News & Views Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Creative Programming: For Middle School Choir Wednesday, May 08, 2019

leon-522802recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Music Specialist

De Prosa com o Passarim (Grandma’s Chat) by Daisy Fragoso, 2-part treble with piano & flute and optional pandeiro
Here is a whimsical song of a grandmother who can talk to the birds. Using a popular Brazilian rhythm called “chorinho” and singing in Portuguese – along with some nonsense words between the grandmother and the birds – here is a wonderful multicultural song with lots of opportunity to teach rhythm, syncopation, language and geography.

FOR SEVENTH GRADE (3-part mixed/SSA)
cfn-cm9544-fAd Astra (To the Stars…) by Jacob Narverud, 3-part mixed with piano
With a pulsating and highly rhythmic piano accompaniment, “Ad Astra” simply radiates energy. Filled with hope and empowerment the text reads, “To the stars though difficulties, look upward, move forward leave all cares behind.” “Ad Astra” is an impressive, yet accessible piece for developing or advanced choirs alike.

Cool Moon by Richard A. Williamson, 3-part mixed with optional piano
With limited horizontal movement in the vocal parts and an optional piano part, “Cool Moon” offers an easy and effective introduction into contemporary a cappella singing. Soothing harmonies enhance this beautiful pairing of words and music.

Little David, Play On Your Harp arr. Andy Beck, 3-part mixed with piano and optional autoharp
A clever arrangement of the traditional spiritual that includes a surprise nod to Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” plus an optional part for autoharp! The pentatonic chorus is great for teaching or reinforcing solfège, while the harmonies are appropriately independent for developing singers. A few new words tell us more about the heroic boy, David. A terrific teaching piece that kids will enjoy!

leon-522821Nightfall by Roger Emerson, 3-part mixed with piano and optional tick-tock block
Lyrics take center stage in this beautiful new work. Word painting, an independent piano accompaniment and the steady beat of the “tick-tock” create a mood that suggests a more mature and experienced choir. Your young singers will love the chance to show and share these beautiful lyrics set to this haunting tune.

Plaudite (Plaudite Omnis Terra) by Victor C. Johnson, 3-part mixed with piano
A dancing opening motive in Latin, harmonized in sturdy open fifths and punctuated by handclaps, yields to a slower, contrasting English language section. A gradual crescendo and brief accelerando builds the energy back up to a triumphant return of the opening material. Strong dynamic contrasts and ample rhythmic interest offer a thoroughly satisfying musical experience.

Tumekuja Kuimba (We Have Come to Sing!) by Lynn Zettlemoyer, 3-part mixed a cappella
This vibrant and percussive original a cappella work uses both Swahili and English text creating a dynamic multicultural opening or processional. The theme of “come together to sing” allows for a wealth of programming options and the piece is filled with musical learning using language, rhythm, independent singing and harmonic expression as well as the use of percussion.

Exultate Justi by Dan Davison, SA(T)B with piano
Inspired by the classical style of music writing, Dan Davison has done a masterful job with this SA(T)B original work. With the tenor part doubling the soprano part or matching the bass part in unison, young singers will find this piece to be very accessible. Exciting and joyful to sing, this piece will enhance the programming for any concert or festival.

If You Want to Go by Philip E. Silvey, SAB with piano
The profound text based on an African saying tells us “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Stylish and upbeat, this will be fun to sing and a pleasure to hear.

Old Joe Clark arr. Greg Gilpin, SAB with piano
This extraordinary arrangement of the traditional American folk song belongs in every choral library! An urgent “round and around” vocal motive serves as a rhythmic engine throughout the entire piece as the modal melody gets playfully tossed from voice to voice in a variety of styles, but always with class, creativity, and good humor.

lorenz-522099Ubi Caritas by Bryan Sharpe, SAB with piano
This touching setting of a well-loved verse features many opportunities for beautiful, musical moments with your younger or smaller ensembles. Expertly and thoughtfully scored for developing choirs, the melody mirrors the yearning and emotions of the lyrics and is mostly unison with some gentle independent voice parts at times. Gorgeous!

Who Will Be a Witness? arr. Dan Davison, SATB with piano
Dan Davison infuses this beloved spiritual with a brisk tempo, fun accents and syncopations. Accompanied by a pulsating ostinato-like bass line, Davison’s signature rhythmic accompaniment adds even more interest and variety to this accessible SATB arrangement. “Who Will Be a Witness” is sure to wow audiences and energize choirs!

chorgd-cge233-fNine Hundred Miles arr. Greg Gilpin, TB with piano
The crisp, rhythmic energy and dynamic modal groove of this American folk song arrangement is absolutely contagious. The creative use of independent vocal ostinato patterns underneath the melody lines continually sparks interest and propels the feel of the train rolling down the tracks. Performance options are included to employ a soloist at the beginning, and for singers to clap a light eighth note pattern in certain sections to mimic the click-clacking sound of the train. (For a special programming option, we recommend pairing this title with Travel by Lon Beery for a train- or travel-themed program)

About the Author:
Jen Sper has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, she holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.

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