Inside Cantus

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The “intellectually, emotionally and musically rich” (Star Tribune) eight-member men’s vocal ensemble Cantus is known worldwide for its trademark warmth and blend and its engaging performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Working without a conductor, the members of Cantus rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing to the entirety of the artistic process. The Washington Post hails the ensemble’s sound as having both “exalting finesse” and “expressive power” and refers to their music-making as “spontaneous grace.” Cantus performs more than 60 concerts each year both in national and international touring, as well as in its home of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota and has released 17 albums on its own self-titled label. Past performances have brought Cantus to the stages of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, UCLA, San Francisco Performances, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

In the fall of 2016, Cantus will launch their 2016-17 touring program No Greater Love Than This with appearances in 30 cities nationwide including New York, Dallas, Phoenix and Southern California. The program addresses the camaraderie, bravery, honor, elation, loss and longing common to all soldiers in times of both peace and war; and emotions shared between loved-ones at home and across entire nations. Cantus delves into the bonds that have defined those willing to lay down their lives for others with repertoire by Lee Hoiby, Bob Chilcott, William Billings, Irving Berlin, rarely performed songs for men’s voices by Dvóřak and Janácek and a new commission by Byron Adams.

Each year the artists of Cantus share their own love of singing with thousands of students through workshops and master classes to ensure the future of choral arts.

Our Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles

Cantus engages audiences in a meaningful music experience and ensures the future of ensemble singing by mentoring young singers and educators. Cantus was founded on the ideals of collaborative music-making: artists and staff work together to reach new levels of artistic excellence, innovation and audience engagement. Our vision is to give voice to shared human experiences.

Our goals stem from four guiding principles:
Vital: Cantus is known or and delivers artistic excellence, leadership as a collaborative organization and compelling programming.
Relevant: Cantus inspires audiences seeking a meaningful music experience and influences students who aspire to making singing a part of their life-long artistic experience.
Accessible:  Cantus offers multiple ways for audiences to experience our music and uses its knowledge, flexibility and resources to expand and deepen the audience experience.
Sustainable:  Cantus fosters meaningful and rewarding work for the organization’s most important resources—artists, staff and board—to succeed in carrying out our mission and in serving our audience.

Our Process

Cantus is an artist-led ensemble, so the process that is used for preparing and rehearsing music is a unique one. A complete democracy in the rehearsal room would be an inefficient use of time, so each piece performed is assigned to one of the singers to produce. This producer is responsible for initial interpretation, leading the allotted rehearsal time, and quality control on the fundamentals (notes, rhythms, tuning, vowel choice, etc.). Once these basics are established, the producer also facilitates discussion of interpretation and execution from the entire group. By the time a piece is on stage, each singer has had his chance to help build the performance. This collaborative work style allows Cantus to be more flexible, adaptive and ready to embrace new ideas. The performance that you enjoy—whether in a recording or in a live concert—is one that would be entirely impossible without the artistic involvement of the entire ensemble.