The Chautauqua Chamber Singers ended their 2011-12 season of concerts at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Friday evening, with a concert entitled ''Melodies and Memories.''
The evening's program was a series of 22 songs, all either popular hits from the 1930s and 1940s, or selections from the scores of Broadway shows or even from opera.
The singing ensemble was considerably smaller in number than it usually is, and the women outnumbered the men by a ratio of 2-to-1, leading to a certain degree of imbalance, but in general the evening was most appealing.
Director Rebecca Ryan chose outstanding pieces of music, often in extremely sophisticated arrangements. The singers were accompanied on piano by Jennifer Schruers. The last few works of the evening, they were also accompanied by Spencer Drake on bass guitar, Bill Eckstrom on lead guitar, and Brent Isaacson on drums.
Despite a few problems with the eccentric rhythms of the music and some tricky intonations, the singers responded positively to their conductor's energetic approaches to the music and the audience's familiarity with and enjoyment of their performance.
St. Luke's lends itself well to such concerts. Its seating capacity was nearly filled, and its acoustics are hard and bright, which gives the jazzy, light sounds of the music a boost. The church's location at the intersection of two of our city's busiest streets made for some truly annoying interruptions from street noise, but the singers never flinched and the audience was soon back in the mood.
Speaking of ''In the Mood,'' Joe Garland's popular song by that name was a highlight of the concert. In the jivey arrangement by Peter Gritton, Soprano Karen Waterman sang the lead and an all-scat version of the song bounced along beautifully.
Another highlight from the evening was sung by lyric soprano Gail Grundstrom, who broke everyone's heart with a bluesy rendering of ''My Man's Gone Now,'' from George Gershwin's ''Porgy and Bess.''
The concert lasted almost exactly one hour, and yet the director wisely broke it up, sending the men to sit while the women sang ''Someone to Watch Over Me,'' and ''Can't Help Lovin' That Man,'' and everyone to sit so that Ms. Grundstrom could hold the audience's full attention for her tragic solo. As a result, there was never a feeling of sameness.
Rather, it was an evening of melody and memory and diversity, from an era which was rich in all three.