Pieces for Mixed Voices, Unison, Two Part, and SAB
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 mixed voices, 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.
 

At Millennium Park with Cantabile from Kingswood-Oxford Middle School, West Hartford, CT, Marcos Carreras Castro, Director. They commissioned "Café de Chinitas."


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 .
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Blonde In A Black Skirt
(unison voices and piano: optional fiddle, flute, percussion - published by Alliance Music)

  (Alliance) AMP 0325

Shallaway/NSYC
This puts words to a fast and furious set of Irish jigs. The goal is white-hot energy that refuses to flag. Suitable for step-dancing. It's easy in that it's unison, and the piano follows the voices closely. It's challenging in that the tempo must be brisk, the words go a mile a minute, and the melody stretches from the B below middle C to the F# at the top of the staff - certainly good for exercising the whole range (and the few high notes are short, and approached in a friendly way). Has been done by middle school choirs, but having some mature voices in the mix gives presence to the sound.

For the Calgary Girls’ Choir, Alberta.
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The Heartland Youth Choir and the Saco Bay Children's Choir join forces near Niagara Falls, and just about outperform them with a
blood-letting "Café de Chinitas". The concert was the last night of the 2008 Niagara Festival run by the Arts Bureau for the Continents.
Photo by Deborah Hatfield Moore



Café de Chinitas
SAB voices and piano

  (Canada) Cypress CP 1135
(US) Musical Resources of Toledo

Larry Nickel Singers
Based on a traditional Peteñeras melody that I dance around the room to my own drummer, this Flamenco-drenched story starts at a slow, moody rubato and then builds full speed ahead. The piano burns slowly then spits fire. The piece gives the option of two different endings, one more advanced with divisi in every vocal part. Although an advanced choir would find plenty to challenge their styling and energy, the piece is meant to lie within the vocal ranges and the capabilities of a good middle-school choir - it was in fact Kingswood-Oxford Middle School who commissioned the piece. There are some passages of simple divisi in the soprano line, and a moment here and there where there is an optional tenor phrase that rises from the baritone. An entire curriculum unit could be based on the piece if desired, for the score comes with copious background notes on the style and history of Flamenco, handclap techniques, and the stories of the real Paquiro and Frascuelo, the two characters in the song. Yes, they really lived, but they did not live at the same time, so if these two bullfighters are having an argument in a café, it's no café in this world. The lyric was collected by Federico García Lorca in his account of folk music in Granada, "How A City Sings From November to November".


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Working Cafe de Chinitas at the Canadian Rocky Mount Festival with 'ihana', led by Lisa Ward, a choir that takes
its name from the Finnish for "wonderful". These young people gave one of the gutsiest performances of the
piece I've heard yet. They also had the brilliant idea of introducing the piece by two of their men
turning to each other on the risers and enacting the argument from the song: "I'm braver
than you. I'm a better gypsy, a better bullfighter"
It set the mood immediately, as well
as giving the audience a mini-translation of the Spanish text.



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

  979-0-051-47071-6

Amabile
SAB choirs can treat the 2-part treble texture as high voice and low voice. 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.
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Carol of the Ladder
(SAB)

  979-0-051-46851-5

Amabile
Western Oregon U.
Simple enough for middle schools, but with opportunities for phrasing and shaping to please an advanced choir as well. I took a peppy folk melody, slowed it down, and wrote counter-melodies that turned out to blend better than I could have dared hope. The text is a meditation on Jacob's famous dream of the ladder, but the mood of the piece is so serene and lovely that its message becomes the peace that passeth understanding. It doesn't look like much on the page, but at reading sessions this is the one that is always followed by a communal sigh. On the Amabile audio clip the baritone line is taken by soloist Kevin McMillan.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
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CCCF 2011
The 2011 Crossroads Festival Concert on the Opry House Stage in Nashville, Tennessee. My apologies
to the altos who didn't get into the picture. Notice the jumbled pages scattered around the floor of my podium,
the result of my entire set of scores spilling off the music stand like a giant deck of cards.



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.


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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.
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Devil and Bailiff McGlynn, The
(In unison, with a bit of optional divisi towards the end.)

  979-0-051-47214-7

Shallaway
If you want a fresh, unusual texture for your SATB choir, why not try something in unison? Not only is unison singing excellent training for choristers (and plenty difficult to do well), but in the case of this traditional Irish tune in slip-jig time (9/8), the unison line gets to dance its way through all sorts of rhythmic curves and angles, while delivering an ingenious and clever text that listeners enjoy following. The suave devil and the bootlicking bailiff go strolling through Ireland, discussing which of the people - and pigs - they meet most deserves to be carried off to the infernal regions. The tables get turned, rhythmically as well. A unison accompaniment intended for keyboard accordion could also be played on piano, or melody instruments such as fiddle or clarinet.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
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During a workshop with The Fundy Chorale from Annapolis Royal and surrounding
communities, Nova Scotia. Note the classic church banner in the background. I can't
remember what we were laughing about, but I do remember that the moment
was captured by Tim Callahan-Cross.



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.


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Bonnay Singers
With the Bonnay Singers of Nova Scotia, a
self-directed student ensemble who do a great "Elibama".



Elibama
(SSAB)

  979-0-051-46873-7

Amabile
Tenors and basses are in unison, not to make it easy on them - this is an advanced piece - but in order to make a different sort of colour than is usual with SATB voices. I took a snippet from a Madagascar song in 5/4, and a snippet from a Yiddish song in 4/4, and found various ways to merge their DNA. This is a very joyous piece, very melodic, very fresh in mood, and although often performed by chamber choirs, it sounds wonderful with lots of voices, and seems to really energize the singers. Some of 5/4 rhythms look forbidding in notation, but sing very naturally when you get them off the page. And every rhythm is used repeatedly, so when you've learned one measure, you've learned a dozen. Ideal for a choir with a strong alto section.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario, for their 10th anniversary.
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Labour Day
(SAB and piano)

  979-0-051-46974-1

Written for a middle school, the baritones spend much of their time within the range of a 4th, yet still get lots of melodic lines. This is a twisted little blues about having a righteous sulk in the kitchen (as the title suggests, there's something about knowing the school year is about to start all over again that doesn't always bring out the best in anybody.) The parts are simple and repetitive, although the way the blues shimmers between major and minor tonality introduces some twists that I know can prove elusive. The style is deliberately off-the-wall, which depending on your choir, could be a plus or a minus.

For the Hodgson Senior Public School Choir, Toronto, Ontario.
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Stephen
another low energy rehearsal



O-Yo-Yo
(SSAB with percussion)

  979-0-051-47229-1

Shallaway/NSYC
Amabile
Amabile
Published for treble voices, but I always intended it to work if the men formed a baritone line and took the "soli" part. 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.
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Old Fox Wassail
(two part voices - divide the choir into high (ST) and low(AB))

  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.
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One for Frost, Two for Fire
(SAB)

  979-0-051-47140-9

Shallaway
- and three for everything I desire. I love rounds, and here I've made one with a text that draws on counting songs and children's rhymes in order to explore the internal searching we do as we get older. The round starts simply, but reaches an almost Purcellian ingenuity by the end. Nice for the audience, because the round enables them to follow very clearly as the texture develops and builds. I'm fond of his one. Medium difficulty. Although published for treble voices, I always intended the piece to work for SAB. Click here for a single page which gives instructions on revoicing the SSA score for SAB.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
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A warm and vivid rehearsal with The Bell' Arte Singers of Toronto before their 25th Anniversary Concert.
The wonderful Brenda Uchimaru has just become their full-time conductor and everyone is pleased.



¡Sigale! (Test Your Gold)
SAB and piano, optional percussion

  979-0-051-47912-2

Kingswood-Oxford
A latin-dance mixture of English and Spanish written for the Phoenix Middle School Choir of Delavan, Wisconsin, whose members made sure the Spanish sounded like the way they talked. Pianists comfortable with the style can customize the piano part; there's plenty of room for latin percussion and a string bass sounds great doubling the piano left hand. Since the school is named for the phoenix I thought it appropriate to center the text around images of fire - the fire of destruction, of purification, the fire of hot music and a glowing spirit. Manageable by a good middle school group, but with plenty to offer an advanced ensemble, this piece aims for an atmosphere of uplift and inspiration without forgetting the false passions and fool's gold that can make the search for inspiration so difficult and sad. As the piece points out, choir is one of the most positive community experiences a young person can have during the search for inspiration, so this piece is suitable for assemblies or concerts that consider the emotional and psychological health of choral singing.

The soundfile is from an in-class rehearsal with part of the Kingswood-Oxford middle school choir. A longer soundfile that includes string bass and percussion will be added later. Thanks to Phoenix, the commissioning body, for their own recording of the piece, which had fuzzy sound, alas, but also had the heart firmly in the right place.

DIVISI: In retrospect I realize that for many choirs it will be a help to have some more optional divisi in the baritone line.
1) m. 11 - first two notes, baritones can sing the E below the tenor C. See also m. 91.
2) m. 30-32 - at the word "face" baritones can sing the G# below the tenor C#. See also m. 110-112 on the word "bold".
3) m. 40-41 - at the words "no, no te de-jes", baritones can sing B, in unison with tenors, and then A, A, G, G. See also m. 120-121.
4) m. 46 - at the word "don't", baritones can sing the F# below the tenor C. See also m. 126 at the word "so".
5) m. 54 - baritones can sing A, G, F#, doubling the piano l.h. an octave above. See also m. 70, 138 and 154.
6) m. 134 - baritones can sing a half note G on "fire" (starting in unison with tenors) and then a quarter note G at the word "and".
7) m. 176 - baritones can sing a dotted half note F# below the tenor C.


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Sweeter Than The King's Wine
(SAB)

  979-0-041-47374-8

Peterborough Children's Chorus
I added my own text to a madrigal whose music I could more or less remember (and adapted somewhat), and choirs liked it so much that my version was published. (Sample text: "When David was a harper and playing for the king, the soldiers turned in wonder to hear the music ring. The singing of the shepherd a-praising of his Lord was sweeter than the king's wine and stronger than his sword.") I asked other choral people if they recognized the madrigal, and came to the conclusion that it must be a mighty obscure work because everybody drew a blank. Then lo and behold the obscure mystery piece turned out to be the old standard, "Nous voyons que les hommes" by Jakob Arcadelt. I hope other people have similarly ridiculous holes in their memory. Anyway, my version (all power to Arcadelt) has one foot in the Renaissance and the other in a country church. In other words, it should sing, swing and spring, with a European sophistication and an Appalachian bounce. The baritone line only once dips below the D in the middle of the bass stave, but it's still a part full with tasty melodic phrases, and is appropriate for both green and advanced singers. Much of the piece is quite easy, although there are a couple of measures of Renaissance polyphony that require a good sense of rhythm.

Like many another madrigal, this piece works in a variety of tempi as long as you keep a sense of dance about it (also appropriate when thinking about King David). The larger the choir, the gentler the speed. In the accompanying soundfile the Peterborough Children's Chorus keep the dance brisk and lilting, and do a fine job of keeping the melismas from blurring over.

For the choir of St. Thadeus Episcopal Church, Chattanooga, TN.
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Soprano soloist Kamila Zbořilová and I acknowledge the audience after the premire of Missa Primavera: Our Lady of the Spring
at Kostel Nanibevzetí Panny Marie (Church of the Assumption) in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.
I know it looks like I'm asking the audience for more applause, but in fact I'm beckoning to the Gentlemen Singers,
the male octet who sang the antiphonal passages from the back of the church. Photo: Vladimír Fišar.


Talking to the audience at a warm-up concert for the big show at the
Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Doug Wright.



Two Minutes Before Sleep
(two part or unison voices with piano)

  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.
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Vive La Rose
SA(T)B and piano
SSA and piano

(SSA)   979-0-051-48082-1
(SA(T)B)   979-0-051-48031-9

Cantus Vocum
Table for Six (and friends)
A French folk song beloved on both sides of the Atlantic, this bittersweet arrangement was commissioned by Dr. Claire Wilkshire and La Rose des Vents, the choir of the Francophone Community Association of St. John's, Newfoundland. The story of a damsel's broken heart is told with the mixture of simplicity and subtlety in which French songs often excel – what a depth of contradictory feeling there is in her final lines: "Mardi reviendra me voir, / Mais je n'en voudrai pas." "Tuesday he'll come back to see me, But I wouldn't want him anymore." This is one of those songs where the choir tells a sad, sweet, simple tale that also showcases their phrases and vocal warmth. Lots of counter-melodies, lots of counterpoint amid the sad, sweet, simple harmonies. The arrangement is intended to work for trained choirs as well as community choirs where one cannot always count on wide vocal ranges or experienced readers, where the tenor line may be doubled by the contraltos and the baritones may not always be able to divide into tenor and bass. "Vive La Rose" has been recorded by many famous French musicians, and the version of the text that I have used is a tribute to the father of French Newfoundland fiddle music, Emile Benoit. Both soundfiles are from choirs in St. John's, Newfoundland, which is something I had very much hoped for. If you are following Cantus Vocum with a score, note the changes in the baritone at m.28-34 and 84. Thanks to Dr. Claire Wilkshire for making sure the French was accurate.


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Maple Ridge Secondary Chamber Choir, led by Denise O'Brien, after one of the most
intense and productive clinics ever at the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff.



When It Was Yet Dark
(SAB - published by Boosey & Hawkes: The Music of Stephen Hatfield)

(treble)   979-0-051-46872-0
(SAB)   979-0-051-46874-4

Amabile
Set to a lovely old hymn tune ( Pleading Saviour ), I present the empty tomb at Easter from Mary Magdalene's point of view. I wanted to demonstrate that you could deal with a sacred subject without proselytizing, and I think the result is one of my best texts - it's the one that's drawn the most response. The vocal lines also turned out very well, with lots of room for shaping and phrasing and telling the story. One of my most accessible pieces.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.
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Who Rolled The Stone Away?
(SAB with some optional divisi for the men.)

(SAB)   M-051-47655-8
(SSA)   M-051-47656-5

A medium level piece of gospel swing, very bluesy and funky, that is especially appropriate for Easter, but could be performed any time in the year. The challenge is to keep the style cooking and idiomatic, so although I say "medium level" it takes stamina and rhythmic precision to pull off, and is not the sort of SAB chart to give to a junior choir. Singers have responded well to the gritty, downhome feel of the piece, although at the same time there's plenty of syncopated, note-bending nuance to keep the choir challenged. Also available for SSA.

For La Jeunesse Girls’ Choir, Cobourg, Ontario.
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Elephants, birds, cats and wolf-calls: what better place to rehearse a "Creation" than in a church basement? A long, exhausting,
utterly splendid rehearsal with Zimfira Poloz and the Hamilton Children's Choir, preparing for "Songbridge" in Szczecin, Poland.
(Wouldn't you know it? After all this work we scrapped nearly the entire section.)