Cantatrix is an ensemble aiming for the highest level of choral singing. In their first cd the singers present their group in a programme of mainly contemporary music. The principal characteristic of the repertoire in this recording is a high degree of variety, resulting in - you guessed - contrasts. The contrasts in the programme are indeed considerable. The various languages, styles and cultures, from Latin to Frisian, from Elgar's romanticism to the contemporary sounds of composers like Whitacre and Mäntyärvy, from sacred texts to ‘chansons des roses'. The subject matter: love and happiness side by side with the sorrow caused by death. Morton Lauridsen, an American composer of Danish descent, sets to music words by Rilke, a German poet who writes in French. And Coen Vermeeren, whose roots are in Holland's southern province of Brabant, takes a trip up north when he composes ‘Keanskes Lêste Liet' to words in the Frisian language. Bien étonnés de se trouver ensemble!
Cantatrix may consist of amateur singers, but their collective sound is no less than gorgeous, appreciated not just in their native Holland, but abroad as well. This is due to no small extent to conductor Geert-Jan van Beijeren Bergen en Henegouwen, a graduate of the Groningen conservatoire, director of various amateur choirs and adjudicator at choral festivals. His great talents were recognised when he was the only Dutch conductor admitted to the 2005 edition of the prestigious Eric Ericson Masterclass, taught by Simon Halsey and André Thomas. For his performance he was appointed assistant conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir in the 2006-2007 season. He is since asked regularly to guest conduct this choir, as well as other professional vocal ensembles, particularly Capella Frisiae.
But now back to Contrasts, and let's hear how harmoniously Cantatrix masters the great variety of its programme!