Central Presbyterian Church on Center Street in Geneseo is a beautiful building, its inside filling with sound when need be, or standing silent otherwise.
As a perfect acoustic music venue, it makes sense that the Oct. 12 Chamber Singers and Spectrum Women’s Ensemble concert would take place there. Their voices rang out through a collection of pieces both classical and modern in style and composition.
The Spectrum Women’s Ensemble performed first, accompanied by Linda Boianova on piano. Their selections by Palestrina, Schumann and Perera traveled all over the map from the smooth, beautiful “Herbstlied” to the erratic “Earthsongs,” which featured a solo from sophomore Kelly Perz.
The group also performed a song arranged not for a choir but instead three voices. On “Prologo From L’incoronazione Di Poppea,” they instead split into three sections, accompanied by Christopher Wilke on the theorbo – a plucked string instrument similar to a lute – and the guitar.
As directed by professor of music Gerard Floriano, the Spectrum Women’s Ensemble alternately shook and calmed the room, their voices full of power and restraint. You couldn’t have asked for a better performance.
The Geneseo Chamber Singers followed with performance of the world premiere of “Days of 1994.” The piece, composed by Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music Emeritus James Willey, is based on a poem by James Merrill, written in the last months of his life.
The poem, knotty and complex, frequently draws on images of dark and light, and as Willey explained before the performance, he composed certain chords and sounds to represent those two, opposing images.
Two professional violinists of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, David Brickman and Patricia Sunwoo, along with Boianova on an intricate piano score, helped bring Willey’s ideas to life.
The piece itself was thoroughly modern. It moved in jarring, atonal directions at times and was entirely consonant at others. It also featured a great solo by senior David Keyes, which cut through the music and out into the room.
The rest of the Chamber Singers’ pieces were just as interesting, including the rousing Gospel tune “Ezekiel Saw De Wheel” to close an entrancing choral evening.