“Into the Light”
Traditional French: Angels We Have Heard on High (arr. S. Choi) – Noël nouvelet (arr. S. Söderberg)
Kenneth Jennings: O Little Town of Bethlehem
John Jacob Niles: I Wonder as I Wander (arr. P.J. Rudoi)
Joni Mitchell: River
Cheryl Camm: Alleluia! Into the Light (a miner’s carol)
Chris Foss: Love, the God Eternal – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas ^
B.E. Boykin: O Magnum Mysterium
Traditional Spiritual: Glory Hallelujah to Duh Newbo’n King (adpt. R. Powell; arr. [male voice] W.C. Powell)
Francisco Grau Vegara: Mensaje de Paz
Traditional Spiritual: Children Go! (arr. J. Gilbert & E. Brown; adpt. Cantus)
Traditional English: I Saw Three Ships (arr. R. Bowens)
Traditional Filipino/Jerry Brandy: Aguinaldo Carols (arr. R. Bowens)
Traditional Austrian Carol: Still, Still, Still (arr. A. Humble)
Franz Gruber: Silent Night (arr. C.H. Harris)
Linda Kachelmeier: We Toast the Days
Cantus: Jacob Christopher, Alberto de la Paz, Alexander Nishibun, Peter Scholtz (tenor), Rod Kelly Hines, Jeremy Wong (baritone), Chris Foss, Samuel Green (bass)
Recording: Chapel at St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul, Minnesota (July 2021) (^ World Premiere Recording) – 71’02
Signum Classics SIGCD723 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English
“In the shadowy stillness of these short, cold days, December is the darkroom that focuses our gaze squarely on the bright promise and growing light of the imminent new year.”
And by turning back our clocks only yesterday in The United States, the idea of Standard Time is an even stronger reminder of the narrowing slices of daylight as we glance into December. “Into the Light” reaches into pockets of brightness and the anticipation of a happier New Year as the sun anxiously arcs back to longer days.
Cantus, an a cappella ensemble featuring the deeply rich resonances of eight distinguished male voices, ushers in the holidays most unconventionally. Though several favorites are represented, the status quo is turned upside down. A heavy investment of arrangements and adaptations surfaces and in the most extraordinary way. Rhythmic textures also cut across a wide range of grains, providing an irresistible élan. Note cutoffs, dynamics and tempos are immaculate while chording is uniquely contemporary and full of positivism...this is what adds such special luminescence.
As an example, Cantus captures the pulsating essences of Aguinaldo Carols with its jazzy verve. Christmas is nuanced inside Joni Mitchell’s 1971 bittersweet River which leans to the heavier gravity of the album, including the nostalgic We Toast the Days, penned by Minnesotan Linda Kachelmeier. A special treat is Chris Foss’ World Premiere take of Clement Clarke Moore’s epic poem that sparkles with quixotic notes and unusual vocal dynamics...this piece holds the listener in deep fascination, and it renders big smiles and a chuckle or two! On another dimension Reginald Bowens tips his hat to I Saw Three Ships, giving the traditional English melody a sassy Manhattan Transfer‑like lilt that lifts the piece onto the page of modernity. Traditional music from around the world is also respectfully represented. Occasionally Cantus utilizes an instrumental accompaniment, such as the guitar (and energized Children Go!) or the percussive woodblock (a spirited Mensaje de Paz) that adds to the album’s variety.
Cantus brings thoughtful reminder of hope and happiness as we glance inside the portal of the future. Though a minuscule light beams at this time of year, the apex will broaden as we ring in 2023.
Cantus is a shining, pulsating octet...perfect in precision, innate in integration.
Cantus Vocal Ensemble Website