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Ultimately, she hopes that the students develop a better appreciation for music, “which is what makes us whole,” she said.
Even though the residency is just ramping up, “The kids are just giddy about it. They understand that it means more from them. They feel very honored to be selected,” she said.
Teaching good technique
As a part of the residency, Cantus will provide complimentary tickets for students and teachers to the occasional concert or rehearsal, “so they know what we’re about and what we do,” he said.
Shah explained that Cantus emphasizes the principles of “good, healthy singing,” not one particular music genre or style. “By having good singing technique, you can make an operatic piece sound like an operatic piece and a pop piece sound like a pop piece,” he said.
Besides the technical side of things, Cantus helps choirs gain the confidence they need to recruit more singers, especially males. “It’s always a challenge for directors, generating more long-term interest in singing for students and support for the music program,” he said.
The group wants to make it a banner year for the choir, which is preparing for upcoming singing engagements at Concordia College in Moorhead and at Carnegie Hall in New York City in early 2014, he said.
Senior Anna Wagner, vice president of the Andover concert choir, helped apply for the residency. She’s looking forward to the group’s master classes.
“We want to bring the music alive and take away as much from it as we can,” she said.
Also, it’s “cool to connect with other choirs in the state and hear what they’re doing,” she said.
Talking to the Cantus singers backstage at the school’s private concert, she found “they’re down-to-earth and funny guys and they were excited to be here.”
“It wasn’t just an obligation,” she said. “They were listening and attentive.”
Anna Pratt is a Twin Cities freelance writer.