Ten Artist Owned Christmas Pieces From Ten Composers You Need To Know part 1

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Ten Artist Owned Christmas Pieces From Ten Composers You Need To KnowThis two part blog series will share ten different choral pieces, each by a different composer. Each piece has a link to a full perusal score and recording, as well as to each composer’s personal websites. Every piece in this series is artist owned (self-published), meaning the composer owns all the rights to their piece and that the piece is not traditionally published. The emphasis in this series is on Christmas music you may be interested in for the holiday season.

Included in these two posts are four pieces for varying levels of SATB choirs; two pieces for children’s choirs; two pieces for women’s choirs; and two pieces for men’s choirs. Part one will introduce five of these pieces, with at least one in each category. Part two will follow up with five more pieces.

For most people the holiday season starts in late November or early December. For us choir conductors, we start planning our holiday and Christmas repertoire now (or earlier). Enjoy!

***I have not included any of my own choral compositions in the posts, but I invite you to check out my Christmas pieces here: Christmas.***

Special Note: When perusing scores, it is so important to use one’s conductor ear to internally clean up imperfections in a recording or imagine a quality sound with the piece. Remember that not every piece has a quality recording. Always be sure to “hear” the music as if it were sung beautifully!

For SATB

Composer: Daniel Hughes
Piece: Creator Emmanuel, SATB accompanied
Personal Website: http://danielhughesmusic.com/

I became familiar with “Creator Emmanuel” when it was featured as score of the week on MusicSpoke.com. It is elegant, simple, profound, and beautiful. I used this piece with my high school choir and found it very effective. It is available for SATB + string orchestra, or SATB + piano/organ. I love the inclusion of strings, but I conducted the piece with piano accompaniment and it still worked well, although organ would have been more effective. This piece is available for perusal, listening, and purchase here: http://musicspoke.com/downloads/creator-emmanuel/.
_________________________________________________________________________________Composer: Sanford Dole
Piece: Hodie Christus Natus Est, SATB unaccompanied
Personal Website: http://www.sanforddole.com/

Here is a setting of the well known “Hodie…” text that is rhythmic, exciting, and even a bit quirky. This piece will be exceptionally exciting with a quality ensemble singing at a high level of artistry. “Hodie…” would make an excellent opener or even a closer for an advanced SATB group. I found this piece while perusing scores on the excellent artist-owned distributing site, Swirly music. This piece is available from his personal website as well swirlymusic.org here: http://www.swirlymusic.org/music/choral-music/sanford-dole-hodie-christus-natus-est/

As an interesting aside, Mr. Dole was one of the founding members of the all male SATB choir “Chanticleer” (noted in his personal website bio).

For Children’s Choir

Composer: Benjamin Kornelis
Piece: In The Bleak Midwinter, two-part accompanied

Here is a truly sensitive treatment of the well known Christina Rossetti poem. The accompaniment is for either harp or piano, and either would work very well, although the linked recording uses harp. Besides being an effective option for a children’s choir, this piece would work well for a more mature women’s choir that is capable of singing with innocence (the piece was actually written for a Dordt college women’s ensemble, although it is promoted on MusicSpoke.com as both a children’s choir and women’s choir piece). This piece is available for purchase here: http://musicspoke.com/downloads/in-the-bleak-mid-winter-2/

For Women’s Choir

Composer:Thomas Quigley
Piece: Entre Le Boeuf Et L’ane Gris, SSA unaccompanied
Personal Website: http://thomasquigley.musicaneo.com/

Thomas Quigley is an Irish composer with an impressive catalogue. I found his music while searching on JWPepper’s MyScore webpages. I should note that I am generally turned off by computer generated recordings, not because I am unwilling to look at the scores they go with, but because they are so often filled with writing errors (I once found such a piece with a D major chord spelled d-gb-a). Mr. Quigley’s choral music is promoted with computer generated recordings, however, the pieces are consistently well written, so don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise before you check out the scores. This arrangement of the French carol is absolutely lovely and would bring the best out of a treble choir, especially in a live acoustic environment. So use your conductor’s ear as you peruse the score and you may find it very compelling, as I did. A translation of the carol is available on wikipedia. The piece is available for purchase here: http://www.jwpepper.com/Entre-le-boeuf-et-l%27ane-gris/10544147.item#.V0Jqu7grKM8

For Men’s Choir

Composer: Casey Rule
Piece: Huron Carol, TTBB, unaccompanied
Personal Website: http://www.caseyrule.com/

There have been many settings of the “Huron Carol,” especially in recent years, but this one is terrific and your men’s choirs will likely love this earthy setting. I found the piece while searching SMP press on sheetmusicplus. Casey is a young and talented composer. He has several other great pieces on his personal site for listening. “Huron Carol” is available for purchase and perusal on his personal website and from SMP Press here: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/huron-carol-ttbb-arr-casey-rule-digital-sheet-music/20209604

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Ten Artist Owned Christmas Pieces From Ten Composers You Need To Know part 1 — 3 Comments

  1. Hello – Do you know of Christmas music for (prof.) Sop. solo and SATB chorus? I direct an auditioned community choir so beautiful or interesting repertoire appreciated – no shlock! Thanks.

  2. I hope I don’t recommend schlock. =) For a professional soprano soloist +satb choir, a great piece/short work that is artist owned is Gordon Thornett’s “Gloria in D.” He is a consistently awesome composer who wrote a great “Gloria.” It is in one movement, but with three distinct sections that function as short movements. It is scored for Soprano Solo, SATB choir, organ, brass, and timpani. The piece takes about 10 minutes and has a bit of a compact Rutter “Gloria” feel (but is original in and of itself). The “Cum Sancto/Amen” section is especially fabulous. You can peruse the score and listen to a decent recording here: http://www.swirlymusic.org/music/choral-music/gordon-thornett-gloria-in-d/

    Interestingly, part 2 of this blog series will feature a children’s chorus piece of his.

  3. I thank Michael for his kind recommendation! Perhaps I could just add that if mustering up a pro brass sextet should present a problem, there is also a version with just organ (and timps) for accompaniment – also available from Swirly Music. The full version with brass is, of course, to be preferred, but not everyone has the resources available!

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