Musica Sierra presents Chanticleer: Bringing the power of voice to Tahoe Sierra

San Francisco voice ensemble Chanticleer has performed world-class choral music since 1978. | Stephen K. Mack

Sept. 27 | Community Arts Center | Truckee
Sept. 29 | Nightingale Sky Room | Nevada Museum of Art | Reno
Sept. 30 | Diamond S Ranch | Beckwourth

What is the power of one voice? How about a dozen voices? How about 100? Since its opening movements in 1978, San Francisco-based Grammy winners Chanticleer have toured the world with their one-of-a-kind orchestra of voices.

Over the years, more than 120 superlative vocalists have sung with the group whose name is inspired by a singing rooster in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” The 12-man choral ensemble will perform for the public and work with local students in an upcoming visit to our region orchestrated by Musica Sierraa nonprofit organization founded in 2019 by Truckee native, Julliard graduate and Loyalton resident Lindsay McIntosh to foster the arts in the Lost Sierra.

Through the homegrown program, she and her husband Owen attract world-class artists to the region while helping provide music education programs to the approximately 400 students of rural Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District. The district recently hired Owen as the first full-time music teacher in Sierra County schools in more than two decades.

“It’s been an honor to bring all these incredible musicians and create music for the kids and people in our community,” says Lindsay. “We get to create long-lasting works that will benefit the next generation and inspire them to be classical stewards and stewards of Mother Earth.”
The McIntosh’s first met Chanticleer’s music director, Tim Keeler, while living and working in New York City as freelance musicians.

“I love the two of them so much because they care so deeply about what they do,” says Keeler. “I remember going to their apartment in Brooklyn for rehearsals and dinner. It’s very special to make music with them in a different stage of life.”

Keeler grew up in Delaware singing in church and children’s choirs. He studied music at Princeton University and joined Chanticleer as a vocalist before becoming music director in 2020.

“I had a good network of people around me who encouraged me to pursue music early on,” he says. “I remember listening to Chanticleer as a kid and being fascinated with them. It’s sort of a dream job to now be the music director of the ensemble. In a good year, we do almost 100 concerts all over the country.”

At live performances, Chanticleer covers a range of musical styles from folk to jazz to pop. Crowd favorites like Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” breathe melodiously alongside classical gems such as Max Reger’s “Opus 83.”

“There’s something about the voices and nothing else that resonates with our listeners,” says Keeler. “All of the tools we need to make it happen are inside us. It’s an immediate, visceral experience.”

Chanticleer will be performing a new arrangement of “The Rivers are Our Brothers,” a song cycle composed Majel Connery in 2021 with inspiration from the natural landscape of Sierra County. Musica Sierra creates educational song book/field guides to go along with each of the new compositions they commission as part of its Musical Headwaters program.

“It’s a such a unique way to share our love of the environment and the natural world with the place we’ll be performing,” says Keeler.

During their time here, Chanticleer will sing this piece with students from Wild River Waldorf school, Loyalton elementary and high schools and the University of Nevada at Reno choral program.

“Everybody likes to sing in the shower or along with the car radio,” says Keeler. “There is a beautiful joy that comes out of expressing yourself that way… [Singing with others] is similar to a team sport. It’s a community that is creating something together and working towards a common goal. There’s this immense satisfaction when you perform well, but also the emotional side of the music that is shared with everybody in the chorus. I think that’s pretty rare actually that you can have such an intimate experience with a group of people in that way.”

Future artists-in-residents scheduled to arrive via Musica Sierra include sibling violin/cello duo Anita and Julian Graef from Nov. 6 to 12 and pianist Carolyn Enger from Dec. 11 to 16. |