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Settings of: Shakespeare texts

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 09:34:09 -0600
From: Patricia Romza
Subject: Shakespeare music compilation

Your query reminded me that I hadn't posted my compilation of responses to the same question from about two months ago.

My thanks to everyone who responded. We only have 13 rehearsals to pull this off (it's the last concert of the year, following the Mozart Requiem), so it's a lightweight program and (I hope) a fun one.



There are some georgeous chorus numbers in Verdi's Macbeth - for women,
mixed and men's chorus.

Kathy Boyce

Emma Lou Diemer's settings of 3 Shakespeare songs for SATB are gems.


David Schildkret phone: 910-721-2636
Director, Salem College School of Music
e-mail: schildkret(a)

My favorites are Amy Beach's "Three Shakespeare Songs", Op. 39 (from "The
Tempest" and "Midsummer Night's Dream"), SSAA a cappella: "Over hill, over
dale", "Come unto these yellow sands", and "Through the house give glimmering
light". Nice Brahmsian harmony, neat tone painting, some self-referential
musical devices. I publish them: Treble Clef Music Press, Nos. 104, 105,

Mary Lycan
Treble Clef Music Press

A "MUST": Healy Willan "Sigh No More Ladies"

Other favorite: Diemer "Three Madrigals"

Have fun! These are amazing texts!

Arlie Langager langager(a)

There's a fantastic Rutter "It was a lover and his lass", close-harmony
style. The only other settings that come to mind are Finzi's, but they're
all for solo voice.

Chris Johns

Jean Berger's "Three Roundelays" (SATB) are lovely, especially "The Man
that has no music" #2. Sorry I'm not near a copy to get the pubolisher.
I think these could be done by a small or large group.

Frank Martin - Songs of Ariel (HARD)

I have too many to name and not enough time. I am currently working
on MUSIC TO HEAR by George Shearing and absolutely love them. They
are SATB and published by Hindon. If the settings are too
anachronistic for you, remember Merlin lived backwards in time and
could easily have zapped a 20th C. keyboard into the 16th C!

Becky Jarman

You might take a look at Amy Beach's Three Shakespeare Songs, Op. 39 "Over
hill, over dale," "Come unto these yellow sands," "Through the house give
glittering light." For SSAA a cappella

Robert Saladini Robert Saladini

Stay away from Monarch of the Vine!
There's a really awful Macbeth out there, too - early 17th century?
The Vaughn Williams 5 Shakespeare Settings gets my vote, but you need good

Ray Fahrner

I have three original modern madrigals that use Shakespeare texts. THe
collection is published by Moon of Hope Publishing. I can get you their
ordering information if you would like.
Ken Langer
Music Department
Lyndon State College
Lyndonville VT 05851
e-mail: LangerK(a)
home page:

Dear Patricia,
Peter Westergaard who did a wonderful opera of the Tempest and lots of
short extractable scenes. He's at Princeton. Anna Rubin
Anna Rubin

I like John Rutter's arrangement of "It was a Lover and his Lass" -
5-part, jazz-style, acappella (I think). I believe Oxford published it.

Paul Sinasohn sinasohn(a)

We have used an a cappella ("doo-wop") setting of "Who is
Sylvia?"[Merchant of Venice] which may have originated with one of the
Harvard groups. (Can anyone claim this one?) It might make a nice
program "lightener."
Dalton Winslow dwinslow(a)

Dickau, Three from Shakespeare, Kjos
Rutter, When Icicles Hang
Boyd, O Mistress Mine, Classic Artists
Michael Fink, Full Fadom Five, Mark Foster
Diemer - Three Madrigals
Edw.Moore, Crabbed Youth
Julia Simon, Three Shakespear Songs (unpub - wahoofive(a)
Vaughan Williams - The Willow Song
William Mathias - It was a Lover and his Lass
Ward Swingle - It was a lover...
Morley - dittp
RJS Stevens - ditto
rutter - Blow, blow thous winter wind
W. Schuman, Orpheus with his Lute
Vaughan Williams - Three Shakespeare Songs (great!)
Mendelssohn - Midsummer Nights Dream
Washburn - Sigh No More, Ladies
G. MacFarren - Orpheus with his lute
MacFarren - When Daisies Pied
F. Martin - songs of Ariel (?)
Brahms - four songs for women, horns, harp, #2
M. Harris - Shakespear Songs (and other works, Am. Composers Alliance)
Johanson - Fancies
Poulenc - Fancies
Kodaly - Fancies
Britten - Fancies
Theron Kirk, Five Shakespeare Songs?
Nils Lindberg, O Mistress Mine
Shearing, Music to Hear, Hinshaw
Vaughan Williams, Serenade to Music
RVW - in Windsor Forest
Robert H. Young, Two Love Songs #1
Jeppesen, Four Shakespeare Songs
Chatman - Blow, Blow thous Winter Wind, Jaymar
Clausen, Sing No More Ladies, Mark Foster
Oh, PDQ Bach Liebeslieder Polkas (Presser) - some by the Bard.

David Griggs-Janower

Emma Lou Diemer's three Shakespearean texts--(the middle one is Take, o
Take) SATB but easily used for junior high, high school or college. I
can't remember the first and third, but it is well worth the
investment--they are also quite short--easily learned. Norma B.

bbrowning(a) (Robert J Browning)

MEN-3 Shakespearian Love Songs (with French Horn & Piano)..Robert
Washburn (texts from "Twelfth Night" & "Much Ado...")-Easy

WOMEN-La Mort d'Ophélie, Op. 18, No. 2...H. Berlioz (Text: "Ballade
d'après Shakespeare['s 'Hamlet']" by Ernest Legouvé)-Easy

WOMEN-Witches Chorus (from "Macbeth")...G. Verdi (Italian libretto by
Francesco Maria Piave)-Relatively Easy

SOLO-Gesang (An Sylvia), D. 891...F. Schubert ("Two Gentlemen of Verona"
IV, 2)
SOLO-STÄNDCHEN, D. 889...F. Schubert ("Cymbeline" II, 3)

SATB-3 Shakespeare Songs...R.Vaughan Williams (Texts from "The Tempest"
and "A Midsummer Night's Dream")-moderately difficult

SATB-Under the greenwood tree (from "Songs of Springtime")...E.J. Moeran
("As You Like It" II, 5)-mod.

SOLO-Be not afeard (Aria from "The Tempest")...Lee Hoiby

SATB-3 Madrigals...Emma Lou Diemer-(Texts from "12th Night," "Measure
for Measure" and "Much Ado...")-really easy

SATB-It was a lover and his lass...John Rutter ("As You Like It" V,
3)-relatively easy to learn, but stylistically challenging

SATB-Orpheus with his lute (with Flute, French Horn, Percussion, &
Piano)...Thomas Beveridge (Henry VIII, III, 1)-mod. diff.

SATB-When daisies pied...George Macfarren ("Love's Labours Lost" V,

SATB-Blow, blow, thou winter wind (from "When Icicles Hang")...John
Winter ("As You Like It" II, 7)-easy

SATB-It was a lover and his lass (from "Shakespeare Songs," Op.
80)...William Mathias

You should know Emma Lou Diemer's "Three Madrigals" for SATB chorus and
piano. These are easily acsessible by high school forces, so should be
no problem at all for college singers.

My Chamber Choir is having fun this term with 'It Was A Lover and His Lass'
in the SATBB a cappella setting by John Rutter. Is is published by Oxford
# X255.

Dick Householder rhouseh(a)


Marcia Ecker, Mezzo-soprano (1880-1968)

OVER HILL, OVER DALE A Midsummer Nightís Dream

Lorraine Branham, Mezzo-soprano (1882-1961)

Jim Enstrom, Baritone (1877-1953)

Womenís Chorus (1913-1976)

Menís Chorus (1899-1963)

John Washburn, Baritone (1803-1869)


WHO IS SYLVIA? Two Gentlemen of Verona FRANZ SCHUBERT Arr. Goff Richards

Caren George, Soprano

A Midsummer Nightís Dream (1809-1847)
Carol Olsen-Soprano, June Miller-Soprano and Womenís Chorus


Kati Olsen, Soprano (1927-


Daniel Heiman-Countertenor, Kati Olsen-Soprano,

Wayland Rogers 100109879

I can't remember the exact title, but there is a cycle by George
Shearing (yes, the jazz pianist) in five movements, for choir, piano, and
string bass. It's published by Hinshaw (don't know if it's still in
print), and the settings are very nice -- just enough cool jazz sound
to make it "modern" but not that difficult or far out. Sorry that I
don't remember more details, but it has been several years since I did
the cycle.

Lee Ridgway RIDGWAY(a)

Sigh No More Ladies SSAA Vaughan Williams
Dirge for Fidele SSA Vaughan Williams
Dirge from Cymbline TTBB Conrad Susa
Incidental Music from Midsummer Night's Dream (SSAA) - Mendelssohn


Matthew Harris has 4 awesome octavos published by G. Schirmer.
Shakespeare Songs Book 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Joe Ohrt JosOhrt(a)

There is an SSAA setting that I enjoy by Crystal La Point Kowalski. As a part
of her Four English Songs the first of the set is called "Come Ho!" and is
set a cappella. Published by Lawson-Gould number 52456. The text is from The
Mechant of Venice.

Mark Howarth Ictus(a)

Robert Young: Two Love Songs (first one is Shakespeare) available in
Rutter: Blow, Blow thou Winter Wind
Martin Hook
A few year ago I arranged several Shakespeare songs in a
volume called "Measure for Pleasure." It was published
by Susato Press in North Carolina. The Arrangements

Heigh ho! for a husband - Much Ado About Nothing
Fortune, my foe - The Merry Wives of Windsor
Come live with me and be my love - The Merry W...
Greensleeves - The Merry W...
Heart's ease - Romeo and Juliet
The hunt is up! - Romeo and Juliet
And let me the canakin clink! - Othello
King Stephen was a worthy peer - Othello
And will he not come again? - Hamlet
Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day - Hamlet
I loathe that I did love - Hamlet
When that I was a little tiny boy - Twelfth Night
Farewell, dear love - Twelfth N...
When daffodils begin to peer - The Winter's Tale
Jog on, jog on the footpath way - The Winter's T...
Willow Song - Othello
How should I - Hamnlet

These are settings of 16th and 17th C. tunes and are
arranged in four parts, SATB. They are designed for
solo soprano with SATB instruments, but they work well
with voices and/or instruments on any and all parts. For
more information about possible purchases, contact
George Kelischek who is the publisher.

Kelischek Workshop
Rt 1, Box 26
Brasstown, NC 28902
e-mail: susato(a)
home page:

For more information about the music and arrangements,
contact me.

Gerald Moore
Department of Music
Nashville, TN

e-mail: mooregl(a)

Aside from the RVW set and various movements from Rutter's *When Icicles
Hang* (OUP), one of my favorites is *The Hallowed Season* by Hubert Bird
(SATB a capp; Theodore Presser)--gorgeous and only a little tricky.

I also have a work *A Shakespearian Fancy* on songs & scenes from *A
Midsummer Night's Dream* written in 1981 and performed only once, for SATB, 7
soloists and chamber orchestra; though that might be a bit large for what
you're looking for.
Robert Ross RobertamR(a)

Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Serenade to
Music," a 1938 composition that captures Shakespeare's paean to music
from _The Merchant of Venice_:
"Here will we sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears:
Soft stillness, and the night, become the touches of sweet harmony."
Paul Olsen polsen(a)

I am sure you will get a lot of suggestions, but a group of settings a
little out of the way is British composer, Geoffrey Bush's, "The Sweet
Season". It consists of a short suite of SATB pieces set to Elizabethan
The first two are to non Shakespearean texts, but the latter two are by
the Bard. They are musically interesting without being too difficult, a
lot of tonal and metrical shifts.
They are:
Spring, the sweet spring (words by Thomas Nashe)
Chopcherry (words by George Peele)
How should I your true love know?
It was a lover and his lass

Publisher - Thames Publishing (distributed by Novello)
I was unable to obtain a copy in Canada, but a good music supplier in
the US may be more helpful. I had it sent by the Cambridge Music Shop,
All Saints Passage, Cambridge, England. 011 44 1223 351786 (phone).

Derek Morphy, Renaissance Voices, Winnipeg, Canada

And for my program:
³Shakespeare and Friends²

CHORALE (30 voices SATB):
Shearing: Music to Hear
Diemer: Three Madrigals [O Mistress Mine; Take, O Take; Sigh no more]
Lapp: Three Songs from Twelfth Night [O Mistress Mine; Come Away, Death;
Hey, Ho, the Wind and the Rain]
(Greg tells me this is a world premier; my students are going to be
cock-a-hoop over that!)
P.D.Q. Bach: Who is Sylvia?

Jeppeson: Blow, blow and When Icicles Hang from Four Shakespeare Songs Pfautsch: Orpheus with His Lute
Rutter: It was a lover and his lass
Baksa: Under the Greenwood Tree; O Mistress Mine Alex.Broude
Convery: Crabbéd Age and Youth Boosey and Hawkes
Young: Two Love Songs, No. 1 [When in disgrace with fortune]

MIRIAM SINGERS (15 superwomen‹lots of student teachers gone this semester [ouch]):
Chausson: Chant funèbre (SSAA) Salabert
Corp: Spring [When Daisies Pied] (SSA) Oxford
Verdi: Witches¹ Chorus (SSA)
RVW: Sigh no more, ladies (SSA)

I would have loved to program the RVW ³Three Shakespeare Songs² but 30 voices sounds too few to me in that much divisi.

Interspersed will be a few monologues and sonnet readings by theatre students (many of whom sing in one of the choirs).

Patricia Romza, D.M.A.
Director of Choral Activities
St. Ambrose University
518 West Locust Street
Davenport, IA 52803
**Philippians 3:13-14**

Hi listers! Sorry this took so long. Thank you to all who responded to my
request for choral settings of Shakespeare. Here are the list of responses.

Greg Lapp wrote some lovely SATB settings, Three Songs from Twelfth Night
that I did with one of my college choirs several years ago. I think his
website is "" and his music is listed in the Repertoire database
on Choralnet. You could mention that I sent you, although I've married
since then and he wouldn't recognize the "Warren" part of my name. Greg
is also a wonderful person and a neat composer with whom to work.

Pax Domini sit semper tecum.

Patricia Romza Warren, DMA
Fine Arts Chair and Choirmaster
St. Timothy's-Hale School (Episcopal)
3400 White Oak Road
Raleigh, NC 27609


I realize that your inquiry refers to 4-part choral settings; however, if
settings for solo/unison voice(s) (a cappella) might also be a
consideration, I'd be pleased to offer my "Shakespeare Set," which includes
settings of 3 Shakespeare texts. The work can be performed as a cycle; or
any of the 3 settings may be performed individually. If you'd care to
examine a perusal score, just let me know.

Elizabeth Hayden Pizer
Email: elizabeth.hayden.pizer(a)
or: ehpizer(a)


Not too sure if this is what you're looking for, but there are choral with
piano and double bass accompaniment of Shakespeare Songs and Sonnetts
composed by George Shearing. I've got no idea about scores, but the
recordings are available on Collegium Records ( )
under the "Disk Feel the Spirit" with John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers.
There is also a US publishing house that shoulde be able to
help.( or P.O. Box 31366, Omaha, Nebraska,

On the same CD there is also a set of John Rutter Birthday Madrigals that
have some Shakespeare settings.



I did a whole concert of Shakespeare songs and then found that there are
many more. Dickau, Vaughan-Williams, Christopher Brown, are 3 composers.
David Hamilton from New Zealand. I don't have time to research the details,
but if you want more information, contact me and I'll take some time to look
up songs. Good luck.

Joyce Keil
Artistic Director
Home address: 729 Sequoia Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403

Home phone: 650-358-0702
Fax: 650-570-6233

email: jkeil(a)


I know about the existence of a setting of "Who is Sylvia" (lyrics by
which was arranged - if I do not mistake - by Bob Chilcott (former tenor
of the King's Singers). It is published by Hal Leonard.

I hope this may help.

Musically yours,
Massimo Varricchio
(Rome - Italy)


Jaakko Mäntyjärvi of Finland has composed "Four
Shakespeare Songs" and "More Shakespeare Songs". Both SATB. He has his
own web-site.
Karl-Erik Kronström
Frihetsvägen 34, FIN-10650 Ekenäs
tel.(019) 2416 396


There is a lovely setting of Shakespeare's "As you like it" by John Rutter.
It is "Blow, blow, Thou Winter Wind." It is published by Oxford (52.024).
Accompaniment for 2 flutes, harp, harpsichord and strings is available on
rental. Hope this helps. Best wishes. Gene Morlan


I have composed two songs from As You Like It (Blow, blow thou winter
wind,and The lusty horn) for voice and piano. They're published in the
volume of Eight Songs by Kallisti Music Press:
and you can also get that via J W Pepper and Sons

I also have an SSAA setting of Fairies' Song (from A Midsummer Night's
Dream) - quite difficult - this score is available direct from me.

Paul Ayres
electronic mail paulayres(a)
telephone and facsimile 020 8632 1854
12 Bennetts Avenue, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 8AU


the first thing, which comes in my mind is "Shall i compare thee to a
summers day" by Nils Lindberg (I think
published by Sveriges Körverbund).
Could you post a compilation please?
Greetings from Austria
Ingrun Fussenegger


Some years ago, the drama department at my school did a production of "12th
Night". There are a number of songs in the script, mostly by the jester,
none with music of course. I set each to music for use in the production
with simple accompaniments and few harmonies. They worked very well. I later
took three of the pieces and created the choral song-set listed below. If
you are
interested in the original stage versions, I could send you copies of that
as well. - GL

Three Songs from Twelfth Night - SATB a cappella - Greg A. Lapp - text by
William Shakespeare bp971114

This set, which includes O Mistress Mine, Come Away Death, and Hey, Ho, the
Wind and the Rain , is melodic in nature but challenging. The first is a
lilting melody with rhythmic intrigue. The second uses dissonance to
create a wailing over lost love, and the last is a musical farce to match
the character of the text.

Brosscum Publications deals directly with choirs and directors. If you are
interested in a perusal copy of any of the listed pieces please contact us
directly my email or check out our web site which is in development.

Greg Lapp
Brosscum Publications


"Songs and Sonnets" by George Shearing!! Wonderful stuff.

Ruth McKendree Treen
Chatham, Massachusetts


I know of a wonderful setting of three pieces, (The Swan of Avon) If Music
Be The Food of Love is one, the others are not in my current memory by a
local composer Persisi Vehar. If Music is very excessible written for SATB
chorus and children's chorus. If you are interested I will provide more
info please write back

Carolyn Lokken
Grand Island Senior High School


John Wilbye's madrigal "Draw On Sweet Night" is a always a really nice
piece. You can download it free from the Choral Public Domain Library

Josh Viles
Choral Conducting Student
Western Washington University


Sigh No More Ladies by Emma Lou Deimer


Regarding Shakespeare settings, you could look at some lovely settings by
Matthew Harris published by AMP and distributed by Hal Leonard. They're just
called "Shakespeare Songs" Books 1-4, catalogue numbers
HL50482646/7/8/9. There's an exquisite setting of "O Mistress Mine". Most of
the pieces are not too difficult - SATB unaccompanied. I've conducted 4 of
them and they work really well.

Personally I have a set of 7 Shakespeare settings for SAATB and piano (with
optional guitar in 3 movements). Unpublished. One of the pieces is a setting
of "Shall I compare thee..." for the women's voices, but the rest are (I
think from memory) all from the plays. I'd be happy to send you a copy of
the score and a recording if you wanted to look at the pieces.


David Hamilton
Private Box 56132
Dominion Road
phone: (+64 9) 6389226
fax: (+64 9) 6232053
email: david(a)


I'm currently preparing Three Madrigals by Emma Lou Diemer. The song lyrics
are made up of Shakespeare selections:
I. O Mistress Mine, where are you roaming? (Twelfth Night)
II. Take, O take those lips away (Measure for Measure)
III. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more! (Much Ado About Nothing)These are
contemporary madrigals accompanied by piano, SATB (fairly easy). Boosey &
Hawkes OCTB5417.

Dave D-K
Sioux Falls, SD


Check out, Rick Bartlett has set a
couple of Shakespeare's texts. I did "Shakespeare's
Kiss" a few years ago. It starts out high (high a for
soprano or solo) but there are nice moments in it.

Let me know if you find other settings of Shakespeare's texts.

Jim Dorr


There's a LOT of Shakespeare for chorus, and I'm sure you'll get a lot of
answers. You might not know about Matthew Harris's Shakespeare Songs,
published by EC Schirmer. Clever and accessible.

Good luck!

Mark Shapiro, Director
Cantori New York; Monmouth Civic Chorus
Director of Choral Studies, Mannes College of Music


Sounds like you need SATB music, but in the event that
SSA will work, check out music by Sir David Willcocks
published by Oxford. There are five pieces: Under the
Greenwood Tree, Full Fathom Five, Fear No More the Heat
o' the Sun, and It Was a Lover and His Lass. While they
are not published as such, he has composed them as a
suite, with readings and theme music in between pieces
under the name of "The Glories of Shakespeare." We have
a cd of our choirs under his direction singing these
pieces. I'd be happy to send you one if you wish.

Brian Clissold, Music Director
Music Center of South Central Michigan


Please try the British composers, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Quilter.


I have separate 2 Shakespeare settings that may be of interest:

>From 'As You Like It':
1. Three Shakespeare Songs SATB Heritage Music Press Include: Under
The Greenwood Tree
Take, O Take Those Lips Away
Hey, Ho the Wind and the Rain
(easily adaptable for 2 part and arranged from the original Roger Quilter.
Description,audio and PDF available on my website. Put title in keyword
search box on the music page.)

>From 'Much Ado About Nothing':
2. Sign No More Ladies SSA Heritage Music Press
(description available on my website. Put title in keyword search box on
the music page.)

If you decide these may fit your needs and want a sample copy and a full
recording of each, let me know and I will send you a copy.

Good luck on your search! :)

Linda Spevacek


Amy Beach: Three Shakespeare Songs, Op. 39:
1. "Over Hill, over Dale" (SSAA a cappella) Treble Clef Music Press TC-104
2. "Come unto These Yellow Sands" (SSAA a cappella) Treble Clef Music Press
3. "Through the House Give Glimmering Light" (SSAA a cappella) Treble Clef
Music Press TC-106

(These songs are particular favorites of my own choir, and have appeared on
the Wisconsin MENC repertoire lists.)

Alice Parker, "A Midsummer Night's Dream: Fairy Songs" (Lullaby for
Titania; Oberon's Blessing) two-part treble chorus, 2 recorders. Treble
Clef Music Press TC-157

Best wishes,

Mary Lycan
Treble Clef Music Press


G Schirmer has Shakespeare Songs by Matt Harris; relatively easy satb
acapella arrangements.

Bob Applebaum (Robertsapple(a) has some great unpublished
arrangements, also satb; more challenging.

good luck,

Sally Hoskins


There is a lovely setting of "Fear No More the Heat O' th' Sun" available
through Dare To Breathe Editions
( This is a lament set to music of
Philip Rossetter, a composer of lute songs from Shakespeare's day.

David Moore


The SATB madrigal "It was a lover and his lass" by Thomas Morley (I believe)
is a setting of a text that appears in the form of a song in Shakespeare's
"As You Like It" Have no idea who publishes it or where could it be

Good luck.

Eduardo Azzati


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on September 12, 2002 10:00pm
New settings since this compilation are included in New Lovelife Dances:

It Was a Lover and a Lass (from As You Like It)
What Thou Seest When Thou Dost Wake (from A Midsummer-Night's Dream)
Ask Me No Reason (from Merry Wives of Windsor)

For more information see

William Copper, composer of Lovelife Dances and New Lovelife Dances
on April 11, 2003 10:00pm
I have wriitten SA "When Icicles Hang" and an SATB of Sonnet 60 "Like as the Waves."
(The former pseudo-Prokofiev,the latter late English Romantic)
Both pretty decent but I'm slow in promoting them.
on June 9, 2004 10:00pm
Include Arthur Frackenpohl's "Hey, Ho the Wind and the Rain" (Twelfth Night), "Never Doubt I love" (Hamlet), "The Fox, The Ape and the Bumble Bee" (Love's Labor Lost), all published by Marks Music available through Belwin.
on July 3, 2013 7:47am
Chapel Hill High School recently commissioned me to compose The Tempest for SATB choir and piano to be premiered in January, 2014. The 4' work sets Scene I from the play, the shipwreck scene; it is a powerful concert-opener.To see a perusal copy, contact me via e-mail.
Ryan Kelly
West Chester University