Cantus Biography: Eric Ellingsen

December 15, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Join us as we get to know Classical MPR's 2010-11 Artists-in-Residence Cantus through a series of short bios. Here, we learn about Eric Hopkins Ellingsen.

Tenor Eric Hopkins Ellingsen is currently in his fourth season with Cantus. Originally from Oregon, Ill., Eric's education background includes a BA in Vocal Music from Luther College. Here, he shares his thoughts on pre-performance rituals, Rufus Wainwright and his Lego collection.

What is the best part of singing with Cantus?

Making the great music and the camaraderie with the guys

In your mind, what makes Cantus so special and/or unique?

Our musical process of learning and programming music, plus our model of being an artist-led group make us unique.

What is your best and/or funniest memory from a Cantus tour?

One time we were on tour in Canton, Ohio, and the hotel had these chairs at the desks in all the hotel rooms. Aaron sat down on the one in his hotel room and noticed that it made a funny noise. Somebody got the video camera and we filmed him sitting on the chair to make the funny noise.

When did you know that you wanted to make singing your career?

I always wanted to be a performer growing up. I would sing at church, I was in every music ensemble in school, and I even wrote plays with my sister to which we would invite all our neighbors to watch. It wasn't until I auditioned for Cantus that I realized my dream could actually become a reality!

Do you have any rituals or things you do before you go out to perform?

I usually jump up and down a few times and some fist-bumps happen before we go on stage.

Cantus is known for its collaborations with other performing arts groups; what has been a favorite of yours?

I will never forget performing with Bobby McFerrin at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. We were so nervous at the dress rehearsal, but when Bobby walked on stage we all felt this peace about him and had a great time.

Do you play any instruments? Are there any that you'd like to learn to play?

I play saxophone, clarinet, bassoon and a little piano. I would love to be able to play the guitar.

Who is your music "hero" and why?

My music hero is Rufus Wainwright. I love his music and love how he has had so many challenges in his life that he has overcome.

What hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy doing when you are not singing (or sleeping)?

I love watching movies, reading books and playing with my Lego collection. I am a Lego Maniac! They know me by name at the Lego Store in the Mall of America.

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