3 beautiful scores for 3-part choirs!
Contributing Editor: Jonathan Campbell
As choral musicians we live in a tension between programming what we “like” and what’s best for our ensembles. This challenge is enhanced if you’re conducting a middle school choir, a church choir, or a small community group. In other words, the market for three-part mixed music is often a tricky one. But there is a solid body of SAB repertoire that is both practical and musically satisfying.
Many of us know Emerson’s lovely “Shoshone Love Song” for SAB and piano. It was a lovely piece when it was published in the 1990s and it’s still lovely today. I have used it several times with middle school choirs. It speaks to the student’s developing emotions and they love to sing it. Emerson’s piece is available in several arrangements from Hal Leonard.
Graphite and Graphite Marketplace have some SAB pieces that pair well with “Shoshone Love Song.” “Where there is Light in the Soul,” by Elizabeth Alexander, is a lovely unaccompanied piece that’s upbeat and life-affirming. The text is a Chinese proverb, which works perfectly with the Emerson; both pieces are settings of texts from non-Western cultures. “Where there is Light in the Soul” uses some sophisticated harmonies and gentle dissonances that will also challenge a blossoming choir and help them to grow.
If a conductor wished to further explore texts from the Native American tradition, another piece to consider would be Joan Szymko’s “Sioux Prayer” for unaccompanied voices. It’s a reflective, thoughtful piece that would also be good for practicing intonation and shaping phrases.
About the composers
Elizabeth Alexander grew up in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio. Her love of music, language, and challenging questions is reflected in her catalog of over 100 songs and choral works, and a style that moves effortlessly between concert stage, choir loft, and jam session. Her music has been performed by soloists, chamber musicians, and orchestras around the world, as well as by thousands of choirs.
Joan Szymko is a composer and conductor living and working in Portland, Oregon where she is entering her 23rd season as the Artistic Director of Aurora Chorus. As a frequently commissioned composer with a catalog of over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad. She has served on the choral music faculty at Portland State University (2013-15). As a visiting artist, she workshops her music with choirs in a variety of educational settings across the US and most recently, in the Netherlands.
Our Contributing Editor
Jonathan Campbell received his B.A. from Luther College in 1998, a Master of Sacred Music degree from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota in 2002, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting in 2015 at North Dakota State University. As a composer, Jon has received numerous awards and commissions, including a Faith Partner’s Residency through the American Composer’s Forum, as well as first place in the Morningstar College Choral Composition Festival. From 2004-2012, Jon conducted the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota Chorale and in the spring of 2011, served as interim director of choral activities at Winona State University. At Augsburg University, Minneapolis, MN he recently served as faculty conductor of the Cedar Singers male chorus and the Masterworks Chorale. Jon is founder and was artistic director of Minnesota Renaissance Choir, and is currently Director of Music and Fine Arts at Claremont United Church of Christ and Lecturer in Music at Pomona College,
both in Claremont, CA.