Cantus Vocal Ensemble, an all-male classical singing group, took the audience on a journey through time by putting their own spin on pieces from different musical eras.
Cantus has been praised as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States,” by “Fanfare,” a classical music review magazine. The singing group is comprised of nine male singers. They demonstrated their refined harmonies in a performance at Andover on Wednesday evening.
During the performance, the singers offered a host of short three to four-minute pieces from a wide variety of genres, ranging from 17th century Baroque pieces to pop hits by the Beatles. Cantus offered the audience a glimpse into a number of historical eras. The group kicked off the evening with the “Sederunt” by Pérotin, a 12th century English composer, working their way up to Franz Schubert’s “Die Nacht” and eventually a remix of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.”
“What makes Cantus so incredible is the sustenance of their voices and how seamless every chord progression was,” said Charles Stacy ’16.
Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, who helped to bring Cantus to Andover, first saw the group three years ago.
“Every piece was really thoughtfully chosen. They drew things from so many different centuries and cultures, and even though they were so diverse, somehow they were able to connect them all. This is difficult because each of the pieces lasts three to four minutes so you have to try to string together songs that work well with each other, which is exactly what they did,” said Walter.
Cantus’ interpretation of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles drew laughter from the audience as they started to sing the upbeat, casual song with a stoic, classical tone. However, the singers shifted to a playful and cheeky rendition more similar to the spirit of original song.
“We are lucky to have two very good composers and two arrangers in the group. So we arrange the original songs to fit our voices. We try to make things a little unique so we can show off what we do. This is our full time job, so we have enough rehearsal time to play around with everything. It’s not like we just sing what’s on the music,” said Matthew Tintes, a baritone singer for Cantus.
The show reached its climax when Cantus collaborated with members of Andover’s own Fidelio Society with a rendition of Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.”
“The skilled members of Cantus had a lot of great advice to share with us in the workshop. Getting to perform with them in Fidelio was an honor because they are so awesome at what they do and are just great guys in general,” said Nolan Crawford ’15.
“Ave Maria” was a musical conversation between the male and female singers, who stood on different sides of the stage. The Andover male singers, aided by nine Cantus singers, outnumbered the girls; however, the balance in the sound was easily maintained because the high-pitched soprano voice of the females stood out among males’ lower tones. The two groups sang the words “Ave Maria” back and forth in the air with increasing intensity.
“We learned a lot about the finer points of Ave Maria and singing without a conductor. Besides being amazing performers, they were great teachers and were willing to answer all our questions,” said Claire Carroll ’14.
“The professional groups that come to campus are really helpful to our student body, especially when they actually work with the students, like Cantus helping Fidelio or Pentatonix having a masterclass for the student a cappella singers. We should have more of them come,” said Pallavi Prakash ’13.