Family concert pieces with orchestra
Below is a compilation of the wonderful ideas you shared. Many thanks.
Cleveland State University
From: Ardis Faber
How about Circus Band - Ives w/ orchestra....that could be
descriptive and fun to imagine, too.
From: Michael Kysar
I have a great one for you! "What a Joy!" Selections from "Die Fledermaus"
for choir and orchestra. Also: Va Pensiero, a chorus from Verdi's
"Nabucco." This is a rouser that audiences love,
From: Patricia Corbin
how about Die Erste Walpurgisnacht? other thoughts are Vaughan Williams
"Invitation to Music" or Dominick Argento's "Masque of Angels". Oh, what
about "Zadok the Priest"?
From: Carol Longsworth
Betsy, How about Andrew Carter's Benedicite? a cantata for satb, treble
choir and organ or orchestra. It's really neat, especially the treble
choir texts about crickets and animals, etc. praising God.
From: Gene Morlan
The first three are Aaron Copland, all published by Boosey & Hawkes and
orechestral parts may be available:
Ching-A-Ring Chaw B & H 5024
I Bought Me a Cat B & H 1905
Stomp Your Foot B & H 5019
Two delightful settings of Stephen Foster songs, both arranged by Mark Hayes:
On both of these I use drums and bass.
Oh! Susanna Shawnee Press A-1745
Some Folks Shawnee Press A-1654
>From Three American Lyrics--"Fiddler Man" by John Rutter Hinsahw
Could also use drums and bass.
This last one is for women's voices only (SA), but is great fun and I
invlove the men, as I will, explain.
The Rattlin' Bog by Michael Braz Hinshaw HMC-1487
It is an Irish Folk Song with an 'accumulative text'. As each item is
mentioned repeatedly-- flea, feather, wing, bird, egg, nest, leaf, twig,
branch, limb, tree, bog--various men in the choir quickly hold up a large
cardboard poster on which is the name and a drawing of the item. The sign
goes up quickly and then right back down, with all of them up at the very
From: Chris Johns
How about "Peter and the Wolf" (Prokofiev)?
From: "Lon T. Dehnert"
Several years ago we did a concert titled A Concert of Children's Verse
and Others and it included:
Britten - Friday Afternoons
Davies - Prayers from the Ark
Bright - From a Children's garden of Verses
Copland - The Little Horses and I bought me a Cat
Fine - Three Choral Settings from "Alice in Wonderland"
From: "Nielsen, Kirin"
You might want to check William Schuman's setting of "Casey at the Bat." It
does involve a number of soloists, but perhaps you have the right resources.
It was done at Blossom Music Festival in 1992 by the Cleveland Orchestra and
Chorus (I was in the choir), so they should be a good source for you.
From: choffie(a)juno.com (Christine Hoffman)
The Menotti Unicorn, while it only uses 9
instruments, is a 40-minute work that would
be GREAT for families -- collaborate with
a dance company and stage it! The text is
funny, three fantastic beasts involved, and
is also highly allegorical (involving the adults).
Hallelujah (Mount of Olives) - Beethoven
The Heavens are Telling (Creation) - Haydn
How Lovely are the Messengers (Elijah) - Mendelssohn
Polyvetsian (sp) Dances (Prince Igor) - Borodin
How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place (German Requiem) - Brahms
Triumphal March (Aida) - Verdi
In other words, a program of warhorses, not limited to the above. Too heavy?
Cut back on the instrumentation and go with the many medleys of
show/movie/rock music done with smaller ensembles. Check the Warner Brothers
and Hal Leonard catalogs. Mix or match. You seem to have a good budget.
From: Bkinch8389(a)aol.com (Brad Kinch)
Hal Leonard has a great arrangement of Beauty and the Beast, or you could do
some Andrew Lloyd Weber. There are also tons of Disney compilations.
What about "Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat" - religious, I know,
but still a great pick.
From: Jeffrey Carter
Take a look at Oxford's "Benedicite" by Andrew Carter. It's a setting of an
Apocryphal text used in Anglican Matins services, so it's generically
sacred. The writing is wonderful and fairly graceful to learn, it's always
vivid and colorful, and the audience finds it friendly. I did it with my
community group a year ago, and our rather unsophistocated audience enjoyed
it much. It DOES take a children's chorus to do 3 numbers, though! Of
course, you could cut any section of it you wish save for the opening and
From: "Brown, David"
How about "The Neighbors' Chorus" by Jacques Offenbach.
From: Marjorie Drysdale
How about River Songs for chorus and orchestra by the contemporary but
accessible American composer Gwynneth Walker, published by E. C. Schirmer?
The three-part work (20 minutes total) develops three different songs:
"Deep River" "Erie Canal" and "The Water Is Wide" (the latter with an
original tune). Not too difficult for chorus. Or just do the most
effective of the three, which is the Erie Canal one. Dick Drysdale,
From: Ron Hathorn
Betsy, I'd highly recommend the Frostiana cycle by Randall Thompson. When
with piano, these seven pieces can seem dry; when with the orchestrations
they are delightful. My advanced high school choir sang them with our local
professional chamber orchestra last December. The audience loved them.
Audible responses to each piece from sighs to giggles (The Telephone!).
Everyone loves this poetry. 25 minutes to do all. Orchestration must be
rented from E.C. Schirmer.
Cathy Crispino, Lawrence High School, Lawrence, Kansas
From: Randall Davidson
I have a choral story book about a little girl who sneaks out the back
screen door into a warm summer night where she encounters the known and the
unknown, the expected and the unexpected. It was commissioned by Rick Bjella
(Lawrence University, WI) for his White Heron Chorale. The "Doo Walk"
excerpt was performed to very positive response at the IFCM Conference in
Rotterdam last year by the Plymouth Music Series Ensemble Singers directed
by Philip Brunelle. Performing forces: SATB chorus, soloists from the choir
(little girl, Ol' Lady Brody, hound dog trio, Mr & Mrs Anderson, astrologer)
and piano. Duration: 20 minutes. Staging and costumes (optional): pajamas,
slippers, picture books with the scores inside, Goofy dog hats, wizard
costume for the astrologer, cowboy costume for Mr Anderson, leopard skin
pedal pushers and feather boa for Mrs Anderson.
From: Fred Himebaugh
Allow me to mention to you a piece that I've written called "God's
Judgment on a Wicked Bishop", a setting of a poem by Robert Southey.
I think this piece would be interesting to children or just about any
audience, because it tells the story of the legendary Bishop Hatto who
murders a crowd of poor people and then in turn is eaten alive by rats.
The piece is scored for six part chorus and piano. It is probably too
difficult for high schoolers, but would be right for college choirs.
It has not yet been performed, although I have group that is interested
in doing it a year from now. I could send you a score and tape in
April; just let me know if you want to check it out.
From: "Doug Bachorik, Jr."
This is not a choral/orchestral piece, but I would encourage you to consider
using it: Tubby the Tuba. It is a funny little piece with narrator. I
believe it is available for hire from Music Theater International,