Carduus brings vivid performances of often unheard works through the introduction of lesser performed composers into the canon of unconducted chamber choir repertoire.
Founded in 2016, Carduus presents the best of early and modern a capella music to Boston audiences. Led by Holly Druckman, they explore journeys and musical soundscapes designed to connect meaning and purpose between pieces in a way that sheds new light upon the relationship between the obscure and canon. They have recorded and premiered numerous works for fellow intrepid musicians, and have even collaborated with video installation artists such as Maya+Rouvelle and Guggenheim fellow, Marsia Alexander-Clarke.
The cultural richness of Boston is special to Carduus and that has inspired community-centric projects such 2021's community concert "Concert for remembrance: A Requiem for the Living", lead by guest conductor Lorraine Fitzmaurice, and 2020's fundraiser with composer Bernie Zelitch, "Come Up for Air", benefiting the Boston Children's Chorus.
Hailed by the Boston Musical Intelligencer as “...[expressive and emotional]...” for performances of Ives and Gesualdo, Carduus has established a formidable reputation performing vocal chamber music. Concerts have included music by composers such as Josquin, Ligeti, Tallis, Howells, Victoria, Ives, Gesualdo, Hindman, Dufay, Zelitch, Martin, de la Rue, Messiaen, Moody, Bouque, Stratis, Hiser, and many others.
The word "Carduus" means "thistle" in Latin. We feel that it captures our range of musical affects: from beautiful to a little bit edgy. We identify with the fact that it is not expressly religious, but can be tied in with religious concepts very easily. And we enjoy the varied symbolism it has held throughout the ages, how this one symbol has meant different things to different groups of people.
Founding members of Carduus met at New England Conservatory, and continues to guest perform in Jordan Hall through collaborations with NEC’s Contemporary Ensemble, NEC's "First Mondays" concert series, and as part of the “NEC Opens its Doors” series. They have coached with NEC’s John Heiss, and performed in masterclass with Scott Metcalfe and members of Blue Heron.
Holly Druckman is Carduus’ Founder and Artistic Director; its Treasurer is Elijah Botkin, its Secretary is Jacob Hiser, and its Marketing Director is Wei En Chan.