Roy Engler set quite an ambitious program for his 16 voice chorus, Bion Cantorum, yesterday afternoon. In Soundscape Kaleidoscope, they sang in six languages and traversed almost as many centuries.
The singers began with several sacred or semi-sacred works such as the popular and oft-performed “Sure on This Shining Night.” Then came what Engler wryly admitted were “songs.” Among these was a creditable rendition of Eric Whitacre’s difficult “Five Hebrew Love Songs”, accompanied by Karen Gettel-Bell on violin and John Renfroe on piano.
A false start on that piece pointed up a technical problem. The mic for Bell wasn’t positioned correctly. Renfroe is an excellent pianist, but at times he seemed almost to ovepower the voices, perhaps because the mic picking him up was out of balance with theirs. When singing a capella, the voices, particularly the men, were strong and well-balanced throughout.
The afternoon included two pieces by harpist Ava Seusy and the “Flower Duet” by Regina Buckley and Sherry Campbell Bechtold with piano accompaniment by Barbara Goldberg.
The eclectic and enjoyable program ended with Copland’s rousing “Ching-a-Ring Chaw” and an encore sung by the women, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
For a chorus not yet a year old, this group has already come a long way.