Cantus to perform Christmas concert

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Cantus has a unique approach to creating music.

The Minneapolis-based men’s vocal ensemble doesn’t have a music director, so the eight singers share responsibilities.

“We are the only full-time ensemble in the world, I believe, that is artist-led,” baritone David Geist said. “Every show you see is an equal combination of all the work we put together. When we are programming shows, we bring the theme and the concept.

Cantus, a men’s vocal ensemble, performs “Three Tales of Christmas” Dec. 7 at the Palladium. (Submitted photo)

“Oftentimes, we’ll have a big whiteboard with 100 songs, and we narrow it down to 20 for a performance. We are very collaborative.”

Cantus will present “Three Tales of Christmas” at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

In “Three Tales of Christmas,” the group combines familiar carols, new twists on holiday classics and narrated passages from classic holiday tales such as “A Christmas Carol,” “Gift of the Magi” and “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

“This is one of my favorite times of the year because so many people love choral music and the style of the music we present around the holiday season,” Geist said. “So, we always have an engaged and energized audience that comes and listens to the music we work so hard to put together. We always have some Cantus classics that audiences want to hear, and one of those is Franz Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria.’ That’s one we do every Christmas, or people get mad.”

Cantus originated at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., in 1995 and became a professional group a few years later. It features two bass singers, two baritones and four tenors.

“There is an international audition process,” Geist said. “None of us in the group are the original members anymore.”

Geist, from Burnsville, Minn., is the only Minnesota native in the ensemble.

“I had been exposed to Cantus for a while, so I knew I had to apply after I graduated from grad school,” he said.

Geist said the group usually does 35 to 40 shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and another 30 to 40 on the road.

For more, visit thecenterpresents.org.

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