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SA and piano Festival Finale Needed

            Anyone interested in writing for a children’s choir festival?  Sorry but this will take some explaining.
            After a two year banishment I am back in the teaching position I never wanted to leave.  I once again will be directing the Gifford Children’s Choir, the second most-watched elementary school choir in the world.   Gifford is a huge elementary school of 1,000 students.   Making it even better, there are two full time vocal music teachers at our school.  The other guy is at least my equal in enthusiasm and dedication to the choral art and my superior in musicianship.  Last year I asked him to help with my Children’s Choir of teh Internet and he soon became the co-director of the ensemble.   Add to that a strings teacher who is a pure genius and huge influence on me as part of our team!
            We are considering hosting a choral festival for elementary school choirs this spring.   It would be an invitational, so we would hope to attract only the best local and regional choirs. 
            Last year Greg Bartholemew and Chris Hutchings from our community were very good to me.  You may remember they each composed a piece for my AppleChor that we then recorded.   All they got from me was a recording and $1 a copy, pure charity to be sure.   I would expect we would have around 250 performers but I can’t guarantee it.  
            Is anyone interested in composing for SA choir and piano for $250 (or less) and a decent video?   The piece would be a combined finale number for all the choirs.  This is just in the idea stage, but I am motivated to make it happen. 
            I would appreciate positive and negative critique of this idea.  I know charity work can be a bad marketing choice.  Chris and Greg, your honest input would be of value as well.  Was it a reasonable experience for you?  Did you feel you got enough out of it?
            Could or should this be a model for others to follow or a bad precedent?
Comments please!
Below are last year's premieres and a video of Gifford Strings playing Kashmir for your entertainment.
AppleChor premieres "Water Cycle" by Chris Hutchings (music) and Julia Laylander (Lyrics)
AppleChor premieres "The Dust of Stars" by Greg Bartholomew
Gifford Strings perform Kashmir
Replies (10): Threaded | Chronological
on September 14, 2013 7:54am
Hi Jack!
Your wrote, "Is anyone interested in composing for SA choir and piano for $250 (or less) and a decent video?   The piece would be a combined finale number for all the choirs.  This is just in the idea stage, but I am motivated to make it happen.
Count me IN,
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on September 14, 2013 10:58am
Yes, I'd also be interested, Jack - particularly if you had a text in mind.
If I might be allowed to offer a comment (constructive criticism, I hope!) on your videos of children singing.   It might be partly down to my British ears, untuned to the local accents(!), but I find it very difficult to pick out all the words they are singing.  This may be partly due to the quality of recording and all the ambient noise from the audience, but I'd find it helpful to have subtitles, if that were possible, or at least the full text of the songs as a comment underneath. The words sound very interesting - 'We are the dust of stars', etc - I'd just like to hear more of them!
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on September 14, 2013 11:57am
I have started putting subtitles with the text on my last few choral videos, and I agree that this is very helpful.  For already posted videos, a good solution is to put the lyrics in the video description, as the description can be modified long after the video is posted without causing any problem.
As for the text for "We Are the Dust of Stars" (which was a collaboration between me & Jack), you will find it all on my website, where you may also download a perusal PDF score:
Jack, I am not ignoring your question.  I just wanted to let my thoughts come together before answering, which I will do soon.
on September 14, 2013 12:16pm
What a lovely poem!  I did pick up the odd word from the video, but it makes a lot more sense with the text there! Thanks, Greg.
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on September 15, 2013 10:20am
I appreciate the critique and you are not the first to make it about my choirs.  It is always a goal to improve the kid's diction. On these two pieces I felt the ending consonants and elided consonants are pretty good.  I would be very interested if others feel the same as Gordon about this.  Knowing the words makes it impossible for me to judge what one can understand on first hearing.   In my 6 days of Minecraft video the diction is very poor and I kept that critique in mind for these performances.  I do agree that subtitles are an excellent idea for all classical choral music.  Our local opera often projects them to help with understanding.  I will consider adding them to these and other videos. 
on September 14, 2013 11:14am
Me three! More info, please!
Robert A. M. Ross
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on September 14, 2013 4:31pm
I'm interested, sounds like a great thing.
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on September 15, 2013 10:02am
Wow! I am honored by the response to this. I have recieved many offers public and private.  It has created a difficult problem for me in choosing whom to ask.  I am trying to keep the good of my students and the good of this community in mind.  If this all comes to fruition, We will be asking two of you to each write a festival finale.  We will require the choirs to purchase copies for their singers as we will also do.  This will not be an easy decision but I will make it today.   Thank-you so much for your help and support.  
There are other opportunities for our choirs to perform new pieces if any of you get writing for SA be sure to send me your work.   My partner is running a 2nd-3rd grade chorus and a 4th-5th grade chorus that will perform at the festival and my Gifford Children's Choir (3rd-5th) will also perform. 
on September 16, 2013 8:29am
Glad to see this is bearing fruit, and I look forward to hearing the next works!
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on September 21, 2013 1:45pm
I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions.  I am so very pleased that you are back in the larger arena where you have more resources and where more kids benefit from your talent and enthusiasm, but I must also admit a wistfulness for the charm of Red Apple Elementary and AppleChor.  The world is a very full experience.
You asked about my experience composing a new piece for AppleChor to perform at the 2013 festival:  Was it a reasonable experience for you?  Did you feel you got enough out of it?  Yes, it was more than reasonable — it was a fun and rewarding experience.  I very much enjoyed my interaction with you first in collaborating on the text and then in refining the music.  Your input was key, and the opportunity to work with someone of your experience and engagement was a key component of my reward.  I feel that together we produced a wonderful new piece of music.  It was also a very valuable component of the experience to get the audio recording and the YouTube video of your performance.  While we would all like more financial reward for what we do, I am entirely satisfied with the compensation I got out of this project.  The one additional thing that I would look for is your help in bringing the piece to the wider world, helping to get it launched so that it might "enter the repertoire," that magical status akin to launching a satellite into orbit.  You have already made repeated mention of the piece here in our Composer Community, and you have repeatedly posted the delightful video, which I very much appreciate.  I do not know what more you (or I) can do to "launch" the piece, but I keep looking for opportunities to interest other conductors in our work.
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