Biography

“Nothing short of remarkable…they, quite simply, bring whatever they sing to glorious life.”  That is how the Deseret Morning News described a concert by Calmus, the First Prize Winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition.  Founded in 1999 in Germany, the a cappella quintet embodies the rich choral tradition of its hometown of Leipzig, the city so closely associated with Bach and Mendelssohn.  Whether singing music by those German masters or other works in its diverse repertoire, Calmus captivates both audiences and critics with its charming stage presence, flawless technique and entertaining presentation.

All graduates of Leipzig‘s renowned St. Thomas Church Choir School, Calmus offers the unique combination of a pure soprano voice with four male voices ranging from bass to countertenor.  The seamless blend of these five voices lends itself to the almost limitless range of music the ensemble offers, from renaissance and baroque masters through great German romantic works, all the way to contemporary choral repertoire, as  well as pop songs and jazz.  Calmus conveys everything it performs with great respect and also with a sense of joy in singing that is obvious to the listener: “…the singers bring tremendous character and musical depth to their interpretations… that transcends the language of the lyrics.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Highlighted performances in 2017-18 include a return to Lincoln Center Great Performers in New York City, and debut concerts for: The Schubert Club’s Music in the Park Series (St. Paul, MN), Pro Musica (Joplin, MO), and the Cal Poly Arts series (San Luis Obispo, CA). In early 2018, Calmus is also a featured ensemble performing for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association conference (at The Grand Theatre in Wausau), and for the Western regional conference of the Amercian Choral Director’s Associaton (ACDA) in Pasadena, CA.

With nearly 20 recordings to its credit, Calmus current CD’s (Carus label)–Luther’s Collage and Mitten im Leben 1517 (featuring the Lautten Compagney)–commemorate the 500th Anniverary of the Protestant Reformation, and both were selected as Forbes Magazine’s ‘Classical CD of the Week’ (Jan. 25, 2017).  Their 2014 Madrigals of Madness album was selected by The New York Times Classical critics among the best CD’s, and their 2015 release, Christmas Carols of the World, led to a special Holiday concert at NY Public Radio’s The Greene Space, with live video streaming on WQXR.  Other recent releases include: Mythos 116, featuring six different settings of Psalm 116; Touched, showcasing a unique mixture of classical and popular songs ranging from Purcell and Monteverdi to Elton John and Sting; Lied:gut!, a disc of German folksongs which won the 2009 Echo Klassik Award; and Christmas Carols, Calmus‘ first Holiday CD which was enthusiastically received: “…perfectly balanced ensemble singing…every chord given exacting importance” (Classics Today).

Recent North American highlights include Calmus’ New York debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and other NYC engagements at Lincoln Center Great Performers, Met Museum Presents, The Cloisters, Schneider Concerts at the New School, and a special program in fall 2012 at Manhattan’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the St. Thomas Choir School.  Other featured US career engagments include Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Purdue University Convocations, Ravinia’s Rising Stars series, Washington Performing Arts, University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, Clemson University’s Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, San Francisco’s Morrison Arts Series, Bach Society of Houston and Northeastern Illinois University’s Jewel Box Series (Chicago).  US Festival appearances include: the Virginia Arts Festival; Rockport Chamber Music Festival; Chautauqua Instituion; Princeton Summer Music and Wisconsin’s Madison Early Music Festival and Green Lake Festival.

An active concert schedule worldwide has taken Calmus across Germany, Austria Belgium, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Spain and Portugal as well as Central and South America.  Festival appearances include International a cappella Week in Hannover and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival where the group attended a master class with the King’s Singers. In addition to garnering First Prize at the CAG Competiton, other prestigious awards include First Prizes at the fourth annual Robert Schumann Choral Competition, the International Competition for Vocal Ensembles in Finland and the 37th Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain.

Audio

J.S. Bach: Jesu, meine Freude (BMV 227) , So nun der Geist (chorus)

J.S. Bach: Jesu, meine Freude (BMV 227), Ihr aber seid nicht fleischlich (fuga)

Reger: Nachtlied, Die Nacht ist kommen

Fredo Jung: Die Vogelhochzeit

Hugo Distler: Singet dem Herr ein neues Lied

Billy Joel: Lullabye / Good Night My Angel

George Kreisler: Barbara

Ramirez (arr. Gregor Meyer): La Peregrinacion

G.P. da Palestrina: Et in spiritum

Chilcott: Nova! nova!

Mendelssohn: Mein Herz erhebet Gott, den Herrn

Freddie Mercury: Bring Back That Leroy Brown

Wilhelm Weismann: Der 23. Psalm, Der Herr ist mein Hirte

Video

  • See video J.S. Bach: Dir, dir Jehova

    J.S. Bach: Dir, dir Jehova

  • See video  Heinrich Schütz: Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt

    Heinrich Schütz: Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt

  • See video  Hugo Distler: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied

    Hugo Distler: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied

  • See video  Georg Kreisler: Barbara

    Georg Kreisler: Barbara

  • See video  Jingle Bells (from WQXR Café Concert)

    Jingle Bells (from WQXR Café Concert)

  • See video  Bach fugue (from Met Museum Christmas concert)

    Bach fugue (from Met Museum Christmas concert)

Press

  • Quotes

    “Calmus Ensemble is stunning in its vocal variety, mastery.”  “The group held the audience…spellbound with its artistry.”  “…in matters of pitch, diction and musical shaping, I’ve never heard finer ensemble singing.”

    -The Washington Post

     

    “ …a flawlessly blended sound, relying not only [on] seamlessly meshed vocal timbres but on ornaments placed with absolute precision across all five voices… the singers bring tremendous character and musical depth to their interpretations, conveying the tone and meaning of lyrics in a fashion that transcends the language of the lyrics.”

    -Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

     

    “… a showcase of sophisticated ensemble singing, in quite a variety of repertory… each singer had a distinctive sonority, but in combinations from two to five voices they evinced impeccable balance and a keen collective feeling for the rise and fall of phrases and the nuances of harmony.”

    -Dallas Morning News

     

    “…the Calmus Ensemble shifts from smoldering passions to reverent simplicity; the journey through sound and time is quixotic and fantastic.”

    -Choral Journal

     

    “…nothing short of remarkable. These five young artists achieved the impossible and brought a cappella singing to a higher level.” “What distinguishes this quintet is the clarity and precision of its tone, its articulation and perfect intonation.. their interpretive talents and musicality are matchless.” “They infuse their singing with wonderful lyricism and exquisite expressiveness, they bring passion to their interpretations and they, quite simply, bring whatever they sing to glorious life.”

    -Deseret Morning News

     

    “…clear melodic lines and expressive phrasing. It was stunning. I sat through the performance with my mouth agape and a smile on my lips.”

    -Classical Voice of North Carolina

     

    “They are an elegant and highly polished a cappella ensemble…with crystalline purity… the Calmus Ensemble sings with a natural sense of pitch that goes way beyond simply singing in tune. They feel the character of the chord together.”

    -Theater Jones, Dallas, TX

     

    “…cleanly articulated, clear-voiced, perfectly balanced ensemble singing, every note, every chord given exacting importance, delivered in the most vocally attractive, musically expressive style.”

    -ClassicsToday .com

     

    “…precise intonation, impeccable blending and vocal beauty.”

    -Salt Lake Tribune

  • Reviews

Repertoire

  • Programs

    Christmas Carols of the World

    Anonymous/arr. Calmus                           Veni, veni Emmanuel

    (International–France/Germany)

    Orlando di Lasso                                      Introitus:  Puer natus est nobis **

    1530-1594 (Netherlands)                                 **from the Officium Natalis Christi (c. 1574)

    Thomas Ravenscroft/arr. L.  Böhme        Remember, O Thou Man

    1590-1633  (England)

    Traditional/arr. Reiko Füting                   Eta notsch swjataja

    (Russia)

    Orlando di Lasso                                      Alleluia: Dies sanctificatus**

    Traditional/arr. Böhme                            A Nai Naoimh

    Traditional/arr. Naomi Crellin                 Wexford Carol

    (Ireland)

    Orlando di Lasso                                      Sequentia:  Natus ante saecula**

                                                                      Communio: Viderunt omnes**

    Anonymous/ arr. Böhme                          Il est né, le divin Enfant

    Pub.1862 (France)

    Intermission

    Traditional/arr. S. Krause                        Rise up, shepherd, and follow

    Pub. 1867 (USA)

    Traditional/arr. Fredo Jung                     Les anges dans nos campagnes

    (France/International)

    Alice Tegner/arr. Robert Sund                 Betlehems Stjärna

    1864-1943 (Sweden)

    Franz Gruber/arr. Jung                           Stille Nacht

    1787-1863 (Austria/International)

    Irving Berlin/arr. Krause                          White Christmas

    1888-1989 (USA)

    Traditional/arr. Juan Garcia                    De tierra lejana venimos

    (Puerto Rico)

    Britt Lindeborg/arr. Garcia                     Hej mit vinterland

    1928-1998 (Sweden)

    Traditional/ arr. Böhme                           The Twelve Days of Christmas

    Pub. 1780 (England)

    European Sacred Masterpieces

    England
    Henry Purcell I was glad
    1659-1695 Remember not, Lord, our offences
    Lord, how long wilt thou be angry

    Norway
    Edvard Grieg Hvad est du dog skjön
    1843-1907 Jesus Kristus er opfaren
    from: Psalms op. 74/1,3

    France
    Francis Poulenc Salve Regina
    1899-1963
    Tenebrae factae sunt
    from: Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence

    Italy
    Claudio Monteverdi Laudate pueri
    1567-1643 Lauda Jerusalem
    from: Selva morale e spiritual (1640/41)

    INTERMISSION
    Netherlands
    Josquin des Préz Miserere mei, Deus
    c. 1450/55-1521

    Estonia
    Arvo Pärt Two Slavonic Psalms
    * 1935 Psalm 117/131 (1984, rev. 1997)

    Germany
    Joseph Gabriel Rheinberger Confitebor tibi Domine
    1839-1901 Benedictus Dominus
    In Deo speravit
    from: Five Motets, op. 163

    Johann Sebastian Bach Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden
    1685-1750 Motet BWV 230

     

    ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE: SHAKESPEARE A CAPPELLA

    Prologue

    What Is Our Life?                              Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

    poem: Sir Walter Raleigh

                                                               (after Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”)

    Twelfth Night

    Come Away, Death                           Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (b.1963)

    from: Four Shakespeare Songs, 1984

    If Music Be The Food Of Love           Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

    Arr. Sebastian Krause

    O Mistress Mine                                Nancy Wertsch (b. 1943)

    from: A Shakespeare Suite

    Sonnet

    Look In Thy Glass (No. 3)                  John Tavener (1944-2013)

    from: Three Shakespeare Sonnets

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Lullabye                                             Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

    from: Four Shakespeare Songs, 1984

    Over Hill, Over Dale                          Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

    from: Three Shakespeare Songs, 1951

    You Spotted Snakes                          Jussi Chydenius (b. 1972)

    Sonnet

    O, How Much More (No. 54)              Paul Crabtree (b. 1960)

    from: Three Rose Madrigals

    Cymbeline

    Fear No More                                     John Tavener

    from: Three Shakespeare Sonnets

    Hark, Hark! The Lark                         Matthew Harris (b. 1956)

    from: Shakespeare Songs, Book I

    Fear No More                                     Jussi Chydenius

    — INTERMISSION — 

    The Tragedy Of Othello

    O Willo, Willo, Willo!                         Anonymus (from a manuscript of the British Museum)

    Arr.  Ludwig Böhme

    A Poor Soul Sat Sighing                    Pelham Humfrey (1647-1674)

    Arr. Ludwig Böhme

    Sonnet

    So Are You (No. 75)                          Juhani Komulainen (b. 1953)

    from: Three Sonnets Of Shakespeare, 1993

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Next Winter                                        Henry Purcell

    Hush No More                                    (fromThe Fairy Queen”) arr: Calmus Ensemble

    If Love’s A Sweet Passion                 Libretto: anonymus (attributed to Thomas Betterton)

    Sonnet

    Sweet Love, Renew Thy Force         Robert Applebaum (b. 1941)

    (No. 56)

    The Tempest

    Full Fathom Five                                Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

    from: Four Shakespeare Songs, 1984

    Full Fathom Five                                John Banister (1630-1679)

    Arr. Sebastian Krause

    Full Fathom Five                                Matthew Harris

    from: Shakespeare Songs, Book I

    Full Fathom Five                                Charles Wood (1866-1926)

    Sonnet

    Shall I Compare Thee to a                Nils Lindberg (b. 1933)

                            Summer’s Day (No. 18)