Three Fantastic Artist Owned Choral Pieces and One Major Work – Featuring Four Composers

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habits-of-effective-music-teachersThere are so many pieces and works being written for choirs these days that it can be difficult to find great pieces. This has especially been true of artist owned music (self published music). However if a piece or work is great, it is worth finding it. Here are three worthy pieces and one excellent work.

The Rising, SSA accompanied (also available for TTB)
Composer: Andrea Ramsey
Personal website: http://www.andrearamsey.com/

This is a positively moving setting of Sara Teasdale’s poem, “Like Barley Bending.” The piece comes across as unaffected and allows the text to lead the music. Like many modern pieces, “The Rising” uses musical suspensions to create affect, however, when sung with innocence, the use of the device seems ideal for the music and does not seem overused. I think this piece is best suited for middle/high school age singers and would be great in festivals/all-states. This piece is available perusal, listening, and for purchase from musicspoke.com here: http://musicspoke.com/downloads/rising/

Nomina Animalium, SATB unaccompanied (advanced level)
Composer: Linda Kachelmeier
Personal website: http://www.lindakachelmeier.com/

“Nomina Animalium” is an exciting piece about Adam naming the animals for advanced level SATB choirs. In it she incorporates rhythmic modes from Notre Dame polyphony, and yet within a context that is thoroughly fresh and doesn’t eliminate her personal voice. “Nomina Animalium” is available for perusing, listening, and purchase from her personal website here: http://www.lindakachelmeier.com/works/nomina-animalium-adam-naming-animals

**This is the second time I have featured a piece by Linda Kachelmeier (as well as Kurt Knecht and Michael Kaulkin) on this blog (the first is in this post here) and I should give the disclaimer that I receive no remuneration from any composer for sharing their music, rather I just enjoy connecting musicians with great pieces.**

Drop, Drop, Slow Tears, SATB accompanied 
Composer: Kurt Knecht
Personal website: http://kurtknecht.com/

“Drop, Drop, Slow Tears” is built on a nine measure ground-bass theme in the bass line of the accompaniment (similar idea as the “Crucifixus” from Bach’s b minor mass). The piece is neo-baroque, but does not seem formulaic or dry. The climactic build up is extremely effective as the piece slowly unfolds. The piece is available with keyboard, strings/harp, or keyboard/violin/cello accompaniment. Concerts are enriched when they include a piece that is exquisitely beautiful and even emotional. “Drop, Drop, Slow Tears” would fill that niche. The piece is available for perusal, listening, purchase from musicspoke.com here: http://musicspoke.com/downloads/drop-drop-slow-tears/

Cycle of Friends, Solo Soprano, SATB, Orchestra, 5 movements (approx. 25 minutes)
Composer: Michael Kaulkin
Personal Website: http://www.michaelkaulkin.com/

Here is work that could be the principle work for a choral concert. The work is a survey of various aspects of friendship. The work pivots on a short a cappella third movement for SATB that features the Emily Dickinson poem “Are friends delight or pain.” Opening the work is a jubilant movement celebrating friendship (soprano solo, choir, orchestra), followed by a more contemplative 2nd movement for chorus and orchestra featuring the meeting of two friends. The fourth movement is somewhat mournful and beautifully lyrical piece dealing with two friends parting (soprano solo and orchestra). This runs attacca into the final movement for chorus and orchestra which adds chorus to the instrumentation and once again celebrates friendship, but with a more solemn treatment than the opening movement. It grows to a grand climax and then gently fades away over the last couple of minutes.

I think this work is relevant and very well fitted to the times in which we are living. Some may say more serious topics should be explored, but I think with the great divisiveness currently existing in our world, a reminder to celebrate our common humanity and to cherish those we love and appreciate is just what is needed. The subject is treated skillfully by the composer, so including the work in one of your programs would be meaningful musically as well as being uplifting to musicians and listeners. Nearly every musician I know wants to make a positive impact on those around them. This is repertoire that helps accomplish that goal.

Michael Kaulkin has a nice blog write up of the work, movement by movement, with quality audio here: https://changingnotes.swirlymusic.org/an-old-favorite-cycle-of-friends-turns-20-4f490acd88a6#.cr8vw2q3r

“Cycle of Friends” is available for perusal, listening, and purchase from swirlymusic.org here: https://www.swirlymusic.org/music/choral-music/michael-kaulkin-cycle-of-friends/


I hope you enjoy these works as much as I have! God bless you this choral season.
-Michael Sandvik

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