*** Many of the websites have changed in this series, and while the principles are still valid, the specific methods and links may no longer be relevant. However, the posts on composers and their compositions should still be quite relevant. ***
In the previous three posts in this series, we have examined ways to find great self-published pieces and the composers who write them.
Post 1: The Search For Self-Published Choral Music and ChoralNet Part 1
Post 2: The Search For Self-Published Choral Music: Using Music Distributing Websites
Post 3: The Search For Self-Published Choral Music and ChoralNet Part 2
In the next two posts my goal is to introduce you to composers that are writing quality self-published music. One quality composition will be featured per composer.
I am not showcasing any of my own compositions, but you are invited to peruse them on this website.
* It should be noted that I do not receive any compensation for promoting these composers and their compositions. Some of the composers I have had personal contact with via email or internet forum, but I have met none in person.
1. David Von Kampen – A Cradle Hymn, SATB a cappella
I became familiar with David Von Kampen’s music through perusal on the Music Spoke website (see post 2). I immediately loved this simple Christmas piece, “A Cradle Hymn”. Other’s have loved it as well, based on its receiving numerous purchases. He has a mix of traditionally published and self-published works, which can be checked out on his website.
2. Wallace De Pue – The Fatherland, TTBB, solo, violin
I became familiar with Wallace De Pue and his music through the Composition Showcase (see post 1) and the composer’s community on choralnet.org. He has a huge catalogue of choral works that are consistently high quality. It can be a bit dizzying making your way through so much music on his new website. The best way I’ve found to acquaint with his music is through the samples tab, which has pieces with recordings. Much of his music is more serious than his fun “The Fatherland” featured here (especially his SATB music). He has ten pieces on the Composition Showcase on choralnet.
3. Michael Kaulkin – Roll The Tide, SATB a cappella
I first became acquainted with Michael Kaulkin’s music through a composer’s community discussion thread on choralnet.org. I found “Roll The Tide” while perusing choral scores on Swirly Music (see post 2), which Michael founded. Described by the composer as a “quasi spiritual” I found the piece very compelling and well written. In the music, it is easy to sense the ocean swells. The two recordings do not do the piece justice, but the much superior (of the two) video recording on the bottom of the page gives a pretty good idea about it.
4. Dianna Robin Dennis – Air On The Old Dennis, SSA, harp
I became acquainted with Dianna Robin Dennis’ music through perusal of women’s chorus music on JW Pepper’s My Score (see post 2). I found “Air On The Old Dennis” to be absolutely charming. At this time, her personal website is under construction, but her My Score page gives a reasonable sample of her music with 13 titles being present. She has five pieces on the Composition Showcase on choralnet.org.
5. Kurt Knecht – Pied Beauty, TTBB piano
Like with Michael Kaulkin, I became acquainted with Kurt’s music through a composer’s community discussion on choralnet.org. I found this piece while perusing music for men’s choir on the Music Spoke website (see post 2). Kurt Knecht is an accomplished composer with many traditionally published works as well as self-published works. Along with his wife, Jennifer Rosenblatt, he started the MusicSpoke distributing website. “Pied Beauty” sets Gerald Manly Hopkin’s unique sacred text and includes a challenging piano part. The piece has dynamite energy and a positive effect of praise.
6. Joy DeCoursey-Porter – Jesus SATB a cappella
I became acquainted with Joy’s music through the choralnet composer’s community and the Composition Showcase. A couple of years ago, I started a thread on the Repertoire forum (see post 3) looking for self-published Christmas music. I had programmed a number of traditionally published pieces and I wanted to search for scores “outside the box.” A staggering number of fantastic public and a few private replies arrived in a few short days. Joy responded with her piece “Jesus.” I had perused the piece before (on the Showcase) and liked it; with the exception of the occasional very simple piano part of which I wasn’t to fond for a number of reasons (probably just my taste). Since I had specified I was looking for a cappella music, due to the number of accompanied pieces already programmed, her reply offered a fully a cappella version of the piece. She sent me a perusal score of the fully a cappella version. With a bit of score study, I realized this was a truly amazing piece, for which the choralnet recording gives an idea, but doesn’t do full justice.
I programmed Joy’s piece as well as a couple of others. My high school singers loved it. For some of the singers, it was their favorite piece of the entire school year. I would say it feels musically like a cross between some of Eric Whitacre’s music with that of Dan Forrest. I am fully biased in favor of the a cappella version, which replaces the plodding piano part with a couple of “ooing” sections that are beautifully ethereal in context. Listen to the piece, but try to imagine it a cappella fully, with warm and haunting choral tone.
Joy has eight pieces on the Composition Showcase.
7. Donald Patriquin – Island Spinning Song SATB piano
Donald Patriquin is a well known composer of great choral works. For example, his arrangement of “J’entends le moulin” is pretty standard repertoire for North American choirs. However, besides his traditionally published music, he has many self-published works that are equally high in quality. I became acquainted with “Island Spinning Song” through the composer’s community and the Composition Showcase on choralnet.org (see post 1), on which Mr. Patriquin has included two pieces. This piece, one of two pieces in a set titled “Scottish Contrasts,” has a bit of the “J’entends…” feel with a challenging piano part and exciting choral effect, but is more compact.
8. Karen Marrolli – Patapan SATB guitar, fiddle, percussion
I became acquainted with the music of Karen Marrolli when she responded to the repertoire thread I started as mentioned above (see post 3). She presented her Celtic setting of “Patapan” in her private response. It was such an exciting arrangement and we had a fantastic violinist in our choir, I included it in our Christmas repertoire along with two other selections. The result was terrific. The piece is well written, has depth, and is fun for the singers as well as listeners. I just wish it was longer (1’45”) because it is so good.
Look for the next and final post in the series in a few days, featuring some more great composers and their compositions.