Manifesto / Cantus Vocal Ensemble
In a world of increasingly superficial connection between individuals and communities, humanity is yearning like never before to find a real sense of meaning in life. Chamber vocal ensemble Cantus’s release of fresh, intimate and relevant new vocal works is a journey of longing and self-discovery with trademark virtuosic delivery. Manifesto takes a nuanced look at identity and relationships – with our friends, lovers, family, and the divine. In keeping with Cantus’ commitment to the creation of new music for tenors, baritones, and basses, the preponderance of the works were written specifically for Cantus, and all tracks represent world premiere recordings.
The "engaging" (New Yorker) low-voice ensemble Cantus is widely known for its trademark warmth and blend, innovative programming and riveting performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The Washington Post has hailed the Cantus sound as having both "exalting finesse" and "expressive power" and refers to the "spontaneous grace" of its music-making. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the group nothing short of “exquisite.” One of the nation’s few full-time vocal ensembles, Cantus performs more than 75 concerts each year in national and international touring, and in its home of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
"This new album from the nine-member male vocal ensemble consists of world-premiere recordings, mostly pieces that were written for the group. Roger Treece’s Philia, an affirming, jazz-tinged homage to friendship, begins the set...The piece sets the tone for the whole album, which examines humankind’s yearning to find meaning through relationships with others. By far the most emotionally affecting track is Joseph Gregorio’s To My Brother, which sets a letter written by James Clementi to his younger brother Tyler after the latter’s suicide...[the] tender, harmonious setting lets the heartbreaking text speak for itself[.] It’s difficult not to get choked up as it unfolds...
"Entirely different in tone is Tango with God by Ysaÿe M. Barnwell. A setting of a text by the American Trappist monk Thomas Merton, the song addresses the dilemmas of faith but sets it to a catchy Latin beat (including some light hand-percussion) and ear-catching harmonies, making it an appealing mix of the sacred and secular. Haitian-American composer Sydney Guillaume’s Gagòt (the Haitian Creole word for “mess”) is a sprightly setting of a poem by his father, Gabriel...Elsewhere, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Psalm of the Soil,” a thoughtful setting of a poem by Nathaniel Bellows, hauntingly depicts a search for home, in a psychological more than a physical sense, with echoing canonic entrances and an effective use of the basses’ lower range...The members of Cantus consistently sing with an attractively smooth-edged sound and good intonation. This creatively programmed release provides a gratifying variety of expression as well as a welcome dose of spiritual uplift." —Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News
Catalog Number: SIGCD686
Label: Signum Classics
Number of Discs: 1