Collaboration has been an integral part of Cantus’ identity since the beginnings of the organization at St. Olaf college some 25 years ago.

The artists of Cantus program, rehearse, and perform collaboratively — reaching consensus on artistic matters large and small, and together performing the function of artistic director in addition to singing.

Larger collaborations with outside organizations have been a natural extension of our organizational structure, and over the years we’ve worked with many notable artistic partners including The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, James Sewell Ballet, Theater Latté Da, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Boston Pops, and Chanticleer, among others. No less importantly, we’ve engaged and created music with local organizations including Voices of Hope, StreetSong-MN, the YWCA, and St. Stephen’s Human Services. It is through collaborations like these that Cantus is able to fulfill more deeply our vision to give voice to shared human experiences. 

Now, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police, we wanted to do our part to reflect the pain, anger, and need for change in our community. This desire led us to the creation of our Championing Black Voices series.

Through this online series, we will be collaborating with a variety of Black artists, giving them the space to bring to light their lived experiences and artistic visions using our platform alongside our voices.

We can’t wait to share these projects with you.



Known for fostering community and inspiring action among people of all ages and abilities, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, enjoys a multifaceted career as an artist, educator, consultant, speaker, and pastoral musician. Phillip serves as Associate Conductor | Director of Learning and Engagement of VocalEssence, is Cantor for Worship, Music, and the Arts at Westwood Lutheran Church, and serves as the principal host for Minnesota Orchestra Young People’s Concerts. Phillip frequently conducts choirs and leads workshops across the United States and beyond. His teaching experiences includes time at the University of St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota, and Georgia State University, and his service in the public schools garnered multiple Teacher of the Year honors. The winner of the 2015 ACDA Graduate Conducting Competition and an International Conductors’ Exchange Program Participant, Phillip believes in the transformative power of shared singing experiences. He lives in St Louis Park with his wife, Michelle and their two children (Malachi, 6 and Lydia, 2).


VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA) is a dynamic group of young people from over twenty Twin Cities area high schools who sing, move, write their own music, rap, and reflect the diversity of our community in its membership. Under the visionary leadership of founding director, G. Phillip Shoultz, III, the students present a wide range of music—from classical to hip-hop, with a focus on selections that represent the backgrounds and shared values of its membership. They perform in world-class venues, awaken their creativity through immersive arts experiences with teaching artists representing a variety of artistic disciplines, and belong to an accepting community of peers from all walks of life. VESOTA is in residence at Augsburg University.
The program is completely FREE to participants upon successful completion of an interview process and harnesses the power of group singing to enhance community and encourage a wider circle of participation in our art form.
G. Phillip Shoultz, III, Founding Director and Conductor
Rhiannon Fiskradatz, Operations Manager
Corey Cellurale, Choral Assistant
Robert Graham & Patricia Kramer, Section Coaches

Interview with G. Phillip Shoultz, III

“Chinese Proverb” by Sharon Durant & Ysaye M. Barnwell


On May 25, George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by Minneapolis police. Our Twin Cities community is in turmoil, and we are all taking a hard look at the systemic racism that Black and Brown people face every day.

Cantus’ vision is to give voice to shared human experiences. But as an ensemble mostly comprising white men, how can we stay engaged and do our part to lift up the voices of the Black and Brown community to affect meaningful change?

We know that words can only take us so far.

If you, like us, are seeing ways to engage and make a difference, we borrowed a list of resources from our friends at Arbeit Opera Theatre. Please do what you can to support the communities suffering from the impacts of systemic racism and to make our world more equitable and just.

The problems faced by marginalized communitites will not be resolved in the coming days or weeks. Real change will take determination and fortitude by everyone for years to come to ensure we don’t lose the passion and focus of how we feel at this moment.



Jim Crow of the North, a TPT documentary that charts the progression of racist policies and practices in Minnesota through the 1960s
13th, a documentary directed by Ava Duverny on Netflix
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota edited by Sun Yun Shin
The Racial Healing Handbook by Anneliese A. Singh
So you want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad
Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Checking your Privilege: Live into the Work by Myisha Hill