The song ended with a moment of silence as the sound dissipated into the air, and then the audience erupted into thunderous applause.
This was no ordinary concert – Grammy award winning men's choral ensemble Chanticleer had taken the stage.
San Francisco-based Chanticleer, made up of 13 men from across the U.S., bewitched its audience as the group performed on Monday night at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension. Performing the group's "She Said/He Said" concert series to a full-capacity crowd, song selections covered a variety of musical styles, ranging from Mendelssohn to Joni Mitchell to Gotye.
This ensemble, however, did not just come to Knoxville to perform. Earlier Monday afternoon, Chanticleer led a choral workshop with the Powell High School Singers. UT student Austin Williams, a senior in English, was in attendance and was impressed by the ensemble's interactions with workshop attendees.
"Chanticleer surprised me by criticizing rather gently," Williams said. "Their bedside manner, so to speak, was just as refined and professional as their actual singing."
With music appealing to a diverse range of generations, the audience was filled with people of every age. In particular, students from Farragut, Powell and West High school were in attendance.
Matt Parks, first-year graduate student in choral conducting, said he found Chanticleer's sound to be phenomenal.
"Chanticleer always delivers a clean, meaningful performance," Parks said. "You could feel the audience holding their breath, and even letting it out together right at the end of each piece.
"It felt like singers and audience had all joined for the same purpose."
During the second half of Monday's show, Chanticleer member Brian Hinman – a Farragut High School graduate and former student at the UT School of Music – spoke briefly to the audience about the importance of supporting young people in the musical arts.
"We did a workshop with students from Powell High School today, and I hope that you will seek this music in those places – it's places like that where we got our start," Hinman said. "It's great to help students with what they're doing and be inspired by them."
It was clear the sentiment was reciprocated when several students who had worked with Chanticleer earlier in the day came to the concert, including a group of four young men who remained post-show to sing a piece to the ensemble.
Williams explained why Chanticleer held such a draw for young performers.
"Listening to them back in high school showed me that choral singing could be truly awesome," Williams said. "Their individual excellence results in the outstanding group effort that is Chanticleer."
As the concert drew to an end, the audience was reluctant to let Chanticleer leave, bringing the group back for an rousing encore of gospel tunes and vocal improvisation.
"I was stunned to hear how well 12 men can match their voices to provide a tapestry of tones," Parks said. "It was like listening to a kaleidoscope."