Calmus Ensemble Leipzig, who will perform a holiday concert, “Christmas A Cappella,” at Milford Theater, on December 11, is a 5-piece award-winning vocal group in the world of a cappella music. This is music without instrumental accompaniment– where the voices are musically honed to sound like actual instruments. The first half of the program will feature “Christmas Then and Now” and the second half will feature “Carols From all Over the World.”
Calmus, whose 26 albums include two compilations of Christmas music, will be joined by the Delaware Valley High School Chamber Choir, under the direction of Richard Horst.
The Pike County Courier recently interviewed Calmus:
PCC: A Cappella is often described as singing unaccompanied by instruments. How would you define a cappella Calmus style?
Calmus: We use our voices in many different ways! Sometimes it sounds just like unaccompanied choral music, e.g. chorals of J.S. Bach or folk tunes like Brahms “Da unten im Tale.” That is a lot of fun! The most important thing for our special “Calmus style” is a homogenous and compact sound.
PCC: How is “Calmus” style of a cappella different from Barber Shop Quartet style?
Calmus: We are a classical vocal group and have classically trained voices. With this background, we keep developing ourselves and cover all kinds of genres including renaissance music, baroque and romantic music up to modern music like jazz, pop, and even barbershop.
PCC: Do singers have special training to perform a cappella?
Calmus: Singing a cappella music requires both experience and vocal skills like choral singing and also solo performance expertise. You need to be very flexible to switch from being a leading voice or accompanying others.
PCC: Can you describe what each member brings to the ensemble in a musical or non-musical way?
Calmus: We are all equally involved in musical and non-musical processes. In addition to that, each of us has unique skills. For instance: Elisabeth is a speech and voice therapist, Friedrich is an actor and film maker and Jonathan used to work as a project manager for music festivals and ensembles.
PCC: Can the singers switch their musical voice, if necessary? For example, can Jonathan, who sings baritone, sing bass if Michael is not able to be at the concert?
Calmus: Yes, we have to switch musical roles a lot. The ones who need to switch their roles most frequently are Maria, who is the alto and sometimes needs to sing a soprano or tenor part; Friedrich, our tenor, switches between alto, tenor, and sometimes baritone; and Jonathan, the baritone of the ensemble, needs to sing tenor or bass. This happens regularly, but we always sing our concerts in the whole line-up with the five of us.
PCC: How many times have you played in America?
Calmus: Calmus has played in the US 33 times. The upcoming tour is No. 34, but will be the first one in this line-up.
PCC: Describe how American audiences are similar or different from other audiences you’ve played for.
Calmus: The American audiences are a little more enthusiastic than others – but they are pleased after one encore. In Germany, we sometimes sing two encores.
PCC: Describe your work teaching young children.
Calmus: We sometimes do workshops with children’s or youth choirs. Since choir singing is a very healthy and socially important activity, we try to motivate these new generation singers.
We are very much looking forward to singing at Kindred Spirits Arts at the Milford Theatre on December 11th! The collaboration with the Delaware Valley HS singers is one of our highlights of the US Tour 2022.
We are a classical vocal group and have classically trained voices. With this background, we keep developing ourselves and cover all kinds of genres including renaissance music, baroque and romantic music up to modern music like jazz, pop, and even barbershop.