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Listen to Cantoque Ensemble live in concert on Spotify:

Cantoque Ensemble
at Dark Music Days 2024 

©Hans Vera

About us

Cantoque Ensemble, founded in 2017, is a chamber choir of eight to twelve singers based in Reykjavík, Iceland. All singers are professional singers, many of whom have sung with orchestras around the world, performed on the stage of eg the Icelandic Opera and received various awards for their singing.


Cantoque Ensemble was founded from a Nordic collaboration with the baroque orchestras Höör Barock and Camerata Öresund with their concert being nominated for the Icelandic Music Awards as Musical Event of the Year 2017. The Cantoque Ensemble performed JS Bach's cantatas at the Summer Concert in Skálholt with the Bach Orchestra in Skálholt under the baton of the renowned conductor Andreas Spering. The choir has held numerous concerts with Icelandic folk songs and prides itself in performing new Icelandic music. Cantoque Ensemble collaborates with conductor Steinar Logi Helgason and recently performed JS Bach's Passion with the Baroque band Brák under his direction, as well as performing new Icelandic vocal music at the Summer Concert in Skálholt and at the Song Festival in Hafnarborg under the direction of Steinar Loga .


Cantoque Ensemble's recent projects include the continued collaboration with Camerata Öresund in 2021, but also the baroque ensemble Ensemble Nylandia from Sweden. The project took place in Iceland and Denmark, with the concert being televised to the baroque festival BarokkiKuopio in Finland. That concert was nominated as Musical Event of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards. Cantoque also held a concert at Dark Music Days 2022, under Helgason's direction, where Icelandic composer Jón Nordal's choral music was at the forefront. The concert was highly praised by critics and concertgoers alike. Subsequently, Cantoque presented the Nordal-project at PODIUM, at Dark Music Days 2023.

In 2023, Cantoque began a collaboration with Ensemble Choeur3 and the artistic director Abélia Nordmann, who is based in Switzerland but works across borders to France and Germany. Together, the groups performed Frank Martin's well-known Mass for Double Choir along with Icelandic work. The programme was also performed at the final concert of the Song Festival in Hafnarborg in July 2023. In Switzerland, Cantoque also performed an all-Icelandic repertoire to introduce Icelandic choral works as well as holding a masterclass for conductors and choral singers in the Basel area.


Cantoque Ensemble at Dark Music Days 2022

What others said

"The choir consisted of eight singers, all experienced and trained voices. The performance was both precise and expressive. Steinar Logi's conducting was of marked quality and he had a comfortable presence. There was, for example, Lofsangur Maríu by Thorvaldur Örn Davíðsson: a moving piece which the choir performed especially well. María, drottins liljan by Bára Grímsdóttir was also beautiful, but in the song the choir formed an intricate web of haunting lines, which was very impressive. Atli Heimir Sveinsson's two Maria poems were also fascinating, as they were interpreted with great sensitivity by Steinari Logi and the singers."

(Jónas Sen, Fréttablaðið, 15.7.2020)

"But it was the closing piece that proved not only the most memorable of the concert, but of everything I experienced at this year's festival. A number of the pieces Cantoque performed displayed a more simple harmonic character, somewhere between folk song and hymnody, and it's this that typifies Nordal's Smávinir fagrir, composed way back in 1940 (when the composer must have been no older than 14). Cantoque's slow, almost stately, rendition of the song was gorgeous enough, so excruciatingly lovely that it was impossible not to well up; but after the song's final cadence, conductor Steinar Logi Helgason turned to the audience, whereupon everyone in the building, in full 4-part harmonies, sang the song again in its entirety. I'm not even going to try to pretend that I wasn't a complete mess by the end; i can probably count on one hand the number of times i've been at a performance so completely overflowing with emotional power, composer, performers and audience all joined in the most profound, heartfelt musical unity."

(From5 against 4)

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