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21st-century Choral Literature materials

Here is a compilation in response to my posting asking for new ideas, web resources, and 21st-
century methods for teaching a college choral literature course. I believe this is a topic that needs
further exploration. I received a number of responses from people who simply wanted to hear
the results. I am personally planning to utilize our university's on-line course format
(Desire2Learn) to supplement my in-person traditional class. This will allow me to link up to
online resources like Classical Music Library, where the students can listen to recordings at their
leisure. I'm going to stick with the Homer Ulrich textbook, and create my own anthology using
public domain scores from cpdl.
Karen Kenaston-French
Director of Choral Activities
Austin Peay State University


I teach Choral Lit. in the odd-numbered fall semesters (just finished one). I have a few thoughts
to offer:

1) I still use the Ulrich and the Norton. However, I may be moving away form the Norton. I'm
thinking about putting together my own anthology from scores from CPDL and other sources. Of
course, sometimes we use scores from our choral library, but I like to give them as much music
as I can for them to keep and refer to later. At this point I'm not sure whether I will put the
scores as links on the class website or just print them up and leave a packet at the copy store
nearby for them to purchase. I'm leaning toward the latter because I'm afraid they'll forget to
print them before class.

2) We are signed up for several web music services and I use them some. It seems that whenever
I want to play something in class from the web it goes down, so I've stayed away from that
unless I can't find the recording elsewhere. The next time I teach it I'm going to look into iTunes
University. We're set up for it but I haven't really learned about it yet.

3) This last point doesn't speak to your question directly, but the main assignment they have
apart from reading is keeping a notebook of contest pieces. I've gone through the NC contest
list and pulled two or three copies of the pieces we have in our choral library and put them on
reserve in the music library. I have them divided up by historical period and they may choose a
prescribed number to "catalog" from each group. Many of them really hate doing this, but I don't
care. At least when they get out to teach they will have seen some of the possibilities they will
have for programming. I'll attach the form I use for this, along with my syllabus, etc.

Now, if you come up with some really great ideas for getting them engaged in the process, let
me know. This class is always at 8:00 am for me and I could use any trick you come up with to
keep them awake!

signature Stephen M. Hopkins
Director of Choral Activities
Hayes School of Music
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608
email: hopkinssm(a)

I know what you mean - I feel like I'm stuck in a rut in teaching that course. This semester I've
added Nick Strimple's "Choral Music in the Twentieth Century" (2002) to supplement the Ulrich -
we haven't discussed twentieth century yet, so I really can't tell you yet how it works as a text,
but I like the book.
I would appreciate if you would pass along any new info you recieve!

Dr. Kelly Hudson
Director of Choral Activities
Concord University
1000 Vermillion St
Athens, WV 24712
(304) 384-5301

I think the Norton Anthology provides a good look at 20th-century international style works, but
students can find better editions of most of the earlier works elsewhere, including
It might work out cheaper and better for them to acquire some of the anthologies in the Oxford
Choral Classics series, particularly "Madrigals and Partsongs" and "European Sacred Music."
I suggest you choose several 20th-century works and have them buy individual copies. These
might include Bartok and Copland folksong arrangements, Bernstein's Chichester, some
Whitacre, and other music that would be appropriate for their school situations.
Ulrich provides a good vocabulary and overview, so stick with that, but I think it's time to retire
the Norton.

Classical Music Library and the Naxos library are very good sources of recordings, but they tend
to be Euro-centric. Not much American music, and lots of European ensembles. You can click
into the middle of a work, tho.
Avoid boxed CD collections - too much stuff they won't need, and CML and Naxos have
everything that's on them anyhow. has lots of recordings.

-john hoffacker
Artistic Director, Chorus Polaris, Minneapolis MN
Music Director, Church of the Epiphany, Plymouth MN

I'm completing a Historical Dictionary of Choral Music for Scarecrow
Press, and although the manuscript is due at the publisher September
08, the book will probably not be out until 2 years from now.

Melvin Unger
Riemenschneider Chair in Music, Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music
Director, Riemenschneider Bach Institute
Director, Baldwin-Wallace Singers
Director, Singers Club of Cleveland

I just inherited the undergraduate choral lit course from a colleague who retired after many years
of teaching this course. In fact, he originated it here, I believe.
I used the Norton anthology (ed. Robinson), which seemed to work fine. And since the class only
had four students (all seniors), we did it as an old-fashioned seminar format, with students
rotating making presentations to the class.
While everyone seemed to think it was a good course, I am extremely interested in any ways I can
modify the course. I guess the gist of my post is to ask if you wouldn't mind sharing what you
get back from colleagues! I am so glad you asked this question, and if you don't mind, I would
love to discover what you learn!

Lester Seigel
Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music
Birmingham-Southern College
Box 549033
900 Arkadelphia Road
Birmingham, AL 35254
Phone: 205.226.4957

There are a growing number of composers, like myself, choosing to self-publish on the internet
(my site is ). When I went to the ASCAP "I
Create Music Expo" last year, even Eric Whitacre spoke of the trend for composers to retain
publishing rights rather than hand them over to the traditional publishing conglomerates, even if
they use them for distribution (as he does). I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of this kind of
thing in the future.

M Ryan Taylor, composer : choral music, opera, art song, etc.
856 N 350 W, American Fork, UT 84003 (801) 492-6284 mryantaylor(a)

Did you get any stimulating replies to your post? I'm interested in the same
question. I know that Chet Alwes is due out with this Oxford Press
publication, but I don't know if this will bring it into the 21st century.
Certainly, Nick Strimple's book on choral music in 20th century is a great
multi-cultural, single volume text. For recordings, I have showing things
from YouTube more and more. I am amazed at how many things are already
there--and it continues to grow. Whenever I check, there is something else
there that I can show in class.
Tim Newton
SUNY Oneonta

Do not forget to tell your students to visit regulatrly musica virtual library.
The database includes more than 150,000 titles of
choral music worldwide and more than 60,000 of
them have one or several multimedia features like
text, translation in several languages, one page
of the score, sound clip sung by a good choir,
sound file of the correct pronunciation, MIDI file,...

A must for the students : to visit regularly the
favorite piece of the month, and other side walks of the database.

The limited access is free of charge, even if a login/password is requested.
Best regards,
Jean Sturm
Executive Director of Musica International
Prize Winner of Fondation Alsace in 2000
jsturm(a) ; tel.:+33 (0)607 540853
MUSICA International :
c/o La Fabrique de Théâtre
10 rue du Hohwald F-67000 Strasbourg
tel: (+33)388 36 17 54; Fax: (+33) 388 36 57 83
office(a) ;