This season, the acclaimed men’s vocal ensemble Cantus presents Alone Together, a program featuring a new commission by Libby Larsen exploring the struggle to build meaningful connections in a world that has never been more connected.
Cantus will perform this program on tour in 2018-19 in three dozen cities throughout North America. The ensemble will also present their innovative take on an age-old Christmas tradition, called Lessons and Carols for our Time, during the holiday season. Additionally, the ensemble will collaborate with the women’s vocal ensemble Lorelei in a one-night-only performance event at the Ordway in St. Paul Minnesota to be broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio.
By almost any measure, our ability to communicate has never been easier or more advanced. Yet, as the world grows exponentially smaller with new technologies, the rifts between nations, among communities, and in individual relationships only seem to widen. Alone Together is a celebration of community and a showcase of a few of the ways technology has changed the way people communicate and connect with one another.
“Let’s get this out of the way,” says Paul Scholtz, a tenor with Cantus, “the eight of us in Cantus are pretty much your standard, ‘basic’ millennials. We ‘keep up’ with friends on Facebook, follow our favorite people and public figures on Twitter and Instagram, and look for love with the myriad dating sites available. We’d prefer to communicate by email or text rather than over the phone. Regardless of our generation, we all are spending an increasing amount of time on our electronic devices. These technologies allow us to communicate across distances and maintain a large network of friends and family, so in many ways the world has never been smaller and its people never more connected. And yet, we often find ourselves feeling unfulfilled as we look for meaning and dive deeper into our personally customized and curated electronic worlds. We have feelings of disappointment and self-doubt as we compare our own lives with those seemingly perfect ones we see on social media. We hear about the isolation of individuals in our communities. We see people driven to extreme lengths, crying out for support and unable to find it. We hope Alone Together will inspire our audiences to conversation and reflection about what it truly means to be 'connected.'”
The program is anchored by three works written for Cantus: a multi-movement setting of a Walt Whitman poem, We Two, by Steven Sametz, David Lang’s modern exploration of yearning in his Manifesto and a brand new, multi-movement work by Libby Larsen entitled You – commissioned by Music Accord – written specifically around themes of technology and connection in our modern world. In You, Larsen sets the poetry of both Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay in a work that reaffirms our humanity through communication and a recognition of our universal need for understanding and acceptance. The pairing of Laura Mvula’s She and McCartney and Lennon’s She’s Leaving Home offer an examination of the self and the journey of self-actualization. Beethoven’s Gesang der Mönche and Dave Matthew’s Gravedigger illustrate a consideration of the legacies we leave behind. You Will Be Found by Pasek and Paul offers hope while Sydney Guillaume’s Gagot centers on the mess and struggle of life and the importance of taking it one moment at a time.
Cantus will perform Alone Together across the United States and Canada in 2018-19, with stops in 21 states and provinces including New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alberta, and British Columbia. They also perform 30 concerts in their home base of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Lessons and Carols for Our Time: Holiday Touring Program for December 2018
In the 1880s, Edward White Benson, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, organized the Lessons and Carols service to keep men out of pubs on Christmas Eve. Yet what began as a “sobering” suggestion has grown to a tradition that encompasses the world, with variations of the service found in Christmas and holiday celebrations throughout the past century. As an innovative vehicle for meditation and thought, Cantus' Lessons and Carols reflects on today’s most important relevant lessons, both intimate and universal. In a program hailed by The Pioneer Press as “one of the most rewarding ... Cantus has ever created,” Cantus presents a modern take on the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, reimagined for the new world we live in today.
Cantus and Lorelei
A pre-season highlight will be a special collaboration with the nine-woman vocal ensemble, Lorelei, from Boston. Cantus and Lorelei will be in concert one-night only on September 20 at the Ordway Concert Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, to be broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio. For the past two seasons, Cantus has showcased the very best in vocal chamber music in a one-night-only concert in the Twin Cities. Past collaborators have included Chanticleer and Sweet Honey in the Rock, and this year Cantus joins forces for the first time with the nine women of Lorelei for an unforgettable evening. Heralded for its “warm, lithe, and beautifully blended” sound (New York Times), “impeccable musicality” (Boston Globe) and unfailing display of the “elegance, power, grace and beauty of the human voice” (Boston Music Intelligencer), Lorelei is recognized nationally for its bold and inventive programs that champion the extraordinary flexibility and virtuosic capability of the human voice.
The “engaging” (New Yorker) men’s vocal ensemble Cantus is widely known for its trademark warmth and blend, innovative programming and engaging performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The Washington Post has hailed the Cantus sound as having both “exalting finesse” and “expressive power” and refers to the “spontaneous grace” of its music making. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the group nothing short of “exquisite.”
As one of the nation’s few full-time vocal ensembles, Cantus has grown in prominence with its distinctive approach to creating music. Working without a conductor, the members of Cantus rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing to the entirety of the artistic process.
Cantus performs more than 60 concerts each year both in national and international touring, and in its home of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Cantus has performed at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, UCLA, San Francisco Performances, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.
In their 2018-19 touring program Alone Together, Cantus explores what it means to connect in a modern world where our ability to communicate has never been easier or more advanced, but where the rifts between nations, among communities, and in individual relationships only seem to widen. The program is anchored by three works written for Cantus by Steven Sametz, David Lang and a new, multi-movement work by Libby Larsen, commissioned by Music Accord and written specifically around themes of technology and connection in our modern world. The program – also weaving in music by Jennifer Higdon, Laura Mvula, McCartney and Lennon, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Dave Matthews, Arcade Fire, and Sydney Guillaume – will be presented in 36 cities and 21 states and provinces including New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Committed to the expansion of the vocal music repertoire, Cantus actively commissions new music and seeks to unearth rarely performed repertoire for men’s voices. Cantus has received commissioning grants from New Music USA, the National Endowment for the Arts, Chorus America, American Composers Forum and Chamber Music America. Additionally, Cantus has a rich history of collaborations with other performing arts organizations, including the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Chanticleer, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Theater Latté Da and the James Sewell Ballet. The ensemble is heard frequently on both classical public radio nationwide and on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Cantus has released 18 recordings on the group’s self-titled label.
Cantus is the recipient of three prestigious Chorus America awards, including the 2016 Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (Presented in partnership with the American Composers Forum), the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the Education Outreach Award. Cantus was also Artist in Residence on Minnesota Public Radio and on American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Integral to the Cantus mission is its commitment to preserve and deepen music education in the schools. Cantus works with more than 5,000 students each year in master class and workshop settings across the country. Now in its eleventh year, the award-winning High School Residency program brings Cantus into Minnesota schools several times a year for mentoring and a culminating public concert in the spring.