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Looking for "Fairy Tales for ADULTS" - program ideas ...

I'm starting to consider a theme/program for our spring 2014 concert (yes, over a year away ... ).  I've been playing with the idea of "fairy tales for adults" -- settings of (possibly) nursery rhymes and/or narratives about/from fairy tales suitable for a very good 35- to 40-voice SATB adult chamber choir.  
I'm looking for sophisticated music here -- we've done Shafer's "A Medieval Bestiary," Matthew Harris's Shakespeare Songs, the George Shearing Shakespeare set, etc.  That's the level of difficulty I'm looking for.  Divisi is fine, complex meters OK, wandering tonality (within reason) great.  Accompanied (piano, small ensemble - not more than 3-4 instruments) or a cappella: either will work for us.  A number of our members are soloists, so works that feature some solo opportunities are fine as well.
I've checked the "Resources" section here, and there's one entry for "Fairy Tales" -- several 2-part SA suggestions, which would be fine if we were a children's chorus, but not so much for a more adanced adult group.
Any ideas / suggestions / ??  (and yes, new material / new composers would be perfectly fine -- just take care that what you're offering matches the above criteria, OK?)
Lana Mountford
Ass't Conductor
Cantaré Vocal Ensemble
Seattle, WA
on December 13, 2012 2:12pm
Hi Lana!
Would music with text from/inspired from The Lord of the Rings work for You?
I have some of thouse - I would need some time to get them translated since they are written in swedish.
I could send You the swedish versions right away though just to look through.
If You would like to jumpstart in getting some idea of how my music sound then please go listen on my Youtube channel.
I suggest You should listen to the first (a bit underrehearsed) performance of A Choirmaster's Burial - that one might match Your criterias too.
All the Best
on December 13, 2012 3:30pm
Lana:  Neat idea, although I'm not sure there ARE any adult fairy tales unless you admit fantasy stories.
But what comes immediately to mind is something choral from Humperdinck's "Hansel und Gretel."  I don't know the opera well enough to know whether there ARE any good choral numbers, but it certainly fits your criteria.
All the best,
on December 14, 2012 4:05am
I'm currently working on a pair of folksongs for an adult choir in Leicester, called "Two Scots Monsters" - they probably count as fairy tales, though new ones rather than existing ones. Email me in the new year and I should have them completed by then - I may be able to make a more challenging arrangement.
on December 14, 2012 6:19am
Don't know if this meets the criteria you're looking for but what about
Lambscapes by Eric Barnes - Shawnee Press?
on December 14, 2012 6:21am
Another thought -
the music from "Into the Woods." This musical is all about Fairy Tales and it is definetly for the adult audience.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 14, 2012 7:22am
Hi there! I hope you'll take a look at my setting of Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat", for SATB and guitar or piano. It's published by Yelton Rhodes Music. Here's a link to this piece, including an MP3, in their catalog:
Here's a link to more info about the piece on my web site:
All best!
Jonathan Santore
on December 14, 2012 8:39am
There's a fun version of the Three Little Pigs I've sung before.  Sorry I can't give you more info; that's all I remember.  It's definately adult level.
on December 14, 2012 8:52am
You should listen to several short a cappella numbers from my complete setting of Wm. Blake's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience." Descriptions, scores, and some sound files are on my website here:
In particular these:
Motto to the Songs of I & E
Ironic tangled-canonic Conundrum, lively and rhythmic. Subject: Killing the fairies and elves; the twisting of human nature as we mature--'til the Eagle is known from the Owl.
The Little Girl Lost/Found (Lyca)
Varied Story Madrigal, moderate speed. Subject: A lost girl, symbolic nature rescue—by the lion! Snoring section in the middle.
The Little Boy Lost/Found
Worried Melodrama, restlessly moving, rhythmic. Subject: A little boy lost in the night marsh, rescued by his Father.
Tyger Tyger Burning Bright
Sharp Paean, lively, rhythmic, fierce, finally dire. Subject: Fearsome nature.
Piping down the Valleys Wild
Cheery, playful Madrigal, lively and rhythmic, big Disney end. Subject: A child on a cloud gives the Poet inspiration to write songs for children. Solo whistling intro.
Sweet Prayer, moderate speed. Subject: Angels protecting us from wild beasts while we sleep, lion lies down with lamb.
I publish in inexpensive .pdf.
Please let me know off-list if any are of interest, and best of luck with your program concept!
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor
Special Citation Winner, American Prize 2012/Orchestral Composition
ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Choral Repertoire of Outstanding Quality
Santa Monica
on December 14, 2012 10:49am
Hi Lana:
I have set two nursery rhymes by Ann and Jane Taylor, "The Star" (which is the source of "twinkle twinkle") and "The Baby's Dance".  Each setting is done in two voicings: SATB a cappella and SATB with piano.  Each runs around 3:30.  They are fairly challenging.
I would be happy to send you pdf's for perusal along with mp3's of the Finale playout (or in the case of "Baby's Dance" an a cappella performance.)
Bob Applebaum
on December 14, 2012 12:25pm
I'm about to do a program of fairy tale based music.  in our case it's a professional choir, so diffciultly wasn't really too much of a consideration (and our audience is pretty adventurous, too).  We decided to do three larger works:  Schumann's Rose Pilgerfahrt (a delightful hour long fairy tale in the style of Schumann's Lieder, requiring a very good pianist; it includes a fair amount of solo writing, and also 'character pieces' like a hunting chorus and a wedding chorus);  David Lang's little match-girl passion (so beautiful; we're doing the version for 4 solo singers who play percussion, but there's a choral version too); and Bo Holten's Rain and Rush and Rosebush (fairly virtuosic a cappella choral writing, with a very virtuosic soprano solo, but very beautiful, on a text by Hans Christian Anderson)
There's a wonderful new work for recorder and choir on a fairy-tale text (Hans Christian Anderson again, perhaps)recorded by Stephen Layton (with Michaela Petri playing recorder) that I loved but haven't seen a score to - its called The Nightingale, and is by Ugis Praulins.
Wolf's Feuerreiter (again quite difficult, especially for the pianist) is a wonderful ghost-story I've considered programming for a fairy tale concert.
These may be too serious for the program you're considering, but I love these pieces so much and they're mostly not so well-known, so I thought I'd throw them out there (if only for people to listen to!)
Andrew Megill
Artistic Director, Fuma Sacra
(and Westminster Choir College, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Masterwork Chorus and Carmel Bach Festival)
PS On a more accessible front, there are also some fairy-tale cantatas by Rutter that are perhaps more accessible (The Reluctant Dragon, Brother Heinrich's Christmas). 
on December 14, 2012 8:23pm
Kentaro Sato, an Irish lullaby (SATB a cappella). It is not difficult material, but it tells how Ireland came to be.
on December 14, 2012 8:59pm
There's a setting of the Jabberwocky story from Lewis Carol's Through the Looking Glass that's a great piece of music. I'd be willing to classify Carol's work as kind of a fairy tale.
Also, there's at least one choral medley from "Into the Woods" out there, perhaps even some stand alone choral arrangements from the show (I know there's one of "No One is Alone" and I think there's one of the title song).
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 14, 2012 9:00pm
Not fairy tales, per se, but you might try New Zealand composer David Hamilton's "The Dragons Are Singing Tonight" - delightful, and very appealing to audiences!  David's probably got other stuff he could suggest - you could contact him through ChoralNet.
on December 15, 2012 5:17am
Irving Fine did a number of choral works with texts from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.  Not fairy tales but certainly whimsical... my personal favorites include:
Father William
The White Knights Song
Beautiful Soup
The Lobster Quadrille
Much of Fine's cataloque is being re-issued by Boosey & Hawkes if my memory serves correctly.  The original publisher was, I think, G. Schirmer.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on December 15, 2012 6:42am
I was once in a similar-sized choral group and we did a concert version of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe", which is all about fairies and Parliament.  We performed it with a local orchestra, but I'm sure you could find a piano score.
on December 15, 2012 10:57am
Hi, Lana -- 
This sounds like fun.  I'd offer an SATB a cappella arrangement of "Frog went a-courtin'" that I just completed, and that will be premiered by Ensemble Companio in March 2013.  Harmonically, it is not difficult, but there are a couple of brief meter changes.  It would be a good exercise in storytelling through music for any choir, and I think it'd fit your program exactly.  It's about four minutes long.  
I began work on it while taking part in a weeklong composition workshop at the home of Alice Parker -- she is one of the dedicatees, actually, and she oversaw my work on the first few verses.
Please send me a message if you're interested, and I'd be happy to send you a perusal .pdf.
All the best,
Joseph Gregorio
on December 18, 2012 6:17am
Check out 'The True Story of Cinderella' by Warren Martin.  I've performed it and it's quite funny.
It's available for rental from Westminster Choir College's library.  See
on December 28, 2012 9:12am
 I just came across 2 Hyperion Records discs on Shakespeare yesterday-one is for vocal tenor songs; the other for female voice. I'd also suggest selections from the Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, & Nutcracker-in a sense they are fairy tales. I like A Midsummer Night's Dream by Mendelssohn. Humperdink has his opera Hansel & Gretal-may be too heavy. There's Peter & the Wolf too.
on February 18, 2013 9:11am
here is a program from a recent concert with a professional choir (26 singers)
Once upon a time
  1. Grieg    Morning Mood from Peer Gynt (arranged by myself, for choir and recorder)
  2. Brahms   Drei Gesänge
  3. Giacomin    The man and the Echo (commission)
  4. Gjeilo     Unicornis Captivatur
  5. Holten   Regn og Rusk og Rosenbusk (in english, original in Danish, there is as well a German version)
  6. Praulins   The nightingale (with recorder)
hope that gives some more ideas
on February 18, 2013 3:30pm
Check out John Rutter's Fancies and 5 Childhood lyrics.
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