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Gay/lesbian music


Thank you for taking the time to send me your suggestions. Below is a
compilation of the responses.

Colleen Kennedy
Choral Director/Music Teacher
Beverly Vista School
Beverly Hills CA
(Part-time geek)

Check out
1. "Contrasts" music by Robert H. Young to two poems by Christina Rossetti
: "For Sweet Things Dying" and " A Birthday" This is a Gentry Publication:
JG2233 SATB with divisi, a cappella
2. "I Will Be Earth" music by Gwyneth Walker to a poem by May Swenson
published by E.C. Schirmer. Was originally written for women's voices and
piano but has been re-voiced by the composer for SATB and piano
(Don't know if this is the same Rossetti in Washburn's "Rossetti Songs")
Joseph Farrell
Assistant Conductor/Bass-Baritone
Albany Pro Musica Chamber Chorus
Albany, New York

"America the Beautiful," Katharine Lee Bates.
When she went to teach in Colorado for the summer, for example, she
insisted that they find a token job for her special friend. I forget the
details, but you can find background information in lots of places.
Here's the paragraph I wrote as an Arranger's Note -- I don't mention that
aspect of her life, but I found some other fun facts.
About the poet:
Katharine Lee Bates grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where she began
writing poems in a little red notebook at the age of nine. Memorials in
her home town include the Shining Sea Bike Path, a life-size bronze statue,
and a feather from Polonius, her parrot. Bates graduated from Wellesley
College and spent most of her professional life teaching in the English
department there. She wrote prize-winning children's stories and books,
patriotic and sentimental poetry, and scholarly studies of early English
plays. She taught early English drama in the summer session of Colorado
College from July 10 to 28, 1893. On July 22 she participated in a college
excursion to Pikes Peak. The expansive view from the summit inspired her
to write a poem that started "O beautiful for halcyon skies...above the
enameled plain." Bates first published the poem in the weekly journal The
Congregationalist on July 4, 1895. She published a revised version in the
Boston Evening Transcript on November 19, 1904, and a final revision before
1912. The present arrangement sets the first and fourth verses of her text.
Good luck with this interesting project. I think you'll find that with
historical poets it's hard to define who's GLBT.
Best wishes,
Nina Gilbert
Director of Choral Activities, Lafayette College
Easton, Pennsylvania

Isn't there an interesting setting of "My True Love hath my heart, and I
have his" by Sir Philip Sidney (Sydney?)? I don't know anything about the
poet, actually.
David Griggs-Janower
Schenectady, NY

Certainly don't leave out Hanson's "Song of Democracy" with Whitman's text!
I also agree with you: the Foltz "She Walks" is also my favorite!
David Tovey

I have programmed "Coming in the Fall" a setting of Dickinson's poem by
Jonathan Adams, published by Alliance.
Best of Luck,
Bruce C. Lengacher
Acalanes High School
Lafayette, CA

I have two pieces that may interest you for your project concerning SATB
settings of GLBT poets.
To a Locomotive in Winter (for unaccompanied mixed choir; duration 6 min.)
A setting of a poem by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) first published in "Two
Rivulets" in 1876, and subsequently published in "Leaves of Grass," 1900.
"To a
Locomotive in Winter" received a reading by the Gregg Smith Singers at the
Adirondack Festival of American Music. The Oregon Repertory Singers presented
the premiere performance at the Oregon Bach Festival on Saturday, July 6,
2002. Tom Manoff, classical music reviewer for National Public Radio, wrote in
the Eugene Register Guard:
Greg Bartholomew, a fine composer not afraid of accessibility, set Walt
Whitman's To a Locomotive in Winter in a sturdy, lyrical style. Tuneful and
diatonic, the music seemed appropriately Whitman-esque.
Seattle Pro Musica performed the work on March 8 & 9, 2003, in a concert
entitled "Best of the Northwest."
Stoke Fleming (for unaccompanied mixed choir; duration 3:30)
Stoke Fleming is a small hamlet southwest of Dartmouth on the English
Channel. The sensuous text for this meditation on the rocks and the waves
was written
by the composer (who is gay) during a weekend stay there in 1978. The music
was completed in January 2000. The piece received a reading by the Gregg Smith
Singers at the 2000 Adirondack Festival of American Music.
Greg Bartholomew
Email: GBart44(a)

Gorgeous pieces by Gwyneth Walker for women's chorus. The texts are by
Mary Swenson, publ. by EC Schirmer. I think they're called "songs for
women's voices." They include
I will be earth
Mornings Innocent
Love is a rain of diamonds and more....
Iris Levine

You might consider: Samuel Barber (himself gay), Let down the bars, o death
(Whitman); William Bergsma's Wishes, Wonders, Portents, Charms (includes
Whitman); Elliott Carter's Heart not so heavy as mine (Emily Dickinson);
Dello Joio's Vigil Strange (Whitman); Leonard Bernstein's Warmup (from Mass).
All of these works are available except the Dello Joio--and also Gordon's
Three by Langston-- are available at very reasonable rates from our rental
library. See our website for details or contact me.
Hope this helps. Best wishes in your programming,
Scott Gillam (scott_gillam(a)
NAS Choral Music Rental Library (

What a fascinating idea! Please post a compilation.
You know, Shakespeare could be included on this list - definitely a "B".
And the settings of his works are so numerous as to be overwhelming.
Vaughn Roste
Edmonton, Alberta

I wrote an a cappella piece based on "She Walks In Beauty" I think you
would enjoy. The recording on my website was recently made by the choir at
Fresno State with Dr. Anna Hamre directing. You can hear the recording,
see the score, and read program notes at I'd love to have you perform
it! Scores can be ordered directly from me. Other titles of mine can be
seen at my online catalogue -
Brad Nelson
San Diego

Please consider the following piece. If the description appeals to you, I
will send you a score and CD containing a performance of the music.
*WITH RUE MY HEART IS LADEN (SATB) was published by Moon of Hope
Publishing, but is distributed only by Picardie Court Publications. Wallace
De Pue set music to A. E. Housman's poem:
With rue my heart is laden, for golden friends I had,
for many a rose-lipped maiden and many a light-foot lad.
By brooks too broad for leaping, the light-foot lads are laid.
The rose-lipped maids are sleeping, in fields where roses fade.
This piece is somber in nature and provides an excellent contrast to a
program of fast, driving music. The music is as pensive and delicate as
the soul moving text. The written vocal ranges are: Soprano: C1-g2; Alto:
g-c2; Tenor: G1-g2; Bass: G-D1. EASY TO MEDIUM
Wallace De Pue
* My e-mail address is
wallace(a) *

* My homepage is *

It was nice to see my Rossetti Songs included in your list. If you have any
questions I'd be happy to help.
Jon Washburn
Artistic and Executive Director
Vancouver Chamber Choir
186 West 18th Avenue, Vancouver, Canada V5Y 2A5

At 04:03 PM 10/1/03 -0700, Colleen Kennedy wrote:
>Hello colleagues,
>I am trying to put together a program of SATB music with texts by
>gay/lesbian poets. Currently I have found:
>- She Walk in Beauty, Foltz (Lord Byron) - I know there are other
>arrangements of this text - this is my favorite!
>- Dickinson Madrigal, Bourland
>- 2 Poems by Emily Dickinson, Diemer
>- 3 by Langston, Gordon
>- Rossetti Songs, Washburn
>- Stein Times Seven, Kernis
>- Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun, Butler (Whitman)
>- 3 Whitman Settings, Clausen
>- Whitman Madrigal, Iannaccone
>I know there's a ton of stuff out there. If anyone could please offer some
>suggestions as well as comments on the above titles, I would very much
>appreciate it. Thank you.

on December 10, 2003 10:00pm
If you are still interested in GLBT settings, then we publish a piece by the Gay composer Robert Hugill, which includes settings of Lord Alfred Douglas and M.V.Lively (a poet whose work featured in the book 'How can you write a poem when you're dying of aids'). The work is 'Memorare' for choir and french horn.

You can get more details here:-

David Hughes
Spherical Editions, London
on July 28, 2004 10:00pm
Hi everyone,
I am a new middle school choir director. I have a dilemma on my hands in which the previous director has set up a strong tradition of attending a contest in Colorado Springs that is unfortunately (and only partially) financed by "Focus on the Family"-a right wing, religious, anti-gay organization. I am not in the habit of being associated with any kind of hateful and discriminatory groups/persons and therefore I would prefer NOT to attend for this reason. However, I'm afraid that I would have mutiny among the students and protests/complaints from the parents as there are so few contests available to us. My thought is that I could take the group to compete at this event only if they could sing music that would send a powerful enough message to those in attendance about equal human rights, and non-traditional families, etc, but not so much that I would draw another kind of fire from parents/students. Any suggestions? p.s. I also plan to write a letter of disappointment to the event's other organizers/attendees about the sponsoring group's track record. Have any literature suggestions?
p.s.s.(feel free to respond directly to me at
on July 29, 2004 10:00pm
I suggest the world would be better served if you use music to find the things we all have in common rather than to confront. This seems like a really ineffective way to approach this topic. Anyway, there is hardly any music on the theme you're suggesting.

Something more subtle would be to find texts which advocate acting out of love rather than hate. This might have just as much effect in the long run without provoking a backlash.
on September 8, 2004 10:00pm
I'm puzzled that ChoralNet would include Gay/Lesbian music as a musical category. To my way of thinking, this is no more justifiable than Sado/Machonistic music. Aren't we talking about perversion?
on September 8, 2004 10:10pm
Not all music has to be about good things, Robert. We have a category for Vices, for example, and several about War -- if that's not a perversion, what is?

Anyway, ChoralNet doesn't pass judgment on people's concert themes. We just facilitate communication. If someone posted a compilation of S&M choral music, we'd link to that, too.
on October 3, 2004 10:00pm
is there an SATB arrangement of Eres Tu by j c calderon available?
on December 24, 2004 10:00pm
Still much ado about nothing!
on July 18, 2005 10:00pm
I know this is late, but Yelton Rhodes Music ( has an extensive listing of choral works addressing GLBT life.
on January 10, 2007 10:00pm
Looking for an SATB arrangement of Que Sera, Sera by Livingston/Evans
(Hi Robert Jordahl! All the best to you!)
on December 12, 2011 10:46am
As an update, my current wesite is, where you may find information and recordings of all my choral works, including my SATB setting of the poem "To a Locomotive in Winter" by Walt Whitman.  I am happy to send perusal pdf scores to any interested choral director.