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Cantemus Presents Time and Tide: Rhythms of the Sea, Featuring Shanties, Sea Songs and Spirituals

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(March 18, 2018) —In the spring Cantemus concerts, Times and Tide: Rhythms of the Sea, the audience will be hearing a collection of pieces that represent both the tides of the ocean and the tides of time. The gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun makes the water in the oceans swell, causing a continuous change between high and low tide. Music director Jane Ring Frank has put together a program that refers to water, rivers, seas, moons, clocks, seasons, pastimes -– a platform for some rich, beautiful and powerful spring repertoire. 

Randall Thompson’s Two Worlds is a gentle meditation on old age, on the light that shines ‘through chinks that time hath made.’ Bob Chilcott’s Dances of Time give us contrasting pieces that dance us through various aspects of time – representing writers and texts as diverse as King Henry VIII, Ecclesiastes and Sara Teasdale. Gwyneth Walker’s Crossing the Bar liltingly sets Tennyson’s placid and accepting attitude toward mortality. The poet uses the metaphor of a sand bar to describe the liminal barrier between life and death.

Stephen Chatman’s Time Pieces consists of settings of texts or sounds relating to the idea of time. Both the music and the diverse secular texts echo various styles, aesthetics, and emotions, chronologically spanning many centuries. The contrapuntal, spiritual, and dramatic qualities of “Tempus” contrast the light-hearted, bittersweet tone of “Come, My Celia,” composed in a quasi-Renaissance style. The culminating “Clocks” is inspired by the composer’s antique grandfather clock. It is a textual and musical glossary of clock sounds, consisting of repetitive “tick-tock” motives and the occasional “cuckoo” or low, loud Westminster chime sounds.

The shanty was sung to accompany certain work tasks aboard sailing ships, especially those that required a bright walking pace. It is believed to have originated in the early 19th century, during a period when ships' crews, especially those of military vessels, were large enough to permit hauling a rope while simply marching along the deck. The rhythms often coordinated the efforts of many sailors hauling on lines. "Drunken Sailor,” also known as "What Shall We Do with a/the Drunken Sailor?" is perhaps the most mainstream and popular of this body of songs. Each successive verse suggests a method of sobering or punishing the drunken sailor. “Enticement” (an aggressive drinking song) and “Demons” (a serious lament) round out the trio of “shanties.”

Away from the Roll of the Sea is one of Canada’s most endearing folksongs – beloved for soaring melody and a deep connection to treasured Canadian waterways. Dan Forrest’s Who Can Sail without the Wind? is a poignant Swedish folksong that became popular among Scandinavian immigrants in the American upper Midwest. Shenandoah is a favorite piece in the Cantemus repertoire, and it is my pleasure to bring the piece to life with this lovely group. And for pure heart and good measure, we have included Moon River and Deep River – one popular, one spiritual – both beloved.

Here on the North Shore we are surrounded by the wild beauty of the tides, a roaring and commanding sea. The history of vocal music is rich with images of the seas, rivers, inlets, and tides, reminders of our natural inheritance, and it is Cantemus’s pleasure to let the audience swim in the diverse waters of motet, madrigal, shanty, folksong and spiritual.

Cantemus Chamber Chorus sings this program three times in three different locations, on Saturday April 28th at 7:30 p.m. at First Church in Wenham, 1 Arbor Street, Wenham, on Sunday April 29th at 4:00 p.m. at Central Congregational Church, 14 Titcomb Street in Newburyport, and lastly at First Church, Swampscott, 40 Monument Avenue, Swampscott on Sunday, May 6th at 4:00 p.m. Additional information and online tickets can be found at their website,, or by calling toll free 1-888-CHORUS 1.

Cantemus gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Hamilton-Wenham, Newburyport, Salem and the West Newbury Cultural Councils. Cantemus is a member of Chorus America, and of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium, a cooperative association of diverse choral groups in Boston and the surrounding area.  

Cantemus’ 45 members come from 20 communities on the North Shore, Boston, Cambridge and New Hampshire:

Amesbury: Gary Lubarsky, Ron Pressler. Beverly: Dick Church, Mia D’Agostino, Scott Hufford, Paul Kelly, Richard Salandrea, Rachel Small. Cambridge: Artistic Director Jane Ring Frank. Essex: Betsy Vicksell. Georgetown: Patty Clark. Gloucester: Ed Mowrey. Hamilton: Donna Gale, Marcy Homer, Pam Morris, Peggy Russell. Haverhill: Mern Ebinger, Doug Guy. Ipswich: Gary Freeman, Anne Maguire, Hugh McCall, Stephen Miles, Dorothy Monnelly, Chris Reif, Sr. Pat Rolinger. Lynnfield: Priscilla March. Manchester-by-the-Sea: Isabella Bates, Stephen Pletcher. Marblehead: Debra Basile, David Rosen, Tanya Tupper. Melrose: Accompanist Jeffrey Mead. Newbury: Nancy Weinberg. Newburyport: Richard Blumenscheid, Claire Cayot. Peabody: Marjorie Short. Rockport: Brittany Betts. Roslindale: Deborah Lemont. Salem: Ariadne Nevin. Shirley: Cheryl Hayden. Wenham: Jeremy Satchell. West Newbury: Jamie Cabot, Michael Fosburg, Melissa Lugo, Susan Nash. Winchester: Carol Weir. Durham, NH: Sydney van Asselt.

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For more information contact:
Douglas Guy, Publicity

P.O. Box 784
Ipswich, MA 01938
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