Friday, June 2, 2023

Vocal Ensemble Cantus’s Show “Alone Together” Explores Our Connected World

Virginia Arts Festival is bringing the acclaimed men’s vocal ensemble Cantus and their latest program Alone Together to Norfolk on April 30.   Alone Together, featuring new music by Libby Larsen, celebrates community and explores the struggle to build meaningful connections in a world that has never been more connected.

“Let’s get this out of the way,” says Paul Scholtz, a tenor with Cantus, “the eight of us in Cantus are pretty much your standard, ‘basic’ millennials. We ‘keep up’ with friends on Facebook, follow our favorite people and public figures on Twitter and Instagram, and look for love with the myriad dating sites available. We’d prefer to communicate by email or text rather than over the phone. Regardless of our generation, we all are spending an increasing amount of time on our electronic devices. These technologies allow us to communicate across distances and maintain a large network of friends and family, so in many ways the world has never been smaller and its people never more connected. And yet, we often find ourselves feeling unfulfilled as we look for meaning and dive deeper into our personally customized and curated electronic worlds. We have feelings of disappointment and self-doubt as we compare our own lives with those seemingly perfect ones we see on social media. We hear about the isolation of individuals in our communities. We see people driven to extreme lengths, crying out for support and unable to find it. We hope Alone Together will inspire our audiences to conversation and reflection about what it truly means to be “connected.” 

The program is anchored by three works written for Cantus: a multi-movement setting of a Walt Whitman poem, We Two, by Steven Sametz, David Lang’s modern exploration of yearning in his Manifesto and a brand new, multi-movement work by Libby Larsen entitled You – commissioned by Music Accord – written specifically around themes of technology and connection in our modern world. 

As one of the nation’s few full-time vocal ensembles, Cantus has grown in prominence with its distinctive approach to creating music. Working without a conductor, the members of Cantus rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing to the entirety of the artistic process. Cantus performs more than 60 concerts each year both in national and international touring, and in its home of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Cantus has performed at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, UCLA, San Francisco Performances, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. 

Committed to the expansion of the vocal music repertoire, Cantus actively commissions new music and seeks to unearth rarely performed repertoire for men’s voices.  Cantus is the recipient of three prestigious Chorus America awards, including the 2016 Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (Presented in partnership with the American Composers Forum), the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the Education Outreach Award.  Integral to the Cantus mission is its commitment to preserve and deepen music education in the schools. Cantus works with more than 5,000 students each year in master class and workshop settings across the country.  

Cantus will perform at the Norfolk Academy on April 30 at 7:30 p.m. and is being co-presented by Norfolk Academy.  Click HERE to purchase tickets.

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