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Contemporary Choral Music

I'm looking for some unusual, contemporary (20th/21st century) choral music for treble voices.  It's easy to get lulled to sleep with all of the beautiful melodies and lyrics for girls, but I'd like something out-of-the-ordinary that would stand out at our spring concert.  3 or 4 part treble, medium to medium-advanced level is ideal.  
Thanks for your help!
Replies (37): Threaded | Chronological
on November 7, 2011 7:50pm
There are many wonderful works for treble voices, of varying lengths and difficulties by the Estonian composer, Veljo Tormis.  See his website for titles organized according to voicing.  Estonian uses the Latin alphabet and is easy to sing in--lots of vowels, like Italian.  But quite a few of his scores include English singing translations.  I stongly prefer the original language--but some prefer the English texts.  I can't dig out my scores at this minute, but if you'll send me some titles I'll be glad to give you more info re level of difficulty, mood, etc.
on November 7, 2011 8:07pm
I'll suggest these pieces of mine which are 'not just a pretty tune"
MOONPLAY  for  SSA, marimba & flute
SKYE BOAT SONG for ssa and piano
AD AMORE for SSAA and unpitched bells
all Boosey & Hawkes, all appropriate for HS women, recordings e-mailed upon request
Lee Kesselman
on May 12, 2014 5:29pm
Lee, thank you for these great suggestions.  I ended up programming "Ad Amore" for this spring and the girls are really enjoying it; it will be our concert opener.  Can't wait!
on November 7, 2011 9:13pm
Hi Karyn,
let's have a look at my pieces:
Have a nice day and enjoy my music,
music composer
on November 7, 2011 11:33pm
May I point out this one of mine, performed in 3 continents already: Music available via the Iceland Music Information Centre itm(a) if you're interested.  
Hildigunnur Rúnarsdóttir
on November 8, 2011 4:54am
Mark Sirrett:  Song of Angels
Very cool.
on November 8, 2011 5:02am
Rosetta is a piece that begins in three parts and then goes to four. It is medium advanced and features two tonalities, three simultaneous meters and three faux languages. It is guaranteed that you will have nothing else like it on your concert. Contact me directly if interested. Here is a clip:
on November 8, 2011 5:21am
Tjak - Stephen Hatfield
Las Amarillas - Stephen Hatfield
selections from Songbooks - John Cage (the ones that are actually sung are quite interesting!)
The works published (and premiered) by YPC for Boosey and Hawkes in the Transient Glory series are very diverse and include composers Michael Torke, Bright Sheng, Samuel Adler etc. - writing for treble voices.  Often lots of divisi but well worth it.
John Cage - Ear for Ear - although "pretty" to the ear, it is really interesting to work on - I performed with a small group in call/response style around a room and it was really evocative.
Walter Thompson - Soundpainting 41402
Pseudo-Yoik Lite (SSAA version) Mäntyjärvi
Three Heavens and Hells - Meredith Monk
Have fun!
on November 8, 2011 5:28am
on November 8, 2011 6:02am
I cordially invite you to consider my piece "Riding a Carousel" (2009).  SSAA, a cappella, interesting voice parts that enable each voice to shine, up tempo, meaningful lyrics, and temporarily FREE to download and make as many copies as your choir requires.  PDF and mp3 available here:  under the SSAA tab.  (You might also consider "One, Two, Three, Dance With Me" (2011).)
Thanks for considering it (them), and best wishes for a wonderful concert!
on November 8, 2011 6:53am
Please have a look at the list of my available choral pieces on my ChoralNet page. For treble choir you will find:
"Hodie, Christus natus est"  SSAAA 3:05, composed in 1982 as SSA, later revised to SSAAA, difficult - moderato, first performed by the Harvard University Choir, formerly published by Concordia
Magnificat in F SSAA 6:35, difficult, begun in Copenhagen summer 1994 - finished in Key West March 21, 2006, difficult - moderate allegro 
Peace SSAA 4:10, a setting of Henry Vaughan's  1622-1695 famous poem: "My soul, there is a countrie, far beyond the stars---", difficult - perhaps very difficult, brisk tempo
Trees SSAA version of original SATB, 3:10, composed January 1, 2006, setting of very famous poem by Joyce Kilmer 1886-1918, fairly easy
"How they brought the good news by sea, SA divisi, 2:00, Christmas poem by Norma Farber 1909-1984, composed in Canberra - March 1982, first performed by the Radcliffe Choral
Society under Beverly Taylor, subsequently performed dozens of times in concert over the years by the girls choirs of Klaus Lyngbye, music director of Søllerød Kirke near Copenhagen,
included on CDs by both the RCS and Klaus Lyngbye, formerly published by Concordia, always very popular with audiences, only moderately challenging.
If any of these titles interest, I will send you a few pages in PDF.  Thanks for your interest, James Johnson ASCA: 1551618 
on November 8, 2011 7:12am
Hello, Karyn,
I would offer you two serious works for trebles, 4 part. Not easy but very rewarding. Here are descriptions:
Do You Believe in Angels?
brief S1 solo
6 violns, 2 violas
Ecstatic, transcendently beautiful, melodious and harmonically rich setting for older children's or treble chorus and high strings. Original non-sectarian, non-religious poem by the composer on the phenomenon of angelic encounters and the common images of both light and dark angels. Bright start, dark energetic middle, luminous ending.Colorful, evocative string scoring. P/V score gives organ reduction.

Where You Go, I Will Go   13'
SSAA a cappella, brief S, A solos
A mini-oratorio on the story of Ruth and Naomi. Dramatic, expressive, epic-narrative style, tender ending. Commissioned by Chris Rhodes, Santa Monica HS
It has been performed successfully by both high school and professional choirs, and should be accessible for your group. You can listen to it here:
And here is a strange short one:
The Angel
SSA a cappella 3'
Wm. Blake
Mysterious, slow-fast-slow Melodrama. Subject: Aging womanhood and love, depicted in a dream.
Please let me know off-list if you would like to see  complimentary perusal scores.
I publish it in .pdf with an inexpensive photocopy license.
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor
2402 4th St. No. 5, Santa Monica CA 90405
310-480-9525 cell 310-392-2641 Home/Fax
on November 8, 2011 8:04am
Hi Karyn:
You might like to look at two settings of May Swenson poems, Speed and Summer's Bounty, each for SSAA.  I would be happy to send you pdf's of these scores for perusal.  You can access recordings of the pieces at  (scroll down to the nearly the bottom of the list of recordings).
Two easier pieces for SA and piano might be of interest.  They are published by E.C. Schirmer:  Bah! Wilderness! Recipe for Fishing (6119) and Bah! Wilderness! Walking in the Woods (6121).  SATB and piano versions of these pieces can be viewed and heard at the above link, near the top of the list of recordings.  (The SA and piano versions have the same original texts and piano parts.)
Bob Applebaum
on November 8, 2011 9:50am
Hi Karyn,
Please check out a piece of mine that is very different (in a good way!) SSAA w/piano titled "Upon Julia's Voice" published by Alliance Music......the text is beautiful (Robert Herrick) and the melody is unique and haunting....the harmonic treatment shifts and the vocal parts really compliment each other and the lyric.  I performed this with the Minnesota All-State Women's Choir a few years ago and they really sang it may hear it on YouTube (Minnesota All-State Women's Choir Vijay Singh music).  We also premiered a new work by Jocelyn Hagen called "Joy" that is wonderful (also on YouTube) and now published....SSA, piano, and violin.  If you are looking for something humorous, check out my "Johnny Said No!" (Heritage Music) and SSA a cappella.  Good luck!
on June 14, 2014 10:14am
Karyn, do check out Vijay's " Johnny Said No". I've used it for concerts and festival and it's great fun! Opportunity for a bit of acting, too.
i have to say I've done quite a few of his pieces and they're always top notch.
on November 8, 2011 10:48am
Hi Karyn,
I suggest you give this a try:  Hotaru Koi, a traditional Japanese song arranged by Ro Ogura.  It's three SSA, a cappella, and sounds best with young voices, and it's a great piece for teaching concentration!  A terrific performance song.  Publisher is Theordore Presser Company.  You can listen to samples on Youtube. 
Cheers, Dianne Smith
on November 8, 2011 6:09pm
Please consider the following zippy composition.

Psalm 117 - (English, Translation by the composer) - SSAA - 2000 - ECS Publishing # 5776. Please visit the following URL to hear a really good performance.

Thank you for your consideration.

on November 8, 2011 6:55pm
Ave Maria- David McIntyre
Salve Regina- Javier Busto
See the Gipsies & Mountain Nights- Kodaly
Salmo 150- Aguiar
Tyger, Tyger- my composition, free download on
on November 9, 2011 3:01pm
An exciting work by Aaron Copland that fits the bill: An Immorality - treble and piano.  Here's a youtube link
Good luck,
on November 9, 2011 3:06pm
Karyn, we found and used something last summer that was lively and uplifting. 
  Nothin' Gonna Stumble My Feet SSA - John Parker
Hope that helps. 
on November 9, 2011 3:51pm
Wow!!  This is a treasure-trove of information.  Thank you so much everybody for your ideas.  I can't wait to look at and listen to this music.
What a resource you all are, don't know what I'd do without choralnet and ACDA!  
on November 9, 2011 6:23pm
Hi Karyn,
I am very fond of Emma Lou Diemers Music
John Rondeau, Dir. Of Music, The First Congregational Church of Dudley
Dudley, Massachusetts 01571
on November 9, 2011 7:44pm
Hi Karyn,
I've written one that might be unusual enough to tempt you:
Song of Perfect Propriety, text by Dorothy Parker, c. 4 minutes, published by earthsongs
For more information, see my webite:
All best,
Carol Barnett
on November 10, 2011 7:43am
Hi Karyn,
I have composed a piece for SSA (divisi) Choir with Vibraphone and Crotales.  This work moves into space with creative sounds and barlines disappear.........
Denice Rippentrop
on November 10, 2011 8:16am
Dear Karyn,
There is a new setting of the Magnificat, by Richard Toensing, for four-part women’s choir and harp. It is a unique blend of the Christian East and West traditions and a wonderful alternative to Britten's A Ceremony of Carols.
Listen to the Magnificat, performed by In Mulieribus,
Magnificat, Richard Toensing, Part 1,
Magnificat, Richard Toensing, Part 2,
From the East comes the form of the work: verses alternating with the refrain “More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, thou who without stain didst bear God the Word, and art truly Theotokos (bearer of God), we magnify thee,” and also some of the musical material, borrowing scalar structures of some of the Greco-Byzantine modes.
From the West comes the tradition of singing the Magnificat in Latin and accompanying the voices with an instrument. The musical language is Toensing’s - even the Greco-Byzantine material is passed through the "filter" of his personal melodic and harmonic style, creating a work which he intends to be both reverential and joyous.
To review a score of the Magnificat on approval, please contact me at janetbraccio(a)
Let me know if you have questions.
Janet Braccio
Bella Voce Communications
on November 10, 2011 10:56am
Dear Karyn:
Two of my pieces that are really "out there" and very audience friendly are: TRAIN, and ON THE BRINK. Both are for SSAA + recorded accompaniment. They're listed here:
I'd be happy to send you program notes and mp3's if you're interested.
on November 12, 2011 8:36am
My Coyote for three treble voices, with text from the Pima indians, is wild like a coyote, involves a little controlled ad lib for spice, is well received (in my experience—one notable performance was at the Bang on a Can Marathon at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center), and can be heard at:
Although so far it's only been performed by 3 solo singers, it would work for chorus, or maybe chorus with some solos from chorus members. If you're interested, I'd be happy to discuss how to arrange it for your singers.
You might also like Zae Munn's Grandma's Alleluia.
on November 15, 2011 1:17pm
Karyn -
I had a brief look at your replies, and did not see a reference to Transient Glories, the series of choral works commissioned and premiered by The Young People's Chorus of New York.  You will find many interesting pieces there, all listed on the YPC website.  Happy Hunting!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on November 15, 2011 1:45pm
Please check out the following choral compositions -
they can be sung with treble voices SSAA or with mixed voices SATB...
If you like further information and the scores
please contact - office(a)
* Yona ma (Prayer of Mother Earth)
* THE SPIRIT OF THE DRUM (The mystical story of rhythm)
* Ha Ha HA (Laugh ...)
Lorenz Maierhofer
on November 16, 2011 5:41am
Hello Karyn!
Please take some minutes to check out my homepage - there are a lot of pieces for SSAA there.
on November 17, 2011 6:42am
Hi Karyn,
Do you have access to a grand piano that you could take the lid off of? If so, I have written a setting of the prayer Hail Mary for SSA. The ensemble projects their voices into the piano strings which creates a resonance. It works well in a lively acoustic.
Maryanne Rumancik
on May 13, 2014 8:37am
Our girls had a lot of fun preparing "Ergen Deda" arranged by Peter Lyondev. Let's the girls really sing in an unconventional way and incorporates a lot of dissonance. If they can handle it, it's a great piece!
on May 14, 2014 8:20pm
Greetings Karyn,
I invite you to check out two of my treble chorus pieces on my website.
Amulet, a powerful, pithy poem by noted American poet Barbara Goldberg, in a setting for SSA (some divisi on parts) and The Jumblies (SSA + piano), a setting of the delightful poem by Edward Lear. The former was commissioned by NY Treble Chorus, the latter by the Peninsula Women's Chorus.
All the Best,
Judith Shatin
on May 16, 2014 3:59am
Look at my SPARROW.  Here are links to a perusal score and a sound file. 
on June 12, 2014 9:04am
May I propose Kurt Erickson's O Magnum Mysterium, which was commissioned by the San Francisco Girl's chorus?  It's about four and a half minutes long and absolutely beautiful.  Click the link to listen and view a complete, full-screen perusal score.
on June 13, 2014 6:28am
Persichetti wrote some interesting works for treble chorus that are worth giving a serious look: Spring Cantata; Winter Cantata; sam was a man; Jimmie's got a goil; and Four Cummings Choruses;. All of which (I believe) are published by Presser.
Another great work by Zae Munn is "The Muse, the Stove, and the Willow Plate," which you could either perform as a set or as individual pieces. Interesting and sometimes humorous texts set very well. They are published by Earthsongs.
Good luck!
on June 13, 2014 6:28am
Good stuff on here! (I'd especially second the Aguiar Salmo 150--Great lively piece) I can only think of a couple more things to offer:
David Lang's "I Live in Pain" is a strong and restless, different, but accessible. (So is "I Lie," but it might be more lyrical than you're looking for--it's absolutely not the pretty-melody kind of piece I know you're talking about here, but it is hypnotic in that Lang kind of way...)
Check out Libby Larsen--I know she has a lot of treble music ("She piped for us" is a good concert closer), and her webpage has audio samples of her music for women's chorus.
Good luck!
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