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Composition Spotlight: Among the Signs

Composition Spotlight ~ by Jack Senzig
(Each week we look at a piece of useful repertoire from the ChoralNet Community Composition Showcase.  A variety of voicings and levels of difficulty will be presented.  Enjoy!)
Among the Signs by Robinson McClellan  for SAB a cappella  (click for PDF, audio, or perusal video)
Level: Small but skilled church choir or higher
Uses: Ecumenical Concert
This piece would program well with:  Russell Robinson’s arrangement of Haydn’s Achieved is the Glorious Work (from “Creation”) available from JWPepper or Sheet Music Plus
Among the Signs combines Christian and Muslim texts, monophony and imitative polyphony, chant like rhythms and strictly metered passages.   McClellan skillfully scribes unison choral chant phrases that blossom into beautiful harmony. 
In the middle of the piece he quotes the hymn tune Resignation and some of its text including “No more a stranger or a guest…” Several emotionally moving text painting tools are employed.  McClellan makes electricity crackle by offsetting the word “lightning” in all parts by 1 beat in a 3/8 meter.    
Take a close look at section D on page 4.  The composer creates an image of a drenching rain by using an offset three eighths pattern in a 2/4 meter.    Your audience will appreciate that each of the three verses begin with the same A section theme, giving them something to hold on to.
The richness of the harmony and texture is remarkable considering it is accomplished with only three voice parts.  The men’s range is more T than B (A3- F#4).
(Original publication: October 7, 2012)
on March 1, 2013 2:41pm
Replying a bit late - sorry! It's the Chicago Choral Artists, directed in this case by Donald Nally.