Geneseo has access to two rare treasures: the Spectrum Women's Ensemble and the Geneseo Chamber Singers.
Last Friday Oct. 14, both groups performed at the Geneseo Central Presbyterian Church to an eager audience. One of the pianists was overheard saying that each time the choirs have a show there they pack the church. It would soon be clear why.
The first group to perform was the Spectrum Women's Ensemble, directed by Gerard Floriano with A. David Hurd on the piano. Each of the 30 singers should be proud of her effort since the sound was exquisite. The first three songs were mountain ballads including "He's Gone Away," "Will He Remember" and "Barbara Allen," each written by Ron Allen. From the first song to the last of the performance, it was clear that each singer had her own powerful voice to add.
Following the ballads were two three-part songs, "My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land" and "The Snow" written by Edward Elgar. Juniors Allison Petry's and Kristen Hadley's violin accompaniment made "The Snow" an enchanting accomplishment for both the choir and their instrumental complement. Both the altos and sopranos had such lovely voices the entire show that they kept the audience enraptured.
Concluding their half of the night, the ensemble sang "All in Green Went My Love Riding" by Ronald Perera. Again the women captivated the audience with their singing, and it was disappointing when they exited for the short intermission.
As the crowd was still smiling from the Spectrum Women's Ensemble's performance, the Geneseo Chamber Singers took the small stage. It's difficult to explain the feeling one gets when an incredible choir delivers the first few notes of any song. The word that describes it best would probably be stunning, and the chamber singers delivered that feeling throughout their performance.
For the entire night, with the exception of one song, the chamber singers blended their sopranos, altos, tenors and basses together instead of dividing them by section in a more traditional choral arrangement. This mixing, which was effectively utilized by both director and singers, created one solidified voice as opposed to a mini-competition between each section.
Floriano also directed the Chamber Singers, accompanied by Linda Boianova on piano. George Frideric Handel's "And the Glory of the Lord" provided the choir with quite an introduction.
Following this was "Les Chansons Des Roses" written by Morten Lauridsen, for which an English translation was provided in the program. It's doubtful that any audience member had the chance to follow along, though, considering the choir's performance was just as amazing as it had been during the song before. The singers used a French accent when singing this song, too, a feat on its own that was certainly worth their effort.
In the third song, "Winken, Blynken, and Nod," the highly experienced oboist Jessica Smithorn accompanied Geneseo School of the Arts professor James Walker. The familiar bedtime tale complemented the chamber singers' excellence and was a delight to hear.
To end the evening the choir sang "Hold On!" arranged by Eugene Thamon Simpson, which featured an amazing solo by junior Alex Mendes. Again the word "stunning" comes to mind when trying to describe the performance. The song was delivered so powerfully – almost overwhelmingly – that when it ended there was a moment of silence in the church, almost as if the audience had to catch its breath. For their efforts, the Chamber Singers had a well-deserved standing ovation to see them off.