NMT to Host ‘Premier Men’s Vocal Ensemble’ at Macey Center on Friday, Jan. 25

NMT to Host ‘Premier Men’s Vocal Ensemble’ at Macey Center on Friday, Jan. 25

SOCORRO, N.M. – It’s music, it’s vocal poetry and harmony mixed with a charge of cheeky humor, and it’s called Cantus, the group name for eight men who sing three-part harmony in a performance sure to entertain and enlighten their Socorro audience.

Cantus is coming to New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 25, 2019, in the Performing Arts Series (PAS) opening concert of the new calendar year as the 2018 – 2019 season continues.

The choral concert combines separate elements that, just as certain chemicals do, ignite to produce a performance that is innovative, yet recognizable.

And the audience becomes part of the performance, giving every show its own voice, every individual its own experience.

Prior to the concert, on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, PAS is offering a free workshop for church and school choirs, bands and vocalists -- in short, any ensemble near or far that could learn from vocal masters performing at their finest levels.  

“Please don’t be shy about attending the workshop,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to perhaps learn something new from people who, like them, love what they do.”

In keeping with the theme of the evening, a Socorro a cappella ensemble known as “Winging It” will perform during Tech Club Macey’s Schmooze, Booze and Bites from 6 – 7:30 pm, featuring a cash bar, a Brie wheel with sweet cranberry and pear sauce, crackers and lemon bar bites. The event is free to members; cost is $10 for non-members.

Comprising the Socorro ensemble are Julie Ford, George Moellenbrack, Jared Shrack and Beth Schmidt Crowder.

“We’re very excited about featuring this talented quartet as part of an effort to offer fun and interesting activities (the “Schmooze”!) at Tech Club Macey,” Kalish said.  “I’d like to encourage anyone interested in a relaxed social event before a PAS show to please stop by and see what it’s all about.”

The Cantus concert is a great place to begin.

Cantus is widely known for its trademark warmth and blend, innovative programming and engaging performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. 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.

Acclaimed as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States” (Fanfare), Cantus not only guides their audiences through a meaningful musical experience, but the vocalists mentor young singers and educators to help ensure the future of ensemble singing.

Cantus was founded on the ideals of collaborative music-making: Members challenge themselves to reach new levels of artistic excellence, innovation and audience engagement as reflected by their slogan, “Our vision is to give voice to shared human experiences.”

For their PAS performance, Cantus presents a program called "Alone Together." By almost any measure, our ability to communicate has never been easier or more advanced. Yet, as the world grows exponentially smaller with new technologies, the rifts between nations, among communities, and in individual relationships only seem to widen.  “Alone Together” is a celebration of community and a showcase of a few of the ways technology has changed the way people communicate and connect with one another.

“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 by Steven Sametz, David Lang and a new, multi-movement work by Libby Larsen, commissioned by Music Accord and written specifically around themes of technology and connection in our modern world. The program – also weaving in music by Jennifer Higdon, Laura Mvula, McCartney and Lennon, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Dave Matthews, Arcade Fire, and Sydney Guillaume – will be presented in 36 cities and 21 states and provinces including New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alberta and British Columbia.

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. Cantus was also Artist in Residence on Minnesota Public Radio and on American Public Media’s Performance Today.

“It’s amazing how Cantus seamlessly weaves together a diverse blend of musical genres and voices to demonstrate a universal human experience in our modern world,” says Kalish.

“I first heard Cantus at a music showcase, and wondered how I could get this amazing ensemble to Socorro.  Then I learned they had a booking with the Los Alamos Concert Association, and it all came together. What a great opportunity for our community!”

Sponsors for Cantus are IRIS-PASSCAL, M Mountain Coffee, Western States Arts Federation, National Endowment for the Arts, KUNM and Best Western Socorro.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for youths. New Mexico Tech students will be admitted free with their student ID at the door, or can pick up one ticket each at the New Mexico Tech Bookstore.

Tickets also can be purchased online or at the following locations: PAS office, New Mexico Tech Cashier (Fidel Center) and Sofia’s Kitchen.

– NMT –

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