Daniel Chaney: A Tenor’s Path from Montana to Los Angeles

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Daniel Chaney


If you conducted a survey of people from out of state on why they moved to Los Angeles, among the top five answers you’re likely to hear is the lure of the region’s weather. Southern California has long been an attractive destination for people from colder regions eager to enjoy the area’s mild winters. So are they having any second thoughts after last week’s freak hurricane strength wind storm and this week’s plummeting temperatures that scrape the freezing point?

“You’re going to think I’m a little crazy – but I really love this weather,” said local tenor Daniel Chaney. “It’s just so perfect for bundling up and tossing a log on the fireplace. I just love it.”

It’s been a long path for the Montana born singer, whose roots are found in a small town just south of the Canadian border. Born into a farming family, Chaney felt the itch of musical ambition that would see him leave the small town life for the big city.

“Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a musician” he said. “That was difficult in to realize in Montana. There are very few musical organizations out there – and none of them pay very much. So I knew that sooner or later I had to pursue my calling in the city.”

That path would start out in Denver where he worked for a brief time. However, job prospects weren’t looking too well in Colorado.

“It was a sad situation to be in,” he recalled. “I got to see first-hand how difficult it was to sustain an arts organizations in that state. One after another different organizations went bust: the Denver Symphony Orchestra (the orchestra has since been reconstituted as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra), Denver Chamber Orchestra. There just isn’t enough support for the arts in that part of the country.”

But Chaney’s talent had begun to draw attention, and paths opened up accordingly.

“Friends told me that I really only had two choices: either move to New York or move to Los Angeles,” he said. “I had a friend who lived in West Hollywood and he suggested I take a vacation here and feel out the place. I fell in love with Los Angeles. I mean, it’s just such a big city. You have every nationality here. It’s amazing.”

Chaney quickly made a name for himself, performing for over a decade with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus and seven years with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Not to mention his work with La Cañada’s St. George Episcopalian Church. Now he has begun to cut a wide swathe in the musical world as a soloist – and musical organizations are lining up.

“I just performed [Shostakovich’s] ‘Orango’ at Disney Hall last week,” he said. “I got to play one of the foreign guests. That was a lot of fun. Now I’m rehearsing intensely for my upcoming concerts. I’ve really been so busy.”

Forthcoming from Chaney will be a pair of holiday concerts with the Los Angeles Master Chorale on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11. The first concert will be arrangements for choir and orchestra of favorite Christmas carols. The second will be a program of classical works composed by Hugo Distler, Morten Lauridsen and Francis Poulenc inspired by Christmas. On Dec. 18, Chaney will also be the tenor soloist in the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”

“What I love about these pieces is that they not only express the joy of Christmas, but also its somberness,” said Chaney in regard to the music. “When you listen to the Distler or Poulenc pieces, you realize that Christmas isn’t just this festive occasion. It marks a day that must’ve wracked the nerves of poor Mary and Joseph. Hearing this music brings to mind that cold winter night and the Christ child’s humble birth in a manger. It’s just such powerful, incredible music – and deeply human.”

Daniel Chaney and the Los Angeles Master Chorale can be heard on Dec. 10, 11, 12, and 18 at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Tickets and information can be obtained by calling the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s office at (213) 972-7282 or by visiting their website at www.lamc.org. Chaney’s performance in the world premiere of Shostakovich’s Orango will be available in the near future through DG Concerts on iTunes. You can also find more information by visiting Chaney’s website at www.danielchaneytenor.com.