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Giving voice to an international reputation

ONE of the world's most acclaimed vocal groups, Chanticleer, has included Shanghai on its tour this year. Nie Xin hears what makes this group so special and how its Shanghai concerts will be so different With its seamless blend of 12 male voices, ranging from countertenor to bass, Chanticleer has well earned its international reputation as "an orchestra of voices."

Based in San Francisco, Chanticleer's 2008-2009 season includes more than 100 concerts around the world, and China is one of the major stops, with Suzhou, Shanghai and Beijing on the list.

The two concerts to be staged at the Shanghai Concert Hall will bring both a night of pure sounds of America and a special collaboration with the Shanghai Quartet.

Chanticleer is famous for its vivid interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to adventurous new music. It's the Grammy-winning ensemble's 31st season. It is regarded as "the world's reigning male chorus" and was also named "2008 Ensemble of the Year" by Musical America.

The first concert at Shanghai Concert Hall on May 2 will be with the Shanghai Quartet.

The program "From the Path of Beauty" will include works composed by Chinese composer Chen Yi, including "Bronze Toatie," "Ancient Totems," "Dancing Ink," "Secluded Melody" and "Village Band," which will all be sung by Chanticleer.

Those songs were composed particularly for Chanticleer by Chen, a composer with Chanticleer for three years. The songs are full of Chinese traditional features including folk music, antique musical instruments and ancient poems.

Chinese folk songs arranged by Chen - "Feng Yang Ge," "Molihua" and "Mayila" will also be performed.

Chanticleer will also give voice to songs of the American composer Steven Foster (1826-1864) including "Nelly Bly," "Beautiful Dreamer," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and "Hard Times Come Again No More."

The Shanghai String Quartet will come into its own with a performance of Beethoven's "String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op. 95 - Serioso."

The second concert on May 3 is dedicated to American music, a night of "Sounds of America."

Audiences in Shanghai will hear early Mexican music like "Circumdavit" by Juan Gutierrez de Padilla and "Credidi" by Juan de Lienas; early American music like "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," a traditional hymn, "David's Lamentation" by William Billings and "Soar Away" by A.M. Cagle; and "Night Chant" by composer Brent Michael Davids. There will also be works by 20th-century American master Samuel Barber, some folk and gospel songs and jazz.

Named after the "clear-singing" rooster of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," Chanticleer was founded in 1978 by tenor Louis Botto, who sang with the group until 1989 and served as artistic director until his death in 1997. Tenor Matthew Oltman has been music director since 2008.

Chanticleer's 28-concert Bay Area Season opened in September with "Wondrous Free" - an appreciation of the 250th anniversary of the first American song.

Their partner in the coming show in Shanghai, the Shanghai Quartet, is highly acclaimed as well.

Hailed as "a foursome of uncommon refinement and musical distinction," Shanghai Quartet has earned a reputation as one of the world's most outstanding string quartets. This versatile ensemble is known for its passionate musicality, astounding technique, and multicultural innovation.

Since its founding at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, Shanghai Quartet has performed on the world's leading concert stages, and regularly tours the great music centers in Europe, America and Asia. They have appeared on-stage with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, David Soyer and Eugenia Zukerman.

Date: May 2-3, 7:30pm

Address: 523 Yan'an Rd E.

Tickets: 100-580 yuan


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