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Your all time favorite SSA piece

Dear colleagues,
For the first time this year I have an SSA chorus.  I am hoping boys will return to chorus next year, so I kind of feel like this is my ONE chance to perform a lot of great SSA rep.  I have 20 girls, grades 9-12 (mostly 9 & 10), and they're moderately good.
Please tell me which pieces are a "must do" with them this year.
Replies (50): Threaded | Chronological
on September 16, 2010 12:16pm
Mendelssohn's Lift Thine Eyes from "Elijah" is pretty tough to beat!
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 17, 2010 7:18am
I have to second this... Certainly a "must"!
on September 16, 2010 12:39pm
David Child's I Am Not Yours.  If you'eve ever been in love...
on September 16, 2010 1:56pm
How interesting, I am suggesting David Child's Weep No More.      Although it's SSAA  and one needs a pianist with a beautiful touch.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 16, 2010 3:15pm
Thompson - A Girl's Garden
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 16, 2010 4:41pm
Great suggestion, Rick!  We actually did it last year.  :-)  (the boys just had to listen)
on September 16, 2010 3:30pm
"Johnny  Said No" by Vijay Singh (Heritage Music) Fun tune w/"attitude" and sass...gals love it!
on September 17, 2010 11:21am
My girls loved that song!
on September 16, 2010 5:02pm
SSAA Favorite!
Smooth Talker - Sonja Sarr      This hard-driving blues chart features an open solo section with vocal backgrounds and a big four-part ensemble chorus. The 12/8 feel sets the mood for a true blues feel. If you have a good blues singer, this is the song you have  been looking for.
Sound Music Publications SMP04-010    you can hear a sound bite of the song.
on September 16, 2010 6:40pm
Alleluia from Pinkham's, Angels are Everywhere
on September 16, 2010 8:20pm
I am not sure whether you want a cappella works or works with accompaniment...
I forgot who was the composer. but this is a fun work with piano.
With piano. A work by Kentaro Sato
The 3rd movement of "Missa Trinitas" by Sato.
on September 16, 2010 8:55pm
"The Poet Sings" - SSA - Z. Randall Stroope- it's LOVELY and quite accesible for HS groups.
Mary Jane Phillips
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 17, 2010 12:22am
Britten Ceremony of Carols or Missa brevis! Amazing pieces. 
on September 17, 2010 5:06am
I agree with Mary "The Poet Sings".  Also Rene Clausen's "Psalm 100", Di Lasso's "My Heart Is Offered Still to You" (even better in the French "Mon Coeur...").  There are several Elanor Daley peices that are wonderful as well as some classic motets, chansons, and madrigals. 
on September 17, 2010 5:28am
High on my list is Pablo Casals’ Nigra sum. One of the most beautiful pieces I have ever conducted. Also: Srul Irving Glick’s Psalm Trilogy.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 17, 2010 5:39am
Hail Mary (SSA with extended piano techniques) by Maryanne Rumancik from Prairie Sky Music Publishing
A setting of this prayer for peace and love which is accessible. If you are performing in a live acoustic and have access to a grand piano the piece is hauntingly beautiful. The ladies can gather around the piano (lid off) to sing into the harp. The pianist has a simple part playing on the keyboard and inside the piano.
Available from:
on September 17, 2010 9:16am
Nigra sum - yes, fabulous piece!  It reminded me of another favorite, Debussy's Salut Printemps!  Needs a good S soloist.  there's a HInshaw edition that I think has English, something like We Sing to Spring.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 17, 2010 11:22am
I will be earth - Gwyneth Walker
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 12, 2012 5:07am
Love is a Rain of Diamonds by Gwyneth Walker and also Crossing the Bar.  Both are amazing!
on September 17, 2010 12:06pm
Dear Sarah,
I'm quite partial to Eleanor Daley's arrangements for women.  I have a select female ensemble that will sing "O My Dear Heart" for the Christmas season.  I also believe Gwyneth Walker writes very well for women's voices.  I agree with Child's "Weep No More" and Casal's "Nigra Sum".  Some pieces that are more homorhythmic and not overly complicated include: Gerhard Schroth's "Beauty" and Eugene Butler's "In the Highlands". Victor Paranjoti's "Dravidian Dithyramb" is great.  I am sure that I have forgotten ten other great pieces, but that is what came to mind from the top of my head.
Good Luck!
on September 17, 2010 12:48pm
Some wonderful pieces already mentioned. I'd add these:
Brahms - Ave Maria
Robert Jones - Lullabye for Titania
Clifton Noble - Sigh No More, Ladies
Vivaldi - Laudamus Te from Gloria
Vivaldi - Esurientes from Magnificat
Bach - Wir eilen mit schwachen
Halley - Untraveled Worlds (fabulous, but probably needs a larger group)
Mendelssohn - Laudate Pueri
Szymko - Nada te turbe (very challenging, probably needs a larger group)
Vaughan Williams - John Barleycorn from "Folksongs of the Four Seasons"
Have fun! Let us know what you choose!
on September 17, 2010 12:56pm
Sing Me To Heaven - Dan Gawthrop  
The SSAA is amazing.  I've conducted the SSAA and sung the SATB.  Somehow the SSAA just works better.  I'm curious which came first?  Dan, I know you post to here, can you enlighten me?
Jeff Medlock
Skyline High School
on September 17, 2010 4:14pm
Mendelssohn: Laudate Pueri Dominum
Eleanor Daley is a wonderful composer - I especially love "She's Like the Swallow" and "Lake Isle of Innisfree," which is always stunningly gorgeous no matter how many times you've heard (or sung or conducted or accompanied) it.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 17, 2010 4:40pm
Some easier yet engaging  pieces that sound gorgeous with almost any level of group.
My absolute must do is "Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird." See below. It is so charming and well arranged.
These are favorites of my gals:
  • Cuckoo Is a Pretty Bird, arr. James Clemens, Treble Clef Music - TC-271
  • How Can I Keep from Singing -arr. Robert Hugh,  Boosey & Hawkes, 48004608
  • Steal Away - arr. Marylou India Jackson, Treble Clef Music - TC-248
  • To Sing is to Fly - Gweneth Walker, it was available on her website
  • The Shepherd to His Love, Emma Lou Diemer, Edward B. Marks (Hal Leonard), HL00007899
  • Fields of Gold - Sumner, (Sting), arr. Emerson, Hal Leonard -08201583
  • Alleluia on a Theme by William Billings (When Jesus Wept - but the words have been changed to merely Alleluia), arr. Russell Robinson, Warner Brothers, SVM00025
A little more challenging:
  • Total Pulchra Est, from Quatre Motets, Maurice Duruflé, Durand S.A. Editions Musicales, Theodore Presser/Hal Leonard, 312-41672Hope Is the Thing with feathers, Emma Lou Diemer, Treble Clef Music, TC-207.1
  • Sigh No More Ladies, Ralph Vaughan Williams, OUP, 54.143
  • Laughing and Shouting for Joy, Duet from Cantata #15, attr. J.S. Bach, arr. Doreen Rao, Boosey & Hawkes, MO51464548
on June 13, 2012 4:47am
"Tota Pulchra Es"  .  Please! ...
on September 18, 2010 12:39pm
I agree with Stroope's ''The Poet Sings.''  My wife's vote goes for Laura Farnell's ''When I Think of You.''
on September 18, 2010 6:29pm
Anything by Michael McGlynn (Anuna). Michael has a unique understanding of women's voices and produces works that are interesting, compelling and fun
His works are available at
on September 18, 2010 6:39pm
I am surprised that no one has mentioned Gwyneth Walker's "I Thank You God."  It is absolutely stunning.  Other piece by her also wonderful:  "Crossing the Bar", written on the occasion of her mother's passing. We are currently working on "The Tree of Peace" which I would rank pretty close to "I Thank you God."  I would echo the recommendations for  Eleanor Daley - "Child with a Starry Crayon" is exquisite.  Also check Stephen Hatfield - "Queen Jane" is always a winner with young women. Gospel - take a look at Rosephayn Powell's "Still I Rise."  GREAT message for young women!
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 19, 2010 1:20am
Cum Essem Parvulus and Pater Noster by Bengt Johansson. Both of them are published by Fennica Gehrman, Helsinki, Finland.
on September 19, 2010 7:29pm
A really fun tune is Betty Berteaux's version of S'vivon.
Music in My Soul  is another really good rockin' spiritual.
on September 20, 2010 8:31am
Not knowing the ability of the young ladies I'm suggesting some easier and then a little more challenging.
Garden of Music by Patterson
Home of My Heart by Bennett
The Rhodora by Lighfoot
Come Sing This Round With Me by Martini/Greyson
The Violet by Patterson
Gloria by Sheri Bray
Anything by Laura Farnell
A little more challenging:
And Nature Smiled by Allen Koepke
Exaudi! Laudate! by Patton
Laughing Song by Pfautsch with flute
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day by Rutter
With as many wonderful suggestions you are getting, buying one copy of each would enhance your library for years to come.
on September 20, 2010 8:09pm
HI Sarah,
There are so many great choices however if I had to choose based upon the circumstances you subscribe, I highly suggest "Caledonian's Air," a Scottish Folk Song arr. by James Quitman Mulholland (published currently by Colla Voce Music, Inc. and formerly by Plymouth Music).  The work is from a set of three titled "Three Scottish Folk Songs" and included in a choral series edited by Henry Leck.
Sean M. Burton, DMA
Director of Choral Activities
Briar Cliff University
Sioux City, Iowa
on September 21, 2010 4:35am
Mulholland's setting of Emily Dickenson's poem, Heart, We Will Forget Him  w/ obligatto Horn. I first heard this in a State festival concert accompanied by many audience members sniffing back tears.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 10, 2012 8:09am
Good morning,

Hope all are doing well.

Our junior high didn't have a choir. There was boys' glee, girls' glee, and a small madrigal group. I still have the vinyl albums of our spring concerts from 1972 and 1973. The 1974 concert was recorded on cassette. Listening to the madrigal group on the recordings, I still say was exceptional.

In girls' glee, there are a few pieces that I loved, "Oh, Barbados," "In The Bamboo Wood," "He's Gone Away," and the prayer from, "Hansel And Gretel."

on June 11, 2012 4:40am
Hi Sarah -
Dance On My Heart by Allen Koepke - wonderful text and delightful, accessible writing for SSA voices and piano.
Best wishes,
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 11, 2012 5:59am
If they're still available:
Stuff and Nonsense—3 folksongs arr. Norman Luboff (SSA[A], piano) Walton Music.
Lloyd Pfautsch: St. Bridget (SSA, piano) Lawson Gould/Alfred
arr. Ron Nelson: 3 Mountain Ballads (SSA, piano) (Presser)
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
on June 11, 2012 6:17am
Thanks for reviving this thread. I would have missed it completely.
I'll add two: "Children Go Where I Send Thee" and "Ain't No Grave (Can Hold My Body Down)", both arranged by Caldwell and Ivory. These are fun and challenging. Our church women's ensemble enjoyed both of these. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 11, 2012 7:38am
Might be a little difficult for high school ladies, but Duruflé'sTota Pulchra es from the Quatre Motets is fantastic.  Good luck!
on June 11, 2012 7:52am
Susan Brumfield's "No Time", SSAA, Donald Patriquin's "Ah! Si mon moine voulait danser" SSAA, "You are the New Day," arr. Philip Lawson, SSA.
on June 11, 2012 9:27am
Might I add to the listing:

"My True Love Has My Heart", Butler (Hinshaw)
"Three Mountain Ballads", Nelson (Presser)
"You le Canto todo el dia", Brunner (B&H)

Bob Boyd
Music Education
Northwestern University

on June 11, 2012 11:15am
Dear Sarah,
I've been conducting a female vocal ensemble since 4 years now, in Nantes, France.

The wonderful pieces I've conducted are,
like other members, I agree,
-"Nigra sum" from Pau Casals
-"Tota pulchra es" from Maurice Duruflé is tremendous, a cappella
and, we like very much singing:
"Salve Regina" from  javier Busto a spanish composer a cappella too
and,  very recently,
I discovered a "must of must"
"Esti Dal"  a Kodaly original
from which Boosey and Hawkes published
english lyrics of it
adaptation for SSA  a cappella.
Have a look on youtube:
you look for
Esti Dal  King's Singers
and you'll see a  "paradise moment".

The best
Antoine DESSEN,
french choir director
PS/ If your choir is  good level,
I let you know I've composed
Pater Noster,
with gregorian line, included in 3rd and 4th voices,
it's available
on, but it is not yet a must!!!
on June 12, 2012 1:31pm
"The Violet"  by Mark Patterson-SSA  A magnificant piece for this age group!  A superb text!
on June 13, 2012 4:53am
Check the "Favorite Piece of the Month" feature of Musica International ( !
Since 1998, every month, you find there "THE" piece that avery conductor of the world should take with him (her) to a lonesome island.
The Archives of this feature allow you to find many pieces for SSA chorus, illustrated by sound files, correct pronunciation, full desciption of the score, etc...
on June 13, 2012 5:35am
In jr high, we sang a piece by Gretchaninoff related to griddle cakes. We sang in another language, so not sure of the title - it has been quite a while!
on June 13, 2012 5:50am
I just let you know that.
Like I said,
"Nigra sum" is a very great piece to sing.
I ve maid a
string-quatuor transcription of the accompaniement,
adapting this one for
just for four equal strings. (VI VII Alt Cell)
May-be you should be interested about?
Please, answer and ask, if you want.
on June 13, 2012 8:53am
"Velvet Shoes," Randall Thompson
"Simple Gifts," arr. Hal Hopson
"For the Beauty of the Earth," Rutter
And if you really want a challenge, Debussy's "Salut Printemps" (you will need a virtuoso pianist). I have seen it available in English as "We Sing to Spring," but it is much more beautiful in French.
on June 14, 2012 6:02am
The Snow by Elgar. It is one of my all time favorite pieces. Your students will love it as well. You need two violinists.


Applauded by an audience of 1
on June 15, 2012 5:35am
Since no one else has mentioned it yet:
Four Russian Peasant Songs, Igor Stravinsky.  
Dale Warland lists them among the best pieces of the 20th century, not just the best among women's choir music.  They're a capella, and I've done them with high school singers with great success.  Definitely a must-do!
On the other hand, the Rachmaninoff Six Choruses are accompanied, which is sometimes easier.  If you don't buy a lot of SSA music, this might be a good solution so you don't have to invest in rep you might not use again: download them and photocopy as many as you need for just $10 before Saturday afternoon.   (Sorry--I know it seems like a shameless plug, but I do think it could help you!)  
on June 15, 2012 8:48am
Dear All:
       Maybe I missed it in someone else's list, but one of my perennial SSA favorites is "A Girl's Garden", from the Frostiana set, composed by Randall Thompson... Doable with M.S. and H.S. choir, and even down to 5th Grade Choir... Great piece for working on diction...
Ronald Isaacson
'Germantown, Md.
on June 15, 2012 10:50am
Sacred pieces I've found to be very successful with high school treble choruses, all accompanied.
Two lyric pieces:
Psalm 23-Z. Randall Stroope (with flute and oboe)
View Me, Lord, a Work of Thine-Jackson Berkey
Three accessible contemporary (not Pop!) pieces:
Cantate Domino Rupert Lang
Sanctus-Benedictus from Mass No. 6 György Orbán
Alleluia-Charles Callahan
Two gospels (in addition to the Caldwell/Ivory pieces above):
This is the Day-Gerald T. Smith
The Storm Is Passing Over-arr. Barbara Baker
Carol settings:
Ding Dong Merrily on High-arr. Stephen Mager
The First Noel-Dan Forrest 
Christmas extended works:
Ceremony of Carols-Britten, of course.
Dancing Day-Rutter
Larger work
Place of the Blest-Randall Thompson (N.B. extract "The Pelican")
Missa Brevis-Britten
Quasi Pop-folk/world
Stand Together-Jim Paupoulis
Adiemus-Carl Jenkins
Scott Dean
Director of Music and Worship
First Pres. Church of Bellevue, WA
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