Cantus’ COVID-19 Sessions

The inspiration for this project came during the week of March 8, when word began spreading of the coronavirus’ presence in the United States. As gatherings became limited, it quickly became clear that we needed to postpone our spring program, There Lies the Home, and perhaps our 25th Anniversary Gala on May 3 as well. 

As we made those hard decisions at home, our national touring schedule was simultaneously unravelling. Presenters faced the same looming challenges and concerns as we did, and they also began to postpone or cancel all of their upcoming programs.

By the end of that week, we suddenly found ourselves with our earned revenue sources, which comprise two-thirds of our budget, cut off and our 25th Anniversary concert and gala also postponed for an indeterminate period.

Amidst these concerns, a more fundamental uncertainty grew with the guidelines on social distancing and the prohibitions on large gatherings. How can we, how can you, how can anyone create a sense of community during a crisis like this? We recognized we had a limited window in which to offer what we could as artists. 

These videos are the result of that action — we wanted to come together in a time of great stress and uncertainty and offer what we could to the world, our community, and each other. We wanted to make music: music live and in-person, while it was still possible.

With the generosity of Westminster Presbyterian Church and the expertise and hard work of Chris Foss (audio/video) and Jacob Christopher (video), we were able to put these videos together over the course of three days during the week of March 15 as a gift to our community and all those who find themselves alone and searching for inspiration and comfort.

We hope you can find yourself and your experience reflected somewhere in these sessions. The pieces you will see and hear in the coming months span a great breadth of emotion, from joy to sorrow to wonder to pain. We hope you will find the performances themselves informed by the emotional states in which they were recorded — heightened at different times in different ways.

We hope you find meaning in what we are calling the COVID-19 Sessions.


Cantus is extremely proud to be one of a small handful of chamber ensembles in the country that employ their artists as full-time, salaried professionals. The eleven employees of Cantus (eight artists and three staff) are supported through national touring, local concertizing, grant funding, and individual giving.

During this unprecedented time, two of our main sources of revenue — national touring and local performances — have been eliminated, and our gala also cannot take place as planned.

If you are one of the millions of people in the world who would love to be experiencing art in person but are unable to leave your home, we hope you will consider a donation as you enjoy these live performances. 

We also hope you consider the other artists in your community whose livelihoods are threatened. We are stronger together.

Take care, and thank you.

“Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius

“Steal Away” arranged by Stacey V. Gibbs

“There’s a Meeting Here Tonight” by Bob Gibson

“Yonder Come Day” arr. by Paul John Rudoi

“Ave Maria (Angelus Domini)” by Franz Biebl

“Wanting Memories” by Ysaye M. Barnwell

“It’s Strange About Stars” by Melissa Dunphy

“O frondens Virga” by Hildegard von Bingen, arr. by Chris Foss

“this brightening silence” by Kathleen Allan

“Sunayama” by Shinpei Nakayama

“Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre

“Darest, O Soul” by Mari Èsabel Valverde

“Stars” by Ēriks Ešenvalds

“Hinbarra” by Michael McGlynn

“Be Like the Bird” by Abbie Betinis

“Shenandoah” arr. by Marshall Bartholomew & James Erb

“Beyond” by Chris Foss

“Il bianco e dolce cigno” by Jacques Arcadelt

More recordings from these special sessions will be released over the coming weeks.