April 2022:"Everything But You" by Duke Ellington, Harry James, and Don George, arranged by Kirby Shaw
submitted by Samantha Roberts
Vocal Jazz, Contemporary, & Commercial Music R&R Chair
"Everything But You" was written in 1945 by the great Duke Ellington and Harry James, with lyrics by Don George. Kirby Shaw's arrangement of "Everything But You" was published in 2020 and it can be sung with SATB, SAB, or SSA voicings. I think that more advanced high school ensembles would enjoy the SATB/SSA versions. Due to the tight voicings, and 3 part women's splits, a younger, less experienced, high school ensemble would do better with the SAB version.
I think this is a great piece for choirs who are working on perfecting tight voicings and tight harmonies because this song is full of them. I really like that there is a pretty significant scat soli section in the middle of the song. Learning a scat soli section like this is a really great way to get students introduced to scat singing and it opens them up to learning new syllables that they can use when soloing. I also really like the range in this piece. Often times in vocal jazz music (especially high school level or higher), the range of certain parts may be outside of what a typical high school student is capable of singing. Sometimes the bass part is really low or the soprano/tenor parts are really high. This entire song is in a really comfortable range for the typical high school student.
I also think that it is great that this piece has a couple of accompaniment options. This piece comes with a written piano accompaniment, which is great for ensembles and directors that might not have access to a rhythm section. You also have the option to buy this piece with written drum, guitar, and bass parts. This is a great option for those ensembles that have access to a rhythm section that can play with them.
Kirby Shaw website: http://www.kirbyshaw.com/
Score Preview: https://www.jwpepper.com/Everything-But-You/11306522.item#.YkEWaRPMKz1
Reference Recording: https://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/media-player.jsp?&productID=11306522&type=audio
Submitted by Stephanie Magaro
Repertoire and Resources Chair for Middle School Voices
Using William Blake’s 18th century poem, “Tyger” by Elaine Hagenberg is a perfect combination of old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, legato and staccato, and energy and intensity. Middle school voices could use either of the voicings available. A more advanced ensemble or junior high festival choir with changed voices would enjoy the SATB version. At the middle school level, the SA voicing could easily be used for a treble choir of any level, or with changed voices doubling at the octave. An emerging Baritone range would be perfect for the alto part down an octave, and a mid-voice change would sit well on the soprano part an octave lower. As many choirs are in an era of building back up, two part music gives singers the confidence and success they need. Much of the available two-part music that we typically see is too “young” for our teens who are desperate for meaning, depth, and inspiration right now. “Tyger” is contrary to that–musically and technically interesting, and with textual depth to grasp.
Elaine Hagenberg, also headlining at our summer conference in 2022, generously provides free score perusal and discussion guides on her website. There is plenty of room for learning and discussion as the students analyze a famous poem and work to personify the beast of the tiger through their performance of this piece, written in 2021.
Although you can find many different choral settings of this text, Hagenberg’s arrangement is unique and most fitting for middle school or a young high school level choir. It is fresh and new and with the accompanying materials on her website, it far surpasses other arrangements. She uses powerful unison parts to compliment the thrilling, programmatic piano accompaniment to depict the fierceness of the tiger. The mixed meter setting of the text is a challenge, however, one that middle school students will “buy into” due to the excitement of the rhythms of each phrase. In the middle section, a steep contrast with a legato section pulls the listener in as they beg the question, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” If you are looking for a set of songs, it would be a great addition to include Elaine’s setting of “The Lamb” which is written for SSA and would also be conducive to a treble choir or middle school choir with changing voices doubling on octaves.
A wonderful, engaging piece that is an even stronger choice because of Elaine Hagenberg’s generous resources available totally free through her website! What a gift of song and great teaching resources! And, an opportunity to thank her in person by signing up for the summer ACDA-PA conference at Messiah University! Her music is available for digital download or print copy through the GIA publisher website.
Perusal score: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/_files/ugd/26cb0c_b6ae589af2dd4295bd7a96e9a5bcbba5.pdf
Resources: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/tyger-satb or https://www.elainehagenberg.com/tyger-sa
Free Piano Accompaniment: https://soundcloud.com/elaine-hagenberg/tyger-piano-accompaniment
Free Discussion Guide Download: https://www.elainehagenberg.com/form-disc-guide-tyger
Submitted by Dr. Kathryn Hylton
Repertoire and Resources Chair for Upper Voices
“Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces.” www.reenaesmail.com
An engaging piece with a wonderful genesis story, the 2021 publication TāReKiṬa by Reena Esmail is this month’s ACDA-PA #SingNewMusic recommendation. TāReKiṬa was born when Esmail was working with the Urban Voices Project in downtown Los Angeles, a choir comprised of individuals who had recently or were currently experiencing homelessness. In 2016, she had the opportunity to lead a workshop with the singers on Indian rhythms. The choir displayed such curiosity and interest that she decided to write a short piece to help them explore this new way of creating musical sounds. What began as a gift for the Urban Voices Project family is now able to be experienced by the larger musical community through new arrangements for SSAA, TTBB, and SATB choirs (available through Oxford University Press).
At approximately two minutes long, this quick and lively triple meter piece is an excellent introduction into Indian rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic language. Traditional Indian rhythms are combined with onomatopoeic syllables that imitate the Indian drum, the tabla, to create a unique sound world that blends the Indian and Western musical styles. Harmonically, the work is based on the Jog raga (or Raag Jog), a melodic structure that omits the second and sixth scale degrees, but includes what Western music calls the major and minor third, merging the melancholy with the joyful. The composer has provided several resources on her website to help choirs present an authentic performance of the work, including audio/visual pronunciation lessons, program notes, videos of optional hand gestures (called “mudra”) which may help performers engage with the Indian dance tradition, as well as recordings of performances of the work.
Visit Reena Esmail’s website to explore her music for SSAA, TTBB, and SATB choirs and to learn more about her mission to build and bring together communities.
TāReKiṬa resources: https://www.reenaesmail.com/catalog-item/tarekita/.
Interview and genesis story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAITYhQFZmM
It is my pleasure to recommend a wonderful piece by Andrea Ramsey from 2017 that is a great "find" on so many levels. "The Gift to Sing" is available in SA, SSA and SATB voicings with piano. This sensitive gospel like setting of the James Wheldon Johnson text offers an opportunity to gently swing to this text of depth and wonder. I have found this piece to be particularly effective when combining varying levels of choirs, which will hopefully be something that we can look forward to in the not too distant future.
Technically, the piece offers a progressively thickening of texture, and it offers the opportunity for young singers to explore varying registers and develop vocal colors throughout the piece. At the culmination point of the piece, an optional decant is included for more advanced choirs or for singers needing an extra challenge.
In addition to the amazing career of composer/arranger Andrea Ramsey, student singers will be interested to explore the life of the lyricist James Wheldon Johnson. Many of my singers did not know that he was the composer of "Lift Every Voice and Sing". Many cross curricular discussions are a natural outgrowth of learning this work.
Although composed before the pandemic, the text is very appropriate as we emerge. The final page reiterates the important message: "I Can Sing", something most of us will never take for granted again.
Information on this piece available at MusicSpoke: https://musicspoke.com/downloads/the-gift-to-sing/
Submitted by Dr. Jeffrey S. Gemmell
ACDA-PA Lower Voices R&R Chair
While it's probably too late to program seasonal repertoire for your school or community choir this year, you might consider a new piece by Linda Kachelmeier to add a secular twist to next year’s holiday concert. We Toast the Days was originally written “to be sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve with friends and family as a new kind of ‘Auld Lang Syne.’” So, why wait? Purchase copies to bring to your next holiday gathering(s) as a musical reflection on the past and to sing/toast to a hopeful new year. The composer recommends it for “graduations and other celebrating times” as well.
Published by Timothy C. Takach Publications (2021) for the Cantus Vocal Ensemble series, We Toast the Days is exclusively distributed by Graphite. A PDF perusal score (TTBB), video link of 2018 Cantus performance, and ordering information can be found here:
It is also available for SSAA and SATB voicings at lindakachelmeier.com.
Special thanks to Dr. Christopher Kiver for making this recommendation.
The F-major score, marked “like a folk song,” is immediately accessible and indeed reminiscent of traditional English folk tunes. Vocal ranges are typical: low F(2) for Bass II to high F(4) for Tenor I. The a cappella diatonic melodic material reminds one of “Down by the Salley Gardens;” the sonorous vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Vaughan Williams, Holst and others; the melodic ornamentation is evocative of English/Scottish/Irish folk idioms. Changing meter (4/4 to 3/4) from verse to refrain adds variety and lilt to the musical toast.
Choral textures are direct, clear, and additive. Voice leading is delightfully consonant, with occasional dissonances that sing well and feel good. The rich harmonic sonorities (lots of thirds and sixths) add warmth and fullness to the choral sound. The piece opens with an optional Tenor I solo before an optional Bass I solo joins for the refrain. The tutti choir (TTB) joins for the second verse and refrain. Voicing continues to expand with a Bass II part during the third verse. The final refrain adds still more variety with the lower voice parts accompanying with a zesty, more contemporary-sounding “doo” in waltz-like rhythms, before all join to sing the final line, “As we stand on the edge of another year, I give a kiss to you.”
The text by the composer is as follows:
When the clock strikes twelve
And another year has gone,
I give a kiss to you
As remembrance of the past we have shared
And the future yet to come.
We toast the days, both good and bad,
The old friends and the new.
When the clock strikes twelve
And another year has gone,
I give a kiss to you.
While the night is long
And the bitter cold has come,
We lengthen our embrace
To sustain us as we mourn our regrets
And the fear of days unknown.
We toast the days...
As we stand on the edge
Of another bright new year,
I take your hand in mine
With assurance of
The courage we will find
And the hope that leads us on.
We toast the days...
Submitted by Matthew Klenk
ACDA-PA High School R&R Chair
Most of the conversations that I’ve had with fellow high school choral directors in recent weeks have had a common theme - we’re all trying to find the proper way to reset our programs now that most of us are once again able to sing in our classrooms. After an unbelievably difficult year, many of us are facing similar challenges: smaller numbers, inexperienced choristers, uncertainty about upcoming concerts, and a high level of anxiety amongst our students.
In light of these challenges, quite a few of my colleagues have indicated that they’re looking for repertoire that can build confidence among their students, even if their numbers are low or their sections are unbalanced. For that reason, I’d like to highlight a very simple, but effective piece co-written by Jocelyn Hagen and Timothy Takach in 2019 titled “A Path to Each Other”.
The work is essentially a 10-measure canon with a short coda. The canon can be performed in 3-parts, and provides an opportunity for a soloist (or soloists) to introduce the melody before the ensemble enters. The canon format provides flexibility for voicings - directors can group their singers however they’d like to create the sound that best suits their ensemble, and it can be repeated as many times as deemed appropriate. In addition, the text is incredibly appropriate for our current times, especially for teenagers who are returning to school for the first time in months and trying to remember how to interact with one another: “Each word a stone, we can build a wall or a path to each other”.
The highlight of the piece comes at the point where the director decides to end the canon and proceed to the ending. There’s a single measure with a 2-note melody that can be sung as an ostinato using the text “we can build a path”. The performance direction encourages the singers to progressively add new harmonies with every repetition of this measure, and the composers even recommend asking the audience to sing along before finally proceeding to the ending. A performance would last about 3 minutes, and copies can be purchased for just $1.00 each. A perusal score, sample recording, and purchase link can all be found through Graphite Publishing.
For those of us who are trying to rekindle confidence in our students, this piece provides a wonderful opportunity to do something both new and unique, no matter what our ensemble may look like this year. I highly recommend that high school directors give it a try!
submitted by Kyle Zeuch
Life-Long Choral Music R&R Committee Chair
Community Choirs R&R Representative
Jen Wagner, Pennsylvania choral composer and teacher, and I had the opportunity to meet up for the first time just a few weeks ago. I was delighted to learn about this wonderful human being and her music right in my own back yard! In addition to writing music, Jen serves as Middle Division General Music Teacher and Choral Director at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA. Jennifer received a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Messiah College and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Bloomsburg University. She is passionate about writing choral music with beauty that challenges singers. The piece I would like to highlight is Jen’s In the Bleak Midwinter.
The well-known Christina Rossetti Text and Gustav Holst song is given new life with Wagner’s SATB setting. This accompanied work incorporates baritone and cello solos, both of which give the piece a unique take. Additionally, she includes beautiful original music paired with the familiar melody and text. Divisi is reserved for soprano and a limited amount for basses, with all voice parts given interesting but accessible material. I am particularly struck by her treatment of the words “He reigns,” “A Kiss” (which catapults into a wonderful “Ah section”), and “My heart,” tenderly set at the end. Wagner prides herself in treating all of her texts with particular care with word painting being a priority to her compositional process—a sentiment that is not lost in this piece.
I would highly recommend this piece for community choirs as it appeals as both accessible for most, with challenges to bring out the full musical potential for more advanced groups. This piece will be available through GIA publishing this fall—just in time to purchase for your December concert! Please visit http://jenwagnermusic.com/ to learn more about this piece, hear a recording, and get more information about Jen and her works. Let’s support living composers right here in Pennsylvania—especially those as wonderful as Jen Wagner!