I Cantori Stakes Its Claim as PC’s Premier Vocal Ensemble
Providence, R.I. — I Cantori, PC’s premier student choral ensemble, was formed over 10 years ago with the goal of creating and maintaining an advanced-level, elite chamber choir of serious student musicians that would represent Providence College in the state, the region, and even internationally.
Since that time, the 25-member ensemble has come to fully realize that vision of excellence.
Led by Dr. T.J. Harper, assistant professor of music, I Cantori’s skilled musicians hail from a wide range of backgrounds and educational disciplines, but all share a common love of music.
“These students are not just talented, but they are undoubtedly the hardest-working students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching in my career,” said Harper, who noted students interested in joining I Cantori must audition through an extensive two-stage process.
The first step is comprised of a series of three tests that quantitatively measure each performer’s musicianship, aural acuity, and vocal range. The second stage gives Harper a chance to evaluate each performer in action.
He pointed out that the number of applicants has doubled since he started in 2009, which has elevated the caliber of both performances.
“Not only are the members of I Cantori performing more difficult literature, but they are being presented with opportunities to do this at very high-profile events and venues that have helped to establish a strong reputation of excellence for the ensemble, the Department of Music, and Providence College,” added Harper.
“The nature of the performances that have occurred in the past three years has had an amazingly positive impact on the profile of Providence College here in New England, in the United States, and abroad.”
The ensemble has indeed impressed locally and around the globe. After frequent collaborations, I Cantori and the Brown University chorus and orchestra recently performed twice together, at the "Joyful Tribute to Ruth J. Simmons," a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence for the retiring president of Brown University, as well as a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at VETS.
I Cantori also will perform at the 2012 Spring Choral Masterworks Concert at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, in St. Dominic Chapel.
The greatest acclaim for the group, however, may be its international experience. A year ago, the ensemble conducted three performances while on a tour of Italy. It performed at the Conservatory of Music in Naples and sang high Mass at Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Peter’s basilicas. I Cantori will return to Europe for another performance tour in May 2013.
Currently, the 25 members are split among four sections of sopranos, altos, tenors, and baritones. Each is led by a section leader, who is in charge of running section rehearsals, which Harper sees as the “foundations of the ensemble’s success.”
“I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from these four incredible musicians who act as section leaders. These students are actively engaged in the rehearsal process from start to finish as student conductors, vocal leaders, and are the epitome of professionalism,” said Harper.
He is quick to share the success with all of those involved, from his student musicians to staff accompanist Michael Kregler.
“The impetus behind the elevation of performances has to do primarily with the dedicated students who are members of this ensemble,” said Harper. “I am simply amazed at the amount of work that is accomplished in every semester. In and of itself, this would be more than enough to make any professor happy, but the students in I Cantori also happen to be extremely kind, warm, supportive, and shockingly artistic.”
— Robbie Smith-MacDonald ’12