Constellation Men’s Ensemble (CME) is a Chicago-based vocal group dedicated to creating distinct performances in unique spaces, empowering the next generation of singers through educational engagement, and expanding the repertoire for men’s vocal music by commissioning new works from both emerging and established composers.
Constellation has been in existence since 2013 and yet, 10 years later, this is our first album to be released. Part of that was simply our longstanding focus on “Music & Brotherhood” that began with Saturday morning rehearsals
followed by a “cheers!” in Evanston, IL. Another part of that has been the uphill battle to create, sustain, and grow an arts organization in America today.
But the biggest focus for me has always been the “why” of all of our performances. What place does another vocal ensemble have in the recorded history of music to release albums unless it has something to say? With the
creation of Man Up / Man Down, I knew we had something important to add to the conversation.
The album features Robert Maggio’s large-scale work of the same name, Man Up / Man Down, which explores masculinity in America through multiple lenses, including anonymously sourced responses from prompts about pride, parenting, our past, and more. The album begins with Jeffrey Derus’ HOME, depicting a mother rocking her child to sleep and the world that constantly tries to invade our innermost peace. It ends with david lang’s manifesto and after a journey of such intense introspection regarding societal norms of masculinity, simply wanting “to be with someone who gets me” is such a perfect close.
Thank you for trusting us with your ears and your minds.
–Ryan Townsend Strand, executive director & tenor