Six of the CD's tracks were composed in 17th century Latin America. The rest--all by 20th century Los Angeles composers--show off the group's aforementioned versatility, introducing local jazz pianist William Kennerly's first choral piece and giving the music of John Cage (born here) and Igor Stravinsky (lived here) an overt Southern California context.
It's that mix that attracts musicians like Amy Knoles, percussionist for the new music group California EAR Unit and occasional I Cantori collaborator. "They do stuff no one else does," she says, praising Cansino's "fearlessness" as a conductor. "On one piece he had me scratching [a] Martin Luther King [speech] on turntables."
The music of I Cantori inspired Richard Lyons to start Civic Group Records in the hopes of expanding the group's following beyond its core concert-going fans. A Cal State L.A. music instructor, and former film and TV composer ("Dance Fever" was his big hit), he was introduced to I Cantori by Knoles in 1994. Lyons, who produced the CD, has so far invested about $100,000 in his label--"I'm doing it on a wing and prayer and credit cards!"--and has scored independent distribution around the country. Locally, "A Choir of Angels," out for about five weeks, is available at Tower, Virgin , Blockbuster and bookstores from Borders to the Bodhi Tree.