What could be better than a world premier?

In 1995, a group of college musicians decided they wanted to sing outside of the ensembles offered on their campus. In order to be recognized, they needed a name so a member quickly wrote down Cantus, meaning “song” in Latin, with the intention of changing the name later.

But now, nearly 25 years later, the name Cantus has stuck, and this crew of former college musicians has now become one of the premiere men’s ensemble groups in the nation. And lucky for Happy Valley, the group is bringing their talents to Penn State on Tuesday, September 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Based in Minneapolis, Cantus brings together some of the most talented performers in the nation. With a diverse background of musical talent and cultural experience, their performance is something you don’t want to miss.

Their show, titled ‘Alone Together,’ features a diverse repertoire of contemporary, classical and original pieces. Did I mention the Penn State performance will include the world premiere of ‘You,’ an exclusive piece written by Grammy award winning artist and highly celebrated composer Libby Larsen?

Plans to collaborate with Larsen took shape a few years ago, according to Cantus member Chris Foss, who joined the group 11 years ago.

“Libby Larsen is an amazing composer and certainly is one of the most prestigious,” claimed Foss. “We’ve been waiting to work with her for such a long time. We were approached by this organization called Music Accord, which chooses artists and composers to work together and then commissions them a project. They approached us and said are there composers that you would be interested in working with.”

“Libby Larsen was the composer that ultimately was chosen, and we just couldn’t be happier.”

Cantus, who usually plans their touring shows two to three years in advance, was eager to work with Larsen. But, once Music Accord paired the artists, it then came time to actually create the perfect piece.

“We were planning on doing a show called Alone Together,” said Foss. “It’s kind of a very popular concept these days. Even though we have so many different ways of communicating with each other, people are feeling increasingly isolated.”

Larsen’s You was tailored to fit this theme perfectly.

For Happy Valley music fans, you may recognize Cantus because they performed at Penn State four years ago in 2014. But, don’t worry, this month’s performance is completely unique.

“The music that we are doing this time is going to be entirely different. We talk about everything from the depths of the increasing isolation that people experience to the fact that most people who are getting married now have met their spouse not actually in person—they met them online, through an app or through a service. Really kind of an amazing way that our culture has changed in a really quick manner.”

Could you imagine singing in an ensemble without a conductor? Well, for Cantus, that is the reality, and they couldn’t be prouder.

“A lot of choirs have conductors or artistic directors; we don’t actually have that. We’re a collaborative ensemble, and that’s remained true throughout the years.”

After a Cantus concert, expect to walk away with more than just a beautiful ringing in your ears. Expect to learn something, feel something and experience something magical.

“Hopefully it’s not just about the wonderful sounds that we make and the music we make, but also the messages and the stories that we deliver that hopefully truly stay with people long after they experience the concert.”

So, I ask you, what could possibly be better than witnessing the world premiere of a piece written by a Grammy award winning artist and listening to some of the most talented men’s vocals in the country?

To let your eyes marvel at the multi-movement performance on stage and your ears flood with the sound of talented tenors and basses, head the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25, to explore what it means to be alone together into our digital world. For tickets, click here.

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