Chamber Choir Cantinovum (established in 1989) is the ambitious choir of the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. Their name originates from the Latin words 'canti' and novum'. Together these words become the identity of the choir and mean 'new song'. At present, there are approximately 30 singers in the choir for whom music is a passionate interest – for many it is also a future profession. Many of the singers either study or work at the the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences or at the University of Jyväskylä.
The repertoire of Cantinovum is colorful and interesting. It spans from folk music to sacred music and from Renaissance to modern composers. It is very characteristic of Cantinovum to perform songs that have been specially composed for them. They have had the honour of premiering more than a dozen compositions both nationally and internationally. Some of the composers include Jussi Chydenius, Jan Hellberg, Juha Holma, Heikki Korhonen, Ilkka Kuusisto, Mia Makaroff, Liisa Matveinen, Sandra Milliken, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Robert A. M. Ross and Hreidar Ingi Thorsteisson. In addition to a cappella singing, Cantinovum has worked with the Jyväskylä Sinfonia and other orchestras.
The choir aims for the highest of artistic levels, while continuously developing repertoire and practicing enthusiastically to enhance their rich tone. Their excellence is noted through the awards they have received. Cantinovum won second prize in the Athens International Choir Festival of 1994 and the National Klemetti Choir Competition of 1996. In 1999, Cantinovum won first prize at the International Choir Contest of Flanders, Belgium and in 2003, Cantinovum was presented a diploma with two golden stamps from the Tampere Vocal Music Festival’s Chorus Review. More recently the choir toured the USA during the summer of 2005, swept all the first place prizes in Slovakia at the Banska Bystrica Academy Choir Competition during May of 2009 and in August, 2010 attended the Nordic Baltic Choir Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland on behalf of Finland and The Finnish Amateur Musicians' Association, Sulasol. In 2012, the choir did a concert tour in Germany.
Rita Varonen has been the conductor of Chamber Choir Cantinovum since 1993. Under her direction, Cantinovum has enhanced its reputation as one of Finland’s leading performers of new Finnish choral music.
Hungarian-born Varonen received her Master’s degree in choral conducting and aural training at the distinguished Liszt Academy in Budapest in 1987. She also completed a degree in wind band conducting and studied voice as one of her main subjects. Rita Varonen has studied conducting with István Párkain, Péter Erdein, László Heltay, Tonu Kaljuste, Jorma Panula, and Stefan Sjöld. Currently she is a Senior Lecturer of Choir Conducting at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Finland.
Rita Varonen has conducted choral and orchestra concerts throughout Europe and the USA. Apart from those she has released many CD's with various choirs, appeared in radio and television broadcasts, recorded and received prizes throughout EUrope and the United States. Besides Cantinovum, Varonen conducts Jyväskylä's Naislaulajat (Female Singers) and the Harjun Laulu (Hill's Song) mixed choir as well as on occasion the Jyväskylä Sinfonia (Symphony).
In 1996, Varonen was awarded the Harald Andersén Prize from the Finnish Cultural Foundation for her contribution to Finnish choral music. In 2001, she won second place in the Concorso Internazionale per Direttori di Coro Mariele Ventre, international choir conductor competition in Italy. In 2009 Varonen was awarded the prize of the best choir conductor at both the Slovakia Cantat Competition and ABB Bansa Bystrica Competition in Slovakia. The choirs present in those competitions were Jyväskylän Naislaulajat and Cantinovum. The Finnish Choral Directors’ Association selected Rita Varonen Choir Director of the Year 2004. In 2012, the Finnish association for singers and players, Sulasol, awarded Varonen the Klemetti prize for her successful work with choirs and choral singing. Rita Varonen is in constant demand for workshops throughout the world.