HIGH SCHOOL/INTERMEDIATE SCORES
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With a beautiful text by Jaroslav Vajda, a famous poet and theologian, Now the Silence (Hymn for a Winter Morning) is a simple sacred piece appropriate for advent season or a winter concert.
A strophic carol with a text by Louisa May Alcott, most famous for her beloved novel “Little Women.” In its four verses, this song describes the pure joy of Christmas morning through a child’s eyes. The carol’s harmonic structure during the verses is based primarily around F-mixolydian, and switches to the relative diatonic Bb major during the “Fa-la-la” refrain. Light and bouncy, this carol hearkens back to classic hymns like “Good King Wenceslas,” while still maintaining a contemporary perspective. This song would be equally suited to a school chorus or church group, due to the fact that it is not explicitly about the religious aspects of Christmas. This piece comes with a track-pack included, to make it even easier for your singers to learn!
As I approached this wonderful text by Millay, I couldn't help but to relate it with my own struggles with anxiety and depression. For me, the song is a small window into that moment in person's life when they realize that true happiness is possible. The piano opens the piece with a shy excitement, and when the chorus comes in, it quickly swells to unabashed joy. In the B section, which contains the repeated "rise," it's almost as if the singer is noticing the small, beautiful details of life for the first time. At the song's conclusion, they "start down" the hill with upbeat determination.
This traditional Gaelic tune is a wonderful ballad. Though the song should be sung in Gaelic, I have provided a sort of "English transcription" of the original language. The song does feature an extensive solo, but it would be a wonderful place to feature a small group, or break the solo up in to sections. The a cappella setting should not present a challenge to more experienced HS Choirs, with the exception of the key change. All in all, a simple setting of a simple folk-tune. The track-pack for this piece includes a pronunciation guide to aid your singers with the Gaelic text.
This setting would be very appropriate for an experienced church choir, or as a spiritual/gospel feature on a program. The a cappella setting and slow tempo may present some challenges, but it would afford a wonderful chance to teach staggered breathing, forward motion, and gospel style. The ranges are not difficult, and the swell to the refrain is a lovely moment for me. It ends with simple humility.
Think of this piece as “David Conte Lite” and you’ve got the right idea. The stomps and claps add a lot of excitement, and this would make an excellent opener or closer. There are two challenges with this piece: the mixed meter, and the unfamiliar latin text. But a choir that puts the time and effort into this piece will find it extremely fun to sing. A TTBB re-voicing of this piece is also available--see Collegiate/Professional works!
This upbeat tune is special to me as it's one of the first art songs I ever performed. This setting does deviate from the original by Delibes in a few areas (the piano part is a little fuller in a few spots, the tempo changes are more dramatic and deliberate, etc.) The text is funny, and a tad raunchy, but high school boys would have a blast performing this song once the French was under their belt. There is also an English version, which is not accurate to the French in a literal sense at all, but does capture its (rather bawdy) spirit.
If this song is a performed as a sort of contemporary madrigal, the style will be perfect. The a cappella setting could be a challenge, but if desired, you could pair it with a "continuo" part of your choosing to add some authenticity and support your singers. The text comes from the opening of a collection of poems by Dante Alighieri about love. Interestingly, this text was one which helped to transition the Italian language into the one we know today, much like Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" did with English.
When I initially heard the folk song “He’s Gone Away,” I thought it would make a lovely counter-perspective if paired with the ubiquitous “Shenandoah.” The result is a dramatic song that tells the story of two lovers separated, and singing to the same sky. To me, it almost feels like a musical-theatre ballad. I also incorporated “O Waly Waly” in the Bridge, and many of the traditional folk melodies have been modified dramatically in some phrases, so I don’t believe this sounds like a “same old-same old” arrangement.
Originally written in English as "The Amber Harvest," I applied legitimate Japanese haiku by Basho when Iearned that the English translations I was using were not legitimate or authentic. The minimalist piano accompaniment had floated around in my head for years before writing. This is a sort of partner-song, which would make it a very accessible piece for a HS ensemble or advanced MS mixed chorus. This piece pairs with "Toku-Toku," a men's choir piece, as well as a handful of other songs (all with texts by Basho) as part of a cycle which is currently in the works, called "Shiki Haiku," or "Four Seasons Haiku."