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Historical: Significant choral works since 1975


Thank you all so much for your "nominations," I look forward to discovering
many of the suggested scores. A compilations follows, and if I receive any
follow-up ideas, I'll send another compilation.
Happy Thanksgiving to all-- I'm grateful for the ChoraList, among many
other things.

With best wishes,
Betsy Burleigh
Cleveland State University

"Signficant" Choral Works Since 1975

> [Original Message]
> From: Betsy Burleigh
> I'd be curious to hear your suggestions as to "significant" choral works
> written since 1975. Specifically I'm looking for works written for chamber
> choir (40 voices or fewer) with or without instrumental accompaniment. I'm
> looking for things you've either heard or performed which struck you as
> exceptional, and am particularly interested in things written by American
> composers. Please, no self-nominations. I'll happily compile and post a
> list.

===============From: Elizabeth Hanger
Paul Chihara's "When We Are Leaving" (or perhaps it's "When Are We Leaving"
sorry I'm not sure!...) was being rehearsed by Steve Sano's outstanding
chamber chorus at Stanford yesterday when I was visiting; a superbly
colored double chorus piece that would work very well for 40 or fewer, a
"Tefellin" by John Adams
Rupert Lang's Mass for Many Nations, Ubi Caritas, and "Spirit of the Child"
Imant Raminsh, "In the Beginning"
James MacMillan's new work "Heycoka Te Deum"
=================From: John Helgen
The Missa Brevis by Daniel Kallman, written in about 1998
He has a website at
=================From: Marjorie Drysdale
Check out works by Gwyneth Walker, whose music is represented by E.C.
Schirmer, Boston, MA. Our chorus of 20 voices has enjoyed several of her
works, including:
Sounding Joy! SATB
River Songs (for SATB chorus and orchestra)
I Will Be Earth (women)
Love is a Rain of Diamonds (women)
My Love Walks in Velvet
Long Ago Lady
Gone the Rainbow
I also recommend the sacred works of Kathy Wonson Eddy. Favorites include:
Selections from "Cry of the Wild Goose:"
The Eye of God
Trim the Cruisie's Failing Light
'Round Our Skiff Be God's Aboutness
"Table Graces"
"St. Brigid's Blessing" (for women)
Kathy is represented by Quaker Hill Press, 30 Highland Ave., Randolph,
Vermont, 05060.
===============From: nancy wade
There are many wonderful works written by Dave Brubeck since then. To name a
Mass To Hope! A Celebration
Pange Lingua Variations
The Voice Of The Holy Spirit
Hold Fast To Dreams -- Major work using Langston Hughes" poetry as the text
================From: rhouseh(a) (Richard Householder)
My nomination is "Magnificat" by Imant Raminsh. It is scored for SATB
chorus with some divisi, Mezzo soprano soloist and piano accompaniment.
The accompaniment was later orchestrated for full orchestra, but I like the
original piano version better. It is published by Boosey & Hawkes.
================From: pam schneller
I really like Ruth Watson (Henderson)'s Missa Brevis. It's about 11 minutes
and a cappella. Beautiful voice leading, shimmering harmonies. Published by
Gordon Thompson as part of the Elmer Isler series.
================From: Allen H Simon
Ruth Watson (Henderson): Missa Brevis, for 6-part unaccompanied choir
Imant Raminsh: Ubi Caritas, a cappella (also Canadian)
Trond Kverno, Ave Maris Stella (1976) (Norwegian) (6-part a cappella)
Knut Nystedt, O Crux (1978; Norwegian)
David Hurd, Love Bade Me Welcome
Arvo P:art, Magnificat (1989; Estonian)
=================From: Eric Stark
Bernstein re-set his "choruses from The Lark" at Shaw's request as a missa
brevis, with countertenor solo and percussion. I did it with my chamber
choir a year ago and will do it again with my madrigal group this spring.
It's pretty zippy.
=================From: David Bohn
Some of the first ones that came to mind are much too large for your
requirements (John Melby's "Thanatopsis" and Elliot Goldenthal's "Fire
Water Paper", both excellent works, but requiring massive forces).
I would certainly nominate is Arvo Part's Miserere (over any of his
other extended works).
There's also a part of me that would nominate Giles Swayne's CRY, for 28
solo voices, but I'd be concerned about the logistics of the live
electronics (in one version of the piece). I have a recording of the
work, and it never fails to move me, but dealing with real-time electronic
processing of voices...
There's a piece by Bill Brooks (late of the University of Illinois,
currently at York Univeristy in Britain) called "In Memoriam Reducere
Studemus" for Solo vocal quartet, chorus, and piano.
=================From: Philip Glenn
Two nominations.
Peter Quince at the Clavier - D. Argento
O Magnum Mysterium - M. Lauridsen (and I am sure others of his)
=================From: ALLEN REDFORD
Last year we did a 5 movement work for chorus and piano titled
"Song of the Earth" by composer Patrick Beckman and poet Daniel
Smith. The new commission was part of an NEA funded project
called "Continental Harmony". You can check out a description of
the work at
There is also a link to the composer at
================From: James Green
John Rutter - Requiem (1985 or 1986)
" Rutter - Te Deum
" Rutter - Gloria
Randol Bass - Gloria
Robert Young - Emmanuel, God With Us
Robert Young - There is No Rose of Such Virtue
Michael Larkin - A Spotless Rose
John Rutter - What Sweeter Music
Anders Nyberg - set of "South African Praises"
John Rutter - Jesus Child
=================From: Jeffrey Jones-Ragona
By far, my favorite recent extended choral work is "A Toccata of Galuppi," by
Dominic Argento. It was premiered by the Santa Fe Desert Chorale in the
summer of 1990. It is for small chorus (Argento recommends at least 16
voices, the SFDC used 24), off-stage harpsichord and string quartet. It is
published by Boosey and Hawkes.
=================From: Scott Williamson
I'm sure you've already received nominations for Morten Lauridsen's
Mid-Winter Songs (w/piano or orch)
Lux Aeterna (chamber orch or organ)
I would also recommend the works of New York Composer Robert Convery
I have a dream (bari solo, chorus & strings)
Requiem Lullaby in the time of AIDS (sop solo, choir, oboe & pno)
Songs of Children (Holocaust memorial cantata) Choir, piano quartet
William Bolcolm: The Mask (choir & piano)
Dominick Argento: Peter Quince at the Clavier (choir & piano)
=================From: David Whitehouse
There is a significant American composer by the name of Jon
(sic) Polifrone, who has written many compositions for varied forces including
a significant Requiem scored for chorus and orchestra. It is well worth your
=================From: Kari Turunen
head of choral activities, Tampere Conservatory of Music
Einojuhani Rautavaara:
Die erste Elegie (Rainer Maria Rilke), 1993, SATB with divisi, Fazer/
Warner F 08462-4
Magnificat, 1979, SATB divisi, Fazer/Warner F07992-1
Mikko Heiniö:
Landet som icke är (Elisabeth Södergran), 1980, SSA and piano, Fazer/Warner
================From: Tom Cunningham
I'd like to recommend an exceptional work I performed last year. It is "A
Holiday Triptych" by Eric Delson, an American composer currently resident
in Europe. While tonal in construction, it is brilliantly inventive in its
structure. Composed for choir, soprano solo and symphony orchestra, it can
also be performed with piano accompaniment.
"A Holiday Triptych" (1999) comprises three "panels" based on traditional
melodies, one Hebrew, one German, one French and lasts about 18 minutes.
The work uses a similar orchestra to Poulenc's Gloria: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2
oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in A, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, double
bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, timpani and
==============From: Jack Warren Burnam
I'd like to nominate "A Festival Song" by Craig Phillips, a gifted young
American composer who understands how to write effectively and substantively
for voices. Scored for chorus, soprano and baritone soloists and chamber
orchestra, it sets a text excerpted from Walt Whitman's "Proud Music of the
Storm." Moderately challenging but accessible, it packs an enormous variety
into 15 minutes: drama, lyricism, grandeur, great tunes and captivating vocal
and instrumental color. "A Festival Song" was commissioned by CoroAllegro, a
chamber chorus of 24 voices, with the intent of enlarging the limited
repertoire of substantial, accessible secular choral works with small
orchestra, and we gave the premiere in April 1999. We absolutely loved it,
and so did our audience! It is being published by ECS and should be out
===============From: Ruth Charloff
Here is an excellent recent work premiered in spring 2000, by a Los
Angeles-based composer: Byron Adams, "Trois Illuminations" for harp and
chorus (three
poems of Rimbaud). Premiered by Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Peter
Rutenberg, conductor.
===============From: Jonathan Miller
Bob Chilcott, Fragments from his dish
Lauridsen, Les chansons des roses
Arvo Pärt, Magnificat
David Huff, Requiem
Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson (Iceland): Immanúel oss i nátt
Rautavaara -- Lorca suite
Trond Kverno -- Ave maris stella
Giles Swayne -- Magnificat (wow!)
there are of course fabulous arrangements out there, but those above are all
"original" works. I might also add:
Purcell / Sandström: Hear my prayer, O Lord
Moses Hogan, "Elijah Rock"
Joe Jennings, "Where the sun will never go down"
================From: "C. M. Shearer"
David Ward-Steinman's "Of Wind and Water."
Written for chamber choir, piano, two percussionists. Unpublished, but
available from the composer (e-mail is dwardste(a) Twelve
minutes. Four movements.
===============From: Kathryn Bowers
I think William Hawley's choral works are really stunning. I was in Ely
Cathedral once when our church choir was singing services there. A London
choir was practicing for a concert they were doing in the Lady Chapel. I was
really stunned by the beauty of the Hawley piece they were practicing. I
don't recall which piece it was, but I think I would recommend anything by
on December 17, 2002 10:00pm
Some significant french choral works

Lucien Guerinel (b. in 1930) :
-les Sept Portes (the Seven Doors), on a texte by Yves Namur, for double-choir, soloists (issued from choirs), strings ( and percussions (2 players). About 70 minutes. 1st performance at Aix en Provence, 31 may 1998. Editions Jobert, Paris

Philippe Hersant (b. in 1948) :
-l'Infinito, on an italian text by Federico Fellini, written when he was student at the French Academy in Rome (Villa Medicis) in 1984, for chorus a capella
-Landschaf mit Argonauten (1999), on a german text by Heiner Muller for mezzo solo, mixed chorus and 8 trombones

Patrick Burgan (b. in 1964) :
-la Puerta de la luz, on a spanish text by FG Lorca, written in 1994 when he was at the Villa Medicis, for chorus a capella

Jacques Charpentier (b. in 1933) :
-Te Deum (1983) for mixed choir, organ and percussions

Olivier Kaspar (b. in 1964) :
-Messe (1992), for mixed chorus and timpani. Once again written when he was in Rome.

Maxime Kaprielian
Chorus master
on November 24, 2004 10:00pm
The Beauty of Holiness (1988) Kenneth Leighton for Mixed Choir with treble semichorus/solo and organ. Wonderful work!

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Eric Whitacre. This man is truly incredible. Cloudburst, Water Night, Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machiene...i could go on and on... check out his website: it has clips of his works
on April 10, 2005 10:00pm
Robert Kyr's O Jerusalem, or his Passion According to Four Evangelists.

Giselle Wyers, Boise, Idaho