By Katie Lovett
---- — Cantemus, the North Shore-based chamber chorus, will conclude its third decade with a pair of anniversary concerts this weekend.
“Cantemus Turns 30: Celebrating Artists of the North Shore,” a program of songs written by renowned contemporary composers and based on texts by some of the area’s best-known poets, will be performed at St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport on Sunday.
Developed by Cantemus music director Jane Ring Frank, the program includes writings by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Frost, Anne Bradstreet and John Greenleaf Whittier, set to melodies and harmonies by New Englanders Randall Thompson, Gwyneth Walker, Ronald Perera and Daniel Pinkham.
Thompson selected seven poems by Frost, and created “Frostiana,” or “Seven Country Songs.” Cantemus will perform “The Road Not Taken” and “Choose Something Like a Star.”
“There is deceptive simplicity in Frost’s poetry, with its straightforward language and rhyming schemes, resulting in an undercurrent of wonder, even in the most mundane of human activities,” Frank wrote in a statement.
Perera sought to capture Frost’s “love of the natural world” in his five-song collection of early Frost poems called “North Country.”
“We’ve grown to love all of them, but ‘North Country’ has become a real favorite of mine and other singers, as well,” said singer Susan Nash of West Newbury. “It, too, is based on Frost poems, adapted by contemporary composer Ronald Perera, who lives in Leeds.”
A pair of Bradstreet’s works, “If Ever Two Were One” and “The Cooling Shadow,” are captured in pieces by Vermont composers Gwyneth Walker and Charlene Archibeque, said Nash.
Dubbed “America’s first poet,” Bradstreet was born in England in 1612. She sailed to Massachusetts in 1630, eventually settling in Ipswich and Andover. Boston composer Daniel Pinkham’s “The Tenth Muse” is a setting of five of Bradstreet’s lyrical nature and love poems.
The program will conclude with a nod to Whittier. The Amesbury Quaker was devoted to social causes and reform, and the text of Walker’s “The Tree of Peace” has been adapted from Whittier’s poem, “O Brother Man.”
IF YOU GO What: "Cantemus Turns 30" When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church of Hamilton-Wenham, 149 Asbury St., Hamilton; Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Church, 166 High St., Newburyport. How: Tickets are available online at http://www.mktix.com/ccc, or fans can save $2 on advance tickets purchased at The Book Rack in Newburyport. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors. Admission is free for students 21 and younger. For details, visit www.cantemus.org, or call 1-888-CHORUS 1.