A Professional Vocal Ensemble in the Pioneer Valley

Upcoming performances -- About us --Listen to us sing -- Previous programs -- Compliments -- Photos -- Contact

Diana Brewer, Dorie Goldman, Kayla Werlin

Peter Shea, David Olsson, James Mead
Thanks to all who helped make our 10th Anniversary Concerts "Celebrating Origins" a success,
especially our very generous supporters on

Jeanne Ammon
Peter Blanchette
Joanne Bollinger
Edward Brewer
Greg Brown
Shelley Saam Cabot
K. C. Conlan
Elisabeth Cranna
Robert Creed
Matthew Cron
Frank Couvares
Walter Denny & Alice Robbins
Damon Douglas
Priscilla Drucker
Mike & Meg Duffy
Alan Durfee
Betty Gallagher
Yoram Gelman
Dorie Goldman
Ruth & Richard Goldman
Donald Herold
Robert Howe
Margaret Irwin-Brandon
Monica Jakuc Leverett
Hugh Karraker
Marjorie Kaufman
Arthur Kinney
Elizabeth Larson
Paul & Marcelle Lipke
Camille Collins Lovell
Julia McKenzie
James Mead
Christine Mortensen
Daniel Muss
Katherine Naughton
Ann Neumann
Linda Olsson
Alexandra Ottaway
Pengyew Catering LLC
Margaret Brewer Perrett
Alejandro Planchart
Anna V. A. Polesny
John Robertshaw
Tom Schwab
Merrill Shea
Peter W. Shea
Simon Shea
Judy Smutek
Shoshana Sokoloff
Helen Stickney
Bob & Anne Weaver
Peter Weis
Selena Woolf

Concert program (PDF)

and extra special thanks to former Cantabile member Jack Tozzi for his recording services

Saturday, February 4, 2012, 7:30 pm
Sunday, February 5, 2012, 2:00 pm
Wesley United Methodist Church
  98 North Maple St., Hadley MA
Wistariahurst Museum
  238 Cabot St., Holyoke MA

The music on the program was a mixture of the sacred and secular, combining mass movements and the secular tunes they were based upon.

Composers included Josquin, Ockeghem, Isaac, Palestrina and many other masters of the Renaissance.

We were joined by special guest artists playing an array of Renaissance-style string and wind instruments, for a sound and texture treat.

For example, the first work on the program was Josquin's Petite camusette (listen to Cantabile sing it below)
which was followed by an instrumental setting of the same tune, and then the Kyrie from Missa Petite camusette by Marbrianus de Orto.
And so on, through an entire mass of songs!

Upcoming performances:

Cantabile sings at the annual Renaissance Festival
of the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies,
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Check here for further details as they become available

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About us:

Cantabile is a self-directed vocal ensemble based in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts that specializes in a cappella performances of vocal chamber music from the European Renaissance of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. We have also performed 18th and 20th century music by special invitation.

In the beginning:  Cantabile was founded as an octet in 2001 and made its concert debut in January 2002 at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, Mass. with a program of a cappella Venetian Renaissance works that we later performed for other enthusiastic audiences in western Massachusetts and New York. In October 2002 we collaborated with actress/reader Doris Abramson and pianist Gregory Hayes in a program of Emily Dickinson songs and readings, presented in conjunction with the Emily Dickinson World Weekend held in Amherst, Massachusetts.

2003, a full year:
In February 2003, Cantabile was featured at the Amherst Club’s annual "Love Notes" benefit concert. In June and July, we presented a program of Renaissance music from Spain, entitled "Love, Shipwrecks, and the Virgin Mary," at several concerts in western Massachusetts and New York. We again collaborated with Gregory Hayes in July as part of the Mohawk Trail Concert series, presenting choruses, solos, and duets from Handel’s oratorio L’allegro, Il Penseroso, ed il Moderato.  In September 2003 we participated along with several other area vocal ensembles in a project of the Grace Church Center for Sacred Music: Spem in alium nunquam habui, a 40-voice motet by Thomas Tallis. On November 4 we performed works by Victoria, Josquin, Schütz, Monteverdi and Flecha for the Tuesday Morning Music Club of Springfield MA, sharing the program with organist Grant Moss. Our final performance of 2003 was as guest professional vocal ensemble at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Choral Spectrum '03 on November 8.

In December of 2003 Catherine L. Bowers, mezzo-soprano and founding member of Cantabile, was diagnosed with advanced cancer. She died on March 8, 2004. Individually and as a group we were hit hard by this grievous loss of a beloved friend and colleague.

:  When the surviving members of Cantabile convened in April after a hiatus of nearly five months, we decided that what Cathy had fervently wished was also what we most deeply needed:  to continue to feed our souls and those of our listeners with beautiful music.  Our sadness was inextricably mixed with a joyful sense of how we had been blessed by Cathy's inimitable musicianship, talent, warmth, honesty and enthusiasm.  In August and September the seven of us presented the music of Josquin des Prez, sung in Cathy's memory, at King’s Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts (August) and at Pacem in Terris, Warwick, New York (September).  In November, we invited Dorie Goldman to join us in our music making.

On Sunday, March 13 Cantabile performed a concert entitled Saints and Sailors: Sacred, Sad and Silly Songs of the Sixteenth Century, including works by Josquin Desprez, Mateo Flecha, Gaspar Fernandes, Juan Vasquez and Tomas Luis da Victoria on the Music at First concert series, First Church of Christ, Congregational ("Old First Church"), Court Square, Springfield MA.

On Sunday, June 26, 2005 we  performed Mediterranean Madrigals in Spanish, French and Italian, featuring Luca Marenzio's madrigal cycle Baci soavi e cari at Arcadia Players' New Season Celebration at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies, Amherst MA. We repeated the Marenzio cycle at the "March the Music Back" benefit for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. John M. Greene Hall, Smith College, Northampton MA on Friday, September 20, 2005.

In the fall of 2005 two of our members had to leave the group for personal reasons, and we decided to continue Cantabile as a sextet.

2006: Cantabile’s 2006 spring concert "From Venice to Padua" was sung in Holyoke and Northampton, and featured Marenzio’s madrigal cycle Baci soavi e cari and a complete performance of a madrigal comedy by Adriano Banchieri. We also taped this program for Amherst Community Television’s Public Access Channel 12. See the ACTV website for cablecast schedule information. We did a short program of Dutch Baroque music by Jan P. and Dirck J. Sweelinck and Jan Baptist Verrijt for the Arcadia Players' New Season Celebration in June at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies, Amherst MA. We repeated the Dutch program twice in August 2006. On August 20 it was paired with Bach's Cantata 106 and we were joined by instrumentalists Gregory Hayes, Alice Robbins and friends, at Pacem in Terris, Warwick NY, in a concert dedicated to the memory of Frederick Franck, recently deceased artist, writer and Pacem co-founder. On August 30 the Dutch music was followed by an encore performance of Banchieri's madrigal comedy Barca di Venetia per Padova (A Boat Ride from Venice to Padua) on the Watermelon Wednesdays concert series in West Whately, MA.

In the fall of 2006 one of our sextet, Sudie Marcuse, took a leave of absence to complete graduate work at Boston University, and we invited soprano Deanna Joseph to join us. Since then we have given several performances of madrigals, canzonets and Hebrew Psalm settings by Salamone Rossi, joined by an ensemble of superb instrumentalists, including Robert Eisenstein and Joe Jewett, violins, Laure Rabut, viola da gamba, and Margaret Irwin-Brandon or Gregory Hayes, harpsichord. This program was performed four times between April 2007 and January 2008 at the Jewish Community of Amherst, the National Yiddish Book Center in South Amherst, and as part of the Arcadia Players concert season in Deerfield and Holyoke MA. In November 2007 a selection from this program was performed, together with English madrigals from The Triumphs of Oriana, for the Tuesday Morning Music Club in Springfield MA.

In the spring of 2008 we started developing a new program called A Musical Feast (with guest artists Meg Pash, lute, and Laurie Rabut, viol) which consists of an assortment of delightful ensemble pieces and solo ballads depicting delicacies from hunt to market to table, savory herbs and their virtues, the miracle of the loaves and fishes, a lusty St. Martin’s Goose and much more, washed down with ample portions of wine, ale and coffee. A half-length preview of this program was presented on a joint concert with the UMass Madrigal Singers in April 2008 at All Saints Episcopal Church in South Hadley MA, and reprised the following month as part of the Arcadia Players Season Celebration at the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies.

Deanna Joseph returned to Eastman School of Music for doctoral studies in conducting in the fall of 2008, and was replaced by soprano Diana Brewer. In November 2008 we presented a program of Music for Evensong from the English Renaissance on the Arcadia Players concert series, collaborating with the Arcadia Players Consort of Viols, at Wesley United Methodist Church, Hadley MA. In June 2009 we presented the full-length version of our Musical Feast program (see above) at the 1794 Meetinghouse in New Salem, MA.

We returned to Arcadia Players' concert series for two events in early 2010. In January we presented two performances of Heartaches and Earthquakes in Longmeadow and Northampton. This was a program that included chansons and motets on love and loss by Gilles Binchois, Johannes Ockeghem, Josquin de Prez, and Antoine Brumel, and, as the featured work, Brumel's twelve-voice Missa "Et ecce terrae motus" (Earthquake Mass). Joining us were six guest vocalists for the mass, and in the chansons three viola da gambists - Bob Eisenstein, Laurie Rabut and Meg Pash. We also sang two madrigals by Don Carlo Gesualdo on the Arcadia Players Gala Anniversary Concert at Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College, on March 20.

On February 5, 2011 Arcadia Players again presented Cantabile in a program of sacred and secular music on the themes of love and marriage by the great Renaissance composer Orlando di Lasso
at Wesley United Methodist Church, Hadley MA. Joining us were four fantastic Renaissance wind players: Douglas Kirk, Mack Ramsey, Eric Schmaltz and Daniel Stillman. Our soprano Diana Brewer also plays sackbut and joined the other instrumentalists in several pieces. In addition to those selections, Cantabile's program included vocal works in four languages: Latin motets based on passages from the Song of Solomon, French chansons on love poetry by Pierre de Ronsard, Italian madrigals on sonnets by Petrarch, and German lieder, several of which focused on the more humorous and down-to-earth aspects of wooing and married life. 

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Listen to selections from our live performances:

Listen to brief excerpts from Cantabile's Heartaches and Earthquakes program of January 2010
Free Adobe Flash Player needed

Josquin Des Prez: Petite camusette

Johannes Ockeghem: Mort tu as navre/Miserere

Johannes Ockeghem: S'elle m'amera/Petite camusette

Antoine Brumel: James que la ne peult estre (with guest instrumentalists)

Antoine Brumel: Qui tollis peccata mundi from Earthquake Mass (with guest singers)

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See programs from our previous concerts:

Sacred and Secular music from Venice and Mantua

Emily Dickinson's World

Love, Shipwrecks, and the Virgin Mary

Tuesday Morning Music Club, Nov. 4, 2003

Josquin Desprez at Pacem in Terris, Sept.12, 2004

Saints and Sailors: Sacred, Sad and Silly Songs of the Sixteenth Century, March 13, 2005

From Venice to Padua: Italian madrigals on love and boating, March and April 2006

Salamone Rossi Hebreo, Jewish Community of Amherst, April 1, 2007 (Word document)

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"...thank you again for the stunning program that Cantabile presented as part of the series this season. Clearly the group
was carefully chosen; it is uncanny to have eight voices that complement each other so well. Your love for Renaissance music
permeates every nuance and phrase sung. And the joy of the singers is most apparent and adds so much to the transcendent
quality of the concert.

It is astonishing to me that such variety can be found in such a program.

I look foward to hearing more from Cantabile in the future."

"For the 2nd concert of its 19th season, four instrumentalists from Arcadia Players roster joined forces with the vocal sextet Cantabile to present a recital of music by violinist and composer Salamone Rossi in the Italianate Music Room added in the early 20th-century to the late-19th-century Empire-style Skinner mansion, Wistariahurst, here ... This was the perfect setting for the music by this Jewish composer of Mantua, contemporary of Cremonan Claudio Monteverdi, and to a degree heir of Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli of the previous generation, and the musicians exploited the venue magnificently" ... You may read the full text of this review at Classical Voice of New England.

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See more photos of Cantabile:

Five of us (senza Kayla) rehearsing and performing with Meg Pash and Laurie Rabut for Arcadia Players' New Season Celebration, May 25, 2008, in the new black-box theater (i.e. converted garage) of the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies.

Our September 2007 photo shoot (on Picasa) (after an Arcadia Players concert in which we all sang Vivaldi's Gloria)

April 1 2007, before and after the concert (on Picasa)

Our January 2006 photo shoot

Cantabile in rehearsal (Warning! Graphic photo. Not for the faint-of-heart.)

Cantabile at concerts (2001-2004)

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For more information call: (413) 253-2167 or (413) 256-1012

sign up for email notification of upcoming concerts: shea[at]library[dot]umass[dot]edu


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