What a JOY!

by Steve Peter, Adjudication Chair, OR ACDA

Little did I know when I began working with singers back in Wichita, KS, January 1976, that forty+ years later I’d still be loving what I (and WE) get to do: make and share music for a living. Is this the life or what?

So here I am, still doing what I love to do: compiling lists of choral titles for young (and perhaps a few, “not-so-young”) friends and colleagues to consider as you design your future festival/seasonal sets.

Understand these are simply lists of pieces that have served me (or in a few cases, other respected directors’) well. These are titles that contain a variety of musically gratifying elements (melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and or text-appeal). It’s my sincere hope that you might find a few that will work for you and your singers, too.

Obviously the lists are not offered as comprehensive or complete repertoire lists for the ages. They span the gamut of the arc of music history (from Sweelinck to Laura Farnell), with a decided focus on the 20th and 21st centuries. However, their one common characteristic is that they’ve all worked well for, “so-mi-so” (solfège for, “This Old Man”).

It ALL begins with programming.

So take a look and a listen, and hope you find a title (or two) that will work for you as well.

1976-1984 Wichita School District , Wichita, KS
1984-2010 Reynolds (Troutdale), Roosevelt, Cleveland and Wilson HSs (PPS SD)
2011-2014 University of Portland Women’s Chorale, Portland, OR
2012-2016 Pacific University Concert Choir, Forest Gove, OR

1995-2017 MS & HS Honor Choirs throughout the Portland metro/Oregon

I – Accessible for most developing HS ensembles
II – Better suited for more sophisticated ensembles
III – Challenging, but WORTH IT!

Should you have difficulty locating any of the titles on the lists, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to steer to toward a source.

Steve Peter
Choral Consultant
OR ACDA Adjudication Chair

Choral Favorites – February 2017


SATB – Holiday (Sweet 16…)

  1. Adam lay y bounden – Hubert Bird               Rhythmically exciting, fast. Sung in olde English.
  2. Ask the Watchman – Caldwell/Ivory             Male solo feature/accompanied/percussion/call & response.
  3. Coventry Carol – Arr. Steve Pilkington         Uses tone bells/interesting choral writing/dramatic elements.
  4. Hodie – Healey Willan                                    Old chestnut, but well worth revisiting – wonderful closing,                                                                                                           “Alleluia.”
  5. Hodie – Lee J. Kesselman                              Fanfare-like choral writing. Harmonically dense, but                                                                                                                      satisfying.
  6. Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming – Hugo Distler               Subtle delicate and rhythmic challenges.
  7. Make we joy now in this place – Richard Prior               Strophic/features a variety of solo/small                                                                                                                                               ensemble elements.
  8. Maria Walks Amid the Thorn – William Hunt                 Lovely choral writing.
  9. Noche de paz – Cesár Carrillo                        “Silent Night”, with a Latin flair.
  10. Noel – J. Edmund Hughes                              “Carol of the Bells”, in FOUR!
  11. O, my dear heart – Edmund Jolliffe               Extended and very interesting harmonic                                                                                                                                                design/structure.
  12. Pat-a-pan – Chester Alwes                            Fun, incorporates terrific flute (piccolo) and snare drum                                                                                                                  soloists.
  13. See Dat Babe – Stacey V. Gibbs                      Classic early Gibbs. 
  14. Sir Christèmas – William Mathias                 Short, but sweet, and rhythmically sophisticated.
  15. Stopping By Woods – Larry Nickel                Tuneful, melodic, and non-Christian (winter flavor).
  16. Today the Virgin – John Tavener                   Old chestnut, wonderful tuning incorporating chant elements.


SATB (50 Nifty)

  1. Ago Lona – Marlos Nobre                               Rhythmic 6/8 tour de force.
  2. Ah, el novio no quere dinero! – Arr. Mack Wilberg         Highly accessible, calls for strong soloist and                                                                                                                                        percussion.
  3. All Creatures Now Are Merry Minded – John Bennett    Six-voice English madrigal.
  4. Alma Redemptoris Mater – Palestrina           Largely homophonic Palestrina motet.
  5. Angelus Ad Virginem – Eleanor Daley            Lots of Latin – numerous rhythmic and harmonic surprises.
  6. Ave Verum – Flor Peeters                                Lovely accessible choral writing (minimal harmonic challenges).
  7. Banks of Doon – Donna Gartman Schultz     Accompanied, fine accessible choral writing.
  8. Beati quorum via – C.V. Stanford                   Six-part (SSA/TTB) one of my all-time favorites.
  9. Cantemus – Lajos Bardos                               Wonderful opener with exciting text (spicy tuning throughout).
  10. Cantique de Jean Racine – Gabriel Fauré (cpdl)                 Classic late Romantic French choral music – no                                                                                                                                   divisi, wonderful acc.
  11. Chindia – Pascanu                                           With or without keyboard – fun either way/some tricky rhythms.
  12. Daemon Irrepit Callidous – Gyorgy Orban     Exciting/a bit on the short side, but challenging on several fronts.
  13. Doluri – Alexi Matchavariani                         Harmonically tricky/divisi in women’s/men’s parts/rhythmic.
  14. Eli, Eli – Lajos Bardos                                     Dramatic – text taken from the Crucifixion.
  15. Ev’ry Night When The Sun Goes In/Polly Wolly Doodle – Arr. Norman Luboff Personal favorite/paired set.
  16. Famine Song – Matthew Culloton                 Moving text connects with young singers/dramatic elements.
  17. Flanders Fields – Aitken                                Challenging for young tenors, but very fulfilling for entire choir.
  18. Flower of Beauty – John Clements                 Harmonically accessible/strophic (two verse) and lovely writing.
  19. Gede Nibo – Källman                                      Rhythmically challenging with some harmonic surprises.
  20. Gloria – Greg Knauf                                        Gender divisi/rhythmic aleatoric elements/exciting.
  21. Guadete Omnes – Sweelinck                          Favorite Renaissance motet for six-voices (SSA/TBB) cpdl.
  22. Hills of Tomorrow – Sondheim (Arr. David York)               Wonderful piece for commencement – a                                                                                                                                                  cappella/fulfilling text.
  23. Homeland – Z. Randall Stroope                     Patriotic – works very well with brass ensemble.
  24. Horizons – Peter Van Dijk                             Body percussion added to a wonderfully moving text.
  25. How Can I Keep From Singing? – Arr. Penny Tullock         Accessible treatment/accompanied.
  26. I Am Not Yours – David Dickau                    Accompanied, and tasteful accessible choral treatment throughout.
  27. I Love My Love – Gustav Holst                     Strophic (six verses) each verse is unique and gratifying.
  28. In Remembrance – Elenor Daley                  Moving text set in a memorable manner (accessible).
  29. kasar mie la gaji – Alberto Grau                  Challenging rhythmically, harmonically and emotionally.     
  30. Kpanlongo – Derek Bremel                          Tricky rhythms, but catchy and gratifying for choirs and audiences.
  31. Lamentations of Jeremiah – Z. Randall Stroope                   Accompanied, contains Carl Orff-like elements                                                                                                                                     throughout.
  32. Laus Trinitati – Frank Ferko                         Tricky 12/8 against 4/4 rhythms and tuning challenges.
  33. My Spirit Sang All Day – Gerald Finzi          Old chestnut, but worth revisiting.
  34. North Country Folks Songs (set of three) – Philip Wilbye    Each of the three is memorable. #2 and #3 are                                                                                                                                    faves.
  35. Orpheus With His Lute Made Trees – Nick Page                   Beautiful, but rhythmically complex and satisfying                                                                                                                             – Lydian mode.
  36. Remember – Stephen Chatman                     Lovely choral writing. Works well at commencement.
  37. Rise Up My Love, My Fair One – Healey Willan                     Fine choral writing. No divisi with soaring tenor                                                                                                                                lines.
  38. Rise Up My Love, My Fair One – James McCray                     Old chestnut. Calls for accomp. and solo                                                                                                                                                   instrument (flute or violin).
  39. Rytmus – Ivan Hrusovsky                               Rhythmic and harmonic challenges throughout.
  40. Seinn O – Arr. J. David Moore                         Yearns for movement. Performed by South Salem in 2010. GREAT!
  41. Set Me As a Seal – David Childs                      Calls for solo instrument. Beautiful choral writing.
  42. Tambur – Lajos Bardos                                    Old chestnut – fun features solo elements within all four voices.
  43. Three Secular Christmas Carols from Transylvania – Tudor Jarda    Difficult, but exciting!
  44. Tu es petrus – Palestrina                                Six-part choral writing – harmonically accessible. Gratifying.
  45. Two Japanese Proverbs – Gary Kent Walth    Divisi in all voices. Tricky rhythms throughout (ABA form).
  46. V’ chit’ tu (Song of Peace) – Alice Parker      Wonderful opener. Exciting writing (no divisi) some body                                                                                                               percussion.
  47. Verleih’ uns Frieden – Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy            Soaring men’s and women’s lines. Accessible.
  48. Vine Hulpe di la munte – Tudor Jarda           Wonderful rhythmic elements/canonic, but not easy!
  49. Vorspruch – Hugo Distler                                Old chestnut. Marvelous text. Range-y (ABA form).
  50. Your Fragrance – Edward Henderson            Interesting harmonic elements (Lydian mode). New age-like.


SA, SSA, SSAA (Double Sweet 16…)

  1. Ave Maria – Caccini (Arr. Liebergen)            Tastefully set. Great piece for line (with solo instrument).
  2. Ave Maria – Joan Szymko                              Early Szymko – lovely and well-designed.
  3. Be Like the Bird – Abbie Betinis                    A simple round by the granddaughter of Alfred Burt.
  4. Bring Me Little Water, Silvey –                     Arr. Moira Smiley Catchy, with gratifying movement (on                                                                                                                 YouTube).
  5. Cantate Domino – Nancy Hill Cobb (SA or TB)                        6/8 with an engaging energy throughout.
  6. Cedar Swamp – Jay Broeker                           Terrific writing, with a sassy character.
  7. Early Spring – Kathleen Allan                       Well-written, unaccompanied and melodically satisfying.
  8. Eliyahu Hanavi – Valerie Shields                   SA, with solo instrument and piano accompaniment. Personal                                                                                                      favorite.
  9. Famine Song – Matthew Culloton                Works just as well as the mixed arrangement.
  10. Fare You Well (Nora’s Dove) – Ruth Elaine Schram                 Good for beginning three-part women’s chorus.
  11. Five Hebrew Love Songs – Eric Whitacre      Women’s choir with solo violin. 8-10 minutes.
  12. Followers of the Lamb – Arr. Nancy Grundahl                          Wonderful opener. Spirited and connects with                                                                                                                                       singers and audiences.
  13. Goin’ Up A Yonder – Arr. Sivatka                  Loving energy, and wholly accessible choral writing.
  14. I Am Not Yours – David Childs                     Tender text and set to a wonderful piano accompaniment. Moving.
  15. Jesu – Andrea Ramsey                                   Short, but lovely. Two-part.
  16. Jubal’s Lyre – Handel, Arr. Carolee Curtwright                         Good for intro to melismatic-singing.
  17. Lux aeterna – Z. Randall Stroope                 Particular favorite for vowel work. Accessible.
  18. Mbiri Kuna Mwari – Lee J. Kesselman         Lively, triadic, rhythmic.
  19. Nani, raza mea de soare – Gabriel Dumitrescu                         Tender lullaby. Mostly accessible (four bars of                                                                                                                                      harmonic challenges).
  20. Nigra Sum – Pablo Casals                             Old chestnut. Still a must-visit.
  21. Nine Hundred Miles – Philip Silvey             Tender and dramatic. Multi-faceted piece with character changes.
  22. O Yo Yo – Stephen Hatfield                          Melodically/rhythmically intriguing! Personal favorite.
  23. Poet Sings, The – Z. Randall Stroope          Wholly accessible. Great piece for emerging treble choirs.
  24. Revelation – Z. Randall Stroope                   Tour de force for mature and ambitious treble choirs.
  25. Silver Creek Lullaby – Drew Collins            Accessible and tender treatment.
  26. Songs from the Sea – Aulis Sallinen            Four short pieces – each with its own challenges. Great texts.
  27. Storm is Passing Over, The – Arr. Barbara W. Baker                 Fun, accessible, Gospel, “hip”, accompaniment!
  28. Summer’s Here – Sue Bohlin                      Very tricky. Interesting rhythmic elements. Good end-of-year piece.
  29. Turtle Dove, The – Valerie Shields              SA, but filled with cross-parting/cross-voicing. Soulful writing.
  30. Wanting Memories – Ysaye Barnwell         Very rhythmic. Four-part writing with very low voicing.
  31. Water Under Snow is Weary – Henri Wessman                         Virtuosic flute intro, but highly accessible                                                                                                                                               choral writing.
  32. Weep No More – David Childs                     Lovely writing. Wonderful use of echo-effects. Accompanied.


TTBB (Sweet 16…)

  1. Ad amore – Lee Kesselman                          Exciting and full harmonic writing.
  2. Bar’bry Allen – Joshua Shank                      Almost new-age like. Wonderful solo, exciting ending.
  3. Cantate Domino – Nancy Hill Cobb (SA or TB)                         6/8 with an engaging energy throughout.
  4. Cantique de Jean Racine – Fauré (Ed. DG Mason) – cpdl # 02744 TBB Old chestnut. Worth revisiting again.
  5. Drive the River Down – Brad Printz            Fun and accessible for younger men’s ensembles.
  6. Gaudete – Michael Englehardt                    Tour de force. Calls for fine percussion ensemble.
  7. Harambee – Robert I. Hugh                         Great 12/8 groove. Personal favorite!
  8. How Can I Keep From Singing – Judith Herrington                 Good for emerging men’s ensembles.
  9. I Think My Love So Fair – Laura Farnell    Tender treatment of a gentle text.
  10. In Flanders Fields – Alexander Tilley         Two-part. Particularly good for Veteran’s Day /November events
  11. In the Hills of Shiloh – James Friedman/Michael Levi             Set in Lydian mode. Soulful and moving.
  12. Noel – Steven Sametz                                  Tricky, but great setting for intermediate men’s ensemble/choir.
  13. Set Me As a Seal – Laura Farnell                 Accessible…good for the emerging young men’s ensemble.
  14. She Moved Through the Fair – Vijay Singh Tender text, and equally tender treatment. Featured soloist.
  15. She Walks in Beauty – Laura Farnell           Lovely writing – particularly for younger men.
  16. Soldier’s Elegy – Michael C. Kregler           Personal favorite. Almost sounds as if it’s from a Musical.


SAB

Cuckoo, The – Robert I. Hugh                     Terrific closer. Calls for a good accompanist and a cajon player.Nsa Ni O – Patricia A.B. Sandler                         SAB piece addressing the horrors of alcoholism. Exciting movement.

SATB+SA

Dance of Zálongo – Carol Barnett              Personal favorite. Calls for full SATB choir & SA ensemble. 7/8!