Saturday, February 11, 2017

Youth Coordinator

Kristy Brumfield, Youth Coordinator

Tecolote (Song of the Little Owl) 
Victoria Ebel-Sabo
Shawnee 35022538
This beautiful Spanish lullaby was inspired by the composer's childhood memories.  It is a simple, two part piece with a lilting melody, characteristic spanish rhythms, and a piano accompaniment that has a guitar feel.  Its beauty and simplicity are a perfect complement to the innocence of children's voices.  You will be humming this one long after the concert has ended.  

Festival Alleluia
Allen Pote
Choristers Guild CGA280
This exciting, rhythmic piece is perfect for choirs just beginning to explore two-part singing.  The melody is quite singable, with just enough of a challenge to give your young singers a true sense of accomplishment.  The message of the text is perhaps its best feature: "Make your life a song to God!" Whether programming for school, festival, or concert, this is sure to become a favorite of your singers.  

Magical Kingdom
John Rutter
Oxford University Press 9780193408296
For young voices, can you go wrong with Rutter?  Definitely not with this piece.  This secular piece is perfect for children's voices with its fantasy and fairytale-laced text.  The harmonies are simple, yet challenging enough for beginning part singers to enjoy.  The melody is quite lyrical with just a touch of pop, characteristic of Rutter's writing.  Audiences and singers alike will fall in love with this ode to childhood innocence.  

Fun with Boomwhackers
Chris Judah-Lauder
Alfred 0528B

This resource is a must for any teacher who incorporates Boomwhackers into their lessons.  The book includes twenty songs and lessons, presented in order of difficulty, that incorporate the NAfME standards.  There are also lessons that utilize movement and mallet techniques.  The lessons are easily adaptable for your classroom needs.  Boomwhackers are a fun way to reinforce sight reading skills, and can be used for an out-of-the-ordinary accompaniment to a piece or two for your children's choir.  This book is a great place to start if you would like to explore ways to use Boomwhackers in your music classes.  

Collegiate Coordinator

Phillip Stockton, Collegiate Coordinator

Mass in Blue
Will Todd
Soprano solo, SATB choir, piano, bass, drum set, optional alto saxophone
Oxford University Press 9780193400504
This would be a great way to engage the jazz band at your institution to perform a piece with the choir. Have a listen and see if it fits what you want to do.

Music of Will Todd
I cannot limit my recommendations to just one piece. What intrigues me about his music is that he has a style, but his pieces do not all sound the same. Each piece is thoughtfully composed/arranged to fit the intention of the text. Go to his website for more information and recordings of his music.

Die Forelle
Arranged by D. Jason Bishop
Hal Leonard Publishing 00140684
There has been a recent trend to take art songs and set them for choral ensembles. I have suggested these before in previous blog posts, and will continue the trend with one of the most loved art songs by Franz Schubert. Your treble groups will enjoy singing this lively arrangement that is true to the original. The piano accompaniment is very similar to the original, but made more accessible by the arranger.

Chorus Confidential
William Dehning
I am always looking for a way to integrate leadership into my choral conducting courses. This year I have chosen Chorus Confidential as a companion to our conducting work. The writing is relaxed, sometimes sarcastic, anecdotal, but full of depth and knowledge from a respected choral conductor. I am enjoying reading it and feel that my students will as well as your students.

Lifelong Coordinator

Mark Nabholz, Lifelong Coordinator

Three Sacred Anthems for Smaller Choirs
Tired of formulaic and uninspiring “manageable” anthems? Here are three that avoid predictable drudgery, but are still within the grasp of church choirs with 15-30 voices.

Title of piece: Fairest Lord Jesus
Voicing: SATB/piano
Season: General
Composer: Derek Hakes, arr. Craig Courtney
Publisher number: Beckenhorst BP1657
Description: A lovely new tune for a beloved hymn text, supported by a well-crafted pianistic accompaniment. The final verse soprano descant will be a delight to both your choir and congregation.

Title of piece: Comfort, Comfort
Voicing: SATB/organ (or acappella)
Season: Advent
Composer: FREU DICH SEHR, arr. John Ferguson
Publisher number: Augsburg 0800646355
Description: This light and energetic setting of an old Calvinist “Genevan Jig” tune ushers in the Advent season with a dash of color that doesn’t overtax limited resources. A short ritornello between each verse can be played by C instruments or the keyboard.

Title of piece: Kyrie
Voicing: SAB/piano
Composer: Eric Unruh
Publisher number: Augsburg 080065708X
Description: This beautiful and accessible setting of the traditional Kyrie text rewards your choir’s modest investment with a tremendous return. An easy to learn anthem suitable for communion or Lenten use.

Repertoire Specific Coordinator

Angie Rawls, Repertoire Specific Coordinator

The Awakening
Joseph M. Martin
Hal Leonard Corporation CO286   35001492
This piece was published in 1995, so it has been around for a few years.  The first time my choirs performed it, we sang the SATB version which I also recommend.  It is not very difficult, but it sounds impressive.  (You need a skilled accompanist and at least one bass with a low Db).  J  There is a lot of opportunity for expressiveness.  The pieces starts very soft and somber, then builds to a glorious triumphant ending – “let music live!”  The text speaks of the power of music to change the world. 

“IPA Made Easy; A Guidebook for the International Phonetic Alphabet” by Anna Wentlent
I did not study IPA in college, but I’ve come to recognize and appreciate the benefits the knowledge of IPA can have in a choral rehearsal.  I’ve basically learned IPA alongside my students. This book serves as a quick, easy reference guide whenever I have questions or doubt myself.  J

“Quick Fixes; Prescriptions for Every Choral Challenge” by Tim Seelig
This book provides very practical solutions for very real issues in choral rehearsals.  There are prescriptions for everything from breathing to syllabic stress to musical expression.

Contemporary and Commercial

Carol Joy Sparkman, Contemporary and Commercial R&R Chair

SSAA with Solo
arr. Deke Sharon
HL 08749914
Each year I look for a piece that will be a good starter piece for my group, many of whom haven’t had experience singing contemporary a cappella. This piece is a quick learn because the accompaniment figure of the voices repeats. When preparing a contemporary a cappella piece, I listen to several recordings and may add harmony or obbligato lines as they fit. Don’t be afraid to raise or lower the key, making it more suitable for your group.

Love is Christmas
SSAA with Solo
Arr. Brian Haverkate
Available from the arranger:
Brian Haverkate, the arranger, is a high school educator in Michigan, and arranges for his groups, as well as groups all over the nation. This piece is a beautiful arrangement of Sara Bareilles’ ballad and is very accessible. It feels like a lullaby and would be a lovely addition to a holiday concert.

A Cappella Resources
Lately I have been searching the internet for arrangements of contemporary pop songs for my a cappella groups. There are stock arrangements that are available from the usual sites: J. W. Pepper, SheetMusic Plus, MusicNotes.Com. However, if you do a little digging and listening, you will find some hidden gems. I have discovered that there are student arrangers who are the musical directors for collegiate student-run ensembles who publish their arrangements on MuseScore and NoteFlight. Many of the arrangements are free and the arrangers only ask that you send an email if you plan to perform the arrangement. Other arrangers post only part of the song and ask that you contact them for the remainder.

Ethnic Music

Harlan Zackery, Jr., Ethnic Music R&R Chair

SSA, piano and violin
Traditional Irish Folk Song
Arranged by Jill Gallina
Shawnee Press/Hal Leonard 35028216
This melancholy piece is a great introduction to Irish folk music for your choir.  This piece has simple, repetetive melodies supported by a flowing piano accompaniment.  The lilting violin solo adds another exiting dimension.  Great piece for teaching/reinforcing reading of triplets and dotted quarter rhythms.  In the arranger's words, "Ballinderry in Irish means 'town of the oak wood' and...tells the sad story of Mary whose love Phelim was lost at sea."

SATB, piano, opt. percussion and bass
Words and Music by Jim Papouvlis
Edited by Francisco J. Nuñez
Boosey & Hawkes/Hal Leonard 48019428
Oye, which translates as "listen" or "listen up" is an exuberant piece which was born out of a songwriting workshop for children from economically disadvantaged areas in Acapulco, Mexico.  This piece works well for sacred or secular programs on social justice or as a high energy opener or closer.  The piano accompaniment and vocal lines are at times rhythmically intricate, ornamented by shaker, agogo, conga drum, cowbell and bass.  

Three Rhythmic Spirituals
SATB, soli and piano
William Grant Still
Bourne/William Grant Still Music (no catalog number available)
A charming set of, as the title states, rhythmic spirituals by Mississippi-born composer, William Grant Still. The first piece of the set is Lord I Looked Down the Road, scored for soprano and tenor soloists, chorus and piano.  The latter two pieces,  Hard Trials, and Holy Spirit, Don't You Leave Me  are written without soli.  The entire set, lasts less than 10 minutes and has many early gospel and blues inflections.  Your chorus is sure to enjoy them!

Slave Songs of the United States
William Frances Allen, Charles Pickard Ware and Lucy McKim Garrison
Dover 1995 Reprint
ISBN-13 978-0486285733
This resource is a fascinating anthology of spirituals, slave songs, calls and responses.  Most of the entries in this book are transcribed directly from first hand sources.  This is wealth of information for those studying performances practice or seeking material for arranging.  A valuable piece of American history!

Junior High

Tammy Maxie, Junior High R&R Chair

Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Audrey Synder
Hal Leonard 00138159
Have you been shy to try pop a cappella with your junior high students? I have been very wary of such music however this arrangement is perfect for young female voices! 

Pirate Story
TB (B)
Mark Burrows
Brilee 917
If you are searching for a piece to fit all your middle school boys changing voices this is it!  You cannot go wrong with this Robert Lewis Stevenson setting.  Just be careful that they don’t over sing!! It is very lively and robust!

Sing for Joy
George F. Handel/Linda Spevacek
Heritage Music Press 15/2356H
Adapted from the duet from “Judas Maccabaeus”, Sing for Joy is a short piece with many musical teaching moments throughout for young male singers.  This piece has challenged my men to use the best part of their voice.  It has also helped them learn to sing with proper tone quality and resonation.

The VOCES8 Method
Paul Smith
Edition Peters Group
The Voces8 Method has been useful in my choral rehearsals as a tool to help my singers with ear training skills.  I have found that the simple method creates a  positive impact toward singing without piano accompaniment and trusting their ears to follow repeated patterns and melodies within different styles of songs.  This method develops teamwork, problem solving and creative thinking.  My singers are engaged and ready to tackle the music in their folder with much more enthusiasm.  In addition to the musical benefits from this method, students are also improving numeracy, literacy and linguistics skills to carry into the classroom.