Given the limitations of the hall and other technical shortcomings, a concert by the vocal ensemble I Cantori at Pasadena Presbyterian Church managed to offer some quality music making. Singing with conviction and insight, the eight-person mixed chorus presented a large, diverse collection of American vocal works from the 20th Century, giving intelligent attention to each work.
Five songs by Charles Ives, arranged for the group by conductor and founder Edward Cansino, yielded the best results. Use of props and other theatrical elements propelled the humor and flavor of the texts, most of them by Ives himself.
Overall, the presentations Wednesday night resisted an easy temptation for corniness, thoughtfully projecting Ives' sophisticated, sometimes eccentric view of popular Americana. Flutist Lisa Edelstein fittingly supplied a part originally for fife on the piccolo.
Similarly, a Suite from "Treemonisha" by Scott Joplin became a theatrical presentation with dancing, sequined skimmers for the men and feather boas for the women. The toe-tapping, ragtime songs joyfully set the joint a-jumpin' although at times pianist Lorna Eder and percussionist Timm Boatman had a hard time synchronizing with the ensemble.