Returning to Minnesota after many years, the name Deo Cantamus came to my attention from numerous friends. Many towns have Community Choirs which perform selections from Messiah during holiday seasons. But my musical friends insisted that Artistic Director Al Hawkins had taken that concept to the next level and developed a professional choir which performed classical selections, hymns, and new traditional Christian music regularly.
The concept fascinated me and I began to investigate.
A task force consisting of Al and other like-minded musicians met following a benefit concert for Amazing Grace Maternity Home in 2004. Prospects for such a group as Deo Cantamus of Minnesota were tossed around and the result has been beyond the imagination of their grandest dreams.
The task force agreed that incorporation would be necessary in order to provide continuity. That happened in 2005. The choir began immediately to produce exceptional concerts called “Give We Thanks” in the fall of each year and “Agape” in the spring. A children’s choir, “Let the Children Praise” added their voices in 2006.
Al Hawkins received his music training from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and the University of Illinois. He has served as artistic director of Deo Cantamus from the beginning. Talented musicians from across the state of Minnesota joined others from New York, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and South Carolina in preparation for the choral presentations each year.
In 2013 they produced their first CD, “Grace Alone” which featured new musical hymn resettings by Josh Bauder, using classic lyrics from William Cowper, John Newton, Frances Havergal and others. That cooperative effort led to the presentation of Abraham: an Oratorio for Worship by Josh Bauder in the fall of 2014.
The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation resulted in another collaborative effort. This time Josh Bauder wrote the Tyndale: A Reformation Oratorio which received its initial performance by Deo Cantamus in the fall of 2017.
After hearing Deo Cantamus and the children’s choir present Agape in the spring of 2018, I finally understood what my musical friends had been proclaiming. Here was a performance which indeed pursued excellence in the worship of God.
The prospect is even greater than the retrospect.
The 2018-2019 season will kick off on October 27 with “In Every Corner Sing.” Internationally known baritone Gerard Sundberg will perform Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The second portion of the concert debuts the world premiere performance of The Hallel by composer Lloyd Larson. The season will continue with “Let the Children Praise,” in January. “Agape” will return in April, 2019 performing Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (BMV 80) by J. S. Bach as well as an audience participation arrangement of A Mighty Fortress is our God. All performances are held in the auditorium of Fourth Baptist Church, Plymouth, Minnesota.
“It is my goal to teach and conduct in a way that encourages individuals to pursue the standards needed to perform at a level that inspires others and glorifies God.” says Artistic Director Al Hawkins. Anyone who has heard the music produced by Deo Cantamus can testify to the fulfillment of that goal. Every concert and every note results in music which glorifies God. Deo Cantamus of Minnesota truly does “Sing for God.”