity-inducing Silent Night. There is no question that they mightily succeeded.