Just what Maine needs, another a cappella choral group. Right? Well, yes. Vox Nova, which performed Sunday at Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin College campus, emphasizes an eclectic contemporary and international repertoire, and the quality of its singing puts it on an entirely different plane.

Vox Nova was founded in 2009 by Shannon M. Chase, who conducted the first half of Sunday’s program, and Karen Topp, and consists of members of the Maine midcoast musical community, including Bowdoin faculty members and alumni.

I have seldom heard a recital by any choir without a single miscue or tired arrangement, where the entire program maintained a high level of musicianship and excitement, and where the bass line was finally as powerful as New England’s first composer, William Billings, would have wanted. ( He thought basses should outnumber every other voice in the choir.)

Some of the works were fiendishly difficult, with polyrhythms, dissonant chords, voice glissandos and intricate part singing, but the choir made them sound easy. The singers’ enjoyment of each work was infectious.

Every work in the carefully selected program had its own beauties. My favorite was a suite of four poems of Garcia Lorca by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, that country’s avant garde successor to Sibelius. The combination of Latin and Nordic sensibilities was exquisite.

“El Grito” (The Scream) is Munch in Miami. A treble theme by the sopranos over a dissonant bass obligato suddenly soars even higher in a series of glissandos. The effect is both magical and menacing. In “La Luna Asoma,” Jennifer Caton’s clear soprano soared over tone clusters to evoke the moon over a riven earth. And in the final Malaguena, death appears as a horseman, completing the cycle that began with “Cancio de Jineta” (Horseman’s Song).

Another “deep” song was Eric Whitacre’s setting of a translation by Muriel Rukeyser entitled “Water Night,” in which the interlacing lines conjure up images of slow-moving water. Whitacre’s huge chords, with their dissonant yet perfect intervals, are something new under the sun.

The program began with two powerful songs from the Baltics, composed when Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were under repressive Stalinist rule. The urge for freedom and a pride in national history are apparent in “Laulu Algus,” (The beginning of song), by Veljo Tormis, and “Dziedot Dzimu, Dziedot Augu” (I was born singing, I grew up singing) arranged by Alfred Kalnins.

They were followed by a set of three songs by Tormis about St. John’s Day in Estonia, where it is more of a midsummer fertility rite than a Christian holiday.

The second half of the program, conducted by associate conductor Jennifer Runge, was lighter, without losing any liveliness or musicality. It consisted of excellent arrangements of folk songs from Romania, Sweden, Brazil, Cuba and Samoa, perfectly sung and with a precise rhythm that would be the envy of any symphony orchestra.

All of them seemed to delight the children in the audience, especially the appearance of the Muppets’ Swedish Chef, in the folk song spoof “El Hambo.”

After a standing ovation, the encore was the first half of “I was born singing …” It was well worth repeating.

Christopher Hyde’s Classical Beat column appears in the Maine Sunday Telegram. He can be reached at: [email protected]