Cantus Novus, which has been delighting audiences for nearly 10 years in Bucks and Mercer counties with both little-known and familiar a cappella choral works, has appointed a new artistic director.

John Leonard, director of choirs and professor of conducting at The College of New Jersey, will lead Cantus Novus into the 2011-2012 season. He brings much experience to the group, including a bachelor of music in voice and music education from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., and a master’s of music in conducting from Temple University in Philadelphia.

He also did master’s work at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, and is about to defend his doctor of music dissertation at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

"It’s an honor to work with Cantus Novus," said Leonard, who also has performed as a professional singer with the Philadelphia Singers and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. "I was attracted to the group because the members take music-making very seriously. They want to be challenged, have high expectations and are very ambitious. Many hold music degrees, as well."

Having just finished its fall retreat with Leonard at the helm, Cantus Novus is poised to offer its 2011-2012 season around the theme "rejoice," with composer Ko Matsushita’s "Jubilate Deo" and Arvo Pärt’s "Magnificat" as inspiration.

"Our Christmas concerts will be ‘Rejoice! A Musical Feast for Mary,’ and will include music from throughout the ages," Leonard added. "It’s an all a cappella program, as Cantus Novus excels in that style."

The Christmas concerts are Friday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Solebury, Pa.; Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. at the Newtown Presbyterian Church in Newtown, Pa., and Sunday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m. at Christ Congregation in Princeton. For ticket information, visit the website or call 215-968-3414.

"Our Spring series will be ‘Rejoice! A Celebration in Song,’" Leonard noted. "It will be a mix of celebratory music that’s reminiscent of different time periods in life, such as childhood memories. We’ll be featuring ‘Jubilate Deo’ once again, as well as Benjamin Britten’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb.’ Looking ahead, the 2012-2013 season will be an international theme."

The Spring concerts are scheduled for Friday, May 4, 8 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Solebury, Pa.; Saturday, May 5, 8 p.m. at the Newtown Presbyterian Church in Newtown, Pa., and Sunday, May 6, 4 p.m. at Christ Congregation in Princeton.

Part of the group’s Vision Statement is to "nurture and develop the skills of its musicians, who range from youths to seniors, providing the skilled singer with personal fulfillment and joy. By sharing our professional quality performances and programs, we shall contribute to a thriving cultural society, without which the world is a lesser place."

Those interested in auditions and those interested in attending a performance may learn more by calling 215-968-3414 or visiting Cantus Novus on the Web at

Cantus Novus, PO Box 714, Newtown, PA. 215-968-3414.

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