Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

April 18, 2013

A poetic 30 for Cantemus: Chamber chorus to put prose to song

Chamber chorus to put prose to song

Cantemus chamber chorus will close out its third decade of song on the North Shore with a pair of anniversary concerts in the region next weekend.

“Cantemus Turns 30: Celebrating Artists of the North Shore” is a program of songs written by noted contemporary composers and based on texts by some of the area’s best-known poets.

As a highlight of this 30th anniversary season, Cantemus has commissioned a new choral work by Brandeis University’s composer/resident scholar Ruth Lomon titled “Contemplations.” Cantemus will premiere the work at its December concerts.

Begun in 1982 as an eight-member madrigal group that performed at church services in exchange for rehearsal space, Cantemus has grown to 40 members, with a budget that allows them to rent rehearsal and performance venues, engage guest artists for their twice-yearly concerts and commission works written for them.

The group is now led by Music Director Jane Ring Frank, who is well known in the Boston area as founder/artistic director of the professional chorus Boston Secession.

“As this much loved chorus celebrates its birthday, I am grateful to share the milestone with a marvelous and committed group of singers and a faithful audience, who has seen Cantemus through a musical journey three decades long,” Frank said in a release. “Cantemus has grown and thrived, struggled and triumphed, and it is my great pleasure to now conduct this resilient, talented and dedicated group.”

Frank sought to highlight both North Shore composers and poets in the spring concerts, with works set to the celebrated prose. While composers were harder to come by, the writers were plentiful. She selected Nathaniel Hawthorne (Salem), Robert Frost (Lawrence and Amesbury), Anne Bradstreet (Ipswich and Andover) and John Greenleaf Whittier (Amesbury). Their compelling texts were set to melodies and harmonies by New Englanders Randall Thompson, Gwyneth Walker, Ronald Perera and Daniel Pinkham.

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