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Items by Leonard Ratzlaff

Results: 195
Title Author Date
Comment: Re: Frostiana
Look at Rutter's winter cycle "When Icicles Hang", with 5 separate pieces as I recall. The two that stand out for me are "Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind", lovely setting of the Shakespeare text, and "Good Ale" a rhythmically interesting drinking song that a community chorus would love.   Len Ratzla...
From the Baroque era, there are settings by Perti and Leonardo Leo for choir and strings, with a few solo passages, ca. 7-9 minutes in duration - edited by Richard Bloesch and I believe both published by Concordia or Augsburg.
Comment: Re: Winter Pieces
Rutter's cycle "When Icicles Hang" has six songs in it, published by OUP: Around 20 minutes duration, scored with orchestra, but the pieces are also available separately and can be effectively done with piano as well.  
Comment: Re: Favorite Lullabye
Susa's "Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest" has some beautiful Spanish lullabies, including Nr. 4: A la Nanita Nana, and Nr. 8: El Noi de la Mare, which can be sung unaccompanied - the full cycle has harp, guitar and marimba accompaniment. Published by ECS Publishing.
Comment: Re: If music be the food arrangement
Kansas City composer Jean Belmont wrote a wonderful setting of this text. Originally a GV Thompson publication, it is now published by Alfred Music.
Comment: Re: ENGLISH Organ and Chamber Choir Music
Bearing in mind that much of the English choir/organ repertoire was written to be performed by cathedral choirs, which except for the treble numbers would have been roughly 4-5 voices per part, I think you could find a lot of interesting repertoire for choir and organ from 19th-20th English compose...
Comment: Re: Upbeat SATB piece with piano
Quebec composer Donald Patriquin has a large number of works for chorus and piano: perhaps his most well known, very bright and cheery, is the French Canadian folk song J'entends le moulin. Visit his website at for extensive information, including sound files.   Len Ratzl...
Comment: Re: Walt Whitman Settings?
I can highly recommend a setting of Come, Lovely and Soothing Death by Canadian composer James Rolfe. Self-published, it is scored for SSAATTBB a cappella. Arresting setting with a powerful conclusion, ca 4' duration. Write me directly and I can provide you with a sound file and pdf: lratzlaf@ualb...
Comment: Re: Winter songs?
Morten Lauridsen has a 5-song cycle "Mid Winter Songs", settings of poetry by Robert Graves, with piano accompaniment:   For SSA, Elgar's "The Snow", with piano and violin obbligato.    Both of these suggestions have numerous examples of performances on...
Comment: Re: Looking for lliterature for Tenor soloist and SATB or TTBB Chorus
Hello,   You mentioned Schubert's "Die Almacht", but no one has suggested another piece by Schubert for tenor and male chorus, "Nachthelle", one of Schubert's most beautiful settings. CPDL doesn't have this piece listed, but you will find it in the Petrucci Library:
Comment: Re: Mozart C minor Mass--small forces?
I think it depends equally if not more on the size of your chorus, but I don't think you could get by with less than 4-4-2-2-1 in strings, especially with trombones doubling the AT and B chorus parts.
Comment: Re: In praise of the sun
Back in 2008 the Latvian Youth Choir (,EN/) produced a double CD recording called "Sun Songs" (Pasaules Saules Dziesmas), featuring 17 newly commissioned works from composers all over the world, which they released in conjunction with the World Symposium on C...
Comment: Re: The Young Conductor III - learning repertoire
Just an excellent article, Richard!  It brought back memories of having access to the score libraries of several conductors I had the privilege of studying with, but it also recalls one sabbatical experience I had while on a short trip to Germany. I had decided to spend a month or so in Stuttgart t...
Comment: Re: Christmas Music with Organ
One of my all time favourite Christmas carol arrangements with a magnificent organ part is Kenneth Leighton's "O Leave Your Sheep" - marvellous setting, each verse very different, with a grand ending. Published by Novello.
Comment: Re: Messiah Sing-Along
Christina,   I think for many people who are familiar with Messiah and associate Part I with the Christmas season, the sequencing of choruses and solos is an important part of their experience in attending a sing-along.  A common practice for this kind of event is to provide aspiring soloists fr...
Comment: Re: blew wrong note!
Michael Schwarzkopf, you will have to forgive me if you read this: more years ago than I care to remember, we were grad students at Iowa and proud members of Don Moses' U of I Kantorei.  At that time we had an annual Madrigal Dinner at Christmas in Hancher auditorium.  I was responsible for giving...
Comment: Re: Songs of "Winter & Love"
Lauridsen 'Midwinter Songs'.  
Comment: Re: Choir and Marimba literature?
Canadian composer Malcolm Forsyth (native of South Africa) wrote "Music for Mouths, Marimba, Mbira and Rototoms", a 3-movement work of around 15' duration, very interesting study in rhythms, using a range of Zulu-inspired sounds for the chorus (tongue-clicks), etc.  Available through Counterpoint M...
Comment: Re: Choral Composition Competitions?
Sarah,   This won't help you at all, but for Canadians who read this list, here is a link to an important composition competition hosted by the Da Capo Chamber Choir:   Len Ratzlaff University of Alberta
Comment: Re: SATB color songs
Britten "The Ballad of Green Broom" (Flower Songs Nr. 5) Byrd "Though Amarylis Dance in Green" Stanford "The Bluebird"   You might try going to CPDL and doing searches by entering different colours in the search box.
Comment: Re: IPA Pronunciation Guide - "A Maiden is in a Ring" Alfven
I am sure I have an IPA annotation of this piece in my library at school - I can scan and send to you if that's helpful.   Len Ratzlaff
Borrowing request: Need for pdf of a continuo part
Item: Mass in C Minor Composer/Arranger/Edition: Mozart, Peters edition (ed. HC Robbins Landon) Starting: As soon as possible For: April 8, 2013 Copies: 1 Willing to rent: Yes  Dear Colleagues,   Our choirs and orchestra at University of Alberta are performing Mozart's Mass in C Minor on Sun...
Comment: Re: Obtaining the Neighbor's Chorus (public domain)?
You might have to download a copy of the vocal score of the opera La Jolie Parfumeuse, available on Scorser.  It's a big file, but I'm sure that is in the public domain, so you could perhaps excerpt the chorus from there.
Comment: Re: Technical Aspects in Britten's War Requiem
As I recall from conducting this a few years ago, I used a hybrid solution, usually conducting the first two beats without subdivision but employing a small, crisp 3-pattern on the final beat. Occasionally, when the heavy accented syncopated beats require it, you could employ a kind of 'stop-beat' s...
Comment: Re: GradMusic.Org - Where are Choral Directors studying?
Alan,   Reading your last note, I'm happy that you will be expanding your site to include graduate programs located elsewhere this summer. An expanding number of Canadian universities are now offering programs at the Masters level, with some doctoral programs as well.  Let me know if you nee...
Comment: Re: Amazing Grace
Eriks Esenvalds has a fairly new a cappella arrangement in 8 parts - quite stunning.  You'll find a number of videos of it on YouTube.   Len Ratzlaff
Comment: Re: Bach's Christmas Oratorio
An alternate solution to Jerome's plan to perform all six cantatas in one extended concert with longer intermission would be to program it as either a two (1-3 and 4-6) or three-concert (1-2, 3-4 and 5-6) series over a period of a few days or a week.  The problems of scoring are partly solved by ...
Comment: Re: Rehearsing Carmina Burana
Much depends on whether or not members of your chorus have learned it earlier in their singing careers.  I'm sure most would agree that the biggest challenge in this work is learning the Medieval German and Latin text and its pronunciation.  There are several resources available, some published ...
Comment: Re: Lenten Cantata
I would recommend Canadian composer Allan Bevan's "Nou Goth Sonne under Wode" - see his website for details:  The site includes some recorded excerpts. Published by Classica.
Comment: Re: Mixed chorus a cappella + solo quartet?
Britten's "A Hymn to the Virgin" works very well - antiphonal treatment between chorus and quartet. Some of the Mendelssohn a cappella music has sections for solo quartet or octet - the two settings of Psalm 100, for example, or "In der Passionszeit" from Sechs Sprüche (Op. 79).
Forum message: Tempo in Mendelssohn Elijah chorus "Then did Elijah the prophet"
We are in the midst of rehearsals with orchestra for our Elijah performance this weekend.  In rehearsing the chorus "Then did Elijah the prophet" (second last chorus), the question of appropriate tempo came up with our string players.  Many recordings have this chorus at anywhere from MM=92 to 1...
Comment: Re: Best Shakespeare texts set to music
I suggest Finnish composer Jaako Mantyjarvi's Four Shakespeare Songs, with some challenges but definitely doable by a youth or high school choir.  There is an excellent all-Shakespeare recording on Chandos of the Phoenix Bach group with Charles Bruffy that has these pieces on it, and a few YouTu...
Comment: Re: C. Effinger Tempowatch
There are a number of apps available to download that have this feature: the one I have is made by Frozen Ape - the basic version is available free, with a more advanced version available for $2.99.  You tap on the tempo number indicator and it gives you the tempo in a few taps.
Concert: Mendelssohn Elijah - Richard Eaton Singers
The Richard Eaton Singers present Mendelssohn Elijah on Saturday evening, Nov. 3, 8 pm, at the Winspear Centre for Music, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.   Details:   Soloists: Monica Whicher, soprano Lauren Segal, mezzo soprano John Tessier, tenor Daniel Lichti, bass Aanchel Gupta...
Comment: Re: Teaching students about the old conductors
Elliott,   With the explosion of video files we now can access on YouTube and Vimeo, et al, it would be an interesting project for you to assign to your students: watch samples of these conductors on the podium, and describe the gestural language in as much detail as you can.  Here's an exam...
Comment: Re: Diction/Pronunciation Question
Garrett,   I found another complete thread of discussion on this question on Choralnet:   One of the responses as I scanned this discussion also mentioned that it is common to introduce a glide before the final u: [zju]   Len Ratzlaff
Comment: Re: A Cappella Choral Benediction
Canadian Kathleen Skinner has a beautiful Benediction, a cappella with divisi, on a Kahlil Gibran text.  It's published by Cypress Publishing in Vancouver, and you can hear it and peruse a pdf of the score at this link:
Comment: Re: Choral Conduting - MM or MA?
Larry,   For us, the distinction has been that the M Mus is focused on performance disciplines, whereas the MA is more directed at scholarship and research (theory, musicology, ethnomusicology).  For our conducting program we chose the M Mus route, but our program requirements do have some e...
Comment: Re: Seeking Choral Works that use lots of Percussion Instruments
Willliam Mathias's "Ceremony after a Fire Raid", a setting of Dylan Thomas's iconic poem describing a German bombing raid on London, is scored for chorus and one percussionist who plays the entire range of percussion instruments.  It's a dramatic and powerful work - unfortunately not well represe...
Comment: Re: Shaw/Parker: My God is a Rock
There's an excellent recent recording of this arrangement by Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson director, on their CD Sing Freedom.
Comment: Re: Storing sheet music
Maria,   If there is a college or university with a music program in your commmunity, you might contact them to see whether they would have space in their library to house your music.  You could enter into an agreement with them whereby you as well as the choral program there have reciprocal...
Comment: Re: Death and Mortality
I recommend Canadian composer James Rolfe's setting of the Whitman poem "Come, Lovely and Soothing Death".  SSAATTBB - self-published.  This is a brilliant work, highly expressive of this powerful text.  You will find several sound files of this work on Rolfe's page at the Canadian Music Centre...
Comment: Re: Choral/Vocal work featuring piano
Rossini's "I Gondoliere" or "La Passeggiata" both feature virtuosic piano parts, and are great for chorus as well.  You could also look at any of the Brahms Vocal Quartets (Op. 31, 64, 92, 112) or his Zigeunerlieder (Op. 103, choral version). Of more recent vintage, Imant Raminsh's "Magnificat" f...
Comment: Re: Newer repertoire for chamber choir and strings
Contemporary Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds "Passion and Resurrection", for S solo, SATB quartet, choir, strings.  Around 30', it centers on the soprano soloist narrating the circumstances of various women around the Passion and Easter story.  The quartet is used to interpolate several Morales...
Comment: Re: IPA for Beethoven Choral Fantasia, Op. 80
On that theme, I think it's also important to slightly modify the Schwa concept on German unstressed syllables - for example, on a word like "Menschen" the unstressed syllable should retain more of the ɛ quality than the normal English ə sound (compare, for example, how the English word "tension...
Comment: Re: Favorite Lassus pieces
I'm not familiar with Marlow's or The Sixteen's recordings - the first recording I heard of it was with Simon Preston conducting Christ Church Oxford, a late 1970s recording.  Their tempo was in the range of MM. 90-100 as I recall, and it allowed for a stately grandeur to emerge in the earlier an...
Comment: Re: Favorite Lassus pieces
When I was a grad student I was introduced to the old late 19th C edition of Lassus motets, and became drawn to a number of the so called "Grand Motets" for 8 or more voice parts.  As only a few of these had modern editions at the time, I transcribed a couple of the ones that I could not locate i...
Comment: Re: Famous people who sang in church choir
American baritone Thomas Hampson was interviewed in a 1996 Choral Journal article by Randi von Ellefson on his choral upbringing and the impact it has had on his singing career.  Another famous soprano, Swede Elizabeth Söderstrom, was a member of Eric Ericson's chamber choir in Stockholm before ...
Comment: Re: Choral Albums you cannot live without
Martin Mass for Double Choir - Mikaeli Chamber Choir, Stockholm, Anders Eby conductor (on BIS) - older recording (1980s) but still one of the best versions of this great work. Mendelssohn, Rheinberger and Brahms sacred choral works - Kammerchor Stuttgart, Frieder Bernius, on Carus - all tremend...
Comment: Re: Performance strategies for Bach Christmas Oratorio
Allen,   My solution for a single night performance, if one might call it that, needed to bear in mind the 2.5 hour service length for the orchestra we were hiring.  We did the first four cantatas complete, followed by the opening chorus of the 5th cantata, which is a must (Ehre sei dir Gott...