Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer 2011 newsletter/new repertoire suggestions

Hi choral director friends,

Since I last spoke to you in January, I've had some great experiences; I conducted premieres of two pieces commissioned by the Hong Kong International School Festival (organized by Calvin College alum David Baldwin) and really enjoyed my week of working with the young musicians there plus my sightseeing all over Hong Kong, including a trip to the REALLY BIG BUDDHA on Lantau Island.

Of the two pieces I wrote for Hong Kong one will be published, "May I be Happy", (SA/piano) soon by Roger Dean, and the other, "Clap your Hands" (also SA/piano with some optional perc) I am publishing personally. Treble directors, let me know if you would like to see free perusal scores. And by the way, "Clap your Hands" is very uptempo, fun, and a bit of a sequel to my children's choir mega-hit "Peace on Earth and lots of little crickets".Here's a link to a youtube performance conducted by Courtney Connelly in late Spring.

The national ACDA conference in my hometown of Chicago was a blast both on a professional and personal level. And the concert season wrapped up with a one week residency with the Cincinnati Children's Choir directed by Robyn Lana. The advanced ensemble premiered two more commissioned pieces in great fashion, one of which, the bouncy and fun "Rain" (SSA/piano) will be published by Roger Dean and the other, a very lyrical piece called "Paint the Stars" (SSA/piano flute) which I will publish personally. The truly delightful texts were by members of the choir and I have recordings of the pieces but they are not yet posted on my website (please inquire).Again, if you'd like a free perusal score of these, let me know. These pieces would generally be appropriate for mid to advanced treble choirs up through HS or early college level age women's choirs.

For those of you with mixed HS through college/professional choirs I'd like to suggest a few extended works of mine. These were commissioned pieces with very successful premieres and a few performances after that. But because of their length most every publisher has shied away from putting them into print, thus the need for me to personally advocate for them to receive further performances. In general I think the texts I discovered to set are amazing, and the imagery and content of these texts really inspired my writing. Let me know if you would like to see perusal scores, and most of them already have some sample pages/recordings up on my website at - I have created hyperlinks for most of these pieces:

"El Limonar Florido" (The Lemon Grove in Blossom) SATB/solo violin/solo cello. 4 movements, about 17 minutes. Gorgeous Spanish texts by Antonio Machado. Choral parts not difficult. This piece received two very nice performances this past season- one from Grinnell College directed by John Rommereim and the other from Diana Saez' Coral Cantigas in Washington, D.C.

"Missa Brevis Incheon" SATB div a cappella. A bravura 16 minute work commissioned by Hak-won Yoon and the Incheon City Chorale and premiered by them in Seoul in 2009. Here's a challenge for a university or professional choir.

"Endless Worlds" SATB div a cappella. Wonderful texts about music and nature by Tagore. This was commissioned by an ambitious high school choir and they pulled it off. About 15minutes.

"Into this World" (Four Choral Seasons) SATB/piano. Four texts suggesting the seasons of nature and of our lives. A really sweet, lyrical 16 minute piece. The texts are by Elinor Wylie, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rainer Marie Rilke, and Natalie Goldberg

"1944" SATB/string orchestra, or strings one to a part. Highly imaginative WWII text by Hilda Doolittle (HD). The text actually suggested tying in elements of the Bach Christmas Oratorio. I admit it's a slightly odd piece with the war and slight Christmas element, but that's just the way it turned out!

"The Bethlehem Star" SATB divisi a cappella. This was a Christmas work commission from Nancy Menk and the South Bend Chamber Singers. About 18 minutes with great texts by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

"Winter's Night Carol" SATB(SA)/brass quintet. Thus was a Christmas work commission by an adult choir who had a children's choir associated with them, so there is a children's choir element but it can be easily taken by some of the women of an SATB choir. A very nice recent performance by Illinois Wesleyan University. Nine minutes long with text by Thomas Merton.

Three shorter recent pieces:

Christmas Bells" SATB/organ/brass/perc/handbells. Commissioned by Northern Arizona University for their 2010 Holiday concerts- this festive piece was a big hit last December.

"Voices of Earth" SATB/piano. Not difficult and very lyrical, commissioned by Briar Cliff University as part of their ”Care for Creation” initiative this past year.

"Prairie Songs" SATB/piano. 5 minutes and no divisi. Sweet Americana text by Carl Sandburg. Fun elements of Scott Joplin, Ives, and Copland in the mix.

There you have it- a whole bunch of pieces with great texts and the best music I could think of in setting them, and of course, almost no chance of conventional publication due to their length or difficulty level, or other elements(sigh). Let me know if you'd like to consider any of these pieces for performance!

Best wishes,


PS I'm leading an amazing 24 voice women's choir at the North Carolina Governor's School in Raleigh right now, and will be taking a few days off to present two interest sessions at next week's Nebraska ACDA summer session thanks to an invitation from Matt Harden. Sig Johnson is including my "Thou art the Sky" in the directors' choir so it will also be good to see Sig again!