Their voices are so powerful that they are often referred to as "the lions."
But it's not just sheer force that has made Chor Leoni one of the most revered and beloved men's choirs in the world – not to mention one that has lasted 20 years.
"In their sound there is also a gentleness that you don't necessarily expect," says Erick Lichte, the Vancouver choir's new artistic director. "Sure, the lions can roar. But they can purr really nicely as well."
They can also navigate a remarkable breadth of repertoire, which will be on full display at the choir's 20th anniversary concert. It will include music from Schubert to Bollywood – and feature guest soprano Mariateresa Magisano, baritone Brett Polegato, and CBC's Shelagh Rogers as host.
The group will also premiere Winter, a commission by Swedish composer and conductor Robert Sund, who will conduct the work.
"It's earthy and gritty and raw at parts, and then there are these lovely, lush jazz chords," Mr. Lichte says. "It's just a great piece."
And while the concert is a celebration for the 55-member choir, and a look toward the future, it also remembers the remarkable legacy of Chor Leoni's late founder and director, Diane Loomer, who is widely credited with shaping the choir into the international powerhouse it is today.
"You know if you see somebody famous and they kind of have a glow around them? Diane had that, in every room she walked into," Mr. Lichte says. "She really enticed her singers to make the music she wanted, and that's a very rare gift. And I've never seen anybody do it with such grace."