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New Releases: General Concert Selections II

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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 difficulties. This column returns to the general concert theme, with works useful throughout the year. My next series of columns will feature new releases for the 2010-2011 school year.

TREBLE (EASY)

I Am a Cloud (Neil Ginsberg) — pub. Santa Barbara
This was commissioned by a high school treble choir, but it’s perfect for elementary and junior high choirs as well. It is scored for SA non divisi with piano accompaniment. This setting of a Sara Teasdale poem features subtle text painting, a beautiful melody, soft syncopations, and open harmonies. Though hardly formulaic, it will appeal immediately to singer and listener. The ranges are compact, but there are plenty of teaching tools such as syncopation, hemiola, super triplets, and off-beat entrances. The piece might be best described as mellow, but it is certainly not boring. The music and text fit one another wonderfully, and will have a transporting effect on the listener. Visit www.SBMP.com to see the score and hear a MIDI file.

Sarasponda (Dutch, arr. Perry & Perry) — pub. Heritage
Sarasponda is a Dutch folk song about a spinning wheel; it is popular as a scouting song and campfire song. The rhythm speech section will be fun for young singers, and they will love the syncopations in the melody as well. There are several arrangements available for either unison or two-part (one standard arrangement is by Boshkoff, pub. Santa Barbara). The Perrys’ arrangement is also for two-part chorus and piano and features independent harmonies ideal for developing singers. Full-length performance can be heard at www.Lorenz.com, where you can also view a score sample.

Also strongly recommended:
• “For the Beauty of the Earth” by René Clausen for SA and piano (pub. Roger Dean).

TREBLE (MEDIUM)

Music, Spread Thy Voice Around (Handel, arr. Mayo) — pub. Shawnee
This is a chorus from Handel’s oratorio Solomon, originally for SSATB. It is available in a variety of editions and voicings, including several versions for SSA chorus. Becki Slagle Mayo has created this new SSA arrangement, and it works quite well. Regardless of the edition or arrangement, tempo is always a challenge with this piece: too fast and it sounds like a waltz; too slow and it loses its lilt. Handel’s original begins with a solo exposing the melody, and Mayo gives this option on the first page of her arrangement as well. See and hear samples at www.HalLeonard.com.

Musica Dei Donum Optimi (Dvorak, arr. Sieving) — pub. Santa Barbara
Originally for violin and piano, Bob Sieving has superimposed this standard Latin text on Dvorak’s original instrumental line, and added some vocal harmonies. It is scored for SSA with piano accompaniment. Visit www.SBMP.com to see the score and hear a full performance.

Also strongly recommended:
• “It Was a Lover and His Lass” by Thomas Morley, revoiced for SSA by Russell Robinson (pub. Carl Fischer).
• “Weep You No More” originally by Roger Quilter, with new vocal harmonies by Robert Sieving (pub. Roger Dean)

TREBLE (CHALLENGING)

In the Sweet By and By (arr. Daniel Hall) — pub. Walton
This is an old nineteenth century hymn, recast in a fantasia-like arrangement for SSAA and piano. The original song is itself wonderful, and in Hall’s arrangement becomes all the more transcendent. The sacred nature of the text is not so overtly religioso as to be objectionable even in the most secular of communities. The piano part is quite involved, and demands a large group of singers singing with full-bodied sound to be heard over it. Visit www.WaltonMusic.com to hear a full-length recording, andwww.HalLeonard.com to view a score sample.

Lauda Jerusalem (Porpora, ed. Banner) — pub. Alliance
Martin Banner has a wonderful touch with editions of masterworks, producing clean, practical editions. He often manages to unearth a new and worthy addition to the repertoire. Lauda Jerusalem certainly falls into this category. Nicola Porpora, an Italian Baroque composer is best known for his operas. However, like Vivaldi (but a few decades later), Porpora worked at an all-girl orphanage, and composed music for services and concerts performed by the residents. Vivaldi’s famous Gloria is believed to have been composed for an all-girl orchestra and chorus, and this work by Porpora likely was as well. The orchestration is available, but it may be performed with Banner’s piano reduction. Visitwww.AllianceMusic.com for score and audio samples.

Also strongly recommended:
• “Dios Te Salve” by Ricky Ian Gordon from his opera The Grapes of Wrath (pub. Carl Fischer). It is scored for SSA.

MIXED (CHANGING VOICES)

Ritorni Al Nostro Cor (Pergolesi, arr. Liebergen) — pub. Alfred
This is the final chorus from the opera Salustia. It has a joyful, celebratory feel. Originally scored for SATB, Liebergen has created this three-part mixed voicing. The triple meter has a pleasant lilt that should be neither rushed nor dragged. Form is ABA, which greatly eases the teaching and learning process. This is a good introduction to singing in Italian, however, a very nice singable English translation is also included. This publication holds a unique place in my column, as it represents the first time—to my knowledge—that an arranger has released a revoicing of the same piece of music. Liebergen released a 3-part mixed voicing of this same piece under the title “O Sing This Festive Day” (pub. Shawnee). There are several significant differences between the two, but it is nonetheless the same source composition revoiced by the same arranger…just eight years later. Both work well for changing voice choirs. Visit www.Alfred.com for a free score sample (partial) and beginning-to-end recording. Performance/accompaniment CD is available for purchase.

Also strongly recommended:
• “Exultate Jubilate” composed by Earlene Rentz (pub. Carl Fischer).
• “Now My Heart,” a madrigal arranged for three-part mixed with optional baritone by Patrick Liebergen (pub. Carl Fischer). Text is in English.
• “America” arranged by Ruth Elaine Schram (pub. BriLee) for three-part mixed optional baritone.

MIXED (MEDIUM)

Little Lamb (Adolphus Hailstork) — pub. Theodore Presser
Dr. Hailstork has done a fantastic setting of this poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of three in Hailstork’s new cycle “Three Dunbar Hymns.” All three are unaccompanied, and all are terrific. This, the third movement, is scored for SATB unaccompanied (it doesn’t divide until the last chord). It would sound good performed by any size ensemble from chamber groups on up. Take care to pronounce the dialect correctly, and be precise with dynamics from the first rehearsal. Hear a full performance and view a complete score at www.CarlFischer.com.

Wie der Hirsch schreit (Mendelssohn, ed. MacPherson) — pub. Roger Dean
This is the opening chorus from a cantata by Mendelssohn. Originally for orchestra and organ, this edition has a piano reduction. The text is from Psalm 42; the original German is included with a singable English translation. See all pages of the score and hear a beginning-to-end performance atwww.Lorenz.com. The only other available published edition of this chorus is an import published by Carus-Verlag.

Also strongly recommended:
• “Where Your Bare Foot Walks” composed by David N. Childs on a text of Rumi (pub. Walton).
• “Beatus Vir” by Claudio Monteverdi, arranged by Catherine Delanoy (pub. Carl Fischer).
• “The Telephone” by Michael Larkin on a text of Robert Frost (pub. Hinshaw)

MIXED (ADVANCED)

I Would Live In Your Love (Nathan Jones) — pub. G. Schirmer
This setting of the beautiful Sara Teasdale poem is scored for SSAATTBB chorus unaccompanied. The dynamics, harmony and texture all expand and contract in a compelling way. Absolutely not to be missed.

Also strongly recommended:
• “Song to the Moon (La Luna)” by Z. Randall Stroope (pub. Walton).
• “Cantate Domino” by Hans Leo Hassler and edited by David Giardiniere (pub. Walton).
• “Tota Pulchra es Maria” by Ola Gjeilo (pub. Walton).
• “The Stars Stand Up in the Air” by Eric William Barnum (pub. Walton).

Forum editor Drew Collins is on the faculty of Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio) where he conducts choral ensembles and teaches music education courses. He is active as a festival conductor, author, and composer. Contact him directly at drew@drewcollins.com.

 

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