Repertoire Forum

A Note From John C. Hughes, Repertoire Forum Editor

It is an honor to have been named the editor of Choral Director’s Repertoire Forum. Having taught vocal music at the elementary, high school, and university levels, as well as serving several churches, I am eager to share my wide-reaching knowledge and practical understanding of choral repertoire. In the Repertoire Forum, I will not only share the best new choral music, but will also uncover pieces from the choral repertory. I will also make suggestions about concert themes and creative programming. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or would like to share your favorite pieces or composers:

Repertoire Forum features incisive and concise reviews of vocal music suitable for classroom use, highlighting music for choral ensembles of all ages, sizes, and skill levels, and across a wide range of genres.

Be sure to return here often when researching and selecting repertoire for your ensembles, as this section will be updated regularly.

  • Honor Choirs and Choral Festivals - September 1, 2015

    Ideas for festival chorus events showcase variety...

  • Living Female Composers - December 3, 2014

    A look at selected works from living female composers.

  • Multicultural Music - October 24, 2014

    John C Hughes explores Expressing Diversity Through Song

  • The Free Choral Music of Tim Blickhan - August 27, 2014

    A look at free choral works that can fit into any program.

  • Distinctive Repertoire for Treble Voices - May 15, 2014

    A selection of works to encourage singers to encompass a broad range of emotions and tone colors.

  • Music For Men’s Voices - March 19, 2014

    A look at repertoire featuring men's voices

  • 2014 Anniversaries - January 16, 2014

    Connecting Repertoire to Historical Context

  • Living Minnesota Composers - November 25, 2013

    A focus on Minnesota composers, including some at the beginning of promising careers.

  • Music For Madrigal Dinners - October 24, 2013

    A look at historically accurate and modern compositions that work well in the madrigal dinner setting.

  • Sing, Sing, Sing…Vocal Jazz - May 21, 2013

    A look at repertoire from the Vocal Jazz genre...

  • Choral Works With French Texts - March 22, 2013

    The French language has inspired generations of composers...

  • Show Starters & Stoppers - January 21, 2013

    Distinctive Pieces to Begin and Conclude Concerts.

  • Repertoire Forum: Spirituals - December 4, 2012

    Selected Spiritual Arrangements For All Choirs

  • Musical & Historical Anniversaries in 2013 - October 2, 2012

    Choosing pieces based on anniversaries helps narrow repertoire searches and contextualize music within history.

  • New Choral Music for 2012-2013 - July 30, 2012

    Interesting texts, fresh accompaniments, appropriate vocal ranges, and varied harmonic language...

  • Choral Settings to Emily Dickinson’s Poetry - May 30, 2012

    Themed concerts revolving around the poetry of Dickinson and other American poets will certainly interest your students and audiences.

  • American Choral Music: 1940-1960 - April 5, 2012

    Suggestion for examples of the rich and never-dull American choral repertory.

  • Baroque Music for All Levels - February 2, 2012

    As we encourage our students to be life-long choristers, it is important that we expose them to the entire body of choral literature.

  • Repertoire Forum: New Holiday Music - August 2, 2011

    This issue includes reviews of works especially well suited for holiday concerts, with a variety of voicings and difficulties represented. You won’t find in my column a lot of pieces that are in the public eye, such as pop arrangements from the “Glee” series, or viral videos easily available on YouTube. My focus here are those hidden gems that you sometimes have to hunt to find.

  • New Releases: General Concert Selections II - April 19, 2011

    This is the last of a series of columns featuring releases from 2009 and 2010. Previous articles in this series featured holiday, general concert, cross-cultural, and American Heritage selections.

  • New Releases: General Concert Selections II - March 22, 2011

    This is the last of a series of columns featuring releases from 2009 and 2010. Previous articles in this series featured holiday, general concert, cross-cultural, and American Heritage selections. Each has included a variety of voicings and difficultie...

  • New Releases: American Heritage - January 19, 2011

    This month, I highlight recent choral arrangements of various "American" genres. Our musical heritage is a broad one, and includes many genres. These include, but are not limited to, Bluegrass, Native American, Shaker hymns, African American spirituals...

  • New Releases: Folk Songs from around the World - December 2, 2010

    This is the third of five issues featuring new releases. This month, I highlight arrangements of folk songs from around the world. Many of these selections lend themselves to units of study in the classroom or in collaboration with other disciplines, a...

  • New Releases: General Concert Selections - September 28, 2010

    While past columns have largely focused on tried-and-true selections, this is the second of five articles featuring releases from 2009 and 2010. Each column will highlight a variety of voicings and difficulties, but will have a unified theme. The last ...

  • Holiday Selections - August 17, 2010

    EASY TREBLECarol of the Russian Children (arr. Donald Moore) pub. BriLeeHere is a cross-cultural selection for beginning choirs. The text is in English, and is secular, though it hints at the traditional Christmas story, and so could be used in worship...

  • Music About Music - May 19, 2010

    It seems that composers, publishers, and conductors alike are drawn to music about music. Many composers past and contemporary have written music setting texts about music. Each year, several new works that fall into this category are released. This is...

  • Newer Music for Advanced Choirs - January 20, 2010

    We all know that sorting through the stacks of new choral music released each year can be a daunting and time-consuming task. While I often feature "tried-and-true" works in this column with a handful of standout pieces that fit a particular issue's to...

  • Tried-And-True: Music for Elementary and Junior High Choir - December 8, 2009

    This issue features several reviews by guest contributor Diane Hill.- Drew Collins, forum editorElementaryWorld Peace Canonarr. Donald MooreTwo-Part (opt. SSA)Alfred Publishing Co.World Peace Canon is an arrangement of the traditional German canon, Don...

  • New Releases for All Ages - September 30, 2009

    In each article, regardless of topic, I try to feature old stand-bys, worthy pieces that have gone overlooked, as well as new releases. I recently wrote a series of columns highlighting choral music from history, which, by its very nature, neglected ne...

  • Instrumental Works Rewritten For Choir - July 28, 2009

    Including works that have a distinctly humorous bent or unusual angle in the choral curriculum can have several benefits. For example, you may notice a high level of student motivation during the rehearsal process, you may discover teaching tools not p...

  • American Perspective Vocal Jazz, Part II: Medium Difficult and Advanced - March 24, 2009

    Last issue, I explored vocal jazz arrangements that could give singers new to the idiom a successful foray into it. In this issue, I focus on arrangements for more experienced jazzers.I freely admit to not being an expert on the jazz genre or the vocal...

  • American Perspective Vocal Jazz (Part I: Easy-Medium) - January 23, 2009

    Jazz is one of the only truly American art forms. It has given us some of our greatest cultural treasures, has inspired composers in other idioms, and has become one of our best-received cultural exports. For this issue, I explore some arrangements of ...

  • Cross-Cultural Music from Many Lands - November 18, 2008

    From time to time, this column has highlighted music from a variety of cultures. In past issues, I have focused on music of Ireland, Japan, and Latin America. Inside the United States, music from the African-American diaspora and arrangements of Americ...

  • Standard Choral Repertoire Part V: Post-Romantic - September 16, 2008

    It is always interesting to see what new compositions will be released each year. In our eagerness to see the new releases, it can often easy to forget the old stand-bys. This is the fifth and final installment in a series of columns highlighting stand...

  • Standard Choral Repertoire Part IV: Romantic - July 11, 2008

    This is the fourth installment in a limited series of columns highlighting standard choral repertoire. It is easy to get enamored by the music of today's composers to the point where the classics that inspired them are forgotten. True music education m...

  • Standard Choral Repertoire Part III: Classical - March 11, 2008

    This is the third installment in a limited series of columns regarding standard choral repertoire. In the flurry of new releases, many of us tend to get caught up in "the latest thing." After receiving mailings from publishers, attending reading sessio...

  • Standard Choral Repertoire Part II: Baroque - February 5, 2008

    This is the second part in a limited series of columns regarding repertoire that is considered "standard." I have chosen to focus on these works rather than newer releases because so many new teachers seem not to have been introduced to these works pri...

  • Standard Choral Repertoire Part I: Renaissance - November 15, 2007

    There is a set of repertoire that is considered "standard." But choral educators are all too often left to learn these works on their own, with little guidance other than their own acquired taste. Though some undergraduate programs do require or offer ...

  • BriLee's Brian Busch: Man With a Mission - September 6, 2007

    From time to time, I turn over the helm of this forum to a colleague. It is hoped that the reader will benefit from a variety of viewpoints. In this case I am doing so for an additional reason: to highlight the important and influential work of Brian B...

  • Christmas in July - July 6, 2007

    Here are a few holiday favorites (and some you may not know). Believe it or not, it is already time to plan your next holiday concert. Here are some ideas for chorals for worship and/or school use. Happy Holidays!- Drew Collins, forum editor SATB

  • The Music: Poetry, and Influence of Japan - April 10, 2007

    From time to time, this forum has been dedicated to the music of cultures outside our traditional scope. The calm power of Russian liturgical anthems, rhythmic energy of African cultures, and the musics of various European countries are a good start, but all fit neatly within our comfort zones. In this case, I set out to explore the music, poetry and influences of a culture not especially known for ensemble singing. For this reason, choral music of Japan is a rarity. But it is often the rarest gems that have the greatest capacity for beauty�in the right light. So, I hope this column will shed some light on this little explored facet of our art.