Cantilena, a women's chorale, is an ensemble of approximately 30 singers, dedicated to performing music written for the treble voice. Our challenging and diverse repertoire spans the15th to the 21st centuries and includes works in many different languages and musical forms. We strive to introduce both our members and our audience to works they are unlikely to encounter in other forums, with an emphasis on music composed specifically for women's voices.
Cantilena was founded in 1968 as the Cambridge Chorale, an ensemble of mixed (SATB) voices. In 1980 the group became a women's chorus, and in 2000 we changed our name to Cantilena to more appropriately reflect our identity as women's chorale. The name means, at its simplest level, a song, or a style of music where the melody is in the treble line. Cantilena is based in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Over the years, Cantilena has premiered many new works. Roger Bourland dedicated his Dickinson Madrigals (Book II) to us. California composer Brian Holmes has written several pieces for us, and former director Kenneth Seitz composed and arranged music for Cantilena on a regular basis, including Three Heartfelt Songs, commissioned by us in 2002. We have also featured the works of women composers including Amy Beach, Margaret Bonds, Mabel Daniels, and Emma Lou Diemer; noted New England composers Arthur Foote, Horatio Parker and Edward MacDowell; as well as the music of better-known composers such as Brahms, Faure, Britten, Holst and Schubert.
In May, 2009, longtime director Kenneth Seitz retired after 31 years of outstanding musical leadership. A six-month-long search led us to our new director, Allegra Martin, whose passion for women's choral music matches our own. We look forward to an exciting collaboration with her.