An evening with Chanticleer

Some days, my job is just better than most. Today was one of those days.

It’s bittersweet, of course, since technically, the performance by Chanticleer that I saw tonight was barely half full. I suppose some would call that a failure.

I choose to think of it as a special treat for those 600 folks who were smart enough to buy tickets. No, it wasn’t the flashy Broadway show that 9000 people attended last week. No, there were no special effects. Yes, the generous crowds also gave that Broadway show a standing ovation, but those who know this town know that’s nothing to get excited about. Tonight’s ovation was for excellence, pure and simple.

Regardless of the language, these guys sang with the pure, clear voices of angels. As the lights came up at intermission, I experienced the thrill that is my litmus test for a great performance: a sense of glee that I had an entire 2nd act to go…and wouldn’t have to leave the theater or the music just yet. Clad in tuxedos (a bit stuffy on a Tuesday, one of my colleagues said, but I like the formality; it implies a respect for the evening and the music) and falling into that odd sway/bounce motion that all singers seem to adopt, they held us captive for more than 2 hours.

Arts administration can be a thankless, anxious job. Lots of numbers to crunch, strategies to plan, people to manage and ticket sales (or lack thereof) to fret over. Shows like Chanticleer are the therapy that keeps me going. The harmonies that wafted out over the audience today were a quiet massage to my tired brain. That perfect vocal moment, when the soaring pitch of the tenor forces a deep, rapturous breath into the lungs, was a reward for the days spent in meetings and at my desk. That wonderful beat at the end of a song, when the wavelengths of sound are fading, and the singers lower their folders, and the murmur of appreciation ripples through the crowd before the first person claps: that moment makes my job worth it.

And the sight of a stooped, elderly gentlemen, proudly showing his signed, vinyl recording of Chanticleer to the group’s young music director, who was likely a child when the record was cut, is just the icing on the cake.

Yep. I have a great job. Thank you and good night.

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