The Community Music Project brought together four area singing ensembles and an orchestra representative of areas from Western New York to Eastern Ohio, to present a most exciting afternoon of music Sunday. The concert was named ''A Celebration of Sound.''
A tip of the wizard's hat is in order to director Rebecca Ryan for the fact that the concert was emotionally satisfying, intellectually stimulating, and worked its magic in just over an hour. Such diversity in such a short time is a miracle, indeed. Gathering so many capable musicians and getting them to do exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment is yet another miracle.
Ryan is the music director of the Chautauqua Chamber Singers, and the Mercyhurst University Concert Choir, in Erie. In Sunday's performance, she also conducted singers from the Jamestown Choral Society, whose regular director is Cindy Lind Hanson, and the Southwestern High School Concert Choir, whose regular director is Susan Huther. The concert was performed in the auditorium of Southwestern High School.
Accompanying the singers in all but one of their selections was an ensemble of 26 musicians, coming together for this concert only, and so named ''The Celebration of Sound Orchestra.''
The 11 musical works for the evening was something of a ''Top Forties of Classical Vocal Music,'' almost certainly to be audience pleasers, as well as stimulating challenges to the musicians. All of the works might be part of a Roman Catholic Mass, and nearly all were in Latin. Clear, understandable pronunciation seemed to pose no difficulties for the singers. Two pieces from Leonard Bernstein's familiar ''Cichester Psalms'' were sung in Hebrew. The accompanying printed program included all the words from the musical program, including both original language and translation of words in other languages, although sadly, the house lights were turned completely out, so once the performance began, those were of no use to a listener.
The periods of music which were examined stretched from Vivaldi, Bach and Handel, to contemporaries John Rutter and Morten Lauridsen. Styles ranged from the achingly sad ''Agnus Dei,'' the version with words of Samuel Barber's ''Adagio for Strings,'' to the almost galloping energy and joy of Franz Schubert's ''Credo,'' from his ''Mass in G.''
Only the Barber work was without accompaniment, although the others ranged from full orchestra to small ensembles of musicians. The Mozart ''Lacrimosa'' from his ''Requiem Mass,'' featured singularly fine clarinet statements by John Cross, and the Rutter ''Requiem'' utilized a thrilling trio of organ, harp, and oboe, highlighted by eloquent oboist Mark DuBois.
Lovely, high soprano solos were sung by Kirstan Orgel and Marika Koch. Andrija Andjelic, an exchange student to Mercyhurst, conducted an early work on the program with impressive sensitivity.
I wish we had several pages in order to name all the singers and the instrumentalists. Suffice it to say they were asked for their very finest work, and they presented exactly that.
The concert was the final one in the 2012-13 performing season of the Community Music Project.