Joseph Jennings, Chanticleer’s Artistic Advisor, to Retire this Season

Stephen Cassidy, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Chanticleer, announced today that Joseph Jennings will retire as the ensemble’s Artistic Advisor, effective June 30, 2009. As of July 1, 2009 Jennings will hold the title of Music Director Emeritus with the company. The Chanticleer organization will soon announce details about an event it will hold to honor Mr. Jennings and to celebrate his extraordinary contribution not only to Chanticleer but to the world of choral music.

“The Board, Ensemble and Staff wish to express their profound respect and appreciation to Joe for his long-standing commitment to Chanticleer and the wonderful music he has made possible for the ensemble to perform and audiences to share during the past three decades." - Stephen Cassidy, Chairman

Joseph Jennings stated, “The past 26 years have been filled with joys and sorrows and incredible music making! I feel honored and truly blessed to have had the opportunity to sing and work with so many great singers. I have met some truly wonderful people in the group and audience members who will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I can only hope that the contribution that I have made to Chanticleer in some small way measures up to the immense impact that Chanticleer has made on my life.

I was named Music Director of Chanticleer by its founder and my dear friend Louis Botto in 1984. We were a tight family and Louis and I were entrusted with its health and success. We sang together, dreamed together, laughed and cried together. We did not always agree – in fact we could vehemently disagree – but once the air cleared, music was always the victor. Louis and I both recognized that Chanticleer was greater than either of us and we readily acknowledged that he and I were part of a greater whole. We were totally fearless in our dreaming, and those dreams were often translated to reality.

A few days before Louis’s death, the ensemble went over to sing for him. As they were singing, he reached over and grabbed my hand and said, “This is amazing. We really did it.” Louis always credited me with helping to create and refine the sound of Chanticleer, and I have worked hard to maintain that level over the years. I can now pass this along to the next generation of talented musicians in the group. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to serve art and its Creator in this very unique way.”

Joseph Jennings began his illustrious career with Chanticleer as a singer, joining the ensemble as a countertenor in 1983. In 1984, Mr. Jennings became Music Director for the group, a position he held until 2008. Under Jennings ’s leadership, Chanticleer gave concerts at the most prestigious concert halls and music festivals around the world, as well as performances on popular television programs such as NBC’s Today show. During his tenure as Music Director, Chanticleer released 25 critically acclaimed recordings – works ranging from Gregorian chant to Renaissance masterworks to jazz, many of them Billboard best-sellers, including the Grammy® Award-winners Colors of Love and Lamentations and Praises. As part of Chanticleer’s extensive program of educational outreach, Mr. Jennings worked with and inspired young singers in schools across the country.

A prolific composer and arranger, Mr. Jennings provided the group with some of its most popular repertoire, most notably spirituals, gospel music and jazz standards (he has also composed many works for other prestigious choral ensembles). Originally from Augusta , Georgia , Mr. Jennings earned his Master's degree in Conducting from Colorado State University at Fort Collins , and his Bachelor's degrees in Music Education and Piano from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland , Ohio . His versatility has earned him many types of positions: lead singer/pianist with jazz ensembles; music director and pianist for churches, theater, children's theater and opera productions; guest conductor; professor; and director of clinical demonstrations and workshops. In May 2008 he was recognized as one of ASCAP’s four Concert Music Honorees.

Tenor Matt Oltman, Chanticleer’s current Music Director, will continue in that position for the 2009-10 season.

Following its debut tour of China , Chanticleer returns to the U.S. for the final concerts of its current season. The program, “The Divine Orlando,” will focus on the great Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso, and will be performed five times throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from June 7 through June 14. Additional information about the concerts can be found at this link:


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