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In search of avant garde SATB acapella for collegiate student-run choir

Hello everyone, 

Im part of a student acapella choir that sings strictly acapella music. Some of our past repertoire includes Nox Aurumque - Whitacre, Abendlied by Rheinberger, Witness - Stacey Gibbs, Distance cant keep us two apart - Chen Yi, Long Road by Eriks Esenvaldsand. To get an idea of our sound here's Sleep by Whitacre ...... I think I would call this trendy choral music that everyone does and can be a showstopper if done correctly. Some of these were also presented at past ACDA events. 

Unfortunately we've lost a lot of members and are now a 14 person group with 3 sopranos, 3 altos, 3 tenors, 2 baritones, 3 basses. (we might have more members as these next few weeks pass by).. We are looking for innovative music in any language to learn and audition for an ACDA event coming up next school year. 

These are somethings I came across so far and would like things similar to this:

ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated, we recently found Ubi Caritas by Durufle and some songs about Frogs? We can do it all just as long as the parts don't call for heavy division 

Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on March 4, 2013 3:07am
If you're looking for this sort of repertoire, you really need to find a term that isn't "avant garde" - "trendy" above is a better way of putting it, I'm afraid. These are arrangements of traditional-sounding songs with a bit of added-note harmony. "avant garde" means things like Stockhausen's "Stimmung" or Giles Swayne's "Cry" - using advanced vocal techniques, often atonality, maybe electronics, pushing the edge of what's possible with human voices.
That said, I think this piece might work well for your group - 4 people per part would be ideal, but with 3-3-4-4 it would work fairly well (the tenor part isn't too high for baritones, nor is the bass part too low). 
The "free" singing (each singer takes a simple phrase and repeats it independently over a set period of time) is something that was a little bit avant-garde maybe twenty years ago, but it's not been done much and still retains an element of surprise.
Email me if you'd like to order some copies - chris(a)
Chris Hutchings
on March 4, 2013 8:38am
Thank you so much for your suggestion! And thanks so much for bringing up the extended vocal technique thing, that's exactly what I meant by avant garde! I want something unheard of, unworldly, haunting with nonconventional use of color. In the end a piece that will leave the audience members saying "whoa what did I just hear? Stuff like that exists!?"
on March 6, 2013 3:29am
My Christmas piece "Balulalow" might also be of interest then, having got a similar reaction to that when it was performed in Aberdeen (see under December 2012 news at, so it may well be up your street:
If you fancy something a bit more challenging (rather less tonally fixed) you might also enjoy Speravi In Te:
Again, email me if you'd like to order copies - I can do a discount if you're ordering more than one piece. Prices start at £20 for a PDF, and you can print as many copies as you need.
on March 8, 2013 4:31am
Forgot to add, recordings of the above:
Have a listen and let me know what you think.
on March 4, 2013 4:49am
Arvo part's solfeggio is easy, and weird.  It does present some tuning issues, but it's good fun, and a wonderful teaching tool if used wisely. 
There is also  Veniki, веники (Feodoisy Rubtsov) which may be more what you're looking for. 
on March 4, 2013 6:24am
Going along with Chris' point, it does sound like you are looking for a more up-beat rollicking piece, instead of avant-garde. The King's Singers have a lot of great folk or pop arrangements--like Larmorna:
Slightly off the upbeat path, what about Gyorgy Orban's "Daemon Irrepit Callidus"?
At any rate, check out my setting of Psalm 150 in Spanish! It's fast and rhythmic:
If you do want something avant-garde, I have a piece that is a reworking of Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus". All the musical materials are directly from Mozart, but reimagined in some of the avant-garde techniques from the mid-20th century such as clusters, asynchronous singing, speaking, etc.:
Your recording of "Sleep" sounds awesome. Great job! If you'd like something that shows off your group's sense of line and tuning, check out
Feel free to send me a private message if you want a copy of any of my scores.
Good luck!
Jerry Hui
Applauded by an audience of 1
on March 4, 2013 11:19am
I'll definitely recommend Verum!! And we sang Daemon for our Halloween concert last semester, it was definitely one of our favorites :)
on March 4, 2013 7:41am
Hello Christian!
I have a couple works that might interest you.
1. Ave Verum Corpus, for mixed choir and semi-chorus.  This work would divide you up but if you have a good quartet that blends well it could really show you off.  A recording of it can be found on my media page.
2. Thrice Is Sweet Music Sweet, for mixed choir non-divisi.  It's been on a couple reading sessions and has some harmonic variation, but your sound on the youtube video makes me think you guys could sound great on it.  A recording of it is also on my media page.
Let me know if you'd like to see a score: paulrudoi(a)  Thanks Christian, and good luck!
Paul Rudoi
on March 4, 2013 11:03am
Dear Christian Robert,
I have a Latin work, "Super Cuncta" , which is based on a mystical poem about the predomenance of God in the universe.  It is for a capella choir with optional handbells.  If you would like to see and hear it, please go to:  It is under the Sacred Choral Music heading.

Henry Mollicone
on March 5, 2013 8:32am
Do Check out the repertoire of the C4 Composer-singers collaborative in New York. Quite advanced, however.
on March 6, 2013 11:05am
Have you looked at Einojuhani Rautavaara?  Check out Suite de Lorca, especially the first movement, Cancion de jinete.

on March 7, 2013 8:05am
You could try Pekka Kostiainen's 'Jaakobin Isot Pojat'
What about Michael McGlynn's compositions - check Anúna on Google.
I should add Knut Nysted's work too.
Or have a look at some of my stuff on Score Exchange.
David Monks
Cheour d'Alzonne
on March 7, 2013 12:57pm
Hi Christian!
Take a few minutes to listen to this: Bakmes
Yes, the recording is for women's choir but I do have a mixed version of it if You like it.
I have been told that this sounds like something people haven't heard before.
on March 8, 2013 9:12am
You might consider my setting of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind that features some sounds of nature improvised by the choir. 
on March 8, 2013 2:24pm
I'm particularly fond of Ola Gjeilo's "Serenity- O Magnum Mysterium". Very haunting, very beautiful. Does require a solo violinist.
Also, you might consider some of Morten Lauridsen's set of six a cappella "Madrigali". Very fun and challenging!
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