Men’s vocal group to perform at PAC, called eclectic and first-rate

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

“If it is a night of wild eclecticism and first-rate musicianship you desire, ? just take in an evening with Cantus,” said the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “You won’t be disappointed.”

On Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m., the Brookings Chamber Music Society will present Cantus, a men’s vocal ensemble from Minneapolis, Minn., in concert in the Larson Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Center.

Tickets-which are $15 for adults and $5 for students-are on sale now in the music department office and will also be available at the PAC box office one hour before the concert. SDSU students are admitted free with their student IDs.

The choral a cappella ensemble, which rehearses and performs without a conductor, was founded in the fall of 1995 when some college friends at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., gathered together to escape the rigors of college life by doing an activity they all enjoyed: singing.

Since that time, Cantus has performed over 300 concerts across the U.S., and in 2003, the male ensemble performed for the first time in Europe at the Polvfolia Festival in Normandy, France.

On Christmas Day in 2006, Cantus was selected to represent the U.S. in a 24-hour marathon of music broadcast in 27 counties, via American Public Media and the European Broadcasting Union.

The group has recorded eight albums on their own label, Cantus Recordings. Cantus, their latest CD, was named one of the top ten albums of 2007 by National Public Radio.

Many of Cantus’s songs are composed and arranged by its members. According to its Web site, “The ensemble’s repertoire spans many periods and genres, including chant, Renaissance and Baroque music, contemporary works, art song, folk, spirituals, world music and pop.”

“They’re known for being innovative and creative in the music they select,” said Steven Grives, the director of choral activities at SDSU. “They put things together in interesting ways.”

Grives described Cantus as “exhilarating,” and he feels that the songs of Cantus will truly speak to concert attendees. “The point of music is to communicate some emotion, and I find that [Cantus] is very communicative,” he said.

As a music professor, Grives often has a hard time just sitting back and listening to a concert without evaluating it, but with Cantus, he said, “Sometimes I sit there and say, ‘Wow.'”

Grives also said that people can expect a great show. “It’s going to be a great sound, a nice blend; you’re going to hear a great performance, and there will be a variety of music that will be pleasing,” he said. “I’ll be surprised if people walk out of there not liking one thing about it.”

The Brookings Chamber Music Society chooses their programs “to provide a cyclical variety of types of ensembles and musical genres from one season to the next,” said the society’s Program Coordinator and SDSU Director of Piano Studies John Walker. “It was time to have a vocal ensemble again, and Cantus is such an outstanding group and popular favorite in this region that they were a natural choice.”