News flash: Sometimes community and church choirs can be short on tenors and basses. I know this is brand-new information for many of you (and I hope by now you have noted the sarcasm). Something many of us often struggle to find is qualitative SAB music that is challenging enough for the experienced singers we have in our adult choirs. Here are three that I have either used or have noted as ideal for such a choir.
The first piece I will share is Dietrich Buxtehude’s excellent setting of Psalm 96, “Cantate Domino Canticum Novum”. Written for SSB, this piece is an excellent challenge for an adult choir. With many melismatic sections, it gives the director a chance to work on limbering up voices in a Baroque fashion without the more difficult stylings found in a piece by, say, Bach or Handel. There are obvious sections more suited for soloists, but the sections for full chorus keep returning for a very satisfying conclusion. This piece is available in many editions, but a Public Domain edition published by Bärenreiter is on IMSLP, found here.
The next is perhaps best suited for a church choir: “Bring Us to Your Light” by Henry Mollicone. Featuring many meter signature changes that flow with the text, there is also a piano part that serves as a beautiful duet with the choir. The big ranges in each of the voice parts are more suited for mature voices, but overall the piece has a simplicity to it that will work well in a variety of worship settings. Published by E.C. Schirmer, the piece can be found here.
The last piece I will share is a more recent publication for SAB is “Alma Llanera” arranged by Angel Sauce and published by earthsongs. This celebratory song from Venezuela is a cappella and features exciting rhythmic melodies in a fast tempo. Once again, the ranges are big and work best for experienced singers, who will have a blast performing this song. Also available for SATB, there is no audio clip available on the SAB arrangement (here), but one is featured on the SATB page (here).
Church and community choir directors: What SAB pieces for adults have you enjoyed programming? Feel free to share in the comments! And, as always, if you have ideas for pieces you would like to see included in a post, send me an e-mail at .
Brandon Moss is a choir director, teacher, and composer/arranger living and working in Central Ohio. He teaches at Central Crossing High School, directs the Chalice Choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and serves in leadership roles with the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Ohio Music Education Association. He is currently working on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting at The Ohio State University.