Paul’s Pick of the Week: Cantus at Clemson’s Brooks Center, 7:30 p.m., March 5.
Why you should go: It’s a free concert by a nationally celebrated men’s vocal ensemble, known for its versatility and first-rate musicality.
Musical exploration: Does technology bring us together or drive us apart?
Cantus has built an entire a cappella program around the question.
The eight-member group’s admission-free performance of “Alone Together” will feature music by composers as diverse as Beethoven, the Beatles and Dave Matthews.
“It’s really a program about how we have more ways to communicate with each other than ever before and yet there’s this increasing sense of isolation,” said Chris Foss, one of ensemble’s basses.
Person-to-person communication has become faster and more efficient, thanks to email, texting, social media and teleconferencing.
But have face-to-face conversation and the possibility of deeper connections suffered as a result?
“People are feeling that it’s harder to reach out to someone,” Foss said. “It’s a very interesting dichotomy in our society we’re trying to explore.”
Such concerns, however, are not new, Foss said, speaking by phone from the group’s office in Minneapolis. Critics worried that the telephone and TV would negatively impact family interaction – and maybe they have.
Cantus, with four tenors and four basses, is one of the few full-time male classical vocal ensembles in the nation.
Now celebrating more than 20 years as a professional ensemble, Cantus spends as many as 100 days on the road, performing nationally and internationally.
In Clemson, Cantus will be joined by a Clemson University men’s choir to sing Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria,” a classic of the choral repertoire.
Yearning for connection: “Alone Together” spotlights songs of loneliness and the yearning for connection. The program is nothing if not eclectic, with music by such classical composers as Beethoven and modern composers like Steven Sametz.
Also included are a few pop songs and oldies: Dave Matthew’s “Gravedigger,” Lennon/McCartney’s “She’s Leaving Home” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Most Peculiar Man.”
“It doesn’t matter when a song was written as long as it’s good and it speaks to the narrative,” Foss said.
Telling a story: Cantus, with a mission to “give voice to shared human experiences,” often creates programs around poignant themes.
“In every concert, we try to tell a story and present a viewpoint that everyone can relate to,” Foss said.
Cantus performs at Clemson University as a part of the Utsey Series of free classical music concerts.
If you go
What: Cantus in concert
When: 7:30 p.m., March 5
Where: Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University
Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.