Here Comes Some Singing Worth Shouting About

The unique and incomparable Cantus pays a visit; cherished memories guaranteed

Madison music lovers don’t exactly lack for opportunities to enjoy some great choral singing throughout the year—but rarely do we have the chance to experience an ensemble as unique and renowned as Cantus (pictured above, courtesy of Curtis Johnson). This is a group of but nine extraordinary male singers who perform without a conductor, and in an age when too much of classical choral music is limited to local churches and/or in the context of orchestral dressing, Cantus is one of the few choral groups of any size to maintain an international reputation.

Their appearance this Saturday, April 2 at the Stoughton Opera House at 7:30 p.m. brings their current touring program, “The Four Loves.” The theme is built around the classical Greek concept of the four expressions of love: romantic, filial, friendly and unconditional. Along with their usual flair for intriguing programming, including in this concert music by Poulenc, Grieg, Beethoven and Bobby McFerrin, we get the considerable bonus of four new works. These include pieces by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, along with new selections by Roger Treece, Joseph Gregorio and Ysaye Barnwell.

The critical acclaim reaped by Cantus could hardly be topped: Fanfare has called them “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States,” and the Washington Post gave some nice insights into the qualities that set the group apart: “exalting finesse” and “spontaneous grace.” It’s possible that many local music lovers have already encountered Cantus from one of their regular appearances on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Now’s your chance to soak up that special blend of immediacy and depth of expression that only comes from live performance. And by the way, if you’ve never heard a musical event at the Stoughton Opera House, you’ve also been missing one of greater Madison’s more special venues. If you need any more convincing, click on this link and whet your appetite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkTUoihQdEc.

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