Compiled by ICDA Repertoire & Resource Chairs
2020 ICDA READING LISTS
The hard-working ICDA Repertoire & Resource Chairs have compiled excellent reading lists for your viewing pleasure. Visual/Audio previews as well as direct links to publisher websites are available for most choral pieces.
We look forward to singing together again at reading sessions in 2021!
World Music & Culture Reading List
Professor of Music and Director of Choral Programs at Hanover College, IN
World Music & Culture Repertoire and Resources Chair
Ngothando by Mbuso Ndlovu for SATB with percussion (shaker, bongo, djembe)
Walton Music, WW1724
Ngothando is written in Isi Zulu, a language spoken by Zulu people in South Africa. An IPA Pronunciation guide is available for download from the publisher. The song is a message to the rest of the world that it is only through love that we can conquer the barriers that stand between us, the poverty, and disease that surrounds us. Let’s open our hearts and not fear the unknown. On the recording of the University of Pretoria Choir on their CD Indodana, there is a spoken poem written and performed by one of the members of the choir. Your choir may write and perform and original poem of your own in this manner. Difficulty Level: Easy/Medium
Suliko arranged by Brent Wells for SATB choir, piano
Walton WW 1783
Suliko is perhaps the most well-known folk song from the country of Georgia. The twelve-stanza poem by Akaki Tsereteli speaks of lost loved ones who can still be found in "the rose's bloom, the nightingale's song, and the star's shining light." The haunting vocal lines with a beautifully flowing piano accompaniment create an atmosphere of peaceful sadness and hope. The song can be performed in Georgian or in English and the Georgian transcription/IPA is provided. Difficulty Level: Medium
Ambe by Cory Campbell & Andrew Balfour for unaccompanied SATB divisi choir
Cypress Choral Music
Ambe has the potential to excite choirs with its rhythmic drive and energy. Layers of rhythmic ostinatos create a sense of urgency while the ornamented folk-like melody transitions between the treble and the bass voices. The Ojibwe Native Americans, also known as Chippewa have a culture that is very much connected to nature, exploring fishing, hunting and agriculture. Ojibwe is a Central Algonquian language spoken by the Anishinaabe people throughout much of Canada from Ontario to Manitoba and US border states from Michigan to Montana. The Ojibway text means "Come in, two-legged beings. Come in all people. There is good life here." The publisher provides a helpful IPA transcription of the text. A wonderful concert opener!
Floating Moon on the Water by Wei-Pin Chen for SATB choir and piano
The Taiwanese author Wei-Pin Chen (b. 1953) began composing after he moved to Japan to start his career as a dentist. Chen writes the music and lyrics for his compositions and in his view the two are inseparable. His songs are characterized by what he calls “body and soul” – twelve-tone techniques instead of the traditional pentatonic scales. The composer aims to showcase the melodious nature of the Taiwanese language in combination with expressive melodies reminiscent of Schubert. Floating Moon on the Water begins with a touch of melancholy and is followed by flowing scenery on the water. The publication includes an IPA guide. This work of medium difficulty will fit perfectly in your themed concert program inspired by nature or the elements.
Akekho Ofana No Jesu arranged by Daniel Jackson for SATB divisi choir and djembe
Akekho Ofana No Jesu is an African tradition song sung by congregations across the African continent. The IPA pronunciation guide and the translation of the text make this piece approachable for all choirs. Extremely dynamic, in a call and response style, this piece offers opportunities for vocal explorations with its solos and the choir imitating instruments sections. The middle section includes an optional double choir with Choir 1 singing the homophonic arrangement of the work and Choir 2 singing the accompaniment. Simple African dance movements could transform the song into a multi-dimensional performance realistically attainable for a wide variety of choir levels.
Exultate Justi in Domino by Hyun Kook for unaccompanied SATB divisi choir
Santa Barbara Music Publishing SBMP 1545
Exultate justi in Domino is composed by the South Korean composer Hyun Kook. A medical doctor and an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the Chonnam National University Medical School in Gwangju, South Korea. He is a self-taught, accomplished composer whose extensive compositions are frequently published in South Korea. The majestic, homophonic opening quickly transitions to a rhythmic section of imitative polyphony. The syncopated theme enters in the bass part and gradually fans into a divisi stretto. The extensive use of rhythmically accented rap in all voice parts and the improvised optional percussion further enhance the appeal of this challenging composition. The use of the traditional Latin text makes the song even more accessible. Difficulty Level: Difficult
Gospel Plow by Hans Bridger Heruth for unaccompanied SATB divisi choir
Santa Barbara Music Publishing (SBMP) 1598
A multifaceted musician, Hans Bridger Heruth [b.1997] is an accomplished composer, conductor, pianist, singer, and violinist. He has received many accolades for his compositions, most notably as a winner of the 2019-2020 American Prize in composition in both the opera and the vocal chamber music categories, and the 2016 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award. Gospel Plow is a spiritual setting that builds on the tradition of the great arrangements of all time. The highly rhythmic and energetic drive combines solos, layered ostinatos, extreme vocal ranges and dynamic culminations. A great concert closer or festival highlight for your advanced ensemble.
Show Choir Reading List
Choir Director, Carmel High School
Show Choir Repertoire and Resource Chair
Sucker, SATB arranged by Mark Brymer
Mr. Brymer did a great job with both the voicing and the band parts for this chart. Good band parts for contemporary pop stuff are getting harder to come by, so that’s a big reason this is here. It’s familiar to the kids and has a great groove. My only criticism is that it’s a little repetitive, but overall, it’s a really fun chart! Also comes in 3-part mixed and 2-part!
People Got to Be Free, SATB arranged by Kirby Shaw
This arrangement of this song by The Rascals is really good! I was really impressed with the writing for SAB especially (the other voicings are good as well). The harmonies will lock well. The chorus get a tad repetitive, but that’s the case with most stock charts. There is a spot for a dance break and some solo opportunities as well. You will probably want to take the chart a click or two faster than the recording to make sure the groove isn’t awkward to dance to. It comes in SATB, SAB, and SSA.
Come What May, SATB arranged by Mac Huff
This new arrangement of the big ballad from Moulin Rouge is really well-done. There’s some really nice voicing in the arrangement, and the instrumental chart supports the singers really well. It’s got some thick chords and a huge finish! This also comes in SAB and SSA, but keep in mind that there is still a 3-part treble split in the SAB arrangement at a couple of the bigger moments.
I See Stars, SSA arranged by Mark Brymer
This is the finale number in the musical Mean Girls. Totally uplifting and great energy, the message is awesome. Just a really feel-good number. I put in the SSA arrangement because I’ve found it really difficult to find good stock SSA stuff where the voicing works. Usually it’s taken from the SATB arrangement with no key change or anything, so treble voice ranges aren’t really taken into consideration and the altos are usually too low. This does a pretty good job of sitting in a good spot for treble voices. Also comes in SATB and SAB.
Dancin' Fool, SSA arranged by Kirby Shaw
We needed a swing number on this list! This new arrangement by Kirby Shaw is pretty good. The horn parts are great, and the voice leading is really logical. It can get a little tricky at times, so I would use this with more advanced groups. My only complaint is that the repeated section at m. 61 is a little awkward in a show choir setting. There are ways to make that work, though...either find a way to do it as is, simplify it, or put some of the parts in the band and make it a dance break. This also comes in SATB and SAB
Back to Before, SSA arranged by Lisa DeSpain
This is one of the power ballads from Ragtime. This arrangement is, so far, exclusively written for treble voices. Ms. DeSpain does a really good job of voicing for SSA...this highlights a lot of that. Good strong and easy unison and two-part singing, then good use of 3 part harmony when the song calls for it. Even an SSAA split at the end for those who have choirs that can do that, though it’s not necessary. I really liked the arrangement on listening and reading through it!
Found/Tonight, TTB arranged by Jacob Narverud
This is a great ballad that was originally performed by Lin Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt. Many kids know this mashup. The TTB arrangement specifically is written really well. It also comes in SATB and SAB.
Good Lovin', TTB arranged by Kirby Shaw
This is written to be very accessible to guys, especially younger ones, though the 3-part will still be a good push for younger guys. It’s already less than 3 minutes, but I would recommend cutting the repeat at the end or finding a way to shorten other parts of it so it doesn’t get too repetitive. There’s opportunities to cut vocals and turn something into a dance break over a guitar solo too. High energy and great horn parts as well! It also comes in SATB and SAB.
Music in Worship
Music Director, Tabernacle Presbyterian Church
Music & Worship Repertoire and Resource Chair
How Lovely -- William Byrd, SATB (Alfred 32362)
Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord -- Kenneth T. Kosche, SATB (Concordia 984330)
Blessed Jesu -- arr. Benjamin Harlan, SATB (Jubilate 47218)
Festival of Praise -- Carl J. Nygard, Jr., SATB (H. W. Gray 44222)
A Prayer of Compassion -- Gwyneth Walker, SATB (E. C. Schirmer 8730)
Jubilate Deo -- Peter Anglea, SATB (Hinshaw Music HMC2409)
Love Came Down At Christmas -- arr. Matthew D. Oltman, SATB (Hinsahw Music HMC2381)
God Is Our Refuge -- Jay Althouse, SATB (Hinshaw Music HMC2392)
Come Fill My Heart, Lord -- Timothy G. Bushong, SAB (Hinshaw Music HMC2370)
Two Lenten Meditations -- Eleanor Daley, SATB. (H. W. Gray 46225)
Come Down, Holy Spirit -- Lee Dengler, SATB (H. W. Gray 42496)
Let Us Break Bread Together -- Gwyneth Walker, SATB (E. C. Schirmer 8646)
Give Me Jesus -- arr. Moses Hogan, SATB (Hal Leonard 8703202)
Until I Reach My Home -- arr. Brandon A. Boyd, SATB (Hinshaw Music HMC2537)
Silent Night -- Michael John Trotta, SATB (MorningStar MSM-50-1981)
Sussex Carol -- arr. Elaine Hagenberg, SATB (Beckenhorst Press, Inc. BP2156)
Gabriel’s Message -- arr. Frank Pesci, SATB (E. C. Schirmer 7991)
While Shepherds Watched -- arr. Alice Parker, SSATB (E. C. Schirmer 7972)
The Huron Carol -- Dan Forrest, SATB (Beckenhorst Press, Inc. BP2164)
Song of Grace -- arr. Phillip Keveren, SATB (Jubilate Music 46904)
I Want Jesus to Walk With Me -- arr. David M Cherwien, SAB or 2-part (MorningStar MSM-50-3435)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross -- Philip W. J. Stopford, SATB (MorningStar MSM-50-3160)
For the Beauty of the Earth -- David Ashley White, SAB (H. W. Gray 36829)
For the Beauty of the Earth -- Phillip Keveren, SATB (Jubilate 44265)
Collegiate Reading List
Dr. Jeshua Franklin
Visiting Assistant Professor of Music, Indiana University South Bend
Collegiate Repertoire and Resource Coordinator
SSATB a cappella – E. C. Schirmer 8743
Dunphy’s setting of the familiar Dickinson text is composed with an abundance of dynamic contrasts, offering choirs a dramatic opportunity to demonstrate consistent expressivity while constantly shifting dynamics. The music offers few harmonic surprises, yet also manages to introduce sufficient chromaticism to keep the music from becoming overly sweet, as might be tempting with this text. There are many opportunities to showcase expressive singing while being challenged to not let the piece sound repetitive in its constantly growing and then diminishing phrases.
SATB, 2 soloists, & body percussion – Hinshaw Music HMC2629
I’m always captivated by fresh settings of spirituals or gospel songs that honor the heritage from which they come but also provide really satisfying musical challenges to pull off well. Anne-Marie Hildebrandt’s setting of Travelin’ Shoes does just that. She builds intrigue through a 7/8 measure incorporated into the regular phrasing of the piece and does so without sounding gimmicky or contrived. The piece is also constructed that it could work well for a one-on-a-part chamber ensemble or with a full chorus and a couple of soloists. The solo parts work well as written but also invite improvisation, and the body percussion could be done in unison by members of the choir or by a featured performer.
SATB & hand drum – Oxford University Press
The 7/8 groove of this uplifting piece begs to be staged as a processional of some kind. The contrasting slower sections are musically refreshing and help this piece stand above many similarly styled pieces. Accessible for a variety of choirs, even mature choirs are likely to find the melody infectious and the piece musically satisfying. A bit of creativity and flexibility could make this a great opener at the top of a program or beginning of a second half.
SSATTB a capella – Carus-Verlag 50.069/20
I’m embarrassed to say that I was in my doctoral studies before I encountered this stunning piece that has earned a permanent place in the repertoire. While it will be a familiar “choral gem” to many reading this, I’ve included it for those of you who, like me, maybe missed out on it in much of our undergraduate and graduate choral training. A thoroughly Romantic piece, it sings like a Renaissance motet, and thus presents the musical challenges of both eras. Big, open, sonorous chords contrast with imitative counterpoint, making both harmonic and melodic tuning of critical importance. There’s a whole world of musicality to explore in this relatively short piece, and it’s the kind of work that you will enjoy afresh each time you return to it.
SATB & piano – Graphite Publishing DT0035
This piece is simple enough that it could be included in high school, community, or worship reading sessions, yet it holds enough intrigue and expressive possibilities that it is well worthy of a collegiate performance. The text is a Christmas poem, and it clearly honors the Christmas holiday without sounding overly religious or “preach-y,” making it a nice fit in a variety of holiday performance settings. The lilting piano accompaniment exudes sentimentality without cloying, and the contrasts between unison phrases alternating with simple and clear chords along with occasional more clustered harmonies maintains a contemporary yet uncluttered sound.
SATB divisi a cappella – Walton Music WW1576
Here’s a challenging but rewarding novelty piece from Korean composer Hyo-Won Woo. The piece will delight audiences with the interspersed outbreaks of laughter from the choir, but Woo has also crafted a worthy piece of repertoire that will build your ensemble’s musicianship. From tricky rhythmic entrances to tight melodic and harmonic intervals, there is much here to enjoy mastering.
Community Reading List
Fine Arts Specialist, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
Conductor, Evansville Philharmonic Chorus and Trinity United Methodist Church
Lifelong Coordinator, Community Choirs Repertoire & Resource Chair
I love this piece and once my chorus got past the title and began learning it, they loved it as well. I do warn you that the title may cause artistic directors, chorus members, etc. to be skeptical at first, but once they listen to it, that quickly changes. On the flip side, we had many new people attend our concert because of the name. It is rhythmically challenging and the layering of the rhythms and melodies sound beautiful but will give your chorus something to work on. There are beautiful solo opportunities that do not necessarily need a hired soloist or a voice that is a typical classical solo sound. This could help your budget for sure and give some of your chorus members a time to shine. I would advise securing the instrumentalists before you program this. It requires your typical bluegrass instruments, but it also requires them to read music. This is not a typical requirement for this genre of music especially the banjo. Also the end of the mass depicts God as a woman. This may be something in your area you need to be sensitive to. I chose the following recording, because they speak to Carol Barnett at the beginning.
He’s got the Whole World in His Hands by Stacey V. Gibbs
This is a wonderful piece, but you will need a very strong and confident gospel soloists. I have done this with a very deep alto/contralto voice and it worked. This is definitely an audience pleaser and a great concert closer or encore. It also gives your chorus a chance to learn key stylistic qualities of this genre. This piece works well for combining various types of choruses from the same community. If you happened to attend the summer conference last year, you did receive a copy of this in Stacey’s packet. I know some of your budgets may be tight this year, he made a special offer for this piece at the reading session which would be a budget saver for this upcoming season.
Lux Eterna by Morten Lauridsen
This is a beautiful piece but as all Lauridsen pieces, challenging. This can be done with orchestra or organ accompaniment. It requires a good knowledge of how to conduct and move through Lauridsen’s phrasing. If you are in a situation where you prepare your chorus for large works but do not conduct them during the performance, it would be most helpful to have a singer friendly conductor.
How Great Our Joy by Craig Courtney
This is a small package with a lot of impact. This can be done with strings as well. It can work many different sizes of choruses depending upon the level of singers. I have used this in a church setting as well as a Christmas Pops concert.
Music of Stillness by Elaine Hagenberg
Breathtaking! This is a gorgeous piece with wonderful poetry. If you have not done any of this composer’s choral pieces, you should find one for this season. As a singer and conductor, her songs are yummy for the voice to sing and the phrase shapes really let you have those life changing moments as a conductor.
Make Them Hear You from Ragtime arr. By Kirby Shaw
This is a rich a cappella setting of this moving piece, and the message is one that is timeless and applicable to many situations. As a community chorus, you often perform a wide variety of concerts and need to appeal to a wide array of audience members and singers. This piece is perfect for all of these circumstance. The solo part found in other arrangements is covered by the tenor and bass sections in this arrangement. It could be easily made a solo if desired. This is available in various voicings.
Jazz Choir Reading List
Choir Director, Center Grove MS Central
Vocal Jazz Repertoire & Resource Chair
Moondance, arr. Jeremy Fox SATB
UNC Jazz Press Group I list
This arrangement of the Van Morrison classic will be a favorite for your group! The chart is a useful tool for developing swing feel with your group. There is a short solo toward the beginning as well as plenty of room for improvisation over basic 12-bar minor blues. The middle of the chart features a hard-swingin' vocal soli, after which the familiar chorus drives it home. This is a great song to work jazz technique and style. Also comes SSAA.
Tenderly, Arr. Steve Zegree SATB
Hal Leonard Group II list Publisher ID: 00116862
I love this chart! The jazz vocals are relatively easy, but offer plenty of opportunities to develop blend, style and intonation. This is a great piece to get your students to dig into the musicality that a great a cappella ballad can offer.
Ray’s Rockhouse, Arr. Steve Zegree SATB
Hal Leonard Publisher ID: 07357821 (Not on list, probably Group II level difficulty)
Old school Manhattan Transfer - Great for emerging level jazz groups, solo opportunities for kids that can wail, solo scat opportunities as well with basic chord structure. This song is a crowd pleaser! (Sidenote: If you are looking on the pepper website, it is listed as Ray’s Rockhous.
Alfred Music Publishing Publisher ID: 00-45552 (Not currently on list)
Smooth chromatic jazz sonorities are the star of this delicious arrangement of the classic standard. A delicate opening "oo" section gives way to a unison statement of the melody before melting into rich choral harmony. I’m a sucker for a great a cappella ballad, and this one is beautiful! It is definitely a Group I level of difficulty. There are some crazy high notes if you have light sopranos to show off.
Alfred Music Publishing Publisher ID: 00-47658
The sensational a cappella group Voctave has taken the world by storm with their dazzling and dizzying arrangements. Alfred Music proudly presents another festive and fun Voctave hit with this fast-paced mini-medley of three iconic Christmas songs. This publication is more than faithful to the group’s original recording; it’s the actual manuscript, so you can recreate their exemplary choral sound with your own singers. Plus, it’s a great way to program entertaining and recognizable holiday favorites. Recording provided by . . . Voctave! This song is a bit of a challenge, but it is so worth it! It’s great for Holiday gigs and definitely a crowd favorite!
Besame Mucho, Arr. Paris Rutherford SATB
Hal Leonard Publisher ID: 00139722
Nice latin jazz standard with a female solo and opportunity for improvisation. This piece isn’t on the list, but it’s probably upper Group II in difficulty level.
Smack Dab in the Middle, Darmon Meader SATB
Shawnee Press Publisher ID: A2259 Group I List
I love me some New York Voices! In the tradition of their charts, Smack Dab in the Middle is a slick arrangement and is full of fun and humor. The Big Band chart is also available! An excellent choice for any top-notch vocal jazz ensemble.
Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me, Arr. Steve Zegree SSA
Hal Leonard Publisher ID: 00116852 Group II
From the iconic opening notes of the tune over a walking bass to the full shout scat chorus, your vocal jazz ensemble will dig this medium swing setting of the Duke Ellington classic. A super choice for developing style and skill! Great jazz standard for beginning/developing choirs. Also comes in SATB.
My Heart Stood Still, arr. Kirby Shaw SATB
Hal Leonard Publisher ID:00115039
This setting of the Rodgers & Hart standard is done in a fast swing that evokes the whirlwind of sudden romance. The vocals enter in unison moving into tasty group harmonies and a sizzling solo with ensemble back-up. Probably an upper level Group II piece.
Devil May Care, Kerry Marsh SSAA
Purchase through Kerry Marsh’s website. See the link in the title.
Bob Dorough's classic jazz standard is arranged in a swinging style for treble vocal jazz ensemble, including a singable but impressive soli section. No improv section written into this chart, though it could be easily added if solos are desired. An extended coda figure brings the chart to a strong conclusion, helping it serve as a good opener or closer. Definitely a challenging piece, but if I had an all treble vocal jazz group, I would be looking to program this one for sure!
SSA Reading List
Choir Director, Greenwood Community HS
Treble/SSA Repertoire & Resource Chair
Bloom by Phillip Silvey
Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc. - SBMP 634
I also included this tune on the IMEA reading session back in January. I really enjoy the layering of the voices and the challenge of the 7/8 meter. I feel that you would have a fun time rehearsing this song as you add in discussions of text, phrase shaping, and vowel shaping. The piano accompaniment of moving eighth notes throughout the piece really does a lot to help drive the vocal lines and makes quite a bit of sense with the text.
Boxes arr. Dan Forrest
The Music of Dan Forrest; Beckenhorst Press, Inc. - DF1008
This is an arrangement of a Goo Goo Dolls song that would work really well for your treble chorus. The tune itself seems very singable, and I believe that you could use it at several different places within the year. There are string parts available if you would want to add them in; this could make for a memorable moment at your concert. Check out the text - I think I it could lead to some great group discussions:
-“…We’ll have tiny boxes for memories
-Open them up and we’ll set them free
-There’ll be bad days and some hard times
-But I’ll keep your secrets, if you keep mine.
-You are the memory that won’t ever lapse
-When twenty-five years have suddenly passed
-Wherever you take me, it’s clear I will go
-Your love’s the one love that I need to know.
-…When the answers escape us, when we start to fade
-Remember who loved you and the ones who have stayed
-‘Cause my body will fail, but my soul will go on
-So don’t you get lonely – I’m right where you are.
-You are the memory that won’t ever lapse
-When twenty-five years have suddenly passed
-Wherever you take me, it’s clear I will go
-Your love’s the one love that I need to know.”
Hold Fast to Dreams by Susan LaBarr
Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc. - SBMP 1426
This selection also has a great text taken from a Langston Hughes poem. This would be a great opportunity to work on making a text translate to your audience. There are some unison lines that you could spend a great deal of time discussing how to shape the line and pronounce the text. Since the poem repeats in this tune, this would allow you to have the groundwork laid for this when you get to the part singing in the back half of the song.
Brightest and Best arr. Shawn Kirchner
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc./Hal Leonard - HL 48024507
I think that it is always good to have a few new ideas for a holiday concert as you move into the next year. Here is an arrangement of the American hymn tune Star in the East. It has a “banjo-style” piano accompaniment, and presents the melodic material in different ways throughout the song. I enjoy this style of music, and think it is great to include something in this style at some point during the year. If you can kill two birds with one stone by programming American hymn/folk style music in your holiday repertoire I say go for it!
The Bird’s Lullaby by Sarah Quartel
Oxford University Press – 9780193524668
This is a fun a cappella tune that would be suitable for different types of ensembles. It has a pop a cappella feel, but I think that you could perform it with your concert group and have a good time with it in that setting as well. The melody moves back and forth between the soprano lines. It reminds me of a King’s Singers style arrangement, and I think that your group would enjoy this change of pace.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken arr. J. David Moore
Fresh Ayre Music/Graphite Publishing -FAM-1072-02
And to close out the list, I’ve included a show-stopper. Many of you may already know this arrangement, but I haven’t included it on a reading list yet. I wanted to add it this time around, because I feel like it could be one of those tunes that you have heard somewhere and just never programmed. It has some Bluegrass and Gospel flair, and if you have the choir for it could be quite a bit of fun to put together. I know that I have trouble getting the tune out of my head when I listen to the recordings of it, and I don’t really mind all that much!
TB Reading List
Choir Director, Center Grove MS Central
Tenor-Bass Chorus Repertoire and Resource Chair
TT unchanged -- Dame/Thompkins, BriLee BL1128
For unchanged tenor voices, Dover Beach contains rolling and weaving melodies within the framework of an undulating piano accompaniment. Energetic and musically charged, the driving melodic passages will challenge the young tenor performers to be their very best! This is a great piece for 5/6th grade boys choirs. BriLee is one of my go-to publishers for young voices. It is their mission!
TB Pederson, Alfred 48324
Here's a dramatic detour into choral theater! Using a fictional language from an imaginary oracle, this exceptional piece effectively combines narration, rhythmic chanting, singing, and percussion to create an atmosphere of awe and mystery. A selection that your audience will be talking about for weeks afterward, and your singer will never forget. Instructions are provided to quickly adapt the SA voicing for 3-part mixed choirs.
Your 7/8th grade young men will love this piece!
TB Johnson, Heritage 15/3699
Memorable melodies and luscious harmonies complemented by a rich accompaniment grace this gentle, flowing original, incorporating the traditional Latin text. An excellent choice for small or large choirs! A beautiful piece for your middle school or early high school men. Heritage is a fabulous publisher for 3-pt mixed voicing music.
TBB Ramsey, Carl Fischer CM9633
Inspired by the sacred harp tunes "White" and "Long Sought Home," Andrea Ramsey's TTB arrangement with optional violin affords tenor bass choirs the opportunity to experience the tradition of sacred choral music as it flourished in the American South. The plaintive text and tender harmonies will resonate with singer and audience alike. A great piece to feature a violinist. An advanced middle school or any high school men’s group would love to sing this! I love Carl Fischer! They have excellent music for the youngest groups to the most advanced.
TTBB Patterson, Chorister’s Guild CGE405
Mark Patterson has masterfully crafted a thrilling, energetic piece for holiday concerts, incorporating the French carol Nol Nouvelet. This setting begins with layered choral entrances and culminates with a rich choral sonorities. The driving piano accompaniment, along with the optional drum and finger cymbals, bring an added exuberance to this hearty arrangement and is sure to please audiences and singers alike. A pronunciation guide and translation are provided. This is a great, energetic Christmas piece for your high school men. Chorister’s Guild is pretty new on the scene, but I have been extremely happy with their music. Very appropriate arrangements for the age/ability.
TTBB Highben, Santa Barbara Music Press SBMP1604
This artistic piece has the three verses framed in “oos”. It will appeal to the mature male choir seeking a beautiful gem of a piece. This is a stunning piece for your advanced high school or college men’s choir. A great publisher if you are looking for out-of-the-box songs.
TTBB Morgan, Walton Music WW1804
This majestic work for men's chorus uses text by Hildegard von Bingen that speaks of the mystery of the Trinity and of God's creation. Pentatonic and written with great skill of counterpoint and voice-leading, this impressive, earthy work will come together easily for high school, university, and community men's choruses. Walton is a fabulous publisher with challenging music for all ability levels.
TTBB Marrolli, EC Schirmer 1.3586
A combination of two traditional Scottish tunes: "Wild Mountain Thyme," sung by the voices, and the popular Scottish reel "Whiskey Before Breakfast", played as a counterpoint by the violin. The two tunes come together to highlight the playful nature of Tannahill’s text, which speaks of going out with one’s love in the romantic blush of spring.
2-Part Reading List
Choir Director, Highland Hills MS
Youth Coordinator, Junior High/Middle School & Children/Community Youth Chair
Walton Music Publisher - WW1779 - arr. by Blake Richter and Taylor Shaeffer
This is a traditional English folk song that is a fun story for the kids to enjoy. Your audiences will also love the fun vocal sounds that the students will make as well. It has a piano accompaniment with an optional Mandolin, Guitar, and Drum Set accompaniment. It has a fun body percussion section that the kids will enjoy as well.
Alfred Music – 00-48322 – by Michael John Trotta
Here is the explanation of this piece by the composer himself Michael John Trotta:
This piece was given to me and my choirs at Highland Hills Middle School by Michael before it became available to the public. My 6th graders were singing this for ISSMA contest this year. Check out the dedication at the top of the page. We were so blessed to premier this work for Michael.
Santa Barbara Music Publishing – SBMP 1607 – by Kevin Padworski
As a seedling magically grows into a tree, so this song ends magically with that tree singing joyfully. This charming piece will delight both audiences and singers. Don’t let the mixed meter and the change of tempos concern you. I did this with my sixth graders this Spring and they LOVED it!
Santa Barbara Music Publishing – SBMP 1527 – by Chris Fox
The first “face” is foot-stomping fun with fiddle leading a hoe-down parade, followed by a second Gentler lullaby “face” that puts the piece to rest.
Colla Voce Music – 24-96460 – arr. by Ruth Dwyer and Martin Ellis
This is a lovely and accessible setting of this fun French Folk Song. Most are familiar with the Patriquin arrangement which is much more challenging. This allows your younger kids to be introduced to this wonderful song. Don’t be afraid of the French. Kids can do anything!!!
Heritage Music – 15/2774H – Victor C. Johnson
A beautiful setting in La pentatonic. A great teaching piece for La based music. Also a really good sight reading piece in pentatonic. Great multicultural piece.
Hal Leonoard – HL 48024157 – arr. Juan-Tony Guzman
Here is a gorgeous Spanish folk song setting. It is very accessible and will mesmerize your audience. It is a stunning piece. My sixth graders LOVED it!!!
Santa Barbara Music Publishing – SBMP 1540 – Stephen Caldwell
I presented this one last summer and thought it merited another showing. This is a challenge for sure but it is SO MUCH FUN!!! It is worth the time and effort. My kids LOVED it!!! If you want a fun challenge, go for it. Mixed meter, different childhood songs all blended together it is a must do!!!
3-Part Reading List
Choir Director, Highland Hills MS
Youth Coordinator, Junior High/Middle School & Children/Community Youth Chair
Hal Leonard – HL 00285967 – Arr. by Ken Berg
2 part/SA with descant making it 3 part treble
From the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein, here is the opening song arranged for young singers. This positive message is a perfect way to begin a concert and this arrangement is a vehicle to feature the choir, soloists and multiple small sections. Helpful performance notes, offered by the arranger, are included on page two of the octavo.
Excelcia Music Publishing – TTB1901 – Patti Drennan
This is a wonderful setting of this Latin text for Middle School boys. The Baritone stays in the “pocket” for those young changed voices and it allows your lower cambiata and upper, possibly unchanged voices, to be successful on the tenor 1 part. This is a great piece and it is fun and uplifting.
Santa Barbara Music Publishing – SBMP 1595 – Hyun Kook, SA
A lovely setting of the Percy Shelley Text. A great piece for any Treble Choir. Great teaching piece to work on moving from lower voice into higher voice. I ordered this myself for my girls.
Brilee Music – BL 1149 – Micahel John Trotta
3 part mixed
Michael has created a wonderful setting of the Sanctus. It is a great beginning 3 part piece as the parts sing separately and come together easily. He is a master of creating works that are accessible for the emerging young choir.
Alfred Music – 00-48281 – Jay Althouse
This is a very moving setting of the Kentucky Folk Song Bright Morning Stars. The Baritone part does not go below a D so if you have some truly changed guys this will work. The alto line will work beautifully for any cambiata/unchanged boys you may have. This piece is acapella, but don’t let that scare you off. It has chances for good singers to sing solos and duet. This is a great way to introduce your kids to this amazing folk tune.
Alfred Music – 00-48317 – Vivaldi/Liebergen
3 part mixed, also available in SAB
We lost a great arranger on Thursday, February 6th 2020. Patrick Liebergen has been writing amazing transcriptions of classic choral literature for middle school voices for years. You can always trust his arrangements to be accessible for middle school voices. Here is a wonderful setting of Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus.
Alfred Music – 00-48433 – Greg Gilpin
3 part mixed
Greg has done a very accessible setting of this traditional Spanish Folk Song. I think your kids would enjoy this dramatic setting of this piece.
Hal Leonard – 00116000 – Toto arr. by Audrey Snyder
3 part mixed
If you haven’t seen this arrangement yet, YOU MUST!! This song has taken a new resurgence with kids today. This is a lot of fun!
Middle School SATB Reading List
Choir Director, Highland Hills MS
Youth Coordinator, Junior High/Middle School & Children/Community Youth Chair
Pavane Publishing – 00159337 – Brian Tate
"I am you are me...." This innovative original uses a clever text and pop-style music to create an environment of togetherness among members of the choir. Community - that's what it's all about. Each vocal part gets its own statement, and all are sequenced together into a rollicking chorus, all a cappella, all fun! Complete with finger snaps and handclaps, this will be a hit with your singers! This piece has is several vocal ostinato that come together in this fun and uplifting piece.
Walton Music – WW1791 – Dwight Bigler
Old Joe Clark is a tremendously fun American folksong from the Appalachian region. Fantastic and fun vocal lines are supported by a lively, yet accessible, piano accompaniment. Add spoons and clapping/stomping for a great time! Voicings are such that you can make changes for your boys to make this a fun successful piece.
Hal Leonard – 00301725- John Leavitt
This traditional spiritual carries in its essence the longing for peace and rest. The bittersweet spirit is front and center in this arrangement enhanced by sensitive part writing, an optional solo, and a flowing piano accompaniment. Optional instrumental parts are available to further increase the impact of the piece.
Santa Barbara Music Publishing – SBMP 1571 – Jacob Narverud
This is a great piece about being part of the change that you would like to see in our world. A very positive message. There are a couple of modifications I would make to my bass line, but the rest is spot on for all voices. The rhythms can be challenging but as I always say “Kids can do anything!!”
High School SATB Reading List
Choir Director, Floyd Central HS
Senior High School Repertoire & Resource Chair
Camaroon Marching Song, arr. Ken Berg, Carl Fischer CM9658
It is unusual to find African music that is in French, but it is completely appropriate here as French is one of the official languages of Camaroon. Beginning with an optional call and response in aleatoric style, followed by a short percussion break, this marching processional features sturdy, repetitive rhythms. The vocal parts would not be hard to teach. At the key change, there is some divisi, that could be omitted for groups that aren’t comfortable with divided parts. This would be a great concert opener or combined choir feature.
Jamey Ray, Excelcia Music, SAB1904
If you recognize the name Jamey Ray, you may be expecting a VOCTAVE arrangement. But this is an accessible, yet rewarding piece for SAB chorus, using the familiar text by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. With an interesting melody and some unexpected harmonic shifts, this piece is great for the choir with limited tenors and basses. Also, if you aren’t acquainted with Excelcia Music yet, I encourage you to look at their catalog.
arr. André Thomas, Heritage Music Press 15/3784H
If you are looking for a concert setting of a folk song, take a look at this blues-infused arrangement by André Thomas. There is some divisi, but there is also a significant amount of unison singing. It features a driving piano accompaniment. Lots of story-telling will give you opportunities to work on diction and expression.
Elaine Hagenberg, Elaine Hagenberg Music EH1006
Elaine Hagenberg has written so many beautiful pieces. The Blue Ridge is not well known, but could be a beautiful moment in your concert. This one will take an advanced choir to pull off due to the divisi and vocal control needed. A stunning setting that encourages us to find clarity and wisdom from nature, I hope you will check this one out.
Michael John Trotta, Hampton Roads Music
Michael John Trotta has become a prominent composer in our reading sessions. There are so many of his pieces that could be added to this list. His setting of this familiar text is more accessible than others and will fit the skills of many high school choirs. It is a cappella, has manageable ranges and only a couple of chords with divisi.
Jonny Priano, Lawson-Gould 47618
My A Cappella Choir was going to perform this piece at ISSMA this year. My students were challenged by its asymmetrical meters and harmonic shifts, but they loved it. It has divisi in all parts except the tenor. It is a cappella and will require some time to learn, but it is worth the effort if you have the forces required. I also recommend that you look at other pieces by Priano, especially “Good Night”, “Echo” and “Dies Irae.”
Tim Osiek, edited by Dan Forrest, Beckenhorst Press BP2159
Many of you will already know this setting, but if you don’t, you should. It is a gorgeous, but powerful setting of the traditional spiritual incorporating original text and music. For those needing to avoid sacred repertoire, you can still do this one as this one as it has no direct religious references. Voice parts are attainable with no divisi. There are equally beautiful settings for SATB, SSAA and TTBB. I encourage you to check this one out.
Beethoven, arr. Joshua Pacey, C.F. Peters EP73502
This December is the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. I would bet many of us do not program much Beethoven with our high school choirs. But I encourage you to look for a way to teach your choirs about this master during this upcoming semester. This set of 4 songs is one possibility that gives you accessible options. The songs are in English and the set contains two accompanied songs, as well as two a cappella songs. Other options might include the Kyrie from Beethoven’s Mass in C, Hallelujah from Christ on the Mount of Olives, or Virgil Thomson’s arrangement of The Heavens are Telling.