New Releases - Sacred
New Releases - Secular
Songs of Survival - Choral Music in Terezín During World War II
By Marie Stultz, Contributing Editor
May of 2008 will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. In honor of this anniversary, we will devote two newsletters to the subject of Jewish music. This issue will discuss the music performed in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin. Our next newsletter will feature an interview with Joshua Jacobson, conductor of the Zamir Chorale and a leading authority on Jewish music of all eras. Both newsletters will include reviews of many fine Jewish choral titles that could be included in a concert commemorating the upcoming anniversary or in any school or community concert setting.
A Brief History of Terezín
Terezín is the Czech name for a fortress town built in1780, located about 35 miles north of Prague. At that time, neither Czechoslovakia nor the Czech Republic existed. Instead this part of Europe was part of the Austrian empire governed by the Hapsburgs. The town was named Theresienstadt or 'Theresa's Town' after the mother of Hapsburg Emperor Joseph II.
Terezin, or Theresienstadt, as the Germans preferred to call it, was selected as a major prison site as part of Hitler's plan for the isolation, incarceration, and extermination of the Jewish people. Terezin differed from other concentration camps in that it imprisoned notable Jewish personages: decorated WWI veterans from the Reich, intellectuals, engineers, physicians, artists, and entertainers - as well as Jews over the age of 65. The Nazis publicized Theresienstadt as the city which Hitler graciously gave to the Jews, deflecting suspicion away from Hitler's true motives.
The Germans used Terezín to convince outsiders (including the Red Cross) that the Nazis were treating the Jews very well, and that the concentration camps were really resettlement areas, not prisons or death camps. Jews came to Terezín from all over Europe, representing 29 different countries. At one time the population in Terezin totaled 58, 497 prisoners. From 1942 to 1944, 87,000 Jews were deported from Terezin to the East, to die at Auschwitz.
Music at Terezín
From the Terezín Diary of Egon Redlich
"Music meant such a lot for us because we felt like human beings again.
We didn't feel like animals. You could cry, you could open your heart .
For moments to forget, for half an hour to forget. We could cry there,
we could be happy there. We could remember and we could hope-And
all of us tried to take part. It was not so easy."
When prisoners were first sent to Terezín in 1941, no music was publicly performed there. The Nazis initially forbade such activities. There were quiet gatherings in attics, where music was secretly learned and enjoyed. In 1942, the Administration for Free Time Activities began allowing the musicians to organize
their activities: the acquisition of books and scores, rehearsal times, and the printing of posters and programs. Top-ranking composers, violinists, pianists, and singers, among countless other musicians of various talents, were trapped together for extended periods of time -- creating an incredible opportunity for collaboration. This rare mixture of talent and spirit was able to overcome wretched conditions - hunger, filth, overcrowding, and disease - to create and present works of tremendous beauty. These musicians transformed the cruelties of their oppression into sources of energy and inspiration, to the benefit of themselves and of their audience: the grateful mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and grandparents of Terezín. Music became the crucial element to their spiritual survival.
A wide variety of music was made at Terezin - including opera, orchestral works, and chamber music. The children were organized to sing and perform Hans Krasa's opera Brundibar over 50 times. Children's lessons were taught via singing and other musical activities. All of the children of Terezin were involved in music on some level.
The Choral Music at Terezín
Perhaps the camp's greatest legacy is the high level of excellence achieved in their choral music performances. Rafael Schächter was the leader of choral activities in the camp. They began singing folk music, but with the arrival of the great pianist Gideon Klein, the scope of choral activities expanded greatly. When he arrived there was no piano available, so he turned to composing as a musical outlet.
Schachter first developed an all male chorus and later a women's chorus - eventually combining them to create a full-blown mixed ensemble. "Schächter found in Klein a collaborator par excellence. Once thoroughly organized the camp, boasted an SATB chorus of over 150 singers. At first Klein arranged Czech, Slovak, Hebrew, and even Russian folk song for Schächter's ever- expanding choral group." Later they turned to mounting a performance of the choruses in The Bartered Bride. Once the choruses were learned they discovered they had enough fine soloists to mount a full performance of the entire opera.
Other musicians followed Schächter's example and formed small ensembles according to their voices and musical interests. "Karel Berman became a conductor of a girls' chorus. As such, they sang the regular repertoire, consisting mainly of music by Czech composers, i.e., Dvorák's Moravian Duets." Cabaret shows were also extremely popular. In fact, Terezín boasted the first all male cabaret show, entitled The Last Food Card. This hit was followed by another variety show, Long Live Life. All of these musical activities showed a great sense of humor and a willingness to use music to sustain their lives as best they could.
When the conductor Karl Fisher entered the camp, many large choral works were rehearsed and performed under his direction. He was responsible for conducting such pieces as Haydn's The Creation and Mendelssohn's Elijah. Rafael Schachter mounted the Verdi Requiem and Smetana's cantata The Czech Song. By all indications there were numerous performances of these major works, but their Verdi Requiem produced the most compelling story.
The Verdi Requiem at Terezín
There is much evidence that there was only one copy of the Verdi Requiem at the camp. Between the two conductors, they were able to train over 150 singers for the first performance. Edgar Krasa, a Newton, MA relative of composer Hans Krasa, confirms the fact that the piece was learned using one copy of music that was passed around from person to person. In our conversation after my youth opera company's performance of Krasa's Brundibar, he explained that more than one performance was mounted at Terezin, which were meant to "stick it to Hitler and the entire Nazi party." Lacking a full orchestra, Gideon Klein accompanied the choir on piano, an instrument the artists were able to find and bring into the camp along with a reed organ.
After the first performance, Hitler was so incensed that he had the entire chorus transported and gassed. Records show that the musicians turned around and re-taught the piece to an entire new group of singers. After each performance, the majority of the singers were killed at Auschwitz. Edgar Krasa explained that Hitler was outraged that a Jewish chorus would perform such a powerfully religious piece associated with Christianity and the Aryan race. But the incredible aspect of the Requiem story is that they performed it expressly to defy Hitler.
More information on the musical activities at Terezín can be found on the web as well as in Joza Karas' book, Music in Terezín~1941-1945, published by Beaufort Books Publishers, New York. It is currently being revised and will be back in print within the year. Used copies of the original book can be purchased online. Much of the information for this article was taken from this important book and through dialogue with historians and holocaust survivors. Information about specific music composed at Terezin and other camps can be found at the Zamir Chorale website (www.zamir.org/resources/).
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New Releases ~ Sacred
SATB VOICES ~ SACRED
Blessed Art Thou, O Lord, by Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006), English text, ECS, 5998, SATB and organ. This lively anthem published posthumously is set to a wonderful text from Song of the Three, 29-34. It is dedicated to another fine composer, Daniel Moe. Filled with changing meters, the anthem uses marvelous and often surprising harmonies so typical of Pinkham's later compositional style. The lyrical organ part is written separately from the vocal parts. The choir has to sing some challenging harmonies a cappella. Composed homophonically, this is a glorious anthem filled with melodic and harmonic twists and turns that only Pinkham could write. This piece is a must for the accomplished choir. Difficulty rating 4. $1.50
Heilig! Heilig! Heilig!, by Robert Lucas Pearsall, German/English text, Church Music Society (Oxford), 395384-0, SSATB a cappella. Transcribed from the Einsiedeln manuscript 677.2 by Richard Lyne, this great chorale tune is based on Hymnus V Vocum. The English text is by Kitty Bryant. The anthem can be sung in either German or English, but German is recommended. Composed with straightforward harmonies that resonate with great dignity, the anthem can easily be sung by solo quintet. Composed for communion, the anthem is ideal for the season of Lent or for any high service where reverence is imperative. Difficulty rating 2-3. $1.60
I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes, by Stephen Chatman, English text, ECS, 7.0512, SSATB and organ (opt. C trumpet and congregation). Set to the King James version of Psalm 121 with an adapted text by the composer, this elegant anthem is filled with glorious suspensions and luminous harmonies - a perfect anthem for a high feast day or celebratory service. Composed homophonically, the long phrase shapes occasionally turn into simple counterpoint between the voice parts. The unusual twists in the melodic line add to the anthem's expansive beauty. If the congregation is included at the piece's conclusion, a cantor or soloists should be used to lead the congregation. The offstage trumpet part, included at the back of the edition, only adds to the powerful close. The congregation insert can be reproduced free of charge and is designed to be placed in the bulletin. Difficulty rating 3-4. $2.65
Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit, by Frank Ferko, English text, ECS, 6835, SATB a cappella. Filled with imitative counterpoint on long phrase shapes, this anthem is set to a text taken from Psalm 31:5, 14-16. Elegant suspensions on florid partwriting add to the piece's expressive choral gesture. Composed for the choir of St. James Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon (Nancy Nickel, Director of Music), this quiet benediction is the perfect conclusion to a service or choral evensong. The demanding dynamic marks, never exceeding a mezzo forte, require a choir with superb breath control and the ability to sing with artistic phrase shapes. The anthem requires the singing of sustained notes of great length and expanse. This is another beautiful anthem from this fine composer Difficulty rating 4. $1.50
L'Eyla (Upward), by Nick Page, Hebrew/English text, Transcontinental, (Hal Leonard), 00191561, SAATB and keyboard. This challenging piece is filled with intricate rhythms based on the South African mbube style. It is characterized by the chord progression that uses I, IV, I over V, and V chords in many different ways. A separate addendum of the mbube section, which serves as a refrain throughout the piece, is provided as a learning guide and can be performed on its own. It was composed for the Hazamir International Jewish High School Choir with a grant from the Zamir Choral Foundation. Set to a text by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, with a translation by Rabbi Ariel Burger, the piece requires an accomplished choir with good rhythmic skills. Accurate and consistent diction will add to the artistic gesture of the music. The text about community, humanity, creation and peace is universal and uplifting and great fun to sing. It is an excellent addition to any high school repertoire and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Difficulty rating 4. $2.50
Ma Rabu Ma'asecha Adonai (How Manifold Are Your Works, O God), by Ben Steinberg, Hebrew text, Transcontinental (Hal Leonard), 00191567, SATB, cantor, and keyboard. Filled with rhythmic and harmonic challenges, this is another fine anthem from this great Canadian composer. Composed on homophonic passages in contrast to contrapuntal sections filled with short phrase shapes, the voice parts are often composed in octaves that immediately digress into brilliant harmonies. The florid cantor part requires an accomplished singer. The anthem was commissioned by Temple Sinai in Atlanta, Georgia in 2005. Based on several Psalm texts, a translation and pronunciation guide is included in the edition. Difficulty rating 4. $2.50
O Praise the Gracious Power, by Ruth Watson Henderson, English text, Oxford, 387013-0, SATB, upper voice choir, and organ. Sonorous, glistening harmonies dominate this fine anthem by one of Toronto's leading women composers. Henderson always writes with a great deal of lyricism, and this piece is no exception. Composed to a text by Thomas H. Troeger, this celebratory anthem was written for the installation of the 11th Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Colin R. Johnson, at St. James Cathedral in September of 2004. The children's choir part simply soars over the adult choir. Composed homophonically with some contrasting contrapuntal sections, this is the perfect piece for a festival Sunday, choral evensong or festival. Difficulty rating 4. $1.80
Pie Jesu (O My Jesu), by David Ashley White, English text, ECS, 6778, soprano solo and SSATB and organ. In an elegant setting of this popular Latin text, the soprano part seems to shimmer above the organ. The solo sections are beautifully framed by the choir, which sings luminous block chords of quiet, radiant beauty. Set to changing meters of 3/4 and 4/4, this quiet, delicate piece is perfect for Lent. A children's choir could sing the soprano solo. This fine setting, commissioned by the Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas in memory of Linda Proffitt, is another winner. Difficulty rating 3-4. $2.65
Reges de Saba (Kings Come from Sheba), by Florian Leopold Gassmann (1729-1774), Latin/English text, GIA Publications, G-6579, SATB and organ. This elegant motet was composed for the offertory at Epiphany. The text is adapted from Isaiah 60:6 and Matthew 2:2, 11. The piece is beautifully edited and translated by Jane Schatkin Hettrick, and is based on a MS found in Vienna where Gassman lived and composed. A Bohemian composer, he wrote many operas as well as music of other genres. He became court music director in 1772. This motet is published for the first time and includes an organ part that doubles the voices. The piece is filled with elegant long phrase shapes set contrapuntally. The closing "Alleluia" is filled with joyous harmonies that will ring on the voice. Difficulty rating 3. $1.60
Shalom, v'shalom, v'shalom (Peace, and Peace, and Peace Yet Again), by Robert Applebaum, Hebrew/English text, ECS, 6758, SATB, children's chorus (or soprano solo) and piano. This text, crying out for peace, is based on the assumption that wars are made by adults. The anthem opens with strident, war-like chords in the piano part. The "Lo yisa goi" (Isaiah 2:4) opens in octaves between the men. The women continue the musical statement on a lyrical melody harmonized in thirds. The two other text settings included in this powerful work are "Hinei mah tov (Psalm 133:1 and Mi ha'ish (Psalm 34:12-14). This wonderful plea for peace in our time with English translation by the composer is composed programmatically. It is a powerful statement. Program notes and pronunciation guide are included in the publication. Difficulty rating 3-4. $3.90
Tallis Canon, arr. Bob Chilcott, English text, Oxford, 335712-9, SATB double choir a cappella. Composed for double choir, the second choir begins singing original material, while the first choir sings the famous Parker Hymn Tune by Thomas Tallis in canon between the men's and women's parts. The B section has the second choir singing the melody with powerful harmonies, while the first choir sings a four-part counterpoint, enhancing and adding power to this great tune. This wonderful arrangement was created for the English professional ensemble, The Sixteen, and their conductor Harry Christophers. It is the perfect choice for closing a concert. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.80
The Scattered Leaves, by Stanley M. Hoffman, English text, ECS, 6842, SATB and piano. Composed in modified strophic style in three verses, this unusual and moving piece is dedicated to the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust. The text is a powerful poem written by Joseph H. Albeck in 1995. The use of the Yiddish term Khurbn (total destruction) resounds throughout this short anthem. It also makes reference to the Shoah which is Hebrew for destruction. The piece closes quietly on a double piano dynamic marking, repeating the word Khurbn four times, as if all of the dead souls have turned to dust. This is a great piece to program during the 60th anniversary year of the founding of Israel. Difficulty rating 4. $1.85
Zog, Maran (Tell Me, Marrano), arr. Mark Zukerman, Yiddish/English text, ECS, 6584, SATB a cappella. This well-known Yiddish Passover song is filled with graceful harmonies under a lyrical melody. An arrangement of a melody by Shmuel Bugatch (1898-1984), it is composed in d minor and is typical of the Jewish style and harmonic sound. The text is by Avrom Reisen (1876-1953) and tells in rhetorical style the story of the customs of Passover, as celebrated in secret by the Marranos, Spanish Jews forced to convert during the Inquisition. Although traditionally sung at Passover, this piece would make a beautiful concert piece in a school or community choir. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.85
Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), by Paul McCartney, English text, Faber Music, 057152947X, SATB, soprano solo, treble voices and orchestra. This is another serious extended work from the famous Beatle. McCartney wrote both the words and music for this four movement work for large forces including full orchestra. The four movements include 1: Spiritus; II: Gratia and Interlude (Lament); III Musica; and IV: Ecce Cor Meum. This 57 minute mass had its world premiere performance with Kate Royal as soprano soloist -- with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields, London Voice, the Boys of Magdalen College Choir, Oxford and King's College Choir of Cambridge - all conducted by Gavin Greenaway, in the Royal Albert Hall, London, on November 3, 2006. The performance was repeated at Carnegie Hall in New York City on November 14, 2006, again with Kate Royal and Gavin Greenaway. The Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Concert Chorale of New York, and The American Boychoir participated in the New York performance. Difficulty rating 4. $44.95
Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart Choral Suite), by Paul McCartney, English text, Faber Music, 0571530257, SATB and organ. This version is reduced to just the chorus sections of the mass with organ accompaniment, and is an accessible way to perform the mass without great expense. Difficulty rating 4. $9.95
D'où viens-tu, bergére? (From Where Are You Coming, Shepherdess?), arr. Mark Sirett, French text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019667, SSA and piano. This is a charming setting of this famous French Noel. The piece begins in unison with the first verse stated simply, allowing the students to quickly learn to read the melody on syllables or numbers. The second verse is composed with straightforward three-part harmony with the sopranos taking the melody. Sirett has all three parts sing this beautiful melody, with simple descants and harmonies to add contrast to the various verses. This is a great choice to teach the treble voiced ensemble to sing in French. Program notes and an IPA pronunciation guide and translation accompany the edition. Difficulty rating 3. $1.80
Gloria in Excelsis (Glory to God on High), by Mark Puddy, Latin text, Morton Music, (Musical Resources), MM1007, SSA and piano. This jazz-like setting of a text written by the composer will be great fun to prepare and sing. It would make a great encore number or an opening to a lighter section of your program. The jazzy rhythms and meter changes add some challenge; but once the "Gloria" motive is learned, it will be easier to sing it in parts. The two-part writing is fairly straightforward. The challenge comes when the choir goes into three parts where the themes are handled in question and answer style, or antiphonally. This is an excellent introduction to the music of Australia. Difficulty rating 4. $1.95
Go Down, Moses, arr. Michael Burkhardt, English text, MorningStar, 50-5901, SA a cappella. This simple setting of the famous African-American spiritual is an excellent introduction to this form, particularly for a younger choir. Using the question and answer method, the simple partwriting will be easy for younger singers to grasp. It makes an excellent vehicle for introducing part-singing to less experienced singers. Some teaching suggestions are included in this new series from MorningStar, The Michael Burkhardt Treble Chorus Series. Difficulty rating 2-3. $1.70
Little Ones, by Paul Lohman, English text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019680, SSA and organ (keyboard). This gentle carol is set to a poem by Hans Adolph Brorson with English translation by Harriet Reynolds Krauth Spaeth. Filled with changing meters, this lovely setting will exercise a choir's rhythmic skills. The piece is composed in unison at the opening. The partwriting in the second section has some challenges, particularly in terms of vocal tessitura. The piece lies mostly in the mid-and-chest range, which are difficult tessituras for children's voices to project. The director will have to guard against younger singers using shout tone, rather than singing on their air. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.80
Love Is Come Again, by James Biery, English text, MorningStar, 50-6205, unison (opt. two part), keyboard, and C instrument. This is the newest release in my new series, Innocent Sounds Treble Chorus Series. It is appropriate for both school and church, since there is little reference to God. The anthem can be used any time of the year -- but is great to use during the spring, particularly Easter Sunday. Set to the tune Noël Nouvelet, this piece is perfect to program with the intermediate chorus. The piece begins in unison to the text "Now the Green Blade Rises" by John MacLeod Campbell Crum. The use of simple descants in the soprano part, while the altos sing the beautiful melody, make this piece an excellent choice for building a choir's part-singing skills. The C instrument part is included on the back of the publication. Difficulty rating 3. $1.70
Psalm 23 (The Lord Is My Shepherd/Gott ist mein Hirt), by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), German/English text, Oxford, 341793-6, SSAA and piano. This beautiful edition by John Rutter is well researched, showing a great deal of thoughtful scholarship. Careful program notes and sources for this edition are also included. The German version of this famous setting is by Moses Mendelssohn with English translation by the editor. This is one of the best editions of this popular piece I have ever seen published. Difficulty level 4. $1.75
The Scattered Leaves, by Stanley M. Hoffman, English text, ECS, 6841, unison and piano. It is wonderful to have a unison version of this text setting for young people to sing. See SATB review above for an extended evaluation of this fine piece. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.85
SAB VOICES ~ SACRED
Eili, Eili, arr. Rena Shapiro, Hebrew and English text, Transcontinental, (Hal Leonard), 00191564, SAB a cappella. The text of this piece is a poem by the famous Hungarian- Israeli poet Hannah Senesh, who was killed during World War II fighting the Nazis at the age of 23. The words - "My God, I pray these things never end: the sand and the sea, the rush of the waters, the crash of the heavens, the prayer of the heart - are universally moving. The melody is by a popular Israeli composer Daniel Zahavi. This setting is appropriate for an accomplished middle school chorus or with a choir of small forces. The simple counterpoint and harmonies are accessible, but a more experienced choir could flesh out the nuances and expression. The lyrics are sung in Hebrew, followed by an English translation. A pronunciation guide is included in the edition. Difficulty rating 3-4. $2.50
MENS VOICES ~ SACRED
Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace), by Joseph Gregorio, Latin text, ECS, 6511, TTBB a cappella. This fine setting of a famous Latin text is glorious both harmonically and melodically. It has a timeless quality about it that will move both singers and audience alike. It should be performed seamlessly with quiet dignity. The gentle counterpoint must seem to over-lap effortlessly. The piece requires a men's chorus with a wide range and the ability to control the melody effortlessly. Composed for the Cornell University Glee Club, the work received its premiere in Bailey Hall at Cornell in Ithaca, New York in May of 2003. It won Top Honors in the Emerging Composers classification in the "Waging Peace through Singing" competition in 2002. It is also available for SATB voices from ECS (6575). Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.85
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New Releases ~ Secular
SATB VOICES ~ SECULAR
Ah, Sun-flower!, by Nestor Taylor, English text, ECS, 6486, SATB (divisi), two soprano and two baritone soloists a cappella. Tight harmonies on changing meters dominate this piece set to a poem by William Blake (1757-1827). Filled with textual tone painting, the compositional fabric is filled with numerous key changes on complex rhythms. This piece requires an accomplished choir to be effective. Small forces would be the ideal for a composition filled with dramatic dynamic changes and interpretive instruction. This demanding piece is brilliantly set, as it concludes with a powerful double forte of great harmonic drama. Difficulty rating 5. $2.15
Anchieta: Con Amores, La Mi Madre (With the Love I Have in My Heart), by Juan de Anchieta (1450-1523), arr. Bob Chilcott Spanish/English text, Oxford, 335715-0, SATB a cappella (opt. guitar). One of four secular songs composed by this fine Spanish composer, this arrangement by Chilcott captures the heart of the melodic gesture with Spanish-like rhythms accompanied by guitar. The English translation is by the arranger. Set in 5/8 meter, this arrangement was prepared for the professional ensemble, The Sixteen, and displays a lot of musical diversity. Difficulty rating 4. $1.80
Gentle Annie, by Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864),arr. Dennis Eliot, English text, Beckenhorst, BP113, SATB and keyboard. Composed originally as a solo song, this arrangement takes its choral harmonies from the original Foster accompaniment. This simple setting is ideal for a middle school chorus, for introducing your students to the music of this famous American composer. Much of the arrangement is set in unison with simple harmonies in the four-part writing. This is not a new publication, but a reissue from 1983. This arrangement will be performed at the Eastern Division ACDA Convention by the middle school honors mixed chorus. Difficulty rating 2-3. $1.60
Loveliest of Trees, by Valerie Showers Crescenz, English text, Oxford, 386993-6, SATB (divisi) and piano. This is a lovely and satisfying setting of this famous Houseman (1859-1936) text. It begins simply with the altos. The sopranos join, singing the melody while the altos sing mostly in thirds. The harmonic writing has some surprising twists and turns, adding charm to the text painting carefully created by the composer. The rhythms are very straightforward on a piece that concludes quietly with harmonic power. This is the perfect choice for a spring concert. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.60
Borodin: Polovtsian Dance No. 1 (Our Revels Now Are Ended), arr. Bob Chilcott, English text, Oxford, 335714-3, SATB double choir and piano (or guitar). This unusual arrangement set to a text from The Tempest (Act 4 Scene 1) by William Shakespeare, (1564-1616) is an adaptation of a dance taken from the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin (1833-1887). The merging of English drama and Russian operatic music is quite inventive - melding two entirely different periods, artistic styles, and dramatic gestures in a very clever way. One of many works arranged by Chilcott for The Sixteen, an English professional ensemble, this is a challenging arrangement requiring fine singing and great artistry. The composer has designed a piano accompaniment but it really should be sung with an accomplished guitarist. Difficulty rating 4-5. $2.50
Ower the Hills, arr. Stephen Hatfield, English/Nonsense text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019670, SATB, bagpipes and floor tom. This arrangement incorporates three Scottish tunes in a very imaginative way. Besides using Ower the Hills, the arrangement also incorporates the tunes Scotch Cap and Lassie in the Bottle. The piece is filled with nonsense syllables on folk melodies that are cleverly crafted into a musical whole. Filled with rhythmic challenges, this piece will be great fun to sing. If a bagpipe is unavailable, the composer suggests the use of an oboe or flute. This eight-minute work is not for the faint of heart, but audiences will love this brilliant Scottish musical painting. Difficulty rating 4. $1.80
Sing Out, by Katy Abbott, English text, Morton Music, (Musical Resources), MM 1511, SATB a cappella. Filled with syncopated and often complex rhythms on changing meters, this Australian piece about celebrating the art of song is set to a text by Ros McMillan. Commissioned for the ASME National Conference in 2005, this a cappella arrangement lacks a rehearsal accompaniment; therefore the conductor or pianist must be adept at reading an open score. The ornamented melismas are challenging, particularly when singing 120 to the quarter note. This piece has a wonderful, jazz-like quality about it. It would be perfect to program for an accomplished high school or college choir. This is another fine example of Australian music. Difficulty rating 4-5. $2.05
Song of the Open Road, by David L. Brunner, English text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019533, SATB and piano. Set over a walk-like, carefree accompaniment, this charming piece uses a text by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). Filled with changing meters, the piece is composed in the bright key of E Major and suggests a sense of musical freedom reminiscent of the poetry. The piece was commissioned by the Hartford High School and the King Philip Middle School in honor of the retirement of Sallie Ferrebee, a wonderful music teacher who touched many children's lives. Difficulty rating 4. $1.80
The Same Sun Shine, by Bob Chilcott, English text, Oxford, 3357119, SATB (opt. double choir) and piano. Set to a text by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), this piece was commissioned by the Coastal Sound International Choral Festival in British Columbia, Canada. The piano part is built on motivic repetitions, while the choral writing is filled with long phrase shapes of great beauty. The harmonies have a shimmering quality about them. Effective key changes enhance the mood of the beautiful text painting. The final chord is magnificently spread out over 11 parts. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.95
Yo-ya, arr. Daniel Henkin and Justin Rosenblum, Hebrew text, Transcontinental, (Hal Leonard), 00191566, SATB and solo voice a cappella. This is a wild but wonderful piece in contemporary a cappella style with vocal percussion. The text by Danny Sanderson is four "jokes" with different proverbs as the punch lines. The piece is perfect for an accomplished high school or college choir or small a cappella group. The rhythms are driving, but great fun, as the choir learns to sing the motivic repetitions evenly and powerfully. The off-beat rhythms are challenging, as the choir creates a rock beat to support the solo voice. Difficulty rating 4. $2.95
TREBLE VOICES ~ SECULAR
Black Swana, arr. Stephen Leek, Australian dialect text, Morton Music, (Musical Resources), MM 0904, SSA and piano. A Black Swana is actually a boat that sails north of Australia. This is a melody and text that have been a part of the Australian oral tradition for centuries. The arrangement begins simply with unison treble voices. The second verse is harmonized in two parts, mostly in thirds. With the statement of the third verse, beautiful suspensions and surprising turns in the harmonic fabric bring this lovely piece to its final conclusion on a G Major tone cluster that is quite poignant. The difficulty rating is due to the use of the challenging Australian dialect. A phonetic guide is offered as part of the edition. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.95
Cherry-Ripe, by Stephen Chatman, English text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019630, SSA, drum and metal wind chimes. Set to a poem by Robert Herrick, this piece is set up to imitate street vendors, trading cries between the voice parts. One of three pieces set to Elizabethan texts, this short piece would be quite effective when sung antiphonally. The motivic material takes the form of question and answer, as if to call between the parts. All three Elizabethan Songs were commissioned by the Missisauga Children's Choir, Thomas Bell, Director. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.80
Come Ye Makers of Song, by Graeme Morton, English text, Morton Music, (Musical Resources), MM1015, SS and piano. Set to the famous text by Henry Purcell from "Come Ye Sons of Art" with paraphrase text by Canadian composer Ruth Watson Henderson, this is an absolutely charming and joyous piece by this fine Australian composer. Changing meters, melodic imitation, and crossing voice parts dominate the musical fabric. This is a great piece to select as you build your choir's three-part singing. This anthem is a real winner and spreads the joys of singing while offering a fine vehicle for teaching your choir refined reading skills and score analysis. Highly recommended. Difficulty rating 3. $2.50
The Owl and the Pussycat, by Joan Whittemore, English text Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019633, SA and piano. This is a great school song, set to a famous poem by Edward Lear. While it will certainly stimulate a young choir's imagination as they learn to sing in simple parts, the piece would be equally effective in unison. Young children will soon be laughing as they learn the simple setting of this familiar nonsense poem. Difficulty rating 3. $1.80
The Three Ravens, by Stephen Chatman, English text, Boosey (Hal Leonard), 48019632, SSA, bells, low drum, tambourine and cello. Composed to a folk-like melody strophic in form, this is an excellent piece for teaching three-part singing, as the motivic material repeats itself over and over again, building in power and artistry. This piece is also excellent for teaching refined alliteration diction skills. The second of Three Elizabethan Songs, this piece is set to an anonymous c.1600 poem. Difficulty rating 3-4. $1.80
Difficulty Ratings Guide: All selections reviewed in The Choral Room are given a difficulty rating to help you select the music most appropriate for your singers. 1 - easy; 2 - accessible; 3 - medium difficulty;4 - advanced difficulty; 5 - extreme difficulty
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