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Award-winning German a cappella group to close out HBPA season

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HESSTON, KAN. – The refined vocal excellence of Calmus, a German a cappella ensemble, will round out the 2012-13 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts season with a concert entitled “Bright Side of Life” at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 14, at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus.

Following the concert, HBPA will host a dessert reception in the Hesston Mennonite Church Community Center. Season ticket holders have free admission to the reception and non-season ticket holders can purchase admission for $4 at the door.

Calmus presents a unique quintet combination of a pure female soprano voice with four male voices ranging from bass to countertenor. Each singer is a graduate of the renowned St. Thomas Church Choir Singing School in Leipzig. Together they have mastered the art of close harmonies to create a perfect blend of sound and precision, and have earned the honor of one of the most successful vocal groups in Germany.

Their repertoire comes from a limitless range of music, from Renaissance and Baroque masters to contemporary choral and popular songs.

“We are excited to cap off our season with one of the world’s most up-and-coming vocal ensembles,” said HBPA director Matthew Schloneger. “Patrons who enjoy a cappella music in the style of The King’s Singers or Chanticleer will fall in love with Calmus.”

The “Bright Side of Life” program is named after Eric Idle’s popular sing-along comedy song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” first featured in the 1979 film Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. The Calmus program features classical works by Heinrich Schultz, Henry Purcell, Robert Schumann, Benjamin Britten and Adriano Banchieri as well as popular a cappella works by Elton John, Leonard Cohen and Bobby McFerrin.

Calmus began as a men’s ensemble in 1999, shaped by the centuries-old tradition of boys’ choirs and rich choral heritage of its hometown of Leipzig’s musical heroes, Bach and Mendelssohn. As the group was forming, they chose to forgo the more recognized quartet arrangement and, inspired by Britain's King’s Singers, added a fifth member in order to sing more complex arrangements. Over time, the group’s membership changed, including adding a female voice in 2001.

The group receives rave reviews from musical critics around the world. Salt Lake City’s Deseret Morning News described a local concert as “nothing short of remarkable...they, quite simply, bring whatever they sing to glorious life.”

In 2009, Calmus was the first-prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition. They have won many other international prizes and competitions, including the 2009 ECHO Klassik Award for Leid: Gut!, an album of treasured German folk songs, and first prizes at the 4th annual Robert Schumann Choral Competition, the International Competition for Vocal Ensembles and the 37th Tolosa Choral Contest in Spain.

They regularly travel across Europe and North and South America, partnering for performances with instrumental groups and commissioning new works from contemporary composers.

Single tickets for Calmus are available for $17 or $20 with discounts available for students and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 (Hesston College) or 316-284-5205 (Bethel College) or visit the HBPA website at

HBPA is funded in part by Excel Industries and Hustler Turf Equipment (Hesston), the cities of Hesston and North Newton and area patrons.

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