This page contains a number of frequently asked questions and their answers. Do let us know if you have a question which isn't answered below by using the form on the Contact Us page.
Who are you ?
"Cantus" are a group of up to thirty choral singers drawn from all over the UK who come together to sing at cathedrals when the resident choir is on vacation. We sing under the direction of our Musical Director, Phil Cowling.
What do you sing ?
As we only perform in cathedrals, we perform a wide repertoire of choral music carefully selected to be enjoyable and challenging to sing ranging from Gibbons, Palestrina, Victoria and Purcell through to Howells, Britten etc. You can find further information on our repertoire page.
Where and when do you rehearse ?
With singers coming from all parts of the UK, we do not rehearse regularly but "blitz" the music on the Saturday morning of the weekend visit to the cathedral.
How much does it cost ?
Membership of Cantus is free of charge although we do ask singers at our cathedral visits to donate £5 each towards printing and photocopying costs.
Would I have to be able to read music to sing with Cantus ?
Yes - because our rehearsals only take place on the weekend of each performance they have to focus on technique and musicianship. There is no time for "note bashing" and so ability to sight read music is essential.
Is there an audition ?
No – having sung with many choirs of vastly varied abilities, Phil has a very good knowledge of what makes a good musical CV and what doesn't. If someone approaches Cantus to sing with them, Phil will be able to tell from the musical achievements of the person whether they'll be of a good enough musical standard. The other qualification for joining the choir is if Phil likes the person – he's a very amenable person but doesn't like people who talk the talk but can't deliver the goods. He suspects he has Yorkshire blood in him – he likes calling a spade a spade!
Can we book Cantus to sing for us ?
Cantus singers come together from across the UK and as a result we aren't generally hirable. Feel free to contact us though if you're planning something special - we might be able to assist.
Can anybody join ?
We are always delighted to meet prospective new members provided their performance capability is up to an appropriate standard. We are also delighted to welcome non-singing supporters especially if they can help us out with non-singing matters. Do contact us for further details.
What are your rehearsals like ?
We normally rehearse in cathedrals on the weekend of our performances. Rehearsals are quite disciplined and demanding - however we normally relax afterwards with a few pints in a pub round the corner, and we all go to dinner together on the Saturday Evening so no member is left on their own in strange town. We're a friendly and welcoming bunch who get along well socially - come along and find out for yourself.
Are there any other rules for members ?
Because Cantus is a small choir that makes big commitments it is vital to us that you do make the effort to attend if you commit to performing with us (unless prevented by a genuine illness or emergency). We have to take a hard line on this in order to maintain the standard of our performances. If, having committed to perform with us, you drop out at the last moment due to anything other than a genuine illness or emergency it is highly unlikely that we'll ask you to sing with us again. We regret if this sounds harsh but it is an important measure to ensure that we give cathedrals the performances that they deserve and have come to expect.