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Great repertoire for collegiate chamber choir

Hi All —
 
I'm starting up a small chamber choir of 8-16 singers who are upperclassmen at the collegiate level and are nearly all voice majors. They'd love to do some beautiful SATB or SSAATTBB accapella repertoire that challenges them yet being a student myself with limited experience picking repertoire, I find that I don't know where to start in terms of picking the right repertoire for a group of their size. Can you guys give some good suggestions for great repertoire you think would be possible with this type of ensemble? They're great musicians/readers. The pieces also need to be unaccompanied and can be in any language. I'd prefer they were stand-alone and not multi-movement works or masses. 
 
Some of my current thoughts are:
Ubi Caritas by Ola Gjielo
Afternoon on a Hill by Colin Britt
O Lord God by Chesnokov
I Sing As I Arise Today by James Fritchell
 
Thanks for your help!
 
David Hahn
Senior, Vocal Performance
Moody Bible Institute
 
 
Replies (21): Threaded | Chronological
on August 26, 2012 12:40pm
Hey David, 
 
I did the exact same thing two years ago at PLU. I started a smaller chamber choir and picked repertoire.
A few things to think about/consider:
The strengths and weaknesses of each voice in the choir
How long of pieces you are looking to perform? 
Will the group perform a full concert?
Etc, etc...
 
I see that most of the repertoire you listed above is 20th/21st century. I do not know what your conducting experience has been, but I'd suggest choosing music that you can successfully teach and conduct. 
 
Some repertoire I've done in the past:
Os Justi - Anton Bruckner
O Magnum Mysterium - Tomas Luis da Victoria
April is in my mistress face - Thomas Morley
Benedicamus Domino - Peter Hallock
Bogoroditse Devo - Rachmaninoff
Haec Dies - William Byrd
Cantate Domino - Claudio Monteverdi
Hard Times - Craig Hella Johnson
The Lamb - John Taverner
Light Everlastin - Olaf C. Christiansen
The Lord Bless You and Keep You - Peter Lutkin
Locus Iste - Anton Bruckner
Ave Maria - J. Michael Saunders * A newer work.
Notre Pere - Maurice Durufle
Ubi Caritas - Maurice Durufle
Requiem - Craig Hella Johnson
Sing Me to Heaven - Daniel Gawthrop
If Ye Love Me - Thomas Tallis
O Nata Lux - Thomas Tallis
Tu es petrus - Maurice Durufle
Abendlied - Josef Rheinberger
 
 

These are some suggestions, from many eras, and some are "standards" within the choral repertoire. I'd suggest for the ensmeble that you have between 12 and 16 singers, to aid in a stronger tone to support the choral music. 
Let me know if you have any questions about my suggestions, I could easily give you a paragraph explanation for each of these pieces. 
 
 
All the best, 
Alan Davis
Senior Music (choral conducting) major at Pacific Lutheran University
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 28, 2012 9:03pm
Thanks Alan for your hard work in responding to this. I really appreciate your contribution, especially with leading me to your website — what a GREAT tool for those looking to move on with their education (such as myself). Will definitely be forwarding that link to those it would help! 
 
Out of that list above (leaving out Light Everlasting, Bogoroditse Devo, Sing Me to Heaven, Ubi Caritas, If Ye Love Me), could you list 3 that you definitely think I should look at? Perhaps your top 3. 
 
Your thoughts to consider are helpful. Thanks :)
on August 26, 2012 12:47pm
There are a number of very fine works by Eric William Barnum, an excellent young composer:
Afternoon on a Hill (same text as the one by Colin Britt, but very different)
Lo, I am With You Always (a wonderful sacred piece)
I also recommend works from the Renaissance period for Chamber choirs.  You can find so many on CPDL
http://www0.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page, as well as other great titles from earlier periods - all free
and mostly good, basic editions. Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, Byrd, Hassler, Schutz, you name it, you can find it there.
You should also look into some of the fine 19th century works by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Brahms, even Bruckner.
There are some great "ensemble" pieces by Brahms, both a cappella and with piano.  I'd be glad to send you more
suggestions.  I am actually bringing my Chamber Singers from Missouri Baptist University to Chicago in OCtober.
Perhaps we could get our groups together one day for some sharing.
 
Grace and peace,
Larry Smith
Missouri Baptist University
St. Louis MO
smithl(a)mobap.edu
on August 26, 2012 4:26pm
Dear David,
 
I think you might find this newly-premiered work to fit your criteria and tastes:
 
 
Best Wishes,
Frank La Rocca
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 26, 2012 6:46pm
Your setting is beautiful, Frank. How can I see a perusal score, and on what basis may performance rights be arranged?
 
Mark Nabholz
Dir of Choral Activities
Erskine College
nabholz(a)erskine.edu
on August 27, 2012 1:52pm
Dear Mark,
 
Thank you for your kind comment. I'll e-mail you with the details.
Frank
on August 27, 2012 4:31am
Hi, David -- I have a number of a cappella works, on sacred and secular texts, described on my website, available through publishers or me, that I think would work well for your ensemble. Please take a look at my choral catalog:
 
 
All best!
 
Jonathan Santore
 
on August 27, 2012 7:06am
Hi David,
Good luck with this venture.
Please check out a composition of mine, "Coney Island," in the Composers Showcase: http://choralnet.org/306016
I have other pieces I could email to you.
Thanks.
-Rich
on August 27, 2012 7:49am
Hi David,
 
Like other composers who have replied to your post, I'd like to encourage you to visit the choral section of my website:
 
 
Best of luck with your endeavor!
 
Carol Barnett
on August 27, 2012 8:39am
Hi David, Here's some suggestions for collegiate-level, unaccompanied SATB works:
 
Sing We And Chant It!  (contemporary setting of an English Madrigal)
 
Psalm 13 (advanced; for great musicians/readers)
 
Quaker Peace Testimony (a cappella SATB; advanced)
 
on August 28, 2012 7:58pm
Would love to hear the Psalm 13 — where can I find an Mp3. Looked on Youtube and googled to no avail...
on August 28, 2012 6:37am
David. You could have a look at Love Never Ends www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtjScKWfZrY and www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j4gyB3hvQg which is a setting of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love ......" by Philip Stopford
on August 28, 2012 9:31am
Hi David,
 
Keep in mind the ChoralNet Composition Showcase, where you may view perusal pdfs and listen to recordings of works by ChoralNet-member composers: http://www.choralnet.org/306612
 
My SATB setting of the Jones Very poem, "The Tree," might be particularly appropriate for your new chamber choir.  You may download a perusal pdf score and listen to a great recording in the ChoralNet Composition Showcase at http://www.choralnet.org/306016#thetree
 
Another good fit might be "An Open World."  You may listen to a great recording on my website (gregbartholomew.com) or on YouTube (http://youtu.be/t310MTo_Q8M).  I would be pleased to email the pdf for any of my choral works to you if you are interested. 
 
Greg
on August 28, 2012 9:56am
Lekberg- Weep O Willow
Kodaly- Norwegian Girls
Dawson- Soon Ah Will Be Done
Palestrina- Hodie Christus Natus Est
Menotti- Shephard's Chorus- Amahl
Murray- Madame Jeanette
Gabrielli- Jubilate Deo
Berger- It Is Good To Be Merry
            Alleluia from Brazilian Psalm
 
I have lots more but I'm trying to make sure everything I'm recommending is available in print. These are all musically solid, challenging, and sound wonderful.
on August 28, 2012 12:00pm
Dear David,
 
Are you looking for strictly sacred pieces only? One piece that is fantastic for a strong group to do is Delius' "Two songs to be sung on the water". It's a vocalize...
 
On the other hand, I have a set of settings of Solomon that you might be interested in: "Three Facets fo Love" for SATB double quartet or choir. I also have a short hymn setting for SATB choir/quartet you may be interested in. If you want a copy of the score, just let me know!
 
Jerry Hui
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 28, 2012 7:54pm
Love this — that Delius song is great. And no, I'm looking for anything really.
on August 28, 2012 7:53pm
Great responses so far everyone! Thank you soooo much. I've just been going through a lot of your ideas, checking out as much as i can in the limited amount of time I have. For those of you that have personal compositions, thanks for your generosity and I'll let you know if I'm interested. All are great pieces.
on August 28, 2012 8:00pm
In addition to any number of pieces from my own catalog http://www.robertamross.com, you might want to look at the 6 Rilke Chansons of Hindemith (Schott), and the Trois Chansons each by Ravel and Debussy (all pub. Durand, I believe). The Hindemith can be sung in French (original language) or English (the translation is that good!).
 
Also, if your group can handle the divisi, Holst's *The Evening Watch* (Faber) or Randall Thompson's *The Last Invocation,* *Bitter-Sweet,* or his *Odes of Horace* (ECS) are also great and rarely-heard works!
 
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
info(a)robertamross.com
on August 29, 2012 11:08am
Dear David,
I'm a little late answering this, but your group might like some of my pieces.
 
These three are available at the Choralnet Composer's Showcase:
 
¡Mira! (New York Harasses Sor Juana) SSATB http://choralnet.org/view/306016#1miranewyork (in Spanish. Mexican baroque literary genius and nun Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz's poem about spirituality and materialism "En Perseguirme Mundo" arguing with contemporary NYC Spanish language advertising and street talk.)
 
The Moth and the Fish Eggs Unison http://choralnet.org/306140#themothand (complex, lush SATB round settting of Walt Whitman)
 
Woody SATB http://choralnet.org/306016#woody (Traditional Appalacian tune surrounded by bird calls.)
 
And from my own website: http://fleap.com/adcomps.html
Life Is but a Dream (SATB, dreamy fantasia on Row Row Row your Boat)
Longing (SATB, somewhat difficult, somewhat minimalist setting of Psalm 43)
 
You might also try some of the Monteverdi 5-part madrigals. Beautiful and fun.
 
best wishes,
Anna Dembska
 
 
on September 1, 2012 7:22pm
Here is a short piece for SSAATB that worked well with our college choir: http://tomflahertymusic.com/infopages/Lines_infopage2.php
 
Good luck with your search and your new ensemble!
 
-Tom Flaherty
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 5, 2012 12:23pm
David—
Please consider my SATB setting of the Jones Very poem, The Tree, as well as An Open World, the first of my set of Three Gnostic Poems.  You may listen to recordings and download perusal pdf scores on my website at www.gregbartholomew.com/choralindex.html.
     Greg
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