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Cantus is the term that was used in Europe for a student organization dedicated to singing, similar to the English glee club. Cantus, the men's vocal ensemble based in the Twin Cities, grew out of just such a group in the late 1990s at St. Olaf College, a school with a distinguished music program. The nine-member group left campus for a tour to other parts of the U.S. and met with such success that it decided to go professional in 2000. It is a full-time ensemble, heard in 60 to 70 performances and 30 or more educational and outreach offerings each year. Cantus has performed all over the country -- at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Spivey Hall, for example -- and has been heard on A Prairie Home Companion numerous times and several other public radio programs across the country. In addition to a cappella music, Cantus has collaborated with other organizations such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the James Sewell Ballet. Between 2007 and 2014, it toured with Minneapolis-based Theatre Latté Da in an annual program entitled All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. Its repertoire ranges from well-known pieces for male voices from the Renaissance, to Romantic era part songs rarely heard outside of Europe, to arrangements of jazz and pop songs, and to new compositions written by its members or commissioned from others. Some of those commissions include music by Nico Muhly, Lee Hoiby, and Robert Kyr. In all of its programs, the group strives for a unifying theme, and its artistic process is joint effort by the members. Each piece in a program is assigned to one member, who is the producer for that piece, overseeing its rehearsals and shaping its interpretation. Cantus has also produced its own recordings, releasing its 17th recording, A Harvest Home, in the fall of 2014. ~ Patsy Morita

Top Songs


2000 in Minnesota

Years Active:

'00s, '10s