FAIRMONT - The Twin Cities-based men's vocal ensemble Cantus will perform Sept. 13 at Fairmont Opera House.
Cantus - pronounced Con-Toose - is Latin for song or melody. Since forming at St. Olaf college in 1996, and then turning professional in 2000, the full-time ensemble is one of only two in the nation.
"It's neat that we can say one of them is right here in the Twin Cities," said Aaron Humble, a Cantus member.
The group currently is touring and performing "Anthem," a program that asks, "Why do we sing?"
"It looks at why and how people sing together," Humble said. "People come together to praise and worship, they come together to celebrate, and even in England, they sing during soccer games. We're performing a piece called 'When You Walk Through the Storm' that was an American piece, and it was adopted by an English soccer team and everyone sings it during the game. We'll be performing in a variety of different languages and styles and what brings people together to sing."
But the nine-man group hopes to have more interaction with Fairmont than just singing on stage for two hours.
"When we tour, we look for opportunities to do outreach," Humble said. "The high school is invited to an open rehearsal ... We always want to get a deeper experience in the community; it's better than just singing on a stage and then hiding in our hotel room the rest of the time."
And it seems Fairmont is open for the interaction, with Fairmont Mayor Randy Quiring set to proclaim Sept. 13 as "Cantus Day."
"I don't know if we've ever had a proclamation before," Humble said when he heard. "But that's great."
The group performs as chamber musicians, working without a conductor or a music director, allowing audiences to experience a direct connection to the performers.
"As a chamber ensemble, we all lead at some point," Humble explained. "This year, we have three new singers, and one of them is from Bemidji. It's the first time since the St. Olaf days that we had a native Minnesotan in the ensemble."
The group tours throughout the year, with five different series in the Twin Cities that consist of 25 to 30 concerts. They then tour nationwide and occasionally overseas.
"We have 75 to 80 performances a year," Humble said.
On top of that, the ensemble records. It has another CD set for release in October.
"I know when some people hear about chamber music or classical music, they get afraid, they think they don't have the credentials to listen to that," Humble said. "But we want to make it accessible to everybody. We share it in a way that tells a story. We really like to engage our audiences and meet people afterward. We hope everyone will come out and enjoy the beauty of singing together."
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Opera House. Tickets are $20. For more information, call (507) 238-4900 or visit online: fairmontoperahouse.com