2022-2023 Concerts - Our 41st Season

Old World, New Worlds

Old World, New Worlds

Our December concert, entitled “Old World, New Worlds,” has some familiar offerings and some pieces new to Cantemus. The Old World music of Western Europe meets New World repertoire of the Americas and East Asia; ancient texts are set to modern music; and the heritages of Christmas and Chanukah celebration are presented in traditional and contemporary modes. The program opens with Felix Mendelssohn’s joyous Frohlocket ihr Völker auf Erden, Op. 79, No. 1, sung in the round. We offer the stunning Ave Maria by Nathaniel Dett–a preeminent African-American composer from the early 20th century whose music is finally becoming part of the standard repertory. Mi Zeh Y’maleil is an exciting traditional Chanukah song in the Sephardic tradition of Moorish Spain. The centerpiece of the concert is Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. Written in Britten’s inimitable style–an amalgam of texts from Medieval to 16th century Britain, set to decidedly 20th century music, with many nods to older musical practice (for instance, plainchant and the liberal use of church modes). The piece is the perfect poster child for our Old/New World theme. Read Program Notes

Saturday, December 3, at 7:30 pm

Belleville Congregational Church
300 High St., Newburyport, MA

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Sunday, December 4, at 4:00 pm

First Church in Swampscott
40 Monument Ave., Swampscott, MA

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*COVID Protocol

Cantemus is committed to safeguarding the health of our performers and audience. Persons attending this performance will be required to wear masks at all times.

“The building was bursting with joy and harmony...”
–Robin M.

Through Nature's Lens

In the spring, we explore repertoire based on poetry that relies on nature imagery. It isn't an "in praise of nature” concert, but explores some ways that poets and composers have used nature imagery and metaphors to express ideas about love and life. Sometimes the images are straightforward, but other times the simple nature poetry masks a deeper, often political meaning. The concert opens with Robert Schumann’s Zigeunerleben in which carefree gypsies carouse in a dark forest–the idealized natural world of the Romantics. Morten Lauridsen’s Chansons des Roses are settings of sensual love poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke. Carlos Guastavino was an important 20th century Argentine composer. The texts to his Indianas proffer innocuous love poetry, but Guastavino’s composition employs folk and dance forms in Argentina that were forbidden by the 1960s fascist regime (folk instruments, etc., were considered a dangerous appeal for a more democratic political landscape). Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) was probably the most important Estonian composer of the 20th century, especially in terms of establishing a uniquely Estonian voice on the world stage. His Sügismaastikud (Autumn Landscapes) seems to be a typical poetic cycle from late summer to winter's cold on the surface. In fact, the work is meant to express dissent against the occupation of Soviet forces in Estonia. The concert closer, Let The River Run, an arrangement of the popular song by Carly Simon, uses a river as a metaphor for social change, at once alluding to the River Jordan of the Old Testament "promised land" and the New Testament "New Jerusalem" of the end times, when peace and justice will rule the earth. It is a varied and challenging program with a little something for every taste.

Saturday, April 29, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 30, at 4:00 pm


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