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by Timothy Robson

Contrapunctus-CSJE

Contrapunctus, a professional choral group just finishing its first season, gave an unusual program of music for high voices (sopranos, altos, countertenors) at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Friday, June 6th. British countertenor and conductor David Acres, music director of Contrapunctus, planned an audacious program of 22 works, with repertoire from Gregorian chant and the early polyphonist Perotin, through Brahms and Fauré, to a striking new work by Cleveland composer Kevin Foster.

The tenors and basses of Contrapunctus sat this one out, but if these fine performances are any indication, audiences should flock to the group’s next concert. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

DContrapunctus-at-IdeaStreamon’t be surprised if the second concert by Cleveland’s new choral ensemble, Contrapunctus, at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland on Friday, June 6 at 7:30 pm, is missing a few voice parts — tenors and basses, in fact. British countertenor David Acres, who founded and conducts the ensemble, planned it that way.

“There’s so much repertoire for high voices from about 950 to the present to explore,” Acres said in a telephone conversation. “We’ll begin with a Salve Regina over a two-note drone and work our way forward through virtually every century to a piece written for sopranos and altos by one of Contrapunctus’s own tenors, Kevin Foster. A lot of the music is outside the norm — pieces from the York Mystery Plays, Lassus, Landini, Lotti (a piece I’d never heard before), Kapsperger. It’s not run of the mill, and I quite like that.”

Audiences may be accustomed to hearing upper-voice choirs from girls’ schools and women’s colleges, but Acres notes that Contrapunctus’s sopranos, altos and countertenors will serve up something different for its audience in Friday’s free concert. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Mary-Q-ScotsThe chamber choir formerly known as Cantores made its debut under the new name of Contrapunctus at Trinity Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, March 2, with an historically themed concert, “The Life and Times of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542-1587.”

Led by its new artistic director, English countertenor David Acres, the 19 singers expertly presented 15 exquisite church motets by English, Scottish, Spanish and Italian composers of the Renaissance, embedded into a lengthy, printed narrative of Mary’s life with color images and supplemented by a few brief excerpts from her own writings delivered by actor Denise Larkin.

Performing music within its historical context with the help of images and spoken words can result in a rich experience for the listener when several streams run together to form a larger river. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Mary-Q-ScotsIn 2004, Barbara Margolis gathered five of her professional singer colleagues and launched the one-on-a-part vocal ensemble Cantores Ecclesiae to explore church music written before 1650. By 2011, the group — now called Cantores Cleveland — had expanded into a non-profit organization, increased its numbers and embarked on the new mission of performing themed, multi-media concerts designed to bring old music back to life by placing it in its historical context.

Margolis having decided to step down, Cantores has entered a new era under a new name: Contrapunctus Cleveland. The mission remains the same, but the artistic leadership has passed on to British countertenor David Acres and soprano Judith Overcash, and Contrapunctus is now in residence at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Cleveland. The newly reconstituted, 19-voice ensemble will make its debut at Trinity on Sunday, March 2 at 3:00 pm in a program entitled “The Life and Times of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). Read the rest of this entry »

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