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There’s a short stretch between Kansas and Iowa where Chanticleer could’ve been the biggest act the area has ever seen.
The vast cornfields surrounding the all-male choral group left Todd Wedge, a Michigan native, feeling like he was in no man’s land. There was no cell phone reception. There was no McDonald’s. And everyone knew who they were.
“Port Huron is small but this was ridiculous,” says Wedge, 26. “I had never seen the middle of nowhere like I’d seen in some of these places.”
Wedge, who joined Chanticleer in June, is touring with the San Francisco-based group, who will perform at 3 p.m. March 25 at the Orchestra Hall in Detroit. Naturally, a chorus brimming with men would be given the presumptuous gay label. With Chanticleer, though, that’s not the case, says Wedge.
Fumbling over his words, he reveals that, though there are some gay singers in the chorus, he’s not sure how many. Whenever a group of male musicians unite, their sexual orientation comes into question, Wedge adds.
“It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an all gay ensemble nor is that something we really even focus on,” the tenor says. Wedge, along with his musical comrades, are more concerned about nursing their pipes. During the grueling tour, which sometimes takes them to three cities in three days, some of the vocalists isolate themselves.
“Because we’re singers we don’t really have the option of messing around with our bodies,” Wedge says. Note: He’s referring to downing drinks and staying up until the morning hours. But don’t assume that Wedge hasn’t drunk booze during the tour. “I never said I didn’t drink. No, no, no,” he laughs. “Some singers will stick to that and good for them.”
Chanticleer’s 26-concert Bay Area season, which focuses on new music and includes an exploration of recent choral music by contemporary composers, follows an annual Christmas tour and the recording of their album, “And On Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass,” due in April.
“It’s a lot of music to get at once,” Wedge says.
The Michigan native auditioned for Chanticleer on a whim, later clarifying it as more like a dare. “Sure enough, it ended up working out,” he admits.
Wedge graduated from Northwestern University School of Music in 2005 after completing his undergraduate training at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he says he united with “musical geeks.”
But his musical fervor sparked years before, when he was known as the loudest kid from elementary school through high school. “It just carried or something, and it just annoyed the hell out of every elementary teacher I had. There was never a parent-teacher conference that went by when I didn’t get in trouble for being too loud. Never.”
3 p.m. March 25
Orchestra Hall, Detroit