Cantus, a Minnesota-based professional men's vocal ensemble, will offer an exclusive concert to attendees of the 2021 Lenoir-Rhyne Vocal Music Festival. Dr. André Thomas, visiting professor of choral conducting at Yale University and recently retired professor of music at Florida State University, will speak.
The annual Lenoir-Rhyne Vocal Music Festival seeks to celebrate singing and encourage ongoing student engagement in the choral art. In a typical year, more than 200 area high school students would gather on campus for a day-long festival culminating with an evening concert. This year's Friday, March 26 festival will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We canceled last year's festival due to the pandemic and were considering doing the same this year," said Ryan Luhrs, Ph.D., director of choral activities and sacred music program coordinator at Lenoir-Rhyne. "COVID-19 has made it a difficult time to be a choral musician. I'm grateful that festival participants and Lenoir-Rhyne students will have the rare opportunity to interact with and be inspired by world class leaders in choral music."
In addition to engaging with the guest artists, festival attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual choir rendition of Thomas's composition "I Dream a World" with members of the Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir. Student soloists are invited to submit performance videos for feedback from Dr. Judith Burbank, assistant professor music at Lenoir-Rhyne. Select student videos will be included in the concluding festival concert.
Cantus is widely known for its trademark choral warmth and blend, innovative programming and engaging performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 21st century. André Thomas is a composer, conductor, author and a highly sought-after clinician. His compositions are frequently performed by choirs throughout the country. His 2007 book, "Way Over in Beulah Lan': Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual" is widely viewed as an authority on the topic of Spiritual performance practice in the choral setting. The Lenoir-Rhyne A Cappella Choir is the university's flagship choral ensemble.