Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Children's Choir

Kristy Brumfield, Children's R&R Chair

Who Can Sail? 
Arr. Carl-Bertil Agnestig
Walton Music Corporation 

This beautiful piece, based on a Finnish folk song,  provides opportunities for expressive unison singing before breaking into a canonic section that is helpful for teaching beginning harmonic singing. Its slow tempo and minor key setting make it a wonderful piece for contrast between lighter pieces in your concerts. 

Elijah Rock! 
arr. Roger Emerson 
Hal Leonard Publishing 

The same Elijah Rock! that has been a staple for junior high and middle school choirs is now available in two-part for your elementary choirs.  Emerson’s infectious harmonies and driving accompaniment make this piece a winner with singers and audiences alike. Your choir will ask to sing this again and again.  

Shine on Me
Rollo Dillworth 
Hal Leonard Publishing

This bluesy, gospel piece is sure to please! It’s set in a fun 9/8 swing, with a partner song treatment making the harmonies simple to teach.  Rhythms are challenging but accessible.  It is suitable for both church and school choirs. A definite winner! 

Sing on Sight
Audrey Snyder
Hal Leonard Publishing 

This book series is perfect for beginning sight readers.  There is an accompaniment CD included with fun background music for the rhythmic and melodic exercises. The lessons are great for warm-up exercises as well as fun rehearsal breaks.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Lifelong Coordinator

Remembering World War I:
One Book, Two Commissions, and Three Publications

Mark Nabholz, DMA
Lifetime Coordinator

November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended hostilities in World War I. The Mississippi Master Chorale, an auditioned mixed ensemble of 32 voices that I am privileged to conduct as a part of my duties with The Mississippi Chorus, is presenting a concert on that date to mark the occasion. This post will share resources that I found in the search for repertoire.


First, a book called “Mississippians In the Great War: Selected Letters,” compiled and edited by Anne L. Webster (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015) drew me fully into the impact that The War to End All Wars had on our state. Our concert narrator will share excerpts from a few letters: some funny, some heartbreaking, all written under the immediate backdrop of tragedy too often lost on us who did not experience it first-hand.


After compiling a list of popular tunes from the WWI era, such as “Over There,” “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” and several more, I began the usual Google and JW Pepper searches to locate choral arrangements. Alas, there were none – if they existed at one time, they were long ago POP (Permanently Out of Print). Considering the importance of the centenary observation this was surprising, but undeterred I contacted my good friend James Sclater, award winning Mississippi composer, to gauge his interest in making an arrangement of “Over There,” which I had intended as the concert title. Not only was he interested, but he said, “I’ll be happy to arrange ‘Over There’ if you will also let me arrange ‘Tipperary.’ I’ve wanted to do that one for years!”

If you're interested in considering James Sclater's arrangements of these two tunes, contact him directly at jsclater@comcast.net.


Next, I commend for your consideration two settings of Wilfred Owen* poems by Canadian composer, Larry Nickel: “Move Him Into the Sun,” from a larger work Crimson Stain, and “Dulce et decorum,” from his multi-movement Requiem for Peace. Both settings are intensely personal, first-person accounts of the human cost of war and the horrifying developments that made their way onto the early 20th century battlefield. They are also the most challenging pieces on the program, both musically and emotionally.

Use these links to read both poems and hear samples of the music: Move Him Into the Sun: http://larrynickel.com/CanuckComposer/WCMCCMove.html. Dulce et decorum: http://larrynickel.com/CanuckComposer/RFPDulce.html.

The program will conclude with the familiar and beautiful “Danny Boy,” arranged by Joseph Flummerfelt (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzMt9e2DgDY). The tune is an ancient Irish folk ballad, but the words commonly associated with it were written by English songwriter Frederic Weatherly in 1913. Perhaps the most popular song of the WWI era, “Danny Boy” was recorded by over 100 performers within the first few years of its existence.

I hope you will be inspired to memorialize this important centennial with your church or community choir. If you are not able to do so, I hope you’ll join The Mississippi Master Chorale for our performance at 3:00 p.m. on November 11, 2018, at St. Columb’s Episcopal Church in Ridgeland, MS. Veterans are admitted free of charge, and will be honored at a reception following the program. Corporate sponsorship is provided by A Complete Flag Source, Jackson.

* (1893-1918), English poet and soldier killed in France during the final days of the war.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Show Choir

Debbie Wolfe, Show Choir

Brand New You
arr. Roger Emerson
Hal Leonard 08621649
This is fun funky pop piece. I selected this piece for our fall show (Broadway themed).  My students have enjoyed learning this piece.

Seasons of Love
arr. Roger Emerson
Hal Leonard #08621073
This ballad has a wonderful message of friendship and the love friends share.

You Can’t Stop the Beat
arr. Roger Emerson
Hal Leonard #08551730
This piece is and upbeat song that is full of energy and is enjoyed by all.

One Minute Theory
This book (3 volumes) begins with basic theory and progresses in each volume. It also provides quizzes periodically throughout each volume.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Women's Choir

Rachel Landrum
Women’s R&R Chair

Spring Shall Bloom
SSA and piano
Susan LaBarr
Santa Barbara Music Publishing

Beautifully simplistic accompaniment highlights the incredibly moving message of this poem by Christina Rossetti. This piece invites students to explore the possibility of hope that can be found after suffering a profound loss. The tessitura sits comfortably and the writing is extremely accessible. Spring Shall Bloom was performed by the 2018 Mississippi All State Women’s Honor Choir and appears on the Lexy Beiber Millikin University Annotation Project.

Media Vita
SSA and optional drum
Michael McGlynn
Digital sales only; purchase directly from McGlynn

This 10th century chant was written by a monk named Notker. An optional drum part gives this piece an opportunity to become a powerful and mysterious processional. The translation is as follows:
In the midst of life we are in death
What helper do we seek except you, O Lord You who for our sins
Holy God, holy and powerful
O holy compassionate saviour
Do not give us over to the harshness of death In you, our fathers placed their hopes
They placed their hopes and you freed them.

High Flight
SSA and piano
Jake Runestad
Santa Barbara Music Publishing

The poem was written by a young pilot in 1941 and has been called the most famous aviation poem ever written. The composer is very in tune with the message of the poem – a most inspiring piece!

The Anatomy of Tone: Applying Voice Science to Choral Ensemble Pedagogy
James Jordan, Sean McCarther, and Kathy Kessler Price

This important volume brings together the latest knowledge of voice science, voice pedagogy, conducting, and accompanying into a single volume. It is a valuable resource for choral conductors, no matter the age or experience of their ensembles. The Anatomy of Tone explores essential aspects of anatomy, physiology, and acoustics, and describes their impact on choral teaching and rehearsal. In addition, this book reviews groundbreaking scientific information on spacing of singers and its effect upon intonation and vocal health.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Men's Choir

Daniel Vernon, Men's Choir

Veljo Tormis
Walton Music
The is a fun piece! The language is Estonian, but quite repetitive.  This is quite accessible for both middle and high school levels. There is also simple visual cues as well.  A great piece for any concert.

Rocky Road to Dublin
Arr. Randall Johnson
Pavane Publishing 08301874
This is a challenging and energetic piece. It is in a irish jig pulse with all individual parts imitating traditional irish instruments.  A very exciting piece that should be considered for performing!

Fireman’s Creed
Vijay Singh
Santa Barbara Publishing 10795127
This is a profound work that is an incredible payment of respect to anyone who serves public emergency sector.  There is a trumpet solo as well as a poignant bell chime that rings throughout the piece. The is definitely one to perform for any concert and will always go over well!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Show Choir

Debbie Wolfe, Show Choir

New York State of Mind
Hal Leonard 08201463
Arranged by Steve Zegree
I selected this well-known ballad by Billy Joel for my women’s show choir this year as their show is based on New York.  Steve Zegree created some beautiful harmonies in his arrangement.  It has been a great crowd pleaser!

Light in the Hallway
Arranged by Jacob Cochran
This piece recorded by Pentatonix, was chosen as my mixed group’s ballad as it fit perfectly with the show based on the book Where the Wild Things Are.  Jacob Cochran is an up and coming arranger. This is just one of his beautiful arrangements.  It begins with  solo and moves into a duet.  The choir enters with an a capella section and closes with one as well.

Women's Choir

Rachel Landrum, Women’s Choirs

There Is No Rose
SSAA, piano and oboe
Z. Randall Stroope
Alliance AMP0392
Floating suspensions and understated piano lines characterize Randall Stroope's haunting setting of the beautiful Christmas text from the 15th century. Scored for women's voices, piano and oboe, it is a rich, emotive selection for the holiday season. When we performed this piece, our 1st chair oboe player from our high school band played the oboe solo for us. It was very special and always is when directors can add another student’s instrumental talent to a choir concert.

The Cloths of Heaven
SSA and piano
Eleanor Daley
Alliance AMP0511
I performed this piece with my women for festival season 2016. It’s a bit of a challenge in some areas, but a great piece to use to teach your ladies proper syllabic stress through the incorporation of simply beautiful poetry. It is included on the North Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Florida state lists of approved and recommended repertoire.

Ndikhokhele Bawo (Xhosa Prayer)
SSAA with percussion
Mzwandile Mabuza
Hal Leonard
Ndikhokhele Bawo is a traditional Xhosa song that almost every black South African grew up singing in church. It is commonly sung during Holy Communion, as it is significant to do so considering the text: “Guide me, O Lord, Guide me, O Great Redeemer through the troubles of this world. Lord, I thank you for watching over me thus far. You are forever by my side. Lord, I thank you for watching over me thus far.”

Easy Rhythm Sight Singing Series
By Hank Beebe
This series is written for choirs that need simpler rhythmic content than our Renaissance, Baroque and Classical series provide, while including the same progression of solfege skills. Each mixed choir version contains one voice part that stays within the cambiata range. The SAB and SA(T)B editions are musically identical, the Bass part in the cambiata range. The (T) in the SA(T)B version duplicates the Bass part in the Tenor clef, creating the appearance of four voices in a three-voice composition - great for choirs with small (or weak) tenor and/or bass sections. For boys' choirs, we provide the TCB (Treble, Cambiata, Bass/Baritone) editions. SSA, TTB, and TBB editions are identical, except for clefs.