My Christmas with Cantus

This is the weird and wonderful story of how my one and only Christmas with Cantus led me to meet tenors David Walton and Aaron Humble who are joining forces with me for my upcoming “A Three Tenors Christmas” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.  

plug:

  • Tuesday, December 22 at 8:15 P.M. (dinner seating at 6:15) get tickets
  • Wednesday, December 23 at 8:15 P.M. (dinner seating at 6:15) get tickets

Fyi, as of this writing, availability has gone from “excellent” to “good”….so don’t wait too long to get a ticket!

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The three tenors rehearse with pianist Herb Johnson.

My life is strange.  I’ve known for some time that anybody who willfully puts himself or herself up on a stage in front of other people is unusual.  Being a man that sings really high in front of people makes me a freak of nature.   I shouldn’t be surprised then, that this story is also strange.  Some call it luck but looking back all I can think is that Someone was orchestrating.

When I was in my last semester of grad school, I met Aaron Humble of Cantus as he was getting a tour of Denver University’s Lamont School of Music before the ensemble’s performance that evening.  I’d heard of Cantus on Minnesota Public Radio but had never been to any of their productions.  I decided I needed to look into this group, and I applied to audition that spring.  They hold annual auditions to attract the top male vocal talent in the nation, regardless of any open positions in the ensemble.  They invited me to come to one of their live auditions. That alone was worth the plane ticket.

Instead of singing for a director, or a panel of judges, you sing for the men of Cantus.  After all of the auditionees had sung their songs, we were invited back into the room and then magic happened. We got to sing WITH Cantus.  As I’d prepared my parts for the music ahead of time I had imagined the sound we’d achieve.  It surpassed all of my expectations.  I flew back to Denver with an even deeper respect for the organization.  I was saddened to hear some time later that there were no open positions in the ensemble, but still very glad to have sung with them, even for a day.

While singing a role in Italy at the tail end of the summer I received a call from Doc Rainbow, director of theatre at my undergraduate alma mater, University of Northwestern – St. Paul, inviting me to come sing the lead role of Father in Children of Eden that fall.  We sold or gave away nearly everything we owned and returned to our native Minnesota, anticipating a one month stay and then a circuit of audition trips out west.  Then, just a few days after arriving in Minnesota, I got a call from Cantus.  One of their tenors had taken a leave of absence and they needed a tenor to replace him for their upcoming “Christmas with Cantus” concerts and was I in town and AVAILABLE!?  I was ecstatic.

Rehearsing with them for six hours a day and learning an entire show in two weeks was a rigorous and rewarding experience.  Getting to perform with them was So. Much. Fun.  My contract included singing on their Christmas with Cantus CD in 2011.  That recording is still a favorite in my household, frequently being chosen by our young daughters as their bedtime music.

In the spring of 2012, Cantus was looking to fill this tenor position with a full-time singer, and I was hopeful that I may be able to join this group for the long term. Though I was bummed that they chose someone else, I totally understood their reasoning. David Walton possesses  a tenor range that I only dream of.  On my first encounter with David, I remembered thinking – just from his speaking voice – “wow, this guy is going to go far.”  Which he has. Find out more about him here.

I’ve been so privileged to have performed with David since then in various productions and was thrilled that he joined me and Aleks Knezevich for the debut performance of our tenor trio last year for Christmas at Wooddale in Eden Prairie Minnesota.

As plans for this year’s Chanhassen concerts developed, we needed to find a new tenor, as Aleks was not available this year.  David suggested Aaron Humble, also a long-time Cantus member who is currently on faculty at Augustana College in Illinois.  He is not only a quick study but brings such confidence and experience with him.  You can find out more about him here.

While I never purposed to create this year’s tenor trio with former members of Cantus, it makes perfect sense that that’s what has happened.  Cantus attracts top male talent to the state and the entire community benefits from it.

I’m thankful for the boldness to take chances.  This Christmas I’m especially thankful for the men of Cantus 2010 who took a chance on me.  I will always be grateful for the institution of Cantus.  It continues to create amazing music with many new voices and creating opportunities that go far beyond the ears that hear them.

(By the way, the 2015 “Christmas with Cantus” series starts tonight!)

Three Tenors (medQ)

photo credit: Bethany Jackson of Twin Cities Headshots

Colorado Concert – by Mail!

What a week this has been! Since this is the first time we have done this sort of thing – doing our own concert series – we are learning quite a bit about ourselves and about the process.  Last week’s programs in Minnesota went well.  It has been so good to have the chance to figure out what to change and tweek and rearrange for each next concert.  It has also been extremely challenging figuring out how to balance work and family when it is so intertwined throughout this process.  Thank you thank you to the many people who have been helping with childcare to afford us rehearsal time!

December 14 at Cross of Glory in Hopkins

Fortunately, Nathan graciously decided against firing his accompanist despite her being out of commission due to recovering from compound stress of travelling + 3 year old + 9 month old. Things are looking up and Ms. Accompanist is looking forward to tonight’s concert…or so I’m told 🙂 Continue reading →

Concert – in Minn!

hard at work rehearsing at Cross of Glory

Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 10:30 AM
Cross of Glory Baptist Church
4600 Shady Oak Rd, Hopkins, MN

It’s actually more of a pre-Colorado-concert-dress-rehearsal.  We will be running through our program that we will be performing on Dec 20 and 21 in Colorado.

Christmas music.  Nathan singing. Naomi playing. Some fun twists on favorite classics. And…back by popular demand…baskets for donations 🙂  What’s not to love?

If you want to be involved as a greeter, photographer, program-passer-outer, sign-up/CD table attendant, babysitter, or substitute vocalist- let us know!

Just kidding about the vocalist.

Colorado Christmas Concerts

We are heading west again!

On December 16th, right after the Kurt Metzger concert here in Plymouth, MN, our little band of four will head to the beautiful Rocky Mountains to see friends and family and to perform two Christmas concerts. Here’s the skinny:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011, 7:00 PM
Faith Lutheran Church 303 Ridge Road,  Castle Rock, CO 80104

Wednesday, December 21, 2011, 7:00 PM
First Christian Church 16 East Platte Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Continue reading →