Pieces for Men's Voices
All pieces are a cappella, and published by Boosey & Hawkes in their CME series, unless otherwise noted. Some of these pieces are ostensibly published for treble voices, but work equally well for men's chorus, and were designed with this kind of adaptability in mind. The polyphonic nature of my work lends itself to being moved from one combination of voices to another.


The famed and fabulous men of Amabile, the great family of choirs from London, Ontario.



All For Me Grog
(recording is of the SATB version)

(SATB)   979-0-051-47383-0
(SAB)   979-0-051-47511-7
(TTBB)   979-0-051-48033-3

Amabile
Peterborough Children's Chorus
Now available for TTBB, revoiced for the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix. This is a sea shanty from Nova Scotia, first arranged for the Cantabile choirs of Kingston: a fun piece that lets the singers rant and roar. I've designed the SAB version so that if desired the whole piece can recycle the music from the first verse and chorus, both of which are easy enough to teach by rote if you wish. Additional verses can be sung to the music for the first verse, or they can be sung as written, creating as many variations on the first verse as the choir can handle. The baritone line has been written with young singers in mind - lots of melody within the range of a fifth - while the performance notes give further suggestions how the voicings can be shuffled and modified to give maximum comfort to changing voices and young tenors. Young singers seem to get a particular kick out of singing a choir piece that has a refrain like "All for me grog and tabacca!" Somebody in the SAB soundfile has a solar plexus grunt of which I stand in awe.

For Cantabile Youth Singers, Kingston, Ontario .
top




Apple Tree Wassail
(SA moving to SSA in final section)

  979-0-051-46759-4

Amabile
Scored for treble voices but also intended for men, this is a triple-time andante stomper that summons up the spirit of winter celebrations without ever mentioning Christmas. I was so gratified when Bob Chilcott chose this for a massed choir, and even more gratified by the "swang-n-twang" singing style the kids produced. This is salt-of-the-earth music that should sound like it's being performed at 2 AM on the touring bus. It's most important to me that the shouts of "Hear it!" written in the score should be the commanding bellow of an umpire, rather than a suggestion from a polite child.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top


Juvenata    Juvenata
Members of the "Dream Team" tenors and basses of Juvenata 2008, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Photo by Alex Keir.



Ballad of Skipper Knight, The


(SATB, piano)   979-0-051-47721-0
(treble, accordian, violin, bass, and Spanish guitar)   979-0-051-10501-4
(treble, piano)   979-0-051-47412-7
(TTB, piano)   979-0-051-47722-7

Newman Sound
Hopewell
Shallaway
Although published for treble voices, this piece sounds gorgeous when men sing it. The subject matter suits men very well, and since much of the piece is unison and two part this can be a good number for a technically modest ensemble, although advanced groups will still find plenty of phrasing and shaping to keep them occupied.
 
A lilting 6/8 song set in Newfoundland, where the singer walks along the ice fields in the moonlight, thinking of families and lifestyles gone by. The mood is both tender and triumphant, the melody is catchy and the beat invites you to sway in your seat. An inspirational, spiritually uplifting piece that at the same time is a singalong country waltz. Good for both large and small choirs - and the option of adding accordion, violin, bass and guitar brings out the downhome flavour of the music.
 
In measure 98 there is a typo in the text, which should read, "No don't you", not "No you don't".

For Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.
top




Bonny Wood Green
(TBB - published by Alliance Music)

(SA)   (Alliance) AP 0326
(TBB)   (Alliance) AMP 0882

Shallaway/NSYC
Cantilon Chamber Choir
For the Calgary Girls' Choir, Alberta, with a new TBB voicing for men, commissioned by the Seattle Catholic High School Choir Festival, 2012. A slow, sad, lilting Irish ballad of W.W.I, still sung in pubs today. The TBB voicing is in a different key than the treble score, and some of the pronouns have switched gender, so there would be some advance planning required if one wished the two versions to be sung together. A deliberately stark arrangement, with much unison. Haunting and tender. References to Flanders may tie in well with Remembrance Day. Medium difficulty. From m. 45-47 have the two lower voices sing every note to the syllable "roo", with a crisply rolled "r" like a snare drum, instead of the "loo" printed in the score."


top



The young men of Kingswood-Oxford Middle School, West Hartford, CT.



Camino, Caminante
(high voice/low voice, piano, three percussion)

  979-0-051-47071-6

Amabile
Inspired by the swirling demographics of Miami, this piece suggests the wheels within wheels of a big city by creating double hemiolas. Something of a brisk Latin style. The choral parts are quite easy, yet when superimposed on each other and combined with the piano part, a tasty sense of polyrhythm is created. The piano part is well suited to electric keyboard on a marimba-ish voice. Text is a mixture English and Spanish - only a sentence or two of each. Although I meant the piece to be manageable by young choirs, the extended polyrhythm does place a certain kind of demand on singers and pianist as well. Conductors, look for the places where the main pulses in the two patterns overlap, and then build your conducting pattern on those pulses. In this way you can conduct both the duple and the triple feel at the same time with the same gesture.

For the Miami Choral Society.
top




Chickens in the Garden
(TBB)

  979-0-051-47529-2

Gentlemen Singers
Collected in 1974 at a shepherd's meet in England's Lake District, this is a carouser in the stein-swinging tradition of "treat me daughter daycent, Don't do 'er any 'arm, An' when I die I'll leave yeh both me tidy little farm", followed thereby by a list of the farmers goods, including "all the little chickens in the garden". Designed to work well as an encore or a mood-shifter; boisterous but with lots of scope for phrasing and styling and robust, healthy vocal production; an easy learn that rewards young and experienced singers alike. And if you have tenors and basses who need their inner hunter/gatherer scratched, or who would like to sing something that conjurs up the salt-of-the-earth in a country inn, this would be a good bet. The soundfile features the young men of Cantabile in Kingston, Ontario, directed by Mark Sirett.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top




Christmas Day (How Long The Night Can Last)
unison and piano

  979-0-051-47890-3

Dale/Chafe
Written for my friends David Chafe and Andrew Dale, this piece is meant to be simple enough for young singers and subtle enough for the most advanced. I love paradoxes, and this song portrays a Christmas Eve that could be tranquil, or tormented, or both. The torment is deliberately understated so that choirs can portray a mood of gentle Christmas comfort without any dark edge. For those who find the dark edge throws the light into higher relief, you'll know what I'm after. Although first written for a soloist, the melody is well suited to how a unison choir shapes a phrase.


top




Crimson, Ivory, Aquamarine
(high voice/low voice and percussion)

  979-0-051-46849-2

Celesta
Here's what this Canadian loves best in American musical culture: native chant, blues, Mex-Tex (tejano , to be exact), hoe-downs and Mardi Gras. The title suggests the three colours of the flag putthrough a filter; even so, a variety of American styles are filtered through my ears. The native chant ties it all together, ending with a hoe-down in 5/4 that can bring an audience to its feet. The percussion part is deliberately simple, but there's room for all sorts of extra goodies. Manageable by a good senior elementary choir that's willing to stretch, but also suitable for older voices.

For the Keynote Arts Associates, 1996.
top



Members of Primus, the Amabile men's ensemble, rehearsing on the road. A truly outstanding ensemble.



Drumbeat and Willowsong
(Pukjantan Yangryu Ga)

High Voice / Low Voice (with a dozen measures of divisi), flute, drum

  979-0-051-47943-6
(Individual parts for flute and drum)   979-0-051-10576-2

Nove Voce
Cantabile
Although originally written for the Cantabile Young Men's Chorus of Kingston, Ontario, this suite of South and North Korean folk songs can be sung by any combination of singers in a two-part texture of high voice and low voice. I have always been attracted to a mixture of sorrow and joy, and Korean folk music brings these two opposites together in a particularly striking way. The suite unfolds as a quest for both romantic and patriotic love as the beauties of landscape intertwine with the beauties of the fantasy lover. The singers find themselves in fishing boats, rounding a noble cape to the sound of drums; or climbing the passes of high mountains to the sound of rushing rivers; or hypnotized by the perfume of flowers and the scent of the beloved, to the sound of honey-drunk bees and birds. The use of a single drum (options for what kind of drum are discussed in the score) is in tribute to Korean p'ansori, one of my favourite forms of vocal music, while the use of the flute pays tribute to how in this culture the flute can suggest the languor of love, the vigour of adventure, and the undulating line of a landscape. The suite, which is sung in Korean, comes with detailed notes on pronouncing the language (the IPA transcription is much more straightforward than you'd think) as well as lots of background on the songs and their cultural context. More research and scholarship went into this suite than anything else I have published. My thanks to my Korean coach Lee Sunghwa, whose name means "a star in harmony and balance", and who brought both of these qualities to our discussions. The soundfile is taken from a section of the suite that shows the sudden tempo changes common in Korean music. Note that individual parts for the flute and drum can be ordered from Boosey. These parts are incorporated into the vocal score, but in that format they will not be convenient for the flautist and drummer to use in performance.


top




Flying Colours
any combination of voices with percussion and optional piano

  979-0-051-47923-8

Part 1 - Central Bucks High School - West
Part 2 - Central Bucks High School - West
This is a masque of about twenty minutes in length, in which the story is told through ritualized movement and costume as well as through music. The video file shows footage from the beautifully realized premiere performance by the Saskatoon Children's Choir led by Phoebe Voigts. (The piece, a three-way commission, was also written for Joe Ohrt and his Central Bucks High School-West Chamber Choir, and Eric Wilkinson and the Sumpter High School Choir.) "Flying Colours" is a parable of suspicion and conflict. Four tribes, each with their own standards of costume and custom, concentrate so much on each other's differences that they miss how their four tribal chants create a lovely texture when sung simultaneously. Tensions mount amidst escalating skirmishes and broken treaties until there is war, destruction, an afterlife of haunted grief, and a closing section that suggests both how we never learn, and yet at the same time how we must. Whether the masque closes in an atmosphere of sunset or sunrise is up to the group, as are many other creative details of costuming and choreography. My text, thanks to the suggestion of Phoebe Voigts, is in "Amadeus language" - nonsense syllables out of which each tribe constructs its own speech. This has the side benefit that in the war sections where everything is fast and loud, the audience doesn't have to keep track of actual words. Percussion instruments (kalimbas, drums, rainsticks, cowbells, vibraslaps and finger cymbals) are distributed amongst the tribes as marks of status and honour as well as the instruments that keep the masque moving forward. The performance notes give details as to which parts are the most advanced and how the instruments are to be distributed. At the premiere, the Saskatoon Children's Choir had the kalimba parts softly doubled by a piano, which sounded very well as the piano's greater sustain helped the kalimba parts carry, which helped the singers keep in tune.

TYPOS: m. 127 in the top voice, the syllables should be "do-zo" not "lo-zo". At m. 99, the accents in the drum pattern should be the same as in the passage that starts at m. 109.


top




Game of Cards, The
(TTBB)

  979-0-051-47809-5

Newman Sound (Studio)
You might call this style "Celtic Barbershop". From the salons of Jane Austen to the saloons of the wild west, how a man and a woman relate while playing cards is a metaphor for how they would relate in romance. This lilting, swinging chart, designed for sweet and warm vocal tone, tells the tale of a confident young man whose Jack is no match for his charming partner's trumps. Based on the British folk song, "The Game of Cards", my version becomes a suite of fiddle tunes from such traditions as Cumbria and Atlantic Canada, with the words of the original song adapted to fit the flow of gorgeous folk melodies. Commissioned by Newman Sound, the men's choir from my adopted city of St. John's, the soundfile is from their premiere at Festival 500 and features the middle section where the fiddle tunes flow most richly.


top



Nova Voce from Nova Scotia at the Grand Parade in Halifax. That's the Old Town Clock on Citadel Hill.
Photo by Keith Brumwell.



Gaudete
(published as SSATB, works well as TTTBB)
(Sound file is SSAAB.)

  979-0-051-46722-8

Celesta
An exotic, early Renaissance feel that singers like to help create. Room for 1 to 4 soloists. The choir only has about fifteen seconds' of music to learn, but you can get many variations by mixing and matching the different voice sections. For example, the soloist sings his/her bit, then have two or three of the parts sing the refrain, then repeat the refrain with all five parts. Bring in the next soloist, and start the process over, but with a different set of two or three voices doing the first refrain. For choirs not up to five parts, the polyphonic texture will also work with fewer voices. Good for when you need a Christmas number that can be learned quickly. Lends itself to processionals and candlelight. I wrote this for a high school choir in its first year, but accomplished choruses will find plenty here to please them as well.

For Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario.
top




Heaven Somewhere
(TBB with tenor divisi: recording available is of the SATB version)

(treble)   979-0-051-47074-7
(SATB)   979-0-051-47267-3
(TTBB)   979-0-051-47073-0

Amabile
Western Oregon U.
A gospel number associated with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the woman who mixed swing with the sacred like nobody had done before. Lots of energy, with a funky middle section, a great beat, and an irresistable melody. The fingersnaps in the score show that the swing style is uppermost, for fingersnaps have no place in the gospel tradition.

For the Seattle Men’s Chorus, WA.
top



The Gentlemen Singers at the Prague recording sessions for "In Europam Natus Est".
For some rehearsal shots, look the piece up on the Compositions Page for SATB.



In Europam Natus Est
unison and piano

(SATB)   Order through this website
(TTBB)   Order through this website

Gentlemen Singers
Gentlemen Singers
Written for the Gentlemen Singers of the Czech Republic, “In Europam Natus Est” (“He Is Born In Europe”) is an a cappella suite, about twenty three minutes in length, that brings together Christmas carols, liturgical chants and quotes from Chesnokov and Handel (plus some secret handshakes with Beethoven and Rachmaninoff) to form a mosaic of melodies first heard in Spain, Catalonia, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Burgundy, Provence, Sicily, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania and – as the suite moves from the edge of one continent, one time frame to another – Byzantium. Christmas medleys can be difficult: how do you keep such a frequently visited genre fresh? How do you avoid the predictable, episodic sense of, “Here’s a melody, and here’s the next one, and the next, and now we can tell we’re gearing up for a little change of mood owing to the completely obvious signals in the music….” But at the same time, a Christmas suite is not the time to get too iconoclastic, too clever-by-half. That’s not the right social contract with your audience.

With my suite I have created a narrative that starts with Latin chant for Christmas and ends with a Byzantine chant for Easter; and by frequently dividing the choir into a double choir, I am able to create an underlying antiphonal structure that gives form to the rapid interchange and intertwining of melodies as carols are compared on the basis of their theme, melody, or rhythm. The two excerpts from the suite included on this website take you from the opening Latin chant into the first antiphonal exchanges between the double choir, and then move towards the middle of the suite where the carols alternate more slowly, receiving more thorough development before we careen back into the 2nd set of antiphonal exchanges that start the second half of the piece. Some of these carols are world famous. Some are rarely heard outside their own land. Publishers are frightened of an a cappella piece that lasts this long, but there are places where one can pause and retune if one needs to, which the Gentlemen Singers have done on occasion, especially in early performances. The suite is intended to work whether or not the audience has translations of the texts. The piece is especially suitable for chamber choirs of at least eight voices.

My thanks to the following people for their help with the many languages that appear in this suite: Taylor Adams, Marcos Carreras, Jussi Chydenius, Ivars Cinkus, Dr. Florin Diacu, Rudy Heijdens, Joanna Kazik, Stijn Kolacny, Lukáš Merkl, Eva Mezo, Jean-Claude Minet, Zimfira Poloz, Martin Ptáček, Elfie Schau, and in particular Dr. Deborah Hatfield Moore.


top


      
The Men of "Prairie Voices" work the audience during "Ka Hia Manu": a white-hot
performance at Podium 2008 in Sackville, New Brunswick.



Ka Hia Manu


(SATB)   979-0-051-47137-9
(TTBB)   48019909

Amabile
For the Amabile Chamber Choir of London, Ontario, and revoiced for TTBB for Dr. Jonathan Palant and the Turtle Creek Chorale. A suite of Polynesian styles, ranging from very ancient and energetic chants, to a hushed pentatonic murmuring, to the melodies that grew out of the hybrid between native music and missionary hymns. The title means "Many Birds" and birds, which are central to Polynesian mythology and folklore, are the main thematic link in texts that merge the holy places of the islands with the heroic king, Hotumatu'a. The Polynesian words are easy to pronounce, and much of the piece can be learned quickly. A lot of fun for the singers, and the chants are ideal if you have a high-spirited choir that is ready to grunt and snarl like true warriors. Here are some tips for when the percussionists are asked to hold bamboo poles and strike downward. Bamboo poles can usually be found in Chinatown furniture stores, but PVC pipe may be easier to get. I've used a wide variety of diameters in both bamboo and PVC. In order to get a big, resonant sound (and to protect the surface you are "poling" against) it helps to strike the poles against the little wooden platforms that are staples in theatre arts departments. The space in the wooden structure acts as a resonator and amplifier. Depending on the size and height of the platforms I've had the percussionists stand on the floor and drum the poles against the platform, or sometimes the percussionists are standing on the platform as well, although depending on the equipment you're using that can deaden the sound somewhat.


top


Seattle Men's Chorus    Seattle Men's Chorus"
Seattle Men's Chorus: pictures courtesy Emerald Arts.



Nukapianguaq
(published as SSAA, but is sensational with men's voices)

(treble)   979-0-051-46700-6
(SATB)   979-0-051-47626-8

Amabile TTBB
Amabile SSAA
A suite of Inuit chants, which holds to Inuit stylings as far as a choral setting will allow: heterorhythms, no harmony beyond parallel octaves, and lots of effects through manipulating the breath and the larynx. The mood ranges from the spooky to the humorous to the spiritual to the frenzied. Subsections of this chart are easily excerpted, such as the wild war chant that ends the piece. Put all together the suite is very dramatic, and has attracted a lot of attention. Lots of room, if desired, for the choir to incorporate gesture and blocking, but these are not at all necessary. Queen Elizabeth of England liked this one. The section labelled "Goose Chant" in the early printings should in fact be "Small Dog Tied To The Porch".

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top




O-Yo-Yo
(SSA with additional soli section, and percussion)

  979-0-051-47229-1

Shallaway/NSYC
Amabile
Amabile
Published for treble voices, but I always intended it for men's voices as well. A romper stomper of a French Canadian folk song, full of call and response. Although the score has parts for several percussionists, as well as body percussion from the singers, it can all be replaced by one good drummer with a snare drum and brushes. From the tradition of the "merry monks", the song is in colloquial Canadian French, and recounts the unorthodox style of a "p'tit moine" who likes a glass of wine while he gives confession. Designed as a barnburner, the piece goes lickety split with a raucous edge. On the easy side of advanced..

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top



The Amabile Treble Training Choir on Remembrance Day



Ödi Ödi
(six part voices - works well as double TTB choir)

  979-0-051-46850-8

Amabile
Madrigaïa
This setting of a Tamil song works well as an antiphon between two groupings of TTB, with the 2nd choir being a double or triple trio, depending on the size of the choir. Both groups get to handle the melody, as well as the hypnotic background chant. Its message - searching for a light that was within us all along - lends itself well to various sorts of thematic programming. Since the song is in 7/8, it gives choirs a chance to experience something of the rhythmic flexibility of the Indian tradition. A very dreamy, meditative mood is created. There is also a simple but very evocative part for zils.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top




Old Fox Wassail
(two part voices)

  979-0-051-46852-2

Amabile
If you've ever wanted a wintertime piece that makes no mention of Christmas whatsoever, but still summons up something of its old traditions, this is it. A very old melody linked with winter celebrations throughout Europe, and a text with lots of humour (as well as a spooky middle section), and lots of room for word painting. Needs lots of fibre and roughage in the sound.

For VIVA Choirs of Victoria, British Columbia.
top




On The Rio
four parts for any combination of voices
and optional gospel tambourine

  979-0-051-47729-6

Forest Ridge
Here is a flexible chart designed to appeal to any number of choirs, green or ripened. It brings together two songs of the sea which can be performed separately if desired. The vocal texture is designed to allow for any mixing and matching of high voices and low voices, with options built into the score so that young men whose ranges are on the idiosyncratic side have alternate routes within the line they are singing. The first half of the piece is a slow-stomping 6/8 rouser of a sea shanty which grows into a gospel/blues fireball telling the tale of a hurricane at sea, a gallant captain, and a chorus of wailing souls on the water. For conductors who wonder what sort of subject matter will appeal to the boys they long to recruit: here it is. The soundfile comes from a Hatfield festival organized by Alison Seaton at Forest Ridge in Washington State. All the participants joined in on this piece, with the men's voices scattered throughout the four parts.

For the Pennsylvania ACDA, 2005.
top




The Redhead As The Queen of Ghosts
(TTBB)

  979-0-051-46938-3

Central Bucks
Amabile
Paying tribute to the metaphysical poets of the 17th century, the text links the bliss and mystery of the cosmos to our sense of earthly love. (First stanza: "My sweetheart has a freckled back/ And all the wonders of the earth/ And my own ordinary birth/ Are printed in that zodiac.") The music contributes a parallel overview, incorporating styles as diverse as plainsong and modern soundscapes, the latter being semi-improvised during performance. The textures range from lean to lush, and allow the singers a great deal of stylistic range. The soundbite has two excerpts from a performance conducted by Dr. Joseph Ohrt.

For the Amabile Men of London, Ontario.
top


Niagara Men  
Grabbing a chance to polish a section with the gentlemen of the Heartland Youth Choir and Saco Bay Children's Choir
at the 2008 Niagara Festival, Arts Bureau for the Continents. That was a festival choir with tremendous intelligence and solidarity.
Photo by Deborah Hatfield Moore.



Run Children Run
(double SA choir with soloist(s))

(treble)   979-0-051-46972-7
(SATB)   979-0-051-47159-1

Chicago
Amabile
Scored for treble voices, but always intended to work for men's voices as well - and boy, does it ever!
 
A barnburner and crowd pleaser, I took an old field yell and turned it into a slow cooking, hard rocking number. The piece builds on just a few basic riffs, and I've taught nearly the whole thing to massed choirs, and performed it, in less than an hour (although I have the advantage of knowing it really well). If you have some soloists who can improvise over a riff, this is their chance to shine. Nowhere near as hard as it first looks on the page. The soundfile shows how the Chicago Children's Choir builds a fire under the second half of the piece.

For the Children’s Aid Society Chorus of NYC.
top




Son de Camaguey
(SATB with flexible number of percussion - three at least)

(SATB)   979-0-051-46973-7
(TTBB)   979-0-051-48110-1
(SSAA)   979-0-051-48109-5

Amabile
Now available for TTBB voices. For those choirs who went to town on Jabula Jesu, this chart is the likeliest follow-up: a bit harder, and a different rhythmic style, but the same approach of interlocking ostinati, in this case built around the chorus of a Cuban folk song. High-spirited and uptempo, with every section getting lots of spotlight, this chart only has a few phrases of easy Spanish to learn. (I've been told that the local pronunciation of "Camaguey" turns "quey" into "way". ) The percussion parts, which are sketched in but rely on the players' ability to comp, are ideal if you have, as many schools do, a tribe of percussionists, often non-reading, whom you'd love to motivate, but can't think of anything to do with. The Cuban style gives them a chance to bring out all the toys, and the score gives them the chance to solo, as well as accompany.

For the Governor Simcoe Senior Secondary Choir, Ontario.
top




Sweet Tooth
(three part voices - published by Colla Voce)

(Colla Voce)   21-20214

Amabile
Carmina Slovenica
I love the way my tribal pieces sound with men's voices. For the choir that wants something really different, maybe something to knock a festival adjudicator sideways. This is inspired by a Pygmy honey-gathering chant, and an aboriginal Australian ceremony to befriend the snake spirits. One of my most interesting charts, but on the page it looks like a pain in the neck, and it certainly is not a quick learner. But once the rhythms lock in, you've got a sound unlike anything else in the choral repertoire. My metronome marking suggests an energy level to shoot for rather than an actual tempo. Check out the recording - it will be an invaluable assistance. My special thanks go to any choir ready to try this.

For the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, IN.
top




TJAK!



  979-0-051-46905-5

Amabile: live
Amabile: studio
Central Bucks High School - West
Another tribal piece that sounds superb with men's voices - the Seattle Men's Chorus performed the living daylights out of this. Inspired by the Balinese monkey chant, and performed without conductor, with vocal cues given by the "elders of the choir". The piece can be reassembled in any number of ways, and even if performed in the suggested sequence, there's lots of room for improvisation. Looks like a royal pain on the page, I know, but it's nowhere near as hard as it looks. Middle school choirs have managed it. Check out a recording, which will make all sorts of things instantly clear. Choirs enjoy turning this piece into their own spectacle, and I've heard of every possible method of presentation being tried. Because the piece is not set out in a conventional way, choirs can at first feel uncertain about it; but in my experience, once they get into it, even the sceptics are converted. Has a tendency to make audiences go batty. Gets more ovations than anything else I've done.

There is a missing accent in treble 4 at the downbeat of m. 12. The accented downbeat in treble 4 and the accented pick-up in treble 3 should be shot back and forth between the groups like a sonic volleyball.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
top




Two Minutes Before Sleep
(two part or unison voices)

  979-0-051-46969-7

Shallaway
This is one of my most unusual pieces, and hard to describe: when it strikes a chord, it strikes deep, but I know it's not for everybody. Half chanted, hypnotic vocal line with one of my best texts, about the sheer strangeness of growing up. Although written for young singers, it has found most acceptance with adult choirs, in whose hands it becomes a tenderly eerie revisiting of their childhood. Perfect if you want a fast learner that sounds like nothing else, and would make a good contrast when programmed between two more "normal" pieces. Well, it’s a fast learner in some ways (and remember, the final harmony can be dropped if needed), but it’s the sort of score the conductor needs to feel comfortable with, and it may take you your first teaching of the piece to feel comfortable. I don’t mean to make is sound more difficult than it is, but at the same time I know that this sort of piece carries its own sort of challenge.

For the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
top



Central Bucks High School West and Dr. Joseph Ohrt not only commissioned and premiered
the SSAA piece "Überlebensgross", but were also the first to discover how well the piece
works for men's voices. My thanks, gentlemen.



Überlebensgross
(published as SSAA and four percussion)

  979-0-051-47139-3

Les Ms
Lady Cove
Amabile
Central Bucks High School - West
This is the piece that created such a ruckus at the '98 ACDA in Providence. It can be used as a processional (the performance notes give you ideas). The title means "larger than life" and while the piece was originally written as a salute to women's voices, men's choirs give the piece an alternate energy source that sounds just glorious. The chart combines influences from flamenco to dance music of the thirties, among other things, to create a montage that has proven to really shake an audience up. Advanced. And whereas I usually write percussion parts that could be handled by members of the choir, in this case you need players with some experience.

Here are some tips for when the percussionists are asked to hold bamboo poles and strike downward. Bamboo poles can usually be found in Chinatown furniture stores, but PVC pipe may be easier to get. I've used a wide variety of diameters in both bamboo and PVC. In order to get a big, resonant sound (and to protect the surface you are "poling" against) it helps to strike the poles against the little wooden platforms that are staples in theatre arts departments. The space in the wooden structure acts as a resonator and amplifier. Depending on the size and height of the platforms I've had the percussionists stand on the floor and drum the poles against the platform, or sometimes the percussionists are standing on the platform as well, although depending on the equipment you're using that can deaden the sound somewhat.

The performance by Central Bucks is courtesy of Brad Zabelski and Traveling Tracks (www.travelingtracks.com). Note that both Lady Cove and Les Ms. Come from St. John's, Newfoundland. My Lord, the choral action in that city!

For Central Bucks High School-West Women’s Ensemble, Doylestown PA.
top




Vus Vet Zayn
(published as SSA by Colla Voce)

(Colla Voce, three-part treble)   21-20231
(Colla Voce, SATB)   21-20110

Amabile
Hopewell
Oh, this one is just luscious with men's voices. A passionate Chassidic song, sung in Yiddish, about the coming of the Messiah. Starts dark, rapt and moody, and graaaadually speeds up until it's a high-kicking jubilation. Not too much music to learn, and a crowd pleaser. Massed choirs have liked this. My Yiddish pronunciation guide is a guide only - there are so many variants, and my attempts to find a middle ground is OK, but not ideal. Try to bring in somebody who knows the language to do some coaching. Try to bring in somebody who knows the language to do some coaching. The SATB revoicing was done for Hopewell Valley Central H.S., Pennington, N.J. I asked Max Orland, one of the Hopewell choristers, to come up with an accompaniment for klezmer band, which can be heard on the Hopewell soundfile.

For the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, IN.
top


The Turtle Creek Choral
The Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas' Meyerson Symphony Center. Photo by Shawn Northcutt.