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Favorite Women's Choir repertoire?

Hello all, 
Do any of you forum readers have "to die for" pieces for Women's Choir? My colleagues and I are in the midst of compiling our next Women's Choir program, and rep suggestions would be appreciated! I know this inquiry seems quite general, but as we already have plenty of ensemble-appropriate lists to peruse, I'm really just interested in your absolute favorite pieces to conduct and/or sing in a female ensemble. Our choir is a developing collegiate women's group of approximately 50 voices, and the program will be varied so any genre is fair game, as long as you love the piece. I'm particularly interested in pieces (or composers with works for Women's Choir) that clearly have the female voice in mind. Thanks in advance for sharing!
- Sarah Bowe
University of Massachusetts Amherst (MM '15)
Replies (19): Threaded | Chronological
on October 10, 2012 10:21pm
Dear Sarah:
To die for?  How about three excerpts from my Amherst Requiem?  This
piece, which recently won the American Prize in Choral Composition, mixes
poems of your hometown gal Emily Dickinson with the Latin Mass for the Dead.
These three excerpts are
     •I shall keep singing!  SSA plus harp (or piano).  Published by William Thorpe.
You can visit here to see bits of the score and hear a recording.  For a complete
recording, hunt for Voices of Hope and Peace, a recording by the San Francisco
Girls Chorus.  (It's on Itunes.)  
     •Pie Jesu  SSA plus horn (or cello).  (Includes the Emily Dickinson poem
Ample make this bed.)  Published by Santa Barbara: score and recording samples
are here.  I can send you a complete recording.
     •In paradisum  SSA plus piano (or piano and harp).  (includes the poem
Tie the strings to my Life, My lord)  Not in print, but I can send a score and
If you care to see the complete score of Amherst Requiem (and hear a recording)
let me know.  
Let me suggest another piece, Let Evening Come, my setting of Jane Kenyon's
great poem.  Also published by William Thorpe.  A performance by the Peninsula
Women's Chorus may be heard here.  I want this music sung at my funeral, 
preferably not right away.
Brian Holmes
on October 11, 2012 4:41am
Hi Sarah, 
I have a few for you: 
Gaudete arr. by Michael Englehart- Walton Music
Song Gatherings- Eric Tuan (this is a manuscript and if you contact me I will email you his information)
The Eyes of all Wait upon Thee- Smith
Ngana- Stepen Leek- Morton Music
How like a Winter hath my absence been- Matthew Harris
Ave Maria - Eleanor Daley- Alliance
My son, Jake  is a sophomore there at UMass. You don't by chance know him do you?
Best of luck,
Bruce Lengacher
Acalanes High School
Lafayette, CA
on October 11, 2012 5:33am
Hello Sarah
I have been putting the finishing touches to an SSAA arrangement of The Salley Gardens, an Irish folksong whose text was re-worked by the poet Yeats,  It's not 'simple', i.e. it would require an experienced choir.  It has not yet been sung, not even by my own choir.  So you could have a premier.  If interested let me know and I can let you have a pdf for perusal.  Naturally I think it's 'to die for'.  :-)
David Monks
Le Choeur d'Alzonne
on October 11, 2012 7:26am
I think my favorite pairing I have done for women's voices is "Prayer of the Children" by Kurt Bestor followed by "I Dream a World" by Joan Szymko (Santa Barabara publishing)
Other pieces that I have conducted that women's choirs have loved are:
Blessing - Katie Moran Bart SSA Kjos Publishing
Music Down in My Soul - Moses Hogan SSAA
A La Media Noche - Joan Szymko Santa Barbara Publishing
Barter - Rene Clausen Santa Barbara Publishing SSA
Wir Eilen mit schwachen - J.S. Bach SA
Te Deum - Antonio Sacchini (he is a Classical composer and I have only found a score through cpdl or imslp) SSA
Dance on My Heart - Allen Koepke SSA
Gloria in excelsis Deo - Jackson Berkey SSAA
Lift Thine Eyes - Mendelssohn SSA
Dravidian Dithyramb - I can't remember the composer, but it can be found through Earthsongs SSAA
Go Down Moses - Mark Hayes SSA
Kyrie from Mass in C Minor - Imant Raminsh SSA
Mary Speaks - Daniel Gawthrop SSAA
What Child - Paul Lohman SSA
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 11, 2012 11:24am
You mentioned several of my favorites already - Blessing, Music Down in my Soul and Dance on my heart are wonderful.  I can also add
Ding a Ding a Ding - Greg Gilpin
Ave Maria - Imant Raminsh
Johnny Said No - Vijay Singh
Seal Lullaby (SSA version) Eric Whitacre
Ripple Effect (Stephen Hatfield) is AMAZING!
on October 11, 2012 8:19am
Take a look at/listen to Mary Jane Leach's music. She has written a lot of difficult but truly sublime music for women's voices. Much of it has been performed by the New York Treble singers.
You might also consider my Coyote for 3 treble voices, on a Pima text, wild and unusual, a big hit with singers and audiences, which I had the pleasure of performing at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center to great enthusiasm. You can listen to a recording at and contact me for a perusal copy.
best wishes,
Anna Dembska
on October 11, 2012 11:20am
Anything by Gwenyth Walker.
on October 13, 2012 4:55am
Especially Crossing the Bar and Love is a Rain of Diamonds by Gwenyth Walker - amazing!! 
on October 11, 2012 4:50pm
These have been favorites for my high school women's choirs:
Hello, Girls,  arr. Pfautsch, Lawson Gould, SSA
Think On Me, Gilpin, Shawnee Press, SSA
Sound The Trumpet, Purcell/Erb, Lawson Gould, SA
Alleluja from Exsultate, jubilate, Mozart/Riegger, Harold Flammer, SA
Best of luck,
on October 11, 2012 5:54pm
Sato's "Veni Sancte Spiritus" would be 
These are organ version YouTube.
1, 2, 3, 4
Orchestra version YouTube.
1, 2, 3, 4
And there is piano version too.
His a cappella mass for female choir is also beatiful.
Also, I do love female choir version of Dirait-on by Lauridsen.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 12, 2012 1:24pm
Hi, Sarah,
Even though I'm a choral publisher, I write here not specifically to plug Musica Russica's publications, but simply to draw your attention to a few extraordinary pieces for women's chorus that may not be at the tip of everyone's tongue.
Georgy Sviridov - Sing Me that Song (on a poem by Sergei Yesenin - so soulful, it will melt the hardest heart)
Yuri Yukechev - My Heart Is Ready (an 8-movement cantata, about 28 minutes in length, on texts from the Psalms)
and, of course, there's Tchaikovsky's classic women's lament, Without Time or Season
Audio Diction Guides are available for all Musica Russica's titles to help you and your singers negotiate the Russian, which is a very singable language once you decide that, Yes, we can really do this!
Vlad Morosan
on October 12, 2012 1:37pm
Hi Sarah,
You might try my Song of Perfect Propriety, commissioned by the Cornell University Chorus, text by Dorothy Parker, c. 4 minutes long, published by earthsongs.  Several renditions are available on YouTube.  Here's the link to earthsongs:
Thanks for looking, and good luck with your search,
Carol Barnett
on October 13, 2012 1:09pm
on October 13, 2012 6:40pm
Touch base with Dr. Iris Levine, who conducts Vox Femina in Los Angeles. She knows all the 'ins and outs' of women's rep! I'm sure her group has a website.....
on October 14, 2012 12:44pm
Hi Sarah!
Please take a few moments to listen to this:
It´s been recorded 6 times and been performed in several countries in Europe, in the USA and will be perfirmed at least in Peru and germany this vinter.
Best regards
Mårten Jansson
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 15, 2012 7:06am
 Am forwarding PDF of "No worst there is none ,Pitched past pitch of grief.."(J.M.Hopkins)  set for SSAAAA in 1940 by Harold Brown
Gloomy but profound, requires great intonation and pure tone.
on October 15, 2012 7:32am
Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down - Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory 
Living In A Holy City - Stephen Hatfield
Bridge Over Troubled Water - arranged by Kirby Shaw
Best of luck, you have some wonderful options!
Rose Nagy
on October 15, 2012 8:21am
You've probably already thought of this, but "The Snow" (Elgar) is a classic and is wonderful for women's voices. I would also highly encourage you to check out Ola Gjeilo's "Tundra." It is truly "to die for." I'm working on both of these works with my women's choir right now!
Karen Marrolli
on October 15, 2012 2:44pm
Dear Sarah,
If you have a harpist, (or a very fine pianist available) I hope you will look at Set III of Holst's "Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda", Opus 26.  There are four wonderful choruses in this opus, and each one is a gem of the repertoire. 
I would also suggest "Sweet and Low" from Holst's Opus 20 A--Songs from "The Princess".  It is an SSAA choir/SSAA echo choir, and if you have the room to perform it, it is memorable if you can separate the two choirs--even at opposite ends of the room!  Lovely. 
Bob Boyd
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