CANTUS Musicus, a relatively un-known chamber choir from Kuala Lumpur that has been receiving rave reviews, held its first performance titled Liederabend in Penang re-cently.
Up north at the Malaysian German Society Penang for the opening of the German Month, Cantus Musicus gave a “sober” one-hour presentation, in the words of choir music director Lisa Ho.
The choir’s last performance Mad As Hatter had ended with a riotous hat throwing, Ho explained, but a se-date selection of classical and folk German songs was performed this time.
The short songs may have been in a foreign tongue but that probably just helped the audience to concentrate solely on the harmony of voices without being distracted by words.
But the audience was not left in ut-ter ignorance as Ho gave a brief explanation of each song that would be presented next.
The momentum in Ständchen, a piece performed by the women, caus-ed excitement as the musical intensity kept building up.
CHAMBER MUSIC:The choir members singing their hearts out.
Having Ho explain that the song ur-ged women not to stand still or sleep when love came knocking at the door helped one to better appreciate the sti-rring of the heart.
The dark tones of Der Tod und das Mädchen (Death and a Maiden) perfor-med solo by Jannake Bomhoff-Bos from the Netherlands made sense once it was understood that the Maiden was telling Death “Go away, don’t molest me for I am young.”
Assistant music director Timothy Ooi’s solos were powerful and expressive.
His sonorous tones must have re-verberated well around the pre-war bungalow in Jalan Air Itam used by the society.
The surprise of the evening was a piece from the Tudor era written by King Henry VIII.
“Mention choral music and people can only think of RTM (Radio Televis-yen Malaysia) or school choirs but there’s more to it than that.
“We perform a repertoire of both sacred and secular music from the medieval ages and the Renaissance as well as close harmony and modern-day jazz,” said Ho.
Cantus Musicus means ‘harmonious singing’ in Latin. The group was form-ed in 2003 by Ho and Datin Glenis But-terworth when six singers from a disbanded choir wanted to sing together again.
The choir is able to perform works written in English, Latin, German, Ita-lian, Spanish, Swedish, French, Welsh, Russian, Greek, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Japanese and Norwegian.
The 40-odd members are of various nationalities and occupations. Some illustrious personages are a princess of the Negeri Sembilan royal house, a wife in the Perak royal house and the wife of a former deputy prime minister of the Netherlands.
All concerts are given free as the group sings for the sheer pleasure of making good music.
“We believe that anyone can sing, that is why we don’t charge people to hear us,” said Ho.