Fact Sheet

Kantorei Fact Sheet

  • Kantorei’s performances of primarily a cappella music have been described as effortless, perfectly blended, and beautifully expressive. The choir’s emphasis on music from Austria and Germany pays tribute to and reflects the cultural legacy of many of Minnesota’s residents. Among the composers whose music Kantorei often programs are Anton Bruckner, Felix Mendelssohn, Max Reger, Josef Rheinberger, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Paul Hindemith, and Michael Hadyn.
  • Kantorei singers appreciate the extra attention that Artistic Director Axel Theimer pays to the use and care of the voice. Many are professional voice teachers, choral conductors and singers. Their commitment to Kantorei includes daily practice and weekly rehearsals. Auditions for new singers are held each spring.
  • Kantorei members hail from some of the nation’s best collegiate choral programs, including Augustana, Bemidji State, Gustavus Adolphus, Kansas State, Lawrence, Luther, Michigan State, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota State, Randolph-Macon, Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, St. Mary’s MN, St. Olaf and William and Mary.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Dominick Argento has called Kantorei’s music “some of the best choral singing” he has heard. Kantorei has been critically acclaimed by Saint Paul and Minneapolis newspapers as having “a crystalline sound” and “a mood of calm reflection.”
  • Kantorei was founded in 1988 by Axel Theimer and a group of friends who casually met to sing and perform a few times a year. Since then, Kantorei has developed into a high-quality a cappella choral ensemble, which now includes about 40 singers from across the metropolitan area and greater Minnesota.
  • Kantorei performs its concerts in various venues throughout Minnesota, including a number of churches and chapels in Saint Paul and Minneapolis and the surrounding metropolitan area. Kantorei has also performed at Orchestra Hall and the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis and the Ordway Center, Landmark Center, Cathedral of Saint Paul and State Capitol Building in Saint Paul.
  • Kantorei sponsors Singing for a Lifetime, a yearly series of education outreach concerts and workshops for school, church, and youth choirs throughout Minnesota.
  • In addition to its vocation for unaccompanied music, Kantorei has collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Sinfonia, Amadeus Chamber Symphony, and local brass and string ensembles.
  • Kantorei is a member of Chorus America, a Washington D.C.-based organization dedicated to promoting high artistic quality, development and growth of vocal ensembles. In addition, Chorus America strives to stimulate greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of choral music by all segments of society.
  • Kantorei is also a member of the Saint Paul Arts & Culture Partnership, an organization that strengthens arts and cultural organizations in Saint Paul through marketing, advocacy and securing public and private funding.
  • An integral part of Kantorei’s focus is attention to vocal health and efficiency. Artistic Director Axel Theimer is a faculty member and the executive director of The VoiceCare Network, an educational organization providing lifespan voice education with the goal of engaging in efficient, expressive singing.
  • Kantorei’s compact disc releases include: Forgotten Masters and Masterpieces (2001), Celebrating the Mystery: Music of Advent and Christmas (2003), and Cathedrals to Mountains: Choral Music of the Alps (2006). Kantorei also sponsored and participated in the recording of Songs for Mary (2002), a special project by local choral ensembles to raise funds for Sharing & Caring Hands.
  • Kantorei’s artistic director since 1988, Axel Theimer was born in the village of St. Johann in Tirol in the mountains of Austria. He was accepted into the Vienna Boys’ Choir at age seven and toured Europe, South Africa, Rhodesia, Mozambique and the United States, singing with the choir until age 14.
  • Director Axel Theimer in GreyscaleAxel Theimer has been Director of Choral Activities at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University since 1969. At Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s he directs the CSB/SJU Chamber Choir and the SJU Men’s Chorus and teaches choral conducting, applied voice, vocal pedagogy and other related courses.
  • Kantorei participated in the 2009 Minnesota Holiday Sampler and 2010 Taste of the Holidays radio shows produced by Classical Minnesota Public Radio.