The depth of the Twin Cities’ choral music scene is on abundant display this month with three major premieres: The male vocal ensemble Cantus presents two world firsts, while VocalEssence offers a major U.S. debut.
Cantus’s fall program is called A Place for Us, and it honors immigrants who have come to this country to remake their lives. “It’s certainly relevant to today’s news, as immigrants continue to come,” says Cantus member Aaron Humble.
The first world premiere is a piece by Cantus member Paul John Rudoi, who has set a poem by African American poet Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” which contains some politically pointed and very contemporary-sounding lyrics. Also featured is the world premiere of a commission, “Psalm of the Soil,” by Sarah Kirkland Snider. She writes in the classical tradition but draws on the energy of indie rock, using an Appalachian folk hymn as the starting point for the piece.
Meanwhile, VocalEssence is presenting the U.S. premiere of British composer Jonathan Dove’s There Was a Child, a touching oratorio for soprano, tenor, chorus, and a 50-piece orchestra. A colleague of Dove’s commissioned the piece in memory of her son, who drowned at age 19. The oratorio uses poems by Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, and other poets to tell the story of a life, from birth to young manhood.
Cantus: Oct. 17, The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; Oct. 19, Sundin Music Hall, 1531 Hewitt Ave., St. Paul; Oct. 20, Trinity Lutheran Church, 115 N. 4th St., Stillwater; Oct. 24, Colonial Church of Edina, 6200 Colonial Way, Edina, 612-435-0046, cantussings.org. VocalEssence: Oct. 27, Orchestra Hall, 612-371-5656, vocalessence.org