Cantus performs at Dumbarton Oaks
The Friends of Music's annual holiday concert offered a little something for everyone. The nine voice, all-male a cappella ensemble Cantus presented a program called "On the Shoulders of Giants," a celebration of significant, but mostly lesser-known, choral works that spanned centuries, styles, and cultures. The nine singers' voices moved effortlessly from Medieval organum (Perotin's Sederunt) to a twentieth-century setting of Alleluia by Randall Thompson, with a number of intriguing stops along the way. These stops included such disparate pieces as a Sufi chant, an Estonian epic ballad, Russian Orthodox and traditional Georgian chants, and a traditional Muskogee Indian song — all sung with style in the original languages. In addition to the music by Randall Thompson, other offerings of American music included a beautiful arrangement of MLK by U2,Wanting Memories by Sweet Honey in the Rock's Ysaye M. Barnwell, and an African-American spiritual. Cantus closed the program with their signature work, Franz Biebl's Ave Maria. The encore was a moving meditation on peace, set to the celebrated melody of Sibelius' Finlandia. The concert was a soothing and often joyful way to end a tumultuous year and a great way to welcome 2013. Washington, DC's local public radio station WETA-FM recorded the concert for future broadcast.