News & Views Thursday, October 02, 2014

Category: New Publications

STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT: The Witching Hour 01 October, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist

It’s already October, and I can’t think of a better way to start the month than by shining the Stanton’s Spotlight on The Witching Hour by Randall Standridge for concert band. It’s my favorite, and probably the best, new piece this year!

From the description, “This macabre work entices the listener into that bewitching time of night when dark forces gather to celebrate and do their mischief. Four interconnected themes are announced by haunting chime statements…”  The interconnected themes in different settings and styles combined with the ominous grandfather clock chimes tie the four sections of this work into one cohesive whole with each section representing a quarter hour.

Introduction
The piece opens with an ominous drone in the low winds and the first tolling of the chimes of both warning and mystery – for whom the bell tolls – to great effect.

The Gathering
The first quarter hour features well written and effective auxiliary percussion, chromatic lines and intervals, tremolo effects in some of the woodwinds, and the typical Eastern European sound/dance style a la Transylvania. The synthesized harpsichord adds a ghastly and slightly grating sound that puts this section over the top!

Spells and Incantations
Haunting mallet percussion sets the eerie feeling of the second quarter hour featuring dynamic swells, haunting long tones and disturbing rhythmic interjections in the trumpets (8th notes – 1 beat triplet – 16th notes). This even-odd-even pattern adds to the off-balance feeling of the section.

The Witches’ Dance
Now that the witches have gathered and cast ceremonial spells and incantations, it’s time to cut loose! Heralded by the familiar chime and an ominous timpani roll, this section is an odd meter (5/4 written as 3/4 + 2/4) dance. In the style of an off-beat waltz, we begin with a steady tempo full of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sonic flavor highlighted by modal 16th note woodwind runs before a gradual accelerando pushes it to the brink of out-of-control ecstasy.

The Witches’ Flight
One last set of chimes leads into a fourth quarter hour of explosive full ensemble playing. This dance-like section is underpinned by driving 8th notes as the witches take to their brooms and our dark celebration drives to the ending!

As always with these heavily programmatic works, there is plenty to teach ranging from mixed meter, to tempo and style changes and transitions, to accidentals that create the proper harmonic effect, to auxiliary percussion instruments and fun, musical effects. These musically exaggerated settings create opportunities that can really enhance both individual and ensemble musicianship in a context that is a blast to play! It is great seasonal programming for this time of year, a fun musical goal for the spring, or a wonderful (and fresh) adjudication alternative. Ohio directors who want a break from the usual band overture, piece with contemporary “edge”, or wind band standards will be glad to know that The Witching Hour is on the Ohio Class B list for 2015!

The Witching Hour is an original compositional masterpiece. It is a study in perfect form and balance. There are sufficient themes to hold on to, yet it is full of great tonalities, effects, and rhythms that fit its theme and bring the piece to life. Every element serves the greater musical narrative. As a result, it has ongoing forward motion and never gets bogged down. It is challenging but not impossible to play, and most importantly, it is a FUN piece of music! All of these elements combine to allow it to hold the performers’ and audience’s attention. In short, it perfectly meets all the criteria mentioned in my recent What I Listen For post, and is why I’m excited to feature it in my first Stanton’s Spotlight post for this school year!

Other haunting new titles we recommend: Ghosts of the Lost Ship by Tyler S. Grant, Haunted Clocks by Brian Balmages, and Zombie Tango by James Meredith

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He always feels the urge to read Edgar Allan Poe, the original novels featuring traditional Hollywood monsters, and other macabre tales this time of year, yet never does.


Why I Look Forward to New Music from Grand Mesa, and You Should Too! 26 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist –

Grand Mesa CB PromoAmong the dozen or so publishers whose new concert band titles we preview each year, one that I look forward to most is Grand Mesa. While the largest band publishers release 60-100 new titles each year across multiple series, small publishers like Grand Mesa release a limited number of new pieces (22 in 2014). Since we usually listen to publisher promotions from beginning to end, this allows us to preview their entire band promotion in a couple of hours instead of devoting an entire workday (or more) to one single promotion.

This smaller number of new releases, I believe, results in a tighter, more cohesive promotion that is much more enjoyable to listen to. The amount of unique, original writing has really gotten our attention (check out our Composer Profile on Randall Standridge), and the consistency from title to title is excellent. We score each new title on a scale of 1-10 (10 = Awesome!), and most Grand Mesa titles usually receive between a 7 and 10. This quality and consistency has led to Stanton’s promoting 5 of their new titles this year, and 3 Grand Mesa works are currently on the Ohio required concert band lists. Their arrangements run the gamut from contemporary (Adrenaline Engines) to classical (Scenes from Old Russia), and features (Slidin’ Down the Mississippi) to just plain fun (Zooveniers). This variety presents interesting programming and solid teaching opportunities.

Besides releasing really good new music each year, Grand Mesa features some of the coolest, fun, and creative covers (check out the slideshow below to see some of our favorites). In addition, full scores to their works can be viewed online, and you can download recordings of their music for free by creating a login on their website. If you want to see for yourself, check out our recommended titles below or click on the promotional image to preview Grand Mesa’s new titles for 2014-15. You may also use Stanton’s 21-Day Trial to try out in stock and new titles with your students.

I hope this introduction to Grand Mesa Music Publishers provides some exciting new music choices for you and your students, and that you look forward to their new releases each year as much as I do!

Grand Mesa Music Publishers is an independent instrumental music publisher in Grand Junction, Colorado that specializes in concert band, marching band, string orchestra, and solo and ensemble publications. You can learn more about Grand Mesa by visiting their website, and order their publications from Stanton’s Sheet Music.

Stanton’s Recommends: Adrenaline Engines, Angelic Celebrations, Darklands March, Gadget, The Ride of Percival, The Rowan Tree, Ruckus, The Witching Hour, Zooveniers

Click to view slideshow.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


Behind the Scenes: What I Listen For 25 September, 2014

by Ken Tilger, Band Education Specialist -

Taking our previous Behind the Scenes post (Behind the Scenes: Picking Band Promotions) one step further, I want to share what I hear and listen for when previewing new concert band recordings. Although I’ve broken these ideas down into an outline format, it’s neither a checklist nor sequential; just things I keep in mind while listening. Hopefully this will give you some ideas that you can incorporate in your listening to new music, and further insight into some of the thought process that goes into Stanton’s band promotions.

At “first glance”, I’m listening for elements that make a piece sound unique, creative, and interesting regardless of difficulty, and all of the following contribute to this first impression.

Percussion – One of the things that we’ve noticed over the past decade or so is how much interesting, colorful percussion adds to a piece. Use of accessory instruments, quality mallet writing, and battery percussion beyond “boom-chicks” and basic subdivision makes a huge difference in the sound and maturity of a piece no matter how basic the overall difficulty. This presents great opportunities to teach accessory instruments, and helps keep students engaged – we all know what happens when 12 of your 15 percussionists are sitting idle! Of course, this is a double-edged sword – extensive percussion can really make a piece and there is plenty of great percussion writing right now, however this is a difficult area if you’re lacking enough students or the needed equipment.

Does it sound modern/contemporary? – This really applies to new original pieces. Some of the most fun, contemporary sounding works are incorporating techniques used in modern film scores, and we all know from previewing music that there are arrangements that sound dated. Also, if the piece is supposed to be of the contemporary “edgy” variety, is there enough of a melody or rhythmic hook to hang your hat on? Just doing neat things with sound doesn’t cut it.

If the piece is in a style (or if it is an arrangement), is it authentic? – Nothing makes or breaks a piece for me like capturing the essence of a style. This includes characteristic sound and harmonies, rhythms, and use of instrumentation. There are many pieces that try to incorporate hints of a style, and mostly end up sounding cheesy. Why not introduce students to the most authentic editions available? This creates opportunities to work on rhythmic reading, articulation, phrasing, and musicianship beyond the legato wind band approach. Besides, we all have programmed super-watered pop arrangements designed to be rhythmically “accessible” by young groups, and had to tell students to play the page, not how the tune actually goes. To me this is an opportunity to do the opposite – allow students to use rhythms they already know aurally to learn how to read the notation.

Does the piece justify/live up (or down) to its title? – We’ve all heard the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover.” Aside from wanting the content of a piece to actually be represented by the title, there are numerous examples of decently titled pieces that are good in concept, but (let’s say) underwhelming in their execution. Likewise, there have been a number of pieces that I would personally skip listening to based on their cheesy titles, but since we listen to everything I wind up finding that some are really good, and just deserve a better title.

Will students have fun playing it? – In the last couple of years, I’ve adopted this approach from our Jazz Guy, Ben.

Beginning band music does not have to equal “baby band”. – Modern beginning band arrangements provide many opportunities to explore fun styles and interesting sounds all while staying true to the limitations of beginning instrumentalists. Through the use of interesting percussion, staggered rhythmic motion on basic rhythms, and passing tones, clusters, etc. interesting music can be written at this level. Need proof? Check out the entire FJH Starter Series, and beginning band pieces by Brian Balmages, Sean O’Loughlin, and Robert W. Smith.

What musical concepts/techniques can be taught or reinforced? – Or, put another way, what do your students need to be able to do to play the piece? This idea is integral to our young band promotional write-ups obviously for educational reasons, but also because most publisher descriptions avoid this altogether and instead focus primarily on programming if you’re lucky.

Attention Span! – This is another big one for me that I’ve begun focusing on in the last few years, especially on upper level concert pieces. Basically if I zone out as a trained musician who appreciates quality art for art’s sake, what will parents with limited to no musical experience get out of it? Also, if a piece loses our attention while listening to it, it’s possible that your students won’t be engaged while playing it either.

Lastly, how can the piece be programmed? – While listening, I’m not only thinking about the students learning and performing the music, but the experience of the audience, and how/when a director can find a specific piece useful. This relates to seasonal programming, but also to the type of performance/event and audience that a piece is appropriate for.

I hope you found these ideas insightful and helpful. Feel free to comment below on either our blog or Facebook page and share YOUR thoughts and ideas about evaluating new music.

About the Author:
Ken has been with Stanton’s since 2004. He enjoys comic books, playing with his young son, and plays saxophone with Swing’s the Thing Big Band. You should check out their album Walk On Out the Door available on iTunes and Amazon.


New for Elementary Choirs for Fall 2014 23 September, 2014

Welcome your elementary choir back to school with one of these great choral octavos, as featured on Stanton’s Elementary General Music Clinic with Sharon Burch:

If I Knew You by Cynthia Gray
Based on Nixon Waterman’s distinguished text, this piece addresses the serious issue of bullying with a poignant and sincere message about acceptance, friendship, and being sensitive to one another. The violin adds another voice of warmth, depth, and beauty to this stunning work.

It’s Possible (from “Seussical”) arr. Andy Beck
What started as words on a storybook page, then travelled to Broadway to light up the stage, is newly arranged for a different use, and now kids can sing what was written by Seuss. So come take a dip in McElligot’s Pool, by singing this song with your choir at school.

Monster Mash arr. Greg Gilpin
Triadic harmonies and several spoken solos are perfect for younger groups in this fun novelty song. Compare dance moves with Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula, and maybe add a few of your own!

Polly Wolly Doodle arr. Russell Robinson
Russ Robinson’s arrangement of this traditional American folk song is full of clapping and lighthearted interplay between the two-part voices. Accompanied by piano, this lively piece is sure to be a concert or festival favorite at anytime of the year.

Ribbons in the Sky by Andy Beck
This tasteful Native American-inspired piece celebrates the beauty of a rainbow. As the seven colors are revealed, use movement scarves or ribbon wands for added effect (instructions included in the publication). An optional recorder part adds to the multicultural character.

You Can Dance, You Can Sing by Mark Burrows
This high-energy composition based on a traditional Zimbabwean proverb will be a hit with both your singers and audiences. The lyrics are mostly in English with a few simple Zimbabwean words. Shaker, djembe, and hand drum add a vibrant texture that helps to establish the rhythmic groove.

For more exciting elementary choral resources, please contact us!


Is There Room in Your Heart for a King? 18 September, 2014

Prepare for Christmas with your church choir with one of these outstanding anthems, carefully selected by our experienced Sacred Choral Music staff:

Every Valley by Victor C. Johnson
Victor C. Johnson provides this strikingly beautiful setting for the familiar Advent text. The flowing accompaniment enhances the choral harmonies in a quiet celebration of the Child who will bring peace on earth.

Peace Will Come arr. David Schwoebel
Truly memorable for Christmas, this offering features a thoughtful text from Terry York that shares the message “Christmas comes when we hear the still, small Voice of God.” David Danner’s quietly powerful music moves from tender to soaring.

The Long-Awaited by Lee Dengler
This upbeat Advent offering captures the spirit of this blessed time of year with a light classical touch. The rhythmic energy of the accompaniment is reflected in the voices, creating a unique and refreshing piece.

Is There Room in Your Heart for a King? arr.Mark Hayes
Pamela Stewart’s unforgettable text about the search for the birthplace of God s Son challenges all believers to prepare room in their hearts for the King. Mark Hayes magically conveys the heartfelt poetic imagery in this evocative setting.

Born in Bethlehem arr. Mary McDonald
Mary McDonald and Jean Anne Shafferman partnered in this creative pairing of two well-loved spirituals featuring touches of blues, engaging interplay between vocal parts, and clever musical depictions, especially of the “magi from the East.”

Angels We Have Heard on High arr. Peter Anglea
A bright new arrangement of the traditional carol. Exciting rhythmic accompaniment introduces the lively first verse and chorus which contrasts with a quiet, contemplative second verse and chorus. The anthem ends with a strong, dynamic invitation to “come,” ”see” and “adore” the newborn King. A great piece for Christmas Eve.

By Candlelight by Ruth Elaine Schram
For the first time, this modern classic from Ruth Elaine Schram is now available in a new Two-Part mixed voicing. Accompany with the chamber orchestration or the sparkling InstruTrax accompaniment CD.

Cradle Carol arr. Victor C. Johnson
Victor C. Johnson s original melody beautifully blends with a beloved carol and classic lyrics by Christina Rossetti in this sensitive Christmas anthem. “Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, in the world His hands had made, Jesus, born on this day.”

For more quality suggestions for your church choir, click here to view our complete Sacred Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us at 1.800.426.8742. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!


Warm Up! 16 September, 2014

Warm Up! (20 Purpose Driven Etudes) by Gary Walth is a perfect set of warm-ups for the choral ensemble that’s designed to enhance and stimulate the growth of each member’s vocal and choral ability. Thinking of the warm-up as a “mini voice lesson,” you can reinforce concepts with consistent encouragement, criticism, problem-solving and praise. This practical volume will help the conductor provide purposeful leadership and develop artistry in each individual through exercises for breath support, open tone, flexibility, vowel uniformity, balance, intonation and much more. Each exercise includes a notated keyboard accompaniment with multiple modulations and professional recordings of a rhythm section and singers performing each drill on the enclosed CD.

For more valuable choral warm-up resources, click here to visit our website, or contact us!


Love Came Down at Christmas 15 September, 2014

Presenting a cantata with your church choir is a wonderful way to prepare your congregation to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. Stanton’s Sacred Choral Music staff highly recommends these cantatas for the Christmas season:

Darkness Into Light by Mary McDonald
Just as Mary and Joseph moved from darkness into light, so do all when accepting the One True Light. This new 40-minute adult Christmas musical from Mary McDonald features fresh settings of carols along with beautiful new songs, and celebrates the Light of Christ. An optional candlelight moment is included along with inspired narration and lighting suggestions to heighten the darkness into light theme.

Love Came Down at Christmas by Joel Raney
Love is the central theme of Christmas. The incarnation story tells us that God so loved the world that he came to earth as a Baby, and that love is creatively illustrated in this compelling Christmas work by Joel Raney. The versatile format of this 30 minute cantata allows it to be performed in its entirety in a single worship setting, or it may be presented around the four traditional themes of hope, peace, joy, and love throughout the Advent season. A rich tapestry of original and familiar melodies, diverse musical styles, accessible choral settings, and engaging accompaniment options combine to ensure a rich and meaningful Christmas worship experience for your congregation.

Christmas Suite by Mark Hayes
Three exquisite carol arrangements from the inimitable Mark Hayes are linked with brief spoken narratives to create Christmas Suite. Perfect for a Christmas Eve service or anytime during the Christmas season when a full work isn’t desired. Accompany with piano and/or organ, Chamber Orchestra or the sparkling InstruTrax Accompaniment CD. Contains “Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella”, “Midnight Noel” and “O Holy Night.” Create an elegant, yet easily-prepared Christmas celebration with Christmas Suite.

Treasury of Carols by Joseph Martin
This remarkable new resource is an essential compilation of beloved carols by a trio of our best-selling arrangers. Fully orchestrated and filled with variety, you will discover music for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Soaring festival arrangements mingle with equally impressive restrained offerings to provide a well-balanced volume of seasonal songs for concert or sanctuary usage. Beautifully orchestrated, this assemblage is sure to be a permanent part of your holiday music planning.

For more quality suggestions for your church choir, click here to view our complete Sacred Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us at 1.800.426.8742. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!


New Church Anthems for Fall 2014 11 September, 2014

autumn-churchAs church choirs start up for the fall and Christmas season, Stanton’s Sacred Choral Music staff has carefully chosen these pieces to be appropriate for a variety of worship styles and services throughout the coming months:

O Come and Lift Your Voices arr. Mark Hayes
The classic ASH GROVE tune is given a delightful new text and arrangement in this anthem perfect for Thanksgiving or any time. The artistry of Mark Hayes is on full display with his artful accompaniment coupled with creative and satisfying, surprising harmonies. Refreshing!

There Is Room for the Stranger by Lee Dengler
Warm and inviting, this Christmas communion anthem is filled with hope. The words and music are perfectly matched. Add the optional flute obbligato for a nice touch. “So come, feast, be not afraid…come taste and see where peace is made.”

I’d Rather Have Jesus by Mary McDonald
Starting with a contemplative opening and building to a powerful climax, this dynamic anthem will enhance any worship or concert experience. Your congregation and choir will be inspired by this affirmation of faith!

Wonderful Grace of Jesus arr. Larry Shackley
This spirited arrangement of the well-known hymn offers a rollicking celebration of the abundance of God s grace. Featuring options for two or four hands at the piano, this adaptation from the keyboard collection “Festive Hymns for Four Hands” (70/1773L) is a great choice for worship throughout the year.

Hymn of Fellowship arr. John Ness Beck
Three trumpets herald each verse of John Ness Beck’s powerful setting of “In Christ There Is No East or West” for choir and congregation, lifting each a half-step higher before reaching the final Alleluia Amen. Majestic and festive, yet accessible for most choirs.

Come Sing a New Song by Lloyd Larson
There is unbridled joy in this anthem from Susan Dengler and Lloyd Larson. Rhythmic and driving, it has a fun gospel touch that will have the congregation’s toes tapping. The contrasting dynamics add an element of fun leading to an ending flourish.

Softly and Tenderly arr. Joel Raney
This time-honored hymn portrays the gentle, invitation of Christ’s call to “Come home.” Like the story of the prodigal’s return (Luke 15:11-32), Christ stands at the door waiting and watching for the weary. Joel Raney’s elegant presentation lends passion and depth while staying true to the original 19th-century hymn by Will Thompson.

And Can It Be by Dan Forrest
A thoughtful new setting of the well-known text for SATB choir and piano. A quiet contemplative opening builds gradually to a confident stating of the truth of the gospel, ending with a pensive reiteration of the question and the assurance of the amazing love.

For more quality suggestions for your church choir, click here to view our complete Sacred Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us at 1.800.426.8742. Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on Men’s & Women’s Choirs 04 September, 2014

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers. We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles. In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

Msilale Wanawake

by Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory

recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

Msilale Wanawake-page-001The music of Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory has become standard in the repertoire of many choirs. Often based on musical fragments from cultures around the world, their music has a dynamic quality that is truly unique.

Msilale Wanawake (Women, don’t fall asleep) is a Swahili proverb encouraging women to rid themselves of societal shackles, to walk away from servitude, gender bias and oppression. Caldwell and Ivory also borrow from the traditional “To everything there is a season” text: “A time to sing, time for lullabies, then there’s a season to rise, rise, rise!” What a gloriously strong message to instill in young women! No flowers, stars or boyfriends to be found in this women’s piece!

Ranges are moderate, with SI and SII mostly in the middle to upper part of the staff, and altos primarily between middle C and A. It’s easy to sing with warm, supported tone. The descant can be sung by a solo or small ensemble.

Oh, and let your pianist loose on the accompaniment – it’s well notated for the average accompanist, but will really come to life with some extra attention.

This might be a great piece for your group because it…
•    features a strong and empowering text for young women.
•    has an energetic, rhythmic world music style groove.
•    lends itself to the creative addition of percussion.

A City Called Heaven

arr. Victor C. Johnson

recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

City Called Heaven-page-001Victor Johnson knows how to write for developing choirs. End of story.

Ok, there IS more to the story… This creative arrangement is set in an easy jazz waltz style that just feels “cool,” even to the fickle young men’s ensemble. The TTB voicing provides an easy introduction to three-part singing, with plenty of unison singing providing a safe “home base” in between the divisi sections.

Ranges are conducive to the recently changed (or even still changing) voice – Tenor I from C3-G4, Tenor 2 from C3-F4, and Bass from C3-C4 – and whenever the Tenor parts have their lowest notes, they’re in unison with the Basses for support.

The optional solo at the beginning is a nice opportunity to feature an outstanding singer, or create a small soli ensemble – maybe all the senior boys, for example.

This might be a great piece for your group because it…
•    features a cool jazz waltz feel that is appealing to young men.
•    encourages an “adventuresome” ear with intriguing jazz harmonies.
•    is a good introduction to three-part singing for men’s choirs, with plenty of unison singing as well.

For more great suggestions, please contact our Choral Department at 1.800.42.MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.


New for Men’s & Women’s Choirs for Fall 2014 03 September, 2014

As you prepare for your first concert of the school year, Stanton’s Sheet Music suggests that you consider one of these outstanding selections for your women’s or men’s choir:

Ally Bally Bee arr. Douglas E. Wagner
A tender text, a sweet melody, and warm harmonies come together in this gentle lullaby for SSA choirs. The tessitura is well chosen, allowing your girls to sing in the sweet spot of their voices. Fun fact: long before it was considered a Scottish folk song, this beautiful tune originated as the street cry of a candy peddler.

Hold On! (Keep Your Hand on-a That Plow) arr. Ruth Elaine Schram
An absorbing accompaniment and attractive chord structure support the vocal lines in this dynamic and powerful arrangement of the spiritual. It is a terrific choice for use at your next performance as an opening or closing number.

In Every Soul by Mark Patterson
Like an overgrown garden, each soul has a place of beauty and joy to be discovered. This lovely work for treble voices offers that beauty through the simplicity of inspirational text and expressive music. Ideal for young voices from elementary through middle school.

Ku’u Pua I Paokalani arr. Henry Leck & Martin Ellis
In 1895, Queen Lili’uokalani lived under house arrest in her Iolani Palace for eight months. Not being allowed to communicate with anyone nor to receive visitors, the Queen was able to receive a bouquet of flowers brought to her each day. This song is a treasured favorite from the deep cultural heritage of Hawaii.

Land of Beyond by Rollo Dilworth
Evoking a spirit of adventure and exploration, this well-known poem by Robert Service is vividly set to music in a fresh and contemporary style. Young treble singers will be inspired to perform this festival work and encouraged to never lose sight of their goals!

Night Wind Whispers by Julie Ann Ballard
With a repeating and rhythmic piano accompaniment that reflects the emotional tumult of the poetry, the vocal lines soar and intertwine in an impressive flurry of sound, before suddenly coming to rest. An exciting work for high school women’s voices.

Shady Grove arr. Robert I. Hugh
Now available in an SSA voicing! American folksongs combine to create a fascinating collage of sound and color in this accessible setting. Accompanied by piano and optional conga and mandolin, the vocal lines are layered, sung imitatively, augmented and much more for an excellent pedagogical and sonic treat!

Aya Ngena arr. Ruth Morris Gray
This authentic Zulu folk song is a perfect fit for men’s choirs in three parts! The authentic African rhythmic groove is punctuated by brief solos and joyful handclaps. Add the optional percussion (bells, shaker and drums), and the overall effect will be most impressive!

The Battle of Kings Mountain by Vicki Tucker Courtney
The lyrics of this rhythmically interesting men’s song tell the story of a pivotal battle in the Southern campaign that took place in 1780 on Kings Mountain, near the border of North and South Carolina. Boys’ choirs will sound triumphant when singing the historic text, and the addition of the optional piccolo and snare drum will only add to a memorable performance.

A City Called Heaven arr. Victor C. Johnson
A soulful, reflective, and free-flowing opening leads into an easy jazz-waltz style in this marvelous arrangement. Jazz sonorities abound throughout the piece, and it is suitable for both school and church use.

Lil’ Liza Jane arr. Jimmy Baas & Randy James
This up-tempo folk tune setting is sure to excite singer and audience alike. The accessible arrangement by Baas and James was written to showcase the strength of the developing male voices. The lively piano accompaniment is supportive and sure to add musical interest to any performance. Appropriate for festival and concerts.

Men o’ the Sea arr. Gary E. Parks
Here’s a hearty and masculine feature just for the guys! This traditional whaling tune is an adventure in male bonding as the crew joins their voices to conquer the sea. A robust piano accompaniment mirrors the crashing of tempestuous waves. “Batten down boys, ready for the storm!”

Music’s Echo by Greg Gilpin
This a cappella best-seller is now available for TB voices! Using the optional percussion accompaniment creates a Renaissance sound and a madrigal effect. A simple melody starts of the work, then each part joins in with its own melody. Soon the polyphonic singing becomes gloriously forte, building to a strong ending that includes an optional descant.

For more suggestions, check out our video below, click here to view our complete School Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us!


“Rocky” on Broadway 02 September, 2014

There are two sides to this Rocky.  One side is in love, the other side is the fighter.  Among the eleven titles in this 00126814collection of sheet music from the Broadway show, “Adrian”  and “Happiness” reflect the former, and especially “Ain’t Down Yet” reflects the latter.  The format of the vocal selections is piano accompaniment with vocal line.  The piano part does not double the vocal line.  In this popular retelling of the story,  Rocky Balboa the underdog rises again!  For more about this book of sheet music from “Rocky”, or other Broadway collections you may be interested in, call us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, email us at keyboard@stantons.com, or visit our website at http://www.stantons.com.  Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!


Piano Music with Special Effects 28 August, 2014

sneezes snorts and snifflesSneezes, Snorts & Sniffles” is a fun collection of seven piano pieces by Wendy Stevens.  Written on an elementary level, these pieces have words to sing , and each piece has some special effects to perform at the right moments.  Boys especially will appreciate this!  It involves sneezing,  snoring, and more!  For more information about this collection or other easy piano sheet music, call us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, email us at keyboard@stantons.com, or visit our website.  Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs.


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on Middle School Choir 27 August, 2014

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers.  We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles.  In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

Jambo

Harris/arr. Narverud

Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialistspotlight template-Jambo-page-001

Many choral directors struggle with trying to be all inclusive with their repertoire choices.  Sometimes an easy solution to this problem is to choose a piece that falls into more than one category.  Jambo is a piece of classic pop music from Kenyan musician Teddy Kalanda Harrison.  His group “Them Mushrooms” took the song platinum in 1982.  However, since his music is heavily influenced by the folk traditions of Kenya, this translates well into an a capella selection  for your young singers.  That’s right – it’s multi-cultural a capella pop!

Don’t be scared off by the unfamiliar-the piece has easy harmonies that are comfortable to sing, and a range of only E3-C4 for your men.  While your ladies might prefer to sing higher than what they do here (the soprano part goes only to C#5,)  invite your students to dive into this choral tradition by writing a descant and sing that chorus one more time!

This might be a great piece for your group because it…

  • allows you to study the music of a different culture/choral tradition
  • gives students a chance experience singing with ethnic percussion
  • provides opportunities for solos/small groups (These are notated in bass clef, but could be sung by any voice part.)
  • offers the chance for a three-part group to sing a capella
  • showcases sudden dynamic shifts to add interest and drama.

For more great suggestions, please contact our choral department by phone at 1-800-42-MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.


New for Middle School Choirs for Fall 2014 26 August, 2014

As you prepare for your first concert of the school year, Stanton’s Sheet Music suggests that you consider one of these outstanding selections for your middle school choir:

Autumn Fires by Mary Donnelly & George L.O. Strid
Your younger choirs will build important choral skills with this tender setting of a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Alternating between modal and major key tonality, the part-writing is carefully crafted, making this an excellent choice for that first concert of the year.

Cangia, Cangia Tue Voglie by Fasolo/arr. Tom Shelton
Here is a beautiful arrangement of an Italian Baroque tenor aria, scored for voices with piano and flute. It’s a great selection for introducing your students to singing in Italian, complete with a pronunciation guide and translation.

Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? arr. Roger Emerson
Now available in a flexible SATB voicing, this driving rock spiritual features a subdued opening that explodes into high-powered energy sure to be a hit with your developing mixed choirs in middle and high school.

Dragonfly by Cristi Cary Miller
This vivid concert work for young voices portrays the emergence of the adult dragonfly with the dazzling, jewel-like sapphire wings through layered vocal lines and shifting 6/8 to 3/4 metric feel. Accessible but satisfying, this selection will be perfect for concert, contest and festival!

Hopsa! Lisella! arr. Russell Robinson
“Hopsa! Lisella!,” an 18th century Alsatian folk song, quite literally sways back and forth as it is sung. The feeling of acceleration typical of 18th century song is captured through ritards, accelerandos and tempo changes at the beginning of each verse. Add tambourine and triangle to enhance the French character of the song. In two parts, this accessible setting will work nicely with any treble group.

Jambo arr. Jacob Narverud
Kenyan composer Teddy Kalanda Harrison and his group Them Mushrooms received world-wide recognition with their platinum-certified recording of his piece. Now available in an exciting choral arrangement, it is bound to be a favorite.

Lascia Ch’io Pianga by Handel/arr. Russell Robinson
Singers have long cherished this staple of the solo repertoire, and now it is beautifully set for choral groups of any size. Teach all of the same lessons you learned from your favorite vocal instructor as you share this baroque aria with a new generation. Not difficult, but rewarding.

Laudate Dominum by Mozart/arr. Russell Robinson
From Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers K. 339,” this lovely 2-part setting captures the intention of the original while creating an accessible work for young voices. With its recognizable melody and supportive piano accompaniment, this arrangement is a classic for your choir to learn and enjoy, and a staple for your choral library.

Li’l Liza Jane arr. Catherine DeLanoy
Spirited and fun for young voices, this folksong favorite sparkles with rhythmic energy! Individual part-singing as well as chordal and polyphonic passages fill the work, creating teaching moments for your rehearsal and ultimately an entertaining performance. Your guys will love it too!

Mysterious Moon by Janet Gardner
Longfellow’s mysterious words are beautifully set with a minor-mode melody, designed specifically for developing choirs. Staggered entrances create a canon effect, and independent voice parts form partner song moments. Stays comfortably within a one-octave range for all.

Pie Jesu by Victor C. Johnson
This luscious and sensitive setting of the traditional Latin text exudes a gentle simplicity with soaring melodic lines and a fluid accompaniment. A pronunciation and translation guide is provided.

Uskudar arr. Audrey Snyder
Expand your students’ horizons with this arrangement of a popular Turkish folksong that depicts the colorful, energetic music of the Middle East. Well-crafted and effective in performance, it includes an easily learned section in Turkish with additional English lyrics, pronunciation guide and translation. With oboe and tambourine.

When Midnight Mists Are Creeping by Greg Gilpin
This evocative text setting makes it easy for developing concert choirs to impress. Modest vocal ranges, logical voice leading, and manageable phrase lengths allow musicality to be the focus of rehearsal and the hallmark of performance.

Witness arr. Victor C. Johnson
Contemporary harmonies, cool syncopations in the vocal parts, and a rhythmically supportive accompaniment grace Victor C. Johnson’s high-energy setting of this favorite spiritual. This work is a marvelous choice for developing choirs in both concert and festival settings.

For more suggestions, check out our video below, click here to view our complete Middle School Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us!


Excellence Clinic 2014 Recap 25 August, 2014

Excellence logo NEWOn Saturday, August 23, Stanton’s Sheet Music hosted our 21st annual Excellence in Choral Literature Clinic! Our attendees gathered in the James E. Strouse Workshop Hall with our clinician Jim Gallagher, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University, and some of our choral staff (including our wonderful accompanist, Joyce Stonebraker) and had a fantastic morning reading through a wide variety of high-quality music for choirs at all levels of difficulty. We spent a little bit of time socializing and catching up with old friends, and A LOT of time discovering beautiful new music!

Did you miss out on this year’s Clinic? Never fear! Here are just a few of our favorite pieces that were featured:

For middle school choirs: Cangia, Cangia Tue Voglie arr. Tom Shelton
For high school choirs: Exultabunt Sancti in Gloria by J.M. Haydn/ed. Martin Banner
For college choirs: Live a Humble arr. Stacey V. Gibbs
For community choirs: I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing arr. K. Lee Scott
For holiday concerts: The Work of Christmas by Dan Forrest
For women’s choirs: The Coolin’ by Ryan O’Connell
For men’s choirs: The Dawn’s Awake! by Laura Farnell

You can still receive the full clinic packet for the registration fee of $15 (while supplies last). This year’s packet includes over 30 octavos, and contains an incredible amount of repertoire variety! Contact us if you are interested!


Stanton’s E-Tools: Virtual Workshop 22 August, 2014

virtual workshop image for promosThe amazing staff at Stanton’s knows how valuable your time is.  That’s why we try to provide you with as many tools as we can to make choosing music easier,  faster and more enjoyable.  In this series of blog posts, we will be profiling our E-tools. Whether you are a local customer here in Columbus, OH or one of our many friends around the world, we hope you will find a way to use our E-tools!

If you’ve never attended one of our workshops or reading sessions, you really are missing out.  We have tons of fun, read new music, and benefit from the advice and experience of internationally renowned clinicians as well as Stanton’s own knowledgeable staff.  But if you live too far away to attend, or just can’t make it, we are proud to present our Virtual Workshops.

Inside each Virtual Workshop you’ll preview the score of actual arrangements with audio demonstrations, and often LIVE video footage of our workshops.  The Virtual Workshops themselves are designed so you can easily preview Stanton’s top choices as featured on our clinics, workshops and promotions – it’s almost like being there!

Here is a sampling of just a few of our most recent clinics:

For questions about how to use the Virtual Workshops, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC or visit us online or in person!

Previous posts in this series:  Listening LibraryStanton’s App, Digital Delivery


2013 Greatest Christian Hits 21 August, 2014

greatest christian hitsThis collection of contemporary Christian sheet music is the annual edition of the year’s (2013) most popular songs.  There are sixteen songs, from inspirational ballads to to up-tempo rock styles.  Songs include “Who You Are“, “Jesus Friend of Sinners” and “Your Love Never Fails”.  The arrangements are for vocal solo with piano accompaniment.  If there are 2 vocal parts, the second part is included in small notes.  Guitar chords are included.  Update your repertoire with this great collection of songs of praise and devotion.  For more information about this collection or others like it, call us at 1-800-42-MUSIC, email us at keyboard@stantons.com, or visit our website  at www.stantons.com.  Shop Stanton’s for all your sheet music needs!


STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on High School Choir 20 August, 2014

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers. We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles. In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

L’ultimo di di maggio

Ottorino Respighi/arr. Robert Sieving

recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

L ultimo di di maggio-page-001This arrangement has had a rather convoluted journey to the final product – beginning as a balletto for lute written by Simone Molinaro in 1599, it was transcribed and arranged by Ottorino Respighi in his three suites for orchestra (Ancient Airs and Dances for Lute – 1917) before being paired with an anonymous 16th century poem in this setting by Robert Sieving. The charming Italian text tells of a lovely maid “on the last day of May” – “O happy day, joyful, fair and bright!”

Plenty of characteristic traits of a Renaissance madrigal are featured, including nonsense syllables – but, rather than another boring old “fa la la,” you get “tantandaridondela!” Fun!

Vocal ranges require all parts to stretch just a bit – sopranos up to high A, altos down to low A, and tenors up to F#. The bass part dips down to a low E very briefly, but remains within the staff most of the time. Divisi is straight-forward and diatonic, but will require good listening skills and tuning across the entire ensemble. Encourage light, healthy vocal production by keeping the tempo sprightly and the dynamics moderate.

Is it challenging? Yes! But is it achievable? YES! Use it as a teaching piece throughout the year – perhaps teach just the A section in the fall, then start the remainder of the piece in January when your ensemble has a few more skills under their belts.

This might be a great piece for your group because it…

  • provides an example of not only Renaissance madrigal style, but also introduces the instrumental music Respighi.
  • can be broken down and presented over a period of time – perfect for groups ready to transition to more difficult literature.
  • features straight-forward divisi that encourages tuning and listening skills.
  • encourages light, healthy vocal production.
  • is appropriate for concert performances, as well as festivals and adjudicated events.

For more great suggestions, please contact our Choral Department at 1.800.42.MUSIC or email us at choral@stantons.com.


New for High School Choirs for Fall 2014 19 August, 2014

As you prepare for your first concert of the school year, Stanton’s Sheet Music suggests that you consider one of these outstanding selections for your high school choir:

Aiken Drum arr. Philip Lawson
Like most popular Scottish folksongs, this one is rooted in history, but now has been transformed into a nonsense song. “Aiken Drum,” with his clothes made of tasty food, is creatively portrayed here in this clever edition with Scottish drone sounds, the melody passing from part to part, and underlying snare drum. A cheerful encore or folk selection!

Come Back to the Sea by David Waggoner
The emotive text of this contemporary choral compares the ebb and flow of ocean waves to our dreams and calls us to the sea. Musicality and metaphors abound. The inspirational message and memorable hook will bring out the best in your singers.

Du, Du Liegst Mir im Herzen arr. Keith Christopher
A lilting love song with great educational merit. Sing entirely in English or take time to teach the German text (both are included in the publication, along with an IPA pronunciation guide). An international delight.

Four Choral Critters by Christine Donkin
The poetry of Ogden Nash is witty and wonderful. Canadian composer Christine Donkin has selected four of the best: “The Duck,” “The Panther,” “The Guppy” and “The Llama.” The music brings even more fun to the lyrics. Excellent for high school, college and community choirs, these works are sold in 2 sets: THE FIRST TWO and THE OTHER TWO.

I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing arr. K. Lee Scott
K. Lee Scott is a superior arranger – he knows how to get the most out of the voice and gratify an audience. This is such a well-known spiritual and Lee piques our interest with tight, solid, harmonies that thicken and rise as the verses unfold, all the way to the vigorous finale. Great for church or school.

L’ultimo di di maggio arr. Robert Sieving
Robert Sieving combines an anonymous sixteenth-century poem with music from Respighi’s brilliant “Ancient Aires and Dances for Lute, Suite 1: Balletto” to create a light-hearted, dance-like representation of a charming lute piece.

Shenandoah arr. Andrea Ramsey
Weaving choral textures and warm harmonies evoke the gentle undulation of the river in this sensitive a cappella setting. Accessible for developing choirs, this work will provide wonderful opportunities for developing important choral skills.

Steal Away arr. Russell Robinson
A fine interpretation of this expressive arrangement will be a source of considerable pride for conductors and singers alike. Dr. Robinson treats the moving spiritual with great reverence and employs classic hallmarks of the choral tradition. Take liberties with the marked rubato for a meaningful performance.

Sweet Betsy from Pike arr. Greg Gilpin
Full of diverse rhythms, meters, harmonies, text-painting, and lots of humor, the journey of Sweet Betsy and Long Ike from Pike County to California has never sounded so fun! This delightful new take on the popular American folk song from the Gold Rush era will become a favorite for you and your singers and will certainly entertain your audiences.

We Sing by Brian Tate
This creative song affirms each person’s dreams and persona. Beginning quietly with assurance, solo voices bring us the first theme and soon the choir joins in. Then the choir introduces a new theme with a joyful Latin text accompanied by indigenous drums. Moments later the two themes are brought together. The unique combination of sounds, texts and message make this an excellent piece for high school and college choirs.

Who Paints the Night? by Mark Patterson
Inspired by Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night, this is a lovely reflection on the meaning of art and music. A wonderful work full of beautiful imagery!

For more suggestions, check out our video below, click here to view our complete High School Choral promotion for Fall 2014, or contact us!


Behind the Scenes: Picking Band Promotions 13 August, 2014

Ever wonder how Stanton’s picks the titles that are in our promotions? In short, members of our staff listen to, review, and in the case of our piano department, play through, almost every new title! With yesterday’s announcement of our Top Choices for Young Band, we’re using our first Behind the Scenes feature to see how our band department picks the best new concert band arrangements each year.

Three of our five band & orchestra staff, Kent, Ken, and Kris, take the time to listen to all of the new concert band recordings from beginning to end. As you can see in the breakdown below, we evaluated 550 new pieces from grade 0.5-5 from 13 different publishers this year. Yes, this is a long and daunting task. Since there is so much music to get through, we’ve gone from listening independently at the store to working off-site at the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library so we can work uninterrupted. Even without the day-to-day store tasks, it took about 7 or 8 full work days to get through everything.

We listen to one publisher at a time, and move from the easiest titles to the hardest – it’s hard to gauge the quality of any grade 0.5 title after listening to grade 4! While we listen we all score each piece on a scale of 1-10 with a 10 being exceptional. Having three of us score each piece helps to limit biases and no one person’s opinion determines a title’s fate. After all of the publishers are completed, our scores are entered into a spreadsheet, and averaged to determine what we want to promote and recommend. The top 40-45 average scoring titles for both young band (gr. 0.5-2.5) and high school (gr. 3-5) form the basis of each promotion, then we review each preliminary list and adjust it for an appropriate number of titles at each difficulty, and a sufficient selection of marches and Christmas titles.

Capture

Like we said, the days can get long…

Once all of the titles have been chosen, new descriptions are written for each title. We prefer to provide our own write-ups since publisher descriptions range from pure fluff to extensive programmatic descriptions. Rarely do any of them provide information about the musical skill required or teaching opportunities presented. After the new write-ups are completed and any other items added that we want to feature, the layout is created by Dan, our orchestra specialist. The final promotions then get sent to the printer, and mailed to you!

We really hope you find our suggestions useful, and that we save you time when selecting music for your bands. Keep an eye out for our Top Choices for High School Band coming soon!

Of Interest:
- You’d be surprised at how often our scores are the same or within a point or 2 of each other; we definitely hear a lot of the same things in spite of age, experience, personal musical tastes, etc.
– Yes, we get to listen to music all day during this process, but it gets to be exhausting
– The large publishers produce so many new titles that they each require a full day to get through their whole promotion! Aren’t you glad you can listen to specific grade levels?
– Our favorite publishers to listen to: FJH, Grand Mesa, Daehn Publications

By the Numbers:
# Publishers = 13
Total New Band Pieces = 550*
*excludes repromoted (old) titles & flexible instrumentation series

Difficulty                                                         # New Titles    # Promoted
Beginning Band (gr. 0.5-1)                              99                    11
Junior High/Middle School (gr. 1.5-2.5)           210                  34
High School/College (gr. 3-5)                          241                  40-45