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About Us


Cantilena, a women's chorale, is an ensemble of approximately 40 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, including "Of a Sun She Can Remember" by Ellen Gilson Voth, and "Jabberwocky" by Scott Wheeler. 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.

Our Director

Jennifer Kane has been Cantilena’s music director since the Fall 2015 season, and continues Cantilena’s tradition of celebrating choral music for women’s voices within a vibrant community. In addition to directing Cantilena, Kane is also on the education faculty of the Handel and Haydn Society as the Conductor of the H+H Singers, Youth Chorus, and Concert Choir.

Jennifer Kane headshot
Our Director

Previously, Kane was the Artistic Director of the Worcester Children’s Chorus, where she built a thriving and multi-level program with an active performance schedule and frequent collaborations; the Artistic Director of PALS Children's Chorus in Brookline, where she prepared the chorus for collaborations with the Back Bay Chorale, Boston Musica Viva, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and the Artistic Director of the Spivey Hall Young Artists, the treble ensemble that serves as the training choir for the nationally renowned Spivey Hall Children's Choir. 

Our Accompanist

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Joshua T. Lawton is an accomplished organist, pianist, harpsichordist, singer and composer living and working in the Boston area.  He began organ studies with Edwin Lawrence after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in English from Williams College, and went on to obtain a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance with Distinction from the Longy School of Music as a student of Peter Sykes.

Joshua T. Lawton headshot

He is an experienced church and choral musician, having served as Bass Section Leader at First Parish in Framingham, Organist of the First Congregational Church in Natick, and Minister of Music at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Central Square, Cambridge.  In 2014 he was appointed Music Director of Trinity Parish in Newton Centre.  He is an active solo recitalist, collaborative pianist and chamber musician, and has performed a wide variety of repertoire—specializing in the music of Olivier Messiaen, Paul Hindemith and others—throughout Massachusetts and in California.  He was the accompanist of the Somerville Community Chorus for many years, and has accompanied Cantilena on piano and organ since 2009.

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