SSA or SSAA: Seasons
Here is my long overdue compilation of repertoire on the "Four Seasons"
theme for women's voices:
I know it isn't pre-1800, and it certainly isn't "non-western," but
be sure to look at the Vaughan Williams "Folk Songs for the Four
Seasons." This is a wonderful piece for women's voices and orchestra.
They work quite well with the piano reduction.
Look at Winter Cantata by Persichetti, for women's chorus, flute, and
marimba (challenging instrumental parts). The texts are Japanese poems about
winter. This is a set of many short pieces which can be excerpted if
necessary, but it's nice to do the whole set. Ranges from unison to 4 parts.
I just heard Hayd's The Seasons. Perhaps there might be something there that
you could use. This isn't exactly what you had in mind (mixed chorus).
Have you come across "winder wie ist nu dein kraft?"
It's an old German song - late mediaeval, I guess. I know it only as a
single unharmonised melody line. It works very well as a canon for
women's voices. Simple, short, but effective - and very different.
Although "winter" is the first word, it's actually about the coming of
Melody: see http://www.buyrecorders.com/RFZ_Lesson13_p17.pdf
Information: try a google search on "winder wie ist nu dein kraft"
There is a short piece by Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe entitled
"Autumn Song" - check with the Australian Music Centre at
It's for SATBarB unaccompanied chorus.
Have you tried the 4 Seasons by Tormis?
I conducted a seasons program at Boston University a few years ago:
"Sumer is icumen in" (medieval rota) - in procession
"Herbstlied" by Mendelssohn and by Schumann
Persichetti's "Winter Cantata" with flute & marimba
Debussy's "Salut Printemps" for S solo, SSA & piano
I'm sure you've already thought of these long ago, but I'll start with the
"Now is the Month of Maying" by Morley
"April is in My Mistress' Face" by Morley (as you know, several months of
the year are mentioned in relation to the various "body parts.")
"Spring Returns" by Marenzio
(All 3 of the above are in the old "A Cappella Singer" published by E.C.
A couple of more modern pieces:
"Now Welcome Summer" by Jon Washburn
"Hiver, vou nette cun villain," from "Trois Chansons" (3 songs) by Debussy
"Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind" (Rutter or any other setting)
"If You Were Coming in the Fall" by Frederick Silver (published by McAfee)
a nice piece to explore if you don't already know it.
(NB: The above are for mixed chorus)
This summer at the Oxford Summer Institutes at Lehigh University, we
sang through some lovely music published by Oxford University Press.
Please take a look at this piece for 2 part women's voices. It is
stunning. (BTW, the text is by the composer's wife and was written
after the death of her mother.)
FIRST SNOW by Reginald Unterseher
Oxford University Press
And, here is the program I ended up with:
Miri It Is 13th century English
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen Melchior Schaerer
Herbstlied Felix Mendelssohn
Silver Candles (from Songs of Autumn and Winter) Robert F. Baksa
Ziemas svetki sabraukusi Latvian Folk Song, arranged by Andrejs Jansons
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind Joan Szymko
Mir lächelt kein Frühling Johannes Brahms
Selections from Spring Cantata Vincent Persichetti
DMA Student in Choral Music, University of Colorado at Boulder
Conductor, CU Women's Chorus
Interim Director of Music, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge, CO
"Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them."
Oliver Wendell Holmes