Recognized as one of America's finest professional male vocal ensembles, Cantus enjoys a vigorous schedule of national tours, subscription concerts in its home of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, educational outreach programs, and recording. The Washington Post hails the ensemble’s sound as having both “exalting finesse” and “expressive power,” and refers to their music-making as "spontaneous grace." Rehearsing and performing without a conductor, the ensemble's programs span many periods and genres, including chant, Renaissance music, contemporary works, art song, folk, spirituals, world music, and pop.
Cantus’ 2008-09 season includes a collaboration with Bobby McFerrin presented by the Minnesota Orchestra, the creation of a new work by Mary Ellen Childs with the James Sewell Ballet and the nationwide broadcast of an original radio drama based on the World War One Christmas truce. 2007-08 highlights included an extended tour with the Boston Pops for the holiday season, a sold-out debut at the Kennedy Center, and an acclaimed premiere of All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914. In the fall of 2007, the group made is African debut performing with Cameroonian choirs for joint concerts and workshops throughout southwest Cameroon, culminating in an outdoor stadium concert.
Cantus has toured throughout Canada and Europe. In the United States, the group has sung to great acclaim at many nationally recognized festivals and venues, including Library of Congress, Merkin Hall, San Francisco Performances, Oregon Bach Festival, and Spivey Hall, to name a few. Cantus has appeared as a special guest with the Minnesota Orchestra, and has a long-standing performing relationship with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Their numerous recordings have garnered critical acclaim from Stereophile, Gramophone, Classics Today, and National Public Radio. The ensemble’s eponymous 2007 recording Cantus was named one of NPR’s 10 best for 2007. Frequently heard on public radio stations nationwide, Cantus is regularly featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today. On Christmas Day, 2006 Cantus was chosen to represent the United States in a 24-hour marathon of music broadcast in 27 countries, via American Public Media and the European Broadcasting Union.
As a non-profit organization, Cantus is an active proponent of music education, encouraging people of all ages - especially men - to sing. The ensemble annually works with over 10,000 young people throughout the country in educational activities ranging from master classes to festivals and collaborations.
A founder of the Male Choir Commissioning Consortium, the ensemble has commissioned numerous new works from composers including Gavin Bryars, Lee Hoiby, Steven Sametz, Kenneth Jennings, Peter Hamlin, Edie Hill, and Robert Kyr. Cantus has received commissioning grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Forum, and Chamber Music America. In addition to these new pieces, much of Cantus' music is composed and arranged by its members.