Project description: Love can be grand. Love can be heartbreaking. Love is so complicated that the Greeks divided it into four: Agápē (spiritual), Érōs (physical), Philía (affection) and Storgē (familial).
About the project: For the 2015-2016 season, Cantus will devote its touring program to the subject of love, The Four Loves in fact. And because we think one way of being relevant is to perform new music, we have invited four composers to offer their own interpretation of the subject. Composers David Lang (Érōs), Joseph Gregorio (Storgē), Roger Treece (Philía) and Ysaye Barnwell (Agápē) have all agreed to write a new work for us.
Why this is important to Cantus: Singing music fresh off the page is so important to us. Cantus believes in performing music of our time because it keeps our work relevant. We love music from any century but composers who are writing now capture the thoughts and ideas of our age.
Why Kickstarter? We had a great time with the Kickstarter project that raised money for the new work from Byron Adams. And like the first one, Kickstarter is a good fit for Cantus. We not only reach thousands of people around the country when we tour, but also through our SoundCloud site where we stream our music free of charge. Your support will help new music happen, and you can be sure that it will have a long life as well. Imagine...there will be a total of 50 or 60 performances of these works in one year alone!
Who are we? Known around the world for our programming and blend, Cantus is a full-time professional vocal ensemble based in Minneapolis. We are different than many vocal ensembles or choirs in that we rehearse and perform without a conductor or music director. We are also full-time employees of our organization--with salaries and health insurance! The Washington Post said our sound has both “exalting finesse” and “expressive power” and refers to our music-making as “spontaneous grace.” (Thanks, WP!) We perform for audiences across the country and at home in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each year we share our own love of singing with thousands of students through workshops and master classes. We hold semi-monthly open rehearsals in Minneapolis (and would love to see you there any time). Cantus was founded on the ideals of collaborative music-making: artists and staff work together to reach new levels of artistic excellence, innovation and audience engagement.
Who are these composers? These four composers represent all areas of new music:
- David Lang was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for his work the little match girl passion (written for another vocal ensemble, Theatre of Voices). This is his first time writing for Cantus.
- Ysaye Barnwell is well known as an iconic member of Sweet Honey in the Rock and as the composer of a Cantus favorite, “Wanting Memories.”
- Joseph Gregorio is an emerging composer who has received commissions and awards from around the country.
- Roger Treece is a composer, arranger, producer and singer who creates music that combines traditional classical elements with jazz, funk, gospel and world. He has worked closely with Bobby McFerrin on his VOCAbuLaries project.
A little more about Joe Gregorio: We thought you’d like to know a little bit more about our “Four Loves” composers. Tenor Blake Morgan tells us about Joseph Gregorio: “In my undergrad, Joseph Gregorio worked closely with the top choir at Western Michigan University on a few of his new pieces. Not only were his compositions an absolute joy to sing, but he was also a pleasure to connect with as a human being -- to really dive into his intent as a composer and unravel the sheer brilliancy behind his pieces.” Joseph Gregorio is one of a handful of young composers gaining notice for his compositions for choir and ensemble voices. The Contemporary Record Society said about his work: “His is largely instinctual music; while beautifully crafted, it has nothing of the contrived about it.” Joe holds an MM in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and an MM in choral conducting from Yale University. About his work for Cantus, Joe wrote: “I'll be writing a piece about Storge, or familial love. As a father of two young children and as a husband, I have plenty of thoughts about the matter! I've been a fan of Cantus since I first heard their vibrant, warm, and inviting singing, and couldn't be more eager to write for such an excellent ensemble.”
You can hear Joe's music on his SoundClound page.
A little more about Ysaye Barnwell: Dr. Ysaye Barnwell is most likely known for her 34 years with the ensemble “Sweet Honey in the Rock.” For the past thirty years spent much of her time off stage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition” has been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, a model of pedagogy for educators, and cultural activists and historians. Her commissioned works have been performed around the country and around the world and have been heard on “Sesame Street.” In 1996 she was awarded the Bessie Award for her score Safe House: Still Looking, commissioned by Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. There are four axioms she follows in her life: • To whom much is given, much is required. • As one door closes, another door opens. • Everything matters. • Say Yes!
From tenor Aaron Humble: "Ysaye Barnwell’s music is innately spiritual—it somehow hits your mind and your soul at the exact same moment. Her passion for family, friendship, love, and social justice all combine to create an incredibly powerful message that she packages into music that is tuneful, rhythmic, and surrounded with vibrant harmonies. Her music has resonated so well with our audiences and I am thrilled to see what happens when she writes specifically for us."
Tenor Paul Rudoi says about David Lang: "With David Lang's music, you always get the sense that you're in some other world full of new shapes and sounds (even if you've actually heard those specific notes, rhythms, or harmonies in other composers' works before). And there's an urgency to it, a fierce emotional tug and pull that keeps you from being a passive listener. I am beyond excited for the new work that David will tailor specifically for the nine voices of Cantus."
In the words of The New Yorker, "With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a postminimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master." Lang is one of America's most performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Much of his work seeks to expand the definition of virtuosity in music — even the deceptively simple pieces can be fiendishly difficult to play and require incredible concentration by musicians and audiences alike.
Roger Treece is a composer, arranger, producer, and singer who creates music that combines traditional classical elements with jazz, funk, gospel, and world. A vocal innovator, Roger tours worldwide as a performance artist, composer, conductor and teacher, guiding musicians of all ages and genres in improvisation, creativity, harmony, arranging, rhythm, and solo-vocal technique.
Bass Sam Green says: "The first time I heard Roger Treece's music was on Bobby McFerrin's VOCAbuLarieS album, specifically, the song, "Wailers." Talk about a wake up call! His compositions drip with excitement and drive, and fresh rhythmic and harmonic flavors. I am thrilled to be singing a new work of his!"
How will the money be used? The money from our goal is used for the composers’ fees. The total for these fees is much higher than just $12,000 so if we exceed our goal, those funds will go to help with the rest of the funding.
With your help, we’re confident that we’ll have some incredible new music to share with you next fall!
Risks and challenges
We completed a successful Kickstarter in September 2013 for a new composition. That work, Byron Adam’s “Eventide," was so compelling that we used it on our latest recording, A Harvest Home. We had a great time staying in touch with our supporters and were able to send all of our rewards on time. So we’re excited to try this again!
We should also let you know that we are looking for additional funding to cover the composer fees. But our Kickstarter will get us a very long way!
The risks around this project are primarily the ones that go hand in hand with a creative project. The composers need to meet their deadline in order for us to perform the work. Does the work succeed artistically? Does it succeed with the audience? We have contracts in place for each of our composers and good conversations with each of them about what we’re looking for. And Cantus has a great track record for performing new music.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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