Pieces for Treble Voices, Three Part
Unless otherwise noted, all pieces are a cappella, and published by Boosey & Hawkes in their CME series. I have indicated levels of difficulty, and in order that nobody gets a nasty shock, when in doubt I have described the pieces as "advanced". However, whether or not a piece is advanced depends on how comfortable the choir feels with my approach. I know that directors have found many of my pieces daunting, and yet there is nothing listed here that has not been sung by twelve year olds (albeit twelve year olds with lots of choral experience).
I was pleased that when Dr. Solveig Holmquist wrote on my music in the American Choral Journal, she rated the majority of my work as only medium in difficulty, yet still rewarding to advanced singers due to the richness of the writing. This does not mean you should feel inadequate if my pieces do strike you as difficult! Such things are different for everybody.

PIPFest 2011 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The choir and I get our motors
running with an antiphonal chant from Ghana. Photo: Edith Kang.

Acceptance Speech
(unison/piano with optional [but glorious] 3-part at the end: published by Roger Dean)

(Roger Dean)   15/1741R

This piece is easy enough for young singers, but also works very well in a different way for teens' or women's voices. The text is inspired by the number of fabulous people I know who say they were just horrible as children. The narrator reminisces about various times she drove everybody around the bend, and then launches into an "acceptance speech" that reveals she has just received the Oscar for displaying the very character traits that made her so impossible as a child. The other level of "acceptance" occurs between the narrator and her long-suffering mother. This is a chart with a lot of humour that goes way beyond the usual one-shot joke of the novelty song, while at the same time supplying the kind of easy-on-the-ears refreshment that can make a novelty song go over so well with audiences. The piano part is a rolling Fats Domino beat in the style of "Blueberry Hill", very much part of what makes the piece both accessible and unusual.

For Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.

Aliqua Treble Ensemble
Aliqua Treble Ensemble in the studio

Ahe Lau Makani
(SSA with guitar and bass)


A song of heavenly loveliness by the Hawaiian princess Lil'uokalani, the title means "Many Soft Breezes," and my arrangement encourages the voices to rise and fall like the waves and the wind. The guitar part is only chord symbols, and could be done well by any folk guitarist who has a good sense of pulse. The bass part, for an acoustic or electric instrument, requires a proficient player, although a good "feel" player could follow the guitar chords instead of the notated part. In many ways this is not that difficult a piece, but I've found that it's not a fast learner. For example, although the Hawaiian is easy to pronounce, it takes choirs some time to get used to strings of syllables like "E ke hoa o ke."
N.B. Typo in m. 128 - the final eighth note in Treble II should be a G#, not an E. In m. 149, Treble II, the syllable "ka" should be carried through the following notes: dotted quarter F#, quarter note G# a second above, then an eighth not back on the F#. At the start of the score, the guitar holds a Csus4 chord until m. 11, but it works better to alternate between C and Csus4, changing at every measure. Pronunciation hint: in spoken speech, "makani" rhymes with "bunny". That short "u" is a hard vowel to carry when you sing, but just don't fall into the trap of turning "makani" into "makawni". (Actually, the more I conduct this piece the more I realize it has a steeper learning curve than I intended.)

For West-Vancouver Secondary School, British Columbia.

Ain't That News

(treble)   979-0-051-46907-9
(SATB)   979-0-051-47269-7

An original piece in the gospel style built around the spiritual On My Journey Now. If desired, the voice parts easily form the basis of a piano part, but I don't recommend this unless your pianist has gospel chops. The piece mixes a lot of soul stylings into the gospel brew, with a funky, chanted ending that can go on for as long as you'd like. I'm pleased that the chart has gone down well in the American south. At measures 16 and 40 the shots in the Treble I and III should be sung to "Yeah!" not to "Hoo" or "Hmm" as printed in the score. Medium difficulty. The Amabile clip demonstrates how I like to handle the ending, staggering the entries in a way not indicated in the score. I also change the work "mother" to "momma" throughout the piece.

For the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, IL.

Cantilon on tour in Spain. Heather Johnson, director; Steven Turgeon, photographer.

Amazing Grace

(SSA)   979-0-051-47465-3
(SATB)   979-0-051-47126-3

Previously only available as the coda to "Ower The Hills", the SSA version of "Amazing Grace" is now also published as an individual piece. Did we need another version of this famous song? I didn't think so, and yet it turned out to be one of my best inspirations. The wind instrument(s) take the melody, and the choir sings slowly-building counter melodies that produce, if I do say so, quite a gorgeous and powerful effect. Since it's a very fast learn, it's proved to be a useful way to start the fall rehearsal schedule.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

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


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.

As She Goes
SSA and piano

  SB13 (Oxford)

"As She Goes" is a memorial commissioned by the people who loved choral educator Eileen Hower, born Eileen Catherine Murphy. Both names will have a virtual presence in any performance, since I’ve linked the letters in those names with musical pitches, similar to my choice of key: “E” for “Eileen”. The music, literally, grows out of her name. The melody is her name.

I'm using an old Italian technique, and so I give the vowels in Eileen's name an Italian pronunciation. Bearing in mind that in continental Europe "do-re-mi" is "ut-re-mi", I take the vowels in "Eileen Catherine Murphy" (e, i, e, e, a, e, i, e, u, y) and construct a melody,first heard at m. 12: "re, mi, re, re, la, re, mi, re, ut, ti".)

At first I keep the "la" in this melody lowered to "so" and then find various ways to let the note bloom upward in a gesture of release and fulfillment, such as in mseasures 16 and 24. Another reason why the "la" of C# is at first lowered to the "so" of the B (also a featured note in the piano part) is that in the European tradition, B natural is called "H": "H" for "Hower", Eileen's married name.

Folk songs were important to Eileen, so this piece opens with a quote from "My Love's An Arbutus" and closes with "Wild Mountain Thyme", which I believe was the last song Eileen heard in this world. Both folk songs are linked through a falling E, C#, B motif, and through the simple but heart-charged word “go”. Both of these songs should also share 3/4 time, but I have nudged "My Love's An Arbutus" into 4/4, and you can feel how the melody yearns for the lilt of triple time, like shoulders yearning for wings. In the same way that I first deny the "la" in the melody so that I can fulfill it, I deny the opening quote its 3/4 time so that I can fulfill it with "Wild Mountain Thyme". For me, the entry of 3/4 is like the soul lilting upwards, an effect similar to the uplift when the voices finally move into three part harmony at the word “sky” at m. 45.


Ballad of Skipper Knight, The
(SA voices (with divisi), optional unison)

(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
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. The part writing is unison or two part, with easy SSA divisi in the final chorus, although there are nuances of rhythm and phrasing to reward advanced choirs. 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.

Barb'ry Ellen
(SSA with a bit of straightforward divisi)


Nove Voce
A reworking of the famous "Barbara Allen", with a return to the way her name was originally spelled, which strengthens the flower imagery central to so many old love songs. The hero is Sweet William, while Barb'ry is a barberry bush - in other words, a briar, like the briar that grows out of her grave. The famous, beautiful and dreamy melody most often linked with this song is used when Barb'ry speaks, but otherwise I've used phrases from other folk melodies to create a more urgent and dramatic narrative. This piece would work well for a choir that knows how to tell a story, because there's lots and lots of room for word-painting and and acting through song. On the hard side of medium difficulty, or the easy side of advanced - it's not that the notes are so challenging, but you need a lot of style and "feel". Jim Keiks and Appleton North H.S. started a tradition of impassioned performances of this arrangement. Interesting to compare his pacing and phrasing with that of Timothy Fitzpatrick and the Advanced Women's Choir of Western Washington University. Robin Norman's Nove Voce brings the transparent textures of a chamber ensemble.

For Appleton North High School Varsity Women's Choir, WI.

Victoria Children's Choir

Conducting "Beacon Hill Carol" with the Victoria Children's Choir, Madeleine Humer director, who commissioned the piece. The picture is taken at
Christmas 2009 at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, where I heard many concerts as a child, most particularly an extremely creepy Amahl.
Photo by Russell Dawkins.

Beacon Hill Carol


Alliance Festival
Here is a modern carol with an ancient flavour that is also a guide to many topographical, cultural and historical themes from Vancouver Island and the Pacific Coast of Canada. The piece can be enjoyed without knowing all the background, but the detailled performance notes that come with the music would lend themselves to a good program note or a variety of classroom projects. I chose Beacon Hill as the setting of my Christmas Card to Vancouver Island, in part because as a child I felt a personal link with two famous aspects of Beacon Hill that were dated 1956, the year of my birth: the installation of the great totem pole carved by Mungo Martin in honour of the Kwakwaka'wakw nation, and the cairn raised to commemorate where sixteen year old Marilyn Bell reached shore after swimming the Juan de Fuca strait. Her feat becomes a metaphor for triumph over the mortal world, and as such is the central image of my carol. The gently ecstatic music is an adaptation of the "Enniscorthy Christmas Carol", although it creates a Scottish mood in honour of the lone piper I always heard on my way to Beacon Hill. "Then with a wild and triumphant sound / the waters broke on the stony ground, / and forth she came, shining and reborn. / I thought of her ev'ry Christmas morn."

There are some breathmarks and rhythms that I have rethought since the piece went into print. I would now lose the breathmark in m. 14 and add one in m. 19, before the words "And on a cliff". The 2/4 measures, 26 and 36, I now conduct as if they were 3/8 measures, losing the final accented eighth note that is currently tied over until the next measure. That accent now is transferred to the downbeat of measures 27 and 37. And finally, I no longer pause or decrescendo between verses, such as at m. 9. I now find that it is most dramatically effective to swell into each new verse, which also keeps the pacing rolling forward.

For the Victoria Children’s Choir, British Columbia.

When Anima came to Vancouver Island from Chicago, we performed "Beacon Hill Carol"
in Beacon Hill, at the site where Marilyn Bell swam ashore: a very moving experience for me.

Beginner's Alphabet
SSA and piano, optional bass and drums, optional string quartet


"A" is for the Amniotic womb of the sea.
"B" is for the Baby the whole planet used to be.

Since the Savridi Singers of Calgary, Alberta, had asked me for a piece on the theme of children and hope, it seemed appropriate to write an alphabet whose key words included Children, Hope and Voices, although there are many other thematic diversions that arise as the letters progress:

"E" is for the Elements to which we return.
"F" is the Fossils that we resurrect and burn.

The piece is both gentle and driving, a perpetual motion chant with a steady-ticking piano part, and a style somewhere between a folk-blues, a nursery rhyme, and the Dixie Cups. "Beginner’s Alphabet" can work with just piano, or you can add bass and drums to the piano, or add a string quartet to all three. The vocal parts are not technically demanding, although to keep that crisp, buoyant, rhythmic style going for the whole piece carries its own demands on a singer’s stamina and musical intelligence. I hope to have a recording to post before long.

The soundfile is an excellent model for the diction, which is crystal clear without sounding formal, and for the overall styling and phrasing. In this live performance the drums are a little too forward in the mix; for all that the drums are obviously summoning up the spirit of an old-time rock beat, I still want them to float and glide under the voices like a hovercraft.


Best In The House
(For SSA and accordion, guitar, bass, flute, fiddle, 2 percussion)

(choral score, treble three part)   979-0-051-47306-9
(Instrumental Parts: Accordion, Violin, Flute, Guitar, Bass, 2 Percussion)   979-0-051-10498-7

I am very gratified that this suite of Newfoundland and Irish folk music has been embraced by ceilidh bands (pronounced KAY-lee) on both sides of the Atlantic. The vocal parts are mostly SA, but the three part passages are demanding; and for all that sections of the suite are easy to learn, overall I'd label the chart "advanced." At nearly 15 minutes' length it takes stamina to perform, and the slow sections require plenty of breath control. The suite traces the historical and cultural links between Newfoundland and Ireland, incorporating the lament, the ballad, the country waltz, the jig and slip-jig - in fact, the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir often uses dancers in performance. An abridgement of the suite for SA voices and piano, aimed at less experienced singers though still rewarding for advanced choirs, can be found on the Unison and Two Part page, under the title Best In The House (Selections From) . The complete "Best In The House" is available in full score and choral score. Please be aware that the choral score does not contain a piano reduction of the instrumental parts.
There are some typos in the instrumental parts. In m. 206 in the flute, the sixteenth note F should be an E. In the accordion/guitar part, the first chord of m. 126 is D, not A. The first chord of m. 148 is Bm, not Dm. In m. 220 over the three bass notes there should be three chords: G, C and D. In m. 353 the D chord should not occur over the final eighth note, but over the quarter note that precedes it.

For Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.

Singing "Bonny Wood Green" with the Nova Scotia Children's Honour Choir on the anniversary
of Vimy Ridge - one of the most beautiful rehearsal moments of my life. For more pictures
of this magical performance, see the bottom right hand corner of the page for
"Ordering Music: Publisher's Codes." Photo by Tim Callahan-Cross.

Bonny Wood Green
(SA with some divisi - published by Alliance Music)

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

Cantilon Chamber Choir
A slow, sad, lilting Irish ballad of W.W.I, still sung in pubs today. I've adapted the text to present it from the girl's point of view. 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.

For the Calgary Girls’ Choir, Alberta.

SSA (divisi)

SSA (divisi)   979-0-051-48200-9

Chant is one of the most ancient forms of music and also one of the most modern. Another modern aspect of music is how the digital world lets us pass on the score or recording of an entire symphony as easily as one e-mails a “hello”. “Breakthrough” is a chant towards maintaining a sense of identity as music-makers in a world where how we experience music is so rapidly changing. When the recording industry began, worries were voiced over its impact on our listening habits and attention spans, and now the Internet offers an immediacy and a global range far beyond anything that a record company could ever have managed by pressing a million singles. The digital world invites us to re-evaluate what we mean by “reality”, and if you’re going to think about the fundamental, universal realities of the human world, chant and music and music-making is one of the most fundamental and universal of all. Commissioned by Elena Sharkova the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley, a part of the world where people are surrounded by technological change. The soundfile shows how well these young singers delivered the piece.


Bring It Home
(SA – some simple divisi – and piano: optional steel drum or melody instrument)


"Bring It Home" was commissioned by Melanie Michael as a 25th anniversary present to her husband Andre, and to daughters Melinda and Aleisha, who both sang in the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario. "Bring It Home" retells the story that Melanie told me: having daughters in the choir brought to their home an awareness and an appreciation of music that wouldn't have happened otherwise. My piece, sung from the child's point of view, also paid tribute to Andre's Caribbean side with a steel pan solo played by Aleisha. The soundfile is from the Amabile Youth Singers' 25th Anniversary Concert, and though the tempo is a touch slow, it did facilitate clean diction in a wet acoustic - something that needs to be taken into consideration with this piece. The steel pan solo can be played on marimba, or keyboard, or even left out as the piano part can still carry the piece. For them what gots it though, the steel pan sure does sound right. And it's amazing how good steel pan sounds on some electric keyboards . . . or a steel pan/marimba mix. . .


Change My Name
(SSA and piano)

(SSA and piano)   979-0-051-48111-8

Nove Voce
For Robin Norman and the Nove Voce Choral Society of Prince George, British Columbia: a choir that did such a good job with my "dreamy meltdown" pieces that when they commissioned me I knew I wanted to give them another slow, hypnotic spell to cast. "Change My Name" is a series of melodic variations on the opening line of a spiritual more usually known as "If He Changed My Name". The piano and vocal lines intertwine, drift, float and moan in a landscape of emotional suspension, suspension, release. Against this dreamy vocal presence the words are bare and simple and honest about the emotional cost of a spiritual search.

Choirs may find it useful to know that my intended direction at the start of the score was "a dreamy blues with a hidden sting", and not merely "a dreamy blues". Another useful bit of information removed from the score was how the crescendo that starts in Soprano 2 at m. 66 is meant to hold steadily until the downbeat of m. 69. I suggest that choristers draw the crescendo sign in, as it's a strong visual clue for how the phrase should move.


(mostly SA with a three part chorus)


Alliance Festival
This was my "farewell to Ireland", an Irish folk tune in praise of country cooking and country courtship that I set shortly after leaving Belfast. I don't need to tell you how strong and irresistable these folk melodies are, and "Colcannon" combines tenderness with panache - always a favourite paradox with me. Medium difficulty. The piece also works at a brisker tempo than that in the audio clip.

For the Portland Symphonic Girl Choir, OR.

Women of Note/Notable Women
Battling a fickle sun-beam in Manitoba: with the combined and symmetrically
named forces of "Women of Note" (Winnipeg) and "Notable Women" (Oak Lake).

Cruel Sister
SSA with a little divisi

  Order through this website

My arrangement of this beautiful, spooky ballad of sibling murder on the North Sea is for the Varsity Women's Choir of Appleton North HS, Wisconsin. Ballads were often long and, for lack of more precise word, extremely Goth in mood and plot, and in choral arrangements these glorious old songs are usually shortened and censored. I always wanted to do an arrangement where I leave in every verse and every macabre twist, so here is a tale of an evil brunette who kills her pale sister for love, only to have her sister's body wash up on shore and be carved into a harp by passing musicians, who then go to play at the evil brunette's wedding and discover that the harp can speak for itself and reveal a crime from beyond the grave…. Some publishers have been made nervous by the dark action of the ballad. Some have been made nervous by the running length of over seven minutes. So tell you what, just order it from me through the 'email' button on the 'Contacts' page. The soundfile gives an extended section of Appleton's performance, starting when the traveling musicians make a harp from the drowned girl and head for the wedding party.


Down Low With Finesse
SSA divisi, a cappella

  Porfiri & Harváth
PHP 312 052

The title refers to handling a mood swing with style, but also pays tribute to the choir's name: Finesse is a girls' chamber ensemble from Mt. Whitney H.S. in Visalia, California, directed by Brad Hayashi. My text deals with the anxieties of young adulthood that are exorcised, chant-style, in a cyclone swirl of ostinati, funky riffs and "chacka chacka" vocal effects that turn the choir into a beat box or an air guitar. I've often said that I think of a choir as a tribe, in Down Low With Finesse the tribal experience of putting the piece together becomes the best therapy for overcoming despair, described in this piece as "that down-low creepin' song". The accompanying soundfile was made during a classroom rehearsal with Finesse – a wonderful workshop with a very hip, intelligent ensemble with a lot of personality.


Drumbeat and Willowsong
(Pukjantan Yangryu Ga)

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

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

Nove Voce
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.


Fair Time Ago, A
SSA with solos/soli

  Cypress: CP 1183(Canada)
(US) Musical Resources of Toledo

Table for Six (and friends)
I was asked to write a piece for Lady Cove, a women's choir from St. John's led by Kellie Walsh, that would honour the role of women in traditional Newfoundland culture. The result, in a gently dancing slow 6/8, is an interweaving of narratives through an interweaving of solos or soli around the tutti texture. There are many ways these solos/soli could be distributed, depending on the vocal balance of the individual choir; during these antiphonal sections the tutti choir stays in two parts, which gives extra wiggle room when it comes to distributing solos without fatally weakening the ensemble sound. This piece looks backward in time, which makes it especially suitable for adult voices, but as many of the narratives come from young women peering into the future, the piece is also especially suitable for young voices.


Family Tree
(SSA, with much of the piece in SA, with keyboard, guitar and flute)


A young woman remembers what her great-great grandmother went through when she came to a new country. Dreamy and tender, yet passionate, with a lullabye rhythm and vocal phrases that seem on the verge of sleep, while the words stay very much awake. The instrumental parts are all quite simple and are brought in halfway through the piece, when the great-great grandmother's voice is heard in the branches of the tree she planted. I realize this sounds like a dream you'd have after watching Pocahontas three times a day, but the effect of the piece is not corny at all. It goes deep with audiences. I've seen people cry. A good festival entry, since there is much that can be done with phrasing and word-painting. Medium difficulty, but with room for the most advanced choir to show its tone.

N.B. Typo in m. 34: the guitar chord should be E major, not D minor.

For the Holton-Arms School of Washington, DC, in honour of its centennial.

Fashion Victim, Drama Queen
(SA and a soli section that runs throughout)


Nove Voce
Here we have a slangy de profundis about trying to placate your peer group. The soli section acts as the Drama Queen, while the rest of the choir takes the part of the peer group, commenting on the outsider in a mixture of English and Tex-Mex Spanish slang. (There's only a half dozen Spanish phrases to learn.) There is a clapping ostinato throughout the piece which looks terrific when the whole choir does it, but can also be played with brushes on a snare drum. The piece is not that demanding technically, and entire sections get repeated, although in different keys. Because of the cross-dialogue between the choir and the soli section this chart has lots of potential to be blocked in various ways, and would be perfect for choirs that are looking for a piece that lets them present themselves on stage in an unusual way. The tempo is fairly brisk, the words are humorous, and the overall effect is half positive, half sad and creepy - one of my favourite aesthetic experiences.

For Rivera High School, Kantorei Singers of Brownsville, TX.

The Amabile Young Women perform "Nukapianguaq", a score which their own performances helped me create.

For Elizabeth: Gold, Frank Innocence and Mirth


Written in memory of Elizabeth Ball, a chorister who died young. I use the old Italian technique of matching the vowels of her name to the corresponding sol-fa syllables to create an ostinato that metaphorically translates her into music. The piece combines poignancy with lots of sparkle, lots of interlocking ostinati. The mix of tenderness and energy has effected audiences strongly. On the line between medium and advanced.

For the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, IL.

Girl of the Branches
(SSA [much of it SA] - advanced)


Nove Voce (start of suite)
This is a Gaelic suite, combining Scots and Irish texts and melodies (and what melodies!), and folding them into each other. The Gaelic has been "anglo-phoneticized" in the score to assist with learning, but the proper, glorious Gaelic spelling is in the performance notes. The melodies are profoundly gorgeous, and my counter-melodies are almost worthy of them, which is saying something. The suite comes with an optional "fine" part way through the score, which makes the suite both easier, and for some choirs, more easily programmed than the full ten minutes. A heavenly showcase for a choir's tone and phrasing.

For Celesta Women’s Choir and the Senior Treble Choir of West Vancouver S.S.

Les Ms.
Members of Les Ms. moments before showtime at Podium 2008.
See the bottom of the SSAA compositions page for a full shot of
the choir Melanie DeMore called "The Estrogen Festival".

Giver Should Be Grateful, The

  AMP 0773 (Alliance)

Nove Voce/Tapestry
WARNING: The first edition of the printed score jumps from measure 10 to 20. If you have that edition, contact me through this website and I will send you the missing measures.

This piece was commissioned by Podium 2008, the national convention of Canadian choral directors, and reflects the concerns of choral directors everywhere: the spiritual and cultural importance of singing, the effort required of those who support and enable the tradition, how thankless their efforts often are, and how the best thanks and praise come from within, from our own realization that we have fought the good fight. Premiered by the joint forces of the Fredericton Youth Orchestra and the Fredericton School Girls' Choir, the song makes its point through telling a story. Here is the opening and the closing of the tale. "Once on a distant night, a temple in Japan caught fire (it burned so bright). No place to pray 'til a rich businessman came forward with a trunk so full of money, rebuilding right away could start. But not a 'thank you' from the temple came. It couldn't help but grate his heart." "So all you pilgrims here, what are you marching for? What makes you, year by year, give what you can and then give some more? Is there a temple burning deep inside you, rebuilding every time it falls apart? Well, our creator was the first to know the giver has a grateful heart." The quiet mischief in the piano part underlines the humour as well as the gentle passion in the narrative, while the choir's role as storyteller gives them plenty of opportunity to explore the finesse of phrasing and rhythm required to make a tale come alive. A good piece for creating an unusual atmosphere - a kind of quirky serenity - without requiring a host of unusual techniques from the singers.




"Glettur" is an Icelandic word that signifies a mischievous but ultimately good-hearted sense of humour. Launching itself from a snatch of an old fiddle jig, "Glettur" lives up to its name with crafty changes of style and key, and with ironic allusions to a couple of other famous pieces of music that have something to do with high spirits. (Tease, tease.....) This is a piece for a choir with lots of confidence and personality who knows how to keep the groove light but righteous. Given the way it turns the singers into quick-change artists, it would be good for strutting your stuff at a festival. The piece was performed by senior elementary/middle school choristers in Iceland, although I'd only recommend it for that age group if the singers are unusually gung-ho. (In Iceland the choir used a bit of piano back-up on their first performance.) The piece has sections that repeat verbatim, which cuts down on the amount of music you have to learn, but it's still a chart that requires an alert group. In the sound file, I'm drumming on my knees. This is optional!

For Skólakór Kársness, Kópavogur, Iceland, for their 25th anniversary.

I often use children's toys to illustrate a musical point. Here a chorister from at the 2011 Czech Choir Festival in Hradec Králové
floats a gyroscope on her thumb to show the other singers how I want the notes to also defy gravity and floate.

Green Shores of Fogo, The
(SSA, with some simple, repetitive divisi in the 2nd treble)


This is a sweeping, mournful, subtle, splendid Newfoundland folk song to which I've added my own counter-melodies and antiphonal refrains. A good festival entry that ranges from triple pianissimo to soaring washes of sound, the piece imitates the rise and fall of a foggy sea. (I was thrilled when an English critic referred to its evocation of "diffused light".) The Newfoundlanders like the arrangement, which is the ultimate seal of approval. I'd say it's an advanced piece, not because of difficult vocal parts, but because of the intensity, energy, and subtlety required to pull it off. Middle school choristers have sung it, but in choirs where there were also high school singers.

For Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.

Heaven Somewhere
(SSA: 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

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 sound file is of the TBB version. The fingersnaps in the score show that the swing style is uppermost, for fingersnaps have no place in the gospel tradition.

For the Northwest Girl Choir of Seattle, WA, from the original version for the Seattle Men’s Chorus.

J'ai vû le loup

(SSA)   979-0-051-47563-6
(SATB)   48019910

Amabile (SSA)
Juvenata! 2008
For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario, revoiced for SATB for Hopewell Valley Central H.S. of Pennington, NJ. The title means "I've seen the wolf". In this down-home kicker of an old French song the narrator meets with a fox and a hare as well, and outdoes them all when it comes to shouting, whirling and twirling, and being a wild, victorious thing in general. There are only a few lines of French to learn, along with a melody that will have the whole choir humming as they leave rehearsal. Not too technically advanced a chart, but one that does well with some more mature, high school voices in the mix. Overall, a song of triumph that starts with a whisper and builds to a roar. If you compare the soundfiles you will notice the treble version by Amabile goes at a brisker pace. Originally I wanted the whirlwind of energy created by a quick tempo, but came to feel that a slower pace added defiance and dignity to the revels. This is, after all, a song of survival.


Lady Cove from St. John's, Newfoundland, named for a community, conducted by
Kellie Walsh, they are one of the great performers of "Las Amarillas".

Job, Job
(SSA with sections of divisi in every part)

(SATB)   979-0-051-47806-4
(SSA)   979-0-051-47572-8

Partners In Praise
The Drake Chorale
Best suited for the more mature sound of high-school singers or older, this piece comes from the bluesy, moaning, deep-souled traditions of the field yell and the gospel holler. According to the choirs who've sung it there is an electricity in the air from the first notes on. There is a fair amount of divisi, although it's simple and homophonic in nature. Centered around the famous story of Job, the piece contains both the darkness and the uplift we associate with that harrowing tale. It starts out as a groan of grief and ends like a blazing chariot, soaring and victorious. The soundfile features Partners In Praise Girls' Choir, directed by Julia Fahey.

In the first editions of the printed score, the 1st line of the 2nd paragraph in that part of the Performance Notes called “optional percussion” should say, “In the choruses you could introduce a tambourine”, not “In the verses you could introduce a tambourine”. Some sharp-eyed conductors have noted inconsistencies in the placement of vocal scoops. These inconsistencies are unintentional (my apologies). Choirs can assume that when melodic lines are repeated, the approach to the scoops remains the same, and a scoop that occurs in one voice will also occur in another.

For Partners in Praise Girls’ Choir for their 10th anniversary.

Guelph Young Singers
Members of the Guelph Youth Singers, led by Linda Beaupré. A choir that has made "Labour of Love" its
own - and wouldn't this be a fascinating take on that piece if it weren't for the fact they're
performing Mulligatawny Macbeth by John Calvedos. Photo: Vicky Abrams

Labour of Love
(SSA, piano and violin)


Much of this piece is in unison and two-part, and the three-part writing is simple. I wanted a piece that would not be taxing to learn, accessible to young singers, but which would give ample opportunity for the kind of phrasing and interpretation that keeps even an advanced choir challenged. The violin part often gets the melody, and what a lovely and lilting Celtic melody it is - a 6/8 treasure to which I've put words that talk of the narrator's search for....something. Sample lyric: They brought me to the doctor. She said, 'It's the clearest case I've ever seen. This kid needs a ransom, she needs a genie, she needs a ship sailing where she was always meant to be.' A song that is introspective yet uplifting and catchy at the same time. The audio clip shows how I have taken to bringing the violin at m. 20.

The clip also shows how I would like the piece to end. In the score I have the choir's final chord brought to a sudden close by a short bass note on the piano. At the time I liked the way this unexpectedly crisp ending swam against the current of sentiment, but I quickly came to reverse my thinking. I now want as much gentle tenderness as possible as the piece closes, so that the brisk bass note is now wrapped in velvet and re-equipped with a fermata.

For the Toronto Children's Chorus, Ontario.

Las Amarillas


A showstopper and crowd pleaser (the one I'm most frequently told drove audiences crazy), this Mexican huapango gets a hot-blooded treatment with lots of rose-in-your-teeth personality. There's four verses of rapid Spanish to learn. 2nd sopranos are featured on the melody while the other sections dance around them. Tasty hemiolas, which some choirs have a tough time getting used to until the rhythms settle in. Despite the definitely advanced level of this chart, it goes over so well that I've seen many choirs really stretch themselves to achieve it. It has been managed by middle school choirs, but that wouldn't be the rule.

In some editions of the score there are several strange typos in the lyrics on the final page. At the end, all three vocal parts should have the same syllables: "na na no". In some editions the "la la" syllables float to the side of the note they are meant to accompany, but at least it's easy to figure out what is supposed to be happening.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Mayn Rue Platz

(SA (with divisi), violin and percussion)   979-0-051-47811-8
(SATB, violin and percussion)   979-0-051-47810-1

Juvenata! 2008 (without violin)
I've taken a Yiddish lament, usually sung slowly, and set it to Arabic-flavoured dance grooves which are both ecstatic and edgy, aggressive and smouldering. The piece evokes the MIddle East without being culturally specific, as I want this arrangement to suggest a lament for all the people of that part of the world. The violin is strongly featured and combines rhythmic chops with a wailing cantabile. At least two percussionists are needed on tambourine and doumbek but the performance notes give various options for different numbers of players and different styles of drums. The vocal lines are passionate and undulating, like a silk ribbon on their breeze, like tendrils of perfumed smoke. The cantabile vocal lines combine with the driving percussion to create a piece which could equally open or close a concert con fuoco. My thanks to the Virginia ACDA for asking me to write them something.


Missa Brevis

(treble)   979-0-051-46779-2
(SATB)   979-0-051-47268-0

Nove Voce (Agnus Dei)
One of my best pieces. Each section (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) is based on a melody from a different part of the world, which I then transform into a wide range of emotional levels and musical textures. The Kyrie, which is very haunting, is less technically demanding than the other movements, and is often performed on its own, even by middle school choirs (putting the Kyrie up a semitone may well help younger voices). Overall the piece is advanced, though the Sanctus has also been done with young singers.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

juice (spelled with a small "j") - the daring, sultry, spaced-out, technically miraculous super-trio from England.
Their performances of my work have earned me more European fan-mail than ever before.
Check below for their soundfile of "Three Ways To Vacuum Your House, Part I". Photo by Richie Andrew.

Next Room, The
(for SSA and piano - published by Roger Dean)

(Roger Dean)   15-1739R

Suitable for singers old enough to be in the dating game, and especially pithy when sung by women, this piece has some honky-tonkin' breaks for the piano, and vocal parts that pay tribute to the old hurtin' music divas who examined the fate of a woman in a man's world when the men are all such little boys. This may sound like an unlikely choral piece (which in a way I meant it to be), but at the same time Peter Vanderhorst told me that if he scheduled the piece at the end of rehearsal, the girls were ready to sing overtime - and when they toured Cuba, the piece was a favourite with audiences despite the language barrier. Excellent for a choir that wants something unusual that is still catchy and melodic, and excellent for a choir that enjoys a rootsy sound.

For Medicine Hat College Girls’ Choir, Alberta.

(mostly unison or S/A moving in octaves)

(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.

(SSA with additional soli section, and percussion)


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.

Madrigaïa, who brilliantly customized "Ödi Ödi", among other pieces.

Ödi Ödi
(can be performed in three parts)


This setting of a Tamil song is most effectively sung with a double SSA choir, with the 2nd choir being a double or triple trio. 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. With all six voices, advanced level, though I've done the core melody in unison with young children, while the accompanying drone was done on Orff-tuned percussion. There is also a simple but very evocative part for zils. The second sound file, by Madrigaïa, shows how the piece can be customized.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

The Children's Chorus of Washington

A wonderful concert: with Joan Gregoryk, director; Dan Cotton, accompanist;
and The Children's Chorus of Washington, who commissioned 'Ojos Azules'.

Ojos Azules
SSA and percussion with options for unison and SA


I take a slow and tender Andean folk song, taught to me by Lindsay Guamán, and put it through a variety of moods and melodies. A gently mournful tone opens and closes the piece, while the extended middle section is a bubbling fountain of Andean champagne with a profusion of counter-melodies and percussion riffs scored for four Afro-Cuban instruments, since authentic Andean percussion isn't easily had at your local music store. The score gives hints as to how you could make do with only two percussionists, though if you have a team of keeners who want to drum, the sky's the limit. Children, teenagers and adults can each champion their particular timbre through this chart which combines heaven and heartbreak. The percussion score includes a version of the piece that is mostly unison with some SA passages for choirs unready for three part singing.

For the Children's Chorus of Washington, for its 10th anniversary.

On The Rooms
SSA with much SA texture and a few SSAA passages


Written to honour the opening of "The Rooms", a museum dedicated to the past, present and future of Newfoundland and Labrador, "On The Rooms" is a mini-epic that takes the choir through a cast of characters that includes Irish beauties, Inuit brides, and French and Portuguese fishermen. In Newfoundland dialect "the rooms" were the docks and sheds in which the fish were gutted, dried and salted. If somebody was at work they were said to be "on the rooms": hence the name of the museum and my piece. My text and my background notes give a wealth of historical and cultural detail, and even though the piece can be enjoyed without all the background knowledge, this background could certainly play into the hands of an educator who wanted to build a class project around the music, which ranges from the elegiac to the jaunty. The soundfile features Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth In Chorus, directed by Susan Knight.

Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.

From Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic, the children's choir Jitro
(whose name combines "sunrise", "daybreak" and "morning"), with conductor Jiří Skopal.
The choir and the contemporary Czech composers they champion are both astonishing.

One Drop
(Scored for SSA "main choir" [with a bit of divisi], percussion, and additional parts for "guests" and the audience.)


Written for Erkki Pohjola's Songbridge 2001, One Drop was originally performed by the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Chorus, while an easier unison backing part (which appears in the score as the part for "guests") was taken by choirs from Israel, Japan and South Africa. Like all Songbridge pieces there is also a simple part for the audience to sing - and I do mean simple. They can learn it in seconds. The "guests" part can be taken by a visiting choir, or, where a choral organization has more than one performing group, the main part can be taken by senior choristers and the guests part by intermediates. So, yes, the piece takes some extra coordination to mount, but conductors say it's worth it. One Drop addresses the global water shortage, but I pride myself that my texts never sound like the usual "message song". Full of verbal and musical puns (for example, the rhythm of the drips and drops which goes throughout the piece morphs into the dots and dashes of SOS in morse code), One Drop has packed a wallop at more than one international venue. And because of its hypnotic, funky groove, it connects unusually well with young listeners.


One for Frost, Two for Fire


- 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.

Ower The Hills
(SSA with C or Bflat instrument - bagpipes part available from the publisher)
(See "Amazing Grace" for a sound file of the suite's finale.)

(treble)   979-0-051-46942-0
(SATB)   979-0-051-47807
(instrumental parts - bagpipes, C and Bflat instruments, percussion)   979-0-051-10460-4

If you have a big choir and the right acoustics, the bagpipes are a possibility, but this suite of traditional Scottish melodies works beautifully if the pipes part is taken by any combination of oboe, violin, flute, clarinet - unison instrumental playing is very much in the Scottish tradition. The suite ends with Amazing Grace . Do we need yet another version of this famous song? I didn't think so, and yet it turned out to be one of my best inspirations. The instruments take the melody, and the choir sings slowly-building counter melodies that produce, if I do say so, quite a gorgeous and powerful effect. Many choirs have performed this coda on its own, and since it is a very fast learn, it's proved to be a useful way to start the fall rehearsal schedule. The melodies in the suite proper are fabulous, with lots of back-and-forth between choir and instrumentalists. Medium difficulty. The original score contained the bagpipes part written out for C and Bflat instruments. Instrumental parts can also be ordered.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Queen Jane
(SSA with divisi at the end)


A favourite of mine - an old ballad on Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, who died in childbirth. A slow melody of breathtaking beauty, around which I've built countermelodies almost worthy of the original. Lots of opportunity for story telling - the sopranos are Jane, the 2nd sopranos are the narrator, and the altos are Henry. Very moving, exquisitely sad, strangely peaceful. I've seen tears in both choir and audience. Advanced.

At measure 35, Treble III sing "Oh" to what appears to be a D# in the score, but should in fact be a D natural.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

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

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

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.

Slovenica      Slovenica
Carmina Slovenica, the Slovenian choir whose beautiful movement, as much as their
beautiful singing, turns pieces like "TJAK!" and "Sweet Tooth" into their own rituals.
More great pictures at www.zbor-carmina-slovenica.si.

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

(Colla Voce)   21-20214

Carmina Slovenica
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.

Three Ways To Vacuum Your House, I


This triptych is one of my most ingenious, witty and unusual pieces, as yet relatively undiscovered. I invite conductors to help me remedy this ghastly oversight.  An original piece influenced by a variety of traditional musical cultures, including a closing "drumspeak" section inspired by the percussionists of southern Asia. Lots of funky, interlocking ostinati with lots of swing. Nonsense text with hidden in jokes, such as half-disguised guides to vowel pronunciation. Advanced. The second sound file, by Madrigaïa, shows how the piece can be customized.

For the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Ontario.

Three Ways To Vacuum Your House, II


My favourite section of this three-parter. A simple ostinato, divided up between the singers, is slowly built on until it is a whirl of interweaving voices. Touches of blues and Brazilian samba. One of my funkiest, wittiest and most inventive concoctions. (Is not modesty an inestimable jewel?) Advanced.

For the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Ontario.

Three Ways To Vacuum Your House, III


A Siamese twin made of two very different styles. Starting out with an evocation of the Peruvian lando, the suite carries some of its past riffs into a stomper of a celtic closer. Some rich and full-throated textures here, suitable for a choir with lots of red corpuscles in their sound. Advanced. There is a typo in the alto, m. 31. The pitches are correct, but the time values for the last two notes should be reversed from a quarter and an eighth to an eighth and a quarter. At measure 61 I tend to "crescendo poco a poco", not "decrescendo".

For the Toronto Children’s Chorus, Ontario.

Nova Scotia Children's Honour Choir
Sunlight plays across a mid-song gesture by
the Nova Scotia Children's Honour Choir, who
premiered the treble voicing of 'Vive La Rose'.
Photo: Tim Callahan-Cross.

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.


Vus Vet Zayn
(SSA: recording available - published by Colla Voce)

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

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 are OK, but not ideal. 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.

When I Was In My Prime
(SSA with piano)


When I was in my prime, I flourished like a vine. There came along a false young man that stole the heart of mine... One of my favourite old Anglo-Irish ballads. A heartbreaker of a melody, and an interesting text that draws on the bittersweet symbolism of various flowers and trees, which is elaborated in the background notes that come with the music. The piano part suggests the imagery of the text through a hypnotic use of inverted pedal notes, and slow chords that gently move the tonality of the ballad from one century to the next. Medium difficulty.

For the Northwest Girlchoir, WA.

The senior members of the Shallaway family of choirs from St. John's, Newfoundland, with whom I had one
of the most important choral collaborations of my life. They stand in front of the symbol of their own fighting spirit.

When icicles hang by the wall (from the Shakespeare anthology Hark, hark, the lark)

(SSA cappella)   978-0-19-340615-5

This famous lyric from Love's Labours Lost is my contribution to Hark, hark, the lark - the Oxford University Press collection of settings of Shakespeare lyrics. "When icicles hang by the wall" creates, in a few lines, an entire winter landscape, from people blowing on their hands as they work, to discovering their milk has turned to ice in the pail; from people attending church full of head colds, to the Yuletide fires in the manor hallway; from serving maids stirring the pot for dinner to the owls calling from the winter wood. My setting, which comes with some optional suggestions for a bit of theatrical blocking, can be sung in the manner of a madrigal, or of a school skit, or everything in between: the song is simultaneously spooky and humorous. The vocal style, very much influenced by the madrigal, is full of the antiphonal, dramatic effects we expect from the tradition, as well as the contrapuntal ethos that ensures every voice sings melodic lines. For more information, check out the link at Oxford University Press: ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780193406155.do.


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

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

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. I originally wrote the treble voicing in G major, as in the accompanying audio clip, and if have have the altos, G major sounds much warmer than the A major in the score.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

When The Stars Fall
(SSA and oboe)
(Sound file is of the SATB version.)

(SSA+oboe)   979-0-051-47302-1
(SATB)   979-0-051-47216-1

Nove Voce/Tapestry (SSA)
Easy enough for an inexperienced choir, but with enough room for shaping and styling to satisfy the most advanced ensemble. This is my text set to a gorgeous hymn tune I found in Jutland, and when it came to my arrangement of the music, I do believe the Muse descended. The effect is of meditative serenity and simple beauty. A spiritual piece that does not proselytize, this piece is a good study in creating a timbre both rich and transparent. Choirs have expressed a particular devotion to this one.

For the Mayde Creek Junior High School Concert Girls’ Choir, TX, from the version originally for One Voice: An Outreach Choir, IL.

Post-rehearsal with AcaBella from Corner Brook, Newfoundland, who gave some
of the best performances of my work I've ever heard at Festival 500, 2013.

Who Rolled The Stone Away?

(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. 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 SAB.

For La Jeunesse Girls’ Choir, Cobourg, Ontario.

Bowring Park      Bowring Park
A snowy April 1 in Bowring Park, St. John's, a favorite composer's walk that is only minutes from my house.
Much of my chamber opera Ann & Séamus was written here. )

Worth Fighting For
(SA with piano and percussion, with options for solos or choral divisi)


I have reworked parts of Scenes 2, 4 and 5 of Ann and Séamus to create a self-enclosed suite. (Soundfiles of some of the relevant parts from the original opera score can be heard on this website by going to the page for Ann and Séamus and clicking the soundfile beside "Early morning at Isle aux Morts" and "On the Derry docks".) There are optional parts for four soloists (Ann, Séamus, Father George and Mother Jane) which have the option of being taken by sections of the choir.

All solo parts are scored for treble voices, but Séamus and Father George can be sung by a tenor and bass. The suite can be performed in choral concert formation, or it can be turned into a piece of theatre through various degrees of blocking and/or costume. The percussion part is scored for a frame drum, but could easily be transferred to the floor tom of a drum set.


Isle aux Morts
A picture from my visit to Isle aux Morts, where Ann & Séamus takes place.
Having so often heard the place referred to as the ultimate in stormy isolation,
I had not expected so much quiet beauty. For another picture of Isle aux Morts,
see "On The Horizon" on the page for unison treble.