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Repertoire for new concert!!

My choir (SATB) is performing a concert on the Elements of Nature. I inherited this theme, though I like it, when I was hired to be the Artistic Director. I have some ideas of repertoire, but am looking for fresh, innovative and particularly vibrant song sets, cycles, or individual pieces. Thoughts?
Mark Stamper
on November 9, 2013 5:04am
Please consider programming this composition: Nature - Co-winner of the 2008–2009 Longfellow Chorus Prize in Choral Composition - text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - SATB chorus and piano - ECS Publishing #7432. Please follow this URL to see a PDF of the score and to hear a performance by the Philovox Ensemble, Robert Schuneman, conductor. This title is available for sale through Canticle Distributing (MorningStar Music). You can also view a video featuring this recording on my YouTube channel. Just plugin "Stanley M. Hoffman" and "Nature" into the YouTube search box.
Thank you for your consideration.
Stanley M. Hoffman, Ph.D.
on November 9, 2013 6:23am
I've got a couple pieces that might interest you, though I don't know the difficulty level of the group.

A Depth We Cannot Sound (reading the language of nature)
SATB, marimba, vibraphone, tom (2 players)
Nubes Oriebatur: the eruption of Vesuvius
SATB a cappella
Something There is Immortal (Whitman comparing the clouds, stars, night sky to hope and love)
SSATBB a cappella
As the Sunflower Turns on Her God (a piece built on mathematical concepts found in nature)
SSATBB a cappella
See if any of these work in your program.
on November 9, 2013 6:29am
Hi, Mark --
Here are a couple of pieces that would fit with a water-themed segment of your program:
The Maid of Culmore (trad. Irish; published by Areté Music Imprints) -- see/hear/purchase the score here:
Set me as a seal (published by ECS) -- see/hear the score here:
The second movement of Prayers (published by Areté Music Imprints) -- see/hear/purchase the score here:
(The first movement of Prayers would work for a wind-themed segment of your program; the third has mentions of clouds, mountains, and stars)
A more challenging work would be Look back on time with kindly eyes (published by Areté Music Imprints), a 12-part canon that compares the passing of time to the setting of the sun in the west.  Text is by Emily Dickinson.
Thanks for your time and for considering!  Good luck putting together your program.
All best,
Joseph Gregorio
on November 9, 2013 7:06am
Mark, I don't know what difficulty level you're looking for, or what instrumentation you might have available, but I invite you to take a look at my cycle O Sweet Spontaneous Earth, for advanced choir and mixed ensemble, which sets some of e.e. cummings' darker texts about humanity's relationship with nature. Not up on my site yet -- please write to me at the address below if you'd like to take a look at it.
All best,
Jonathan Santore
on November 9, 2013 9:40am
Hi Mark,
Another composer offering. Please surf to my website here:
for perusal .pdf scores and demo sound files of several of my nature-themed choral works, listed below. Most are from my a cappella double cycle on the complete "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" of Blake.
I publish in .pdf, with educational discount. Let me know if anything is of interest.
David Avshalomov
Composer, Singer, Conductor

Santa Monica, CA
Special Citation Winner, American Prize 2012, Orchestral Composition
Dual Finalist, American Prize 2013, Choral and Orchestral Composition
ACDA Silver Platter Award 2012 for Choral Repertoire of Outstanding Quality
“Polifonija” Sacred Choral Music Competition 2013, Siauliai State Chamber Choir, Lithuania, Second Prize
Project : Encore, Schola Cantorum/Hudson, Recommended Choral Work of Exceptional Merit 2012
Ah! Sun-Flower
SATB a cappella 2'10
Wm. Blake
Wistful, poignant Air with slow, limp, soft energy. Subject: Death, time, yearning for release. Good for single voices also.
The Blossom
SATB a cappella 1'
Wm. Blake
Fun, light, playful Madrigal, fast and rhythmic. Subject: Nature and yearning for love. Several types of bird. Excellent for single voices also.
The Fly
SATB a cappella 1'20
Wm. Blake
Witty, playful Madrigal, lively and rhythmic. Subject: Are you Fly or Man? Excellent for single voices also.
The Lilly
SATB a cappella 1'30
Wm. Blake
Esthetic nature Madrigal, slow and soft. Subject: The Lily vs. the Rose. Excellent for single voices also.
The Little Boy Lost/Found
SATB a cappella 3'30
Wm. Blake
Worried Melodrama, restlessly moving, rhythmic. Subject: A little boy lost in the night marsh, rescued by his Father.
The Little Girl Lost/Found (Lyca)
SATB a cappella 4'
Wm. Blake
Varied Story Madrigal, moderate speed. Subject: A lost girl, symbolic nature rescue—by the lion! Snoring section in the middle.
The Sick Rose
SATB a cappella 1'45
Wm. Blake
Bittersweet slow Madrigal. Subject: Love/death (or death of love). Excellent for single voices also.
SATB a cappella 1'30
Wm. Blake
Charming, playful Madrigal, lively and rhythmic. Subject: Children and lambs in Spring. Excellent for single voices also.
Tyger Tyger Burning Bright
SATB  a cappella 2'10
Wm. Blake
Sharp Paean, lively, rhythmic, fierce, finally dire. Subject: Fearsome nature.
U.S. 30 in Idaho
SSAATTB  a cappella 2'
Doris Avshalomov
Ironic nature/highway piled-up roadkill observation, over in a flash.
Song for Late Summer
SATB a cappella 4'
Doris Avshalomov
Shy romantic yearning likened to the cricket's wistful cries. Episodic, with appealing madrigalisms, slow haunting end. Pure tonal.
Go Ahead and Rejoice
SATB divisi a cappella 3'
Doris Avshalomov
Joyous rhythmic momentum-builder on the exuberance of entering Autumn, birds, with catchy refrain--"come expecting a miracle"--and astonishing ending.
There’s a Wind
SSAATTBB divisi a cappella 4’30
brief S1 solo
Lyric by the composer
Folk-tonal, madrigalistic depiction of the rise, climax, and diedown of a wild bay windstorm at a dramatic turn in a famous American novella. Commissioned by Meredith Kennedy for Camerata Singers of Long Beach. Wind-whistling effect at start.
on November 9, 2013 12:31pm
For the theme of Elements of Nature, please consider:
  • The Tree -  for unaccompanied SATB choir, 2003 (Duration: 3 min.)
    Winner of the Silver Platter Repertoire Award. Finalist for the 2011 Seghizzi International Choral Festival. 
    A setting of the poem by American transcendental poet Jones Very (1813 - 1880).
    Complete text, recordings and downloadable PDF perusal score:

  • Song of the Mountains  -  for SSAATB choir with piano, 2004 (Duration: 6 min.)
    A setting of text adapted from prose by American naturalist John Muir (1838 - 1914).
    Complete text, recordings and downloadable PDF perusal score:
on November 9, 2013 2:57pm
Hello Mark,
    I have a couple of pieces with nature themes you might be interested in.  The first is called "How Did the Rose" by the Persian poet Hafiz.  it is medium difficulty, a cappella, about 3 minutes in length.  Here is a recording:
   You might be also interested in "Sempervirens" about the giant redwood tree.  It is also a cappella, medium-advanced difficulty, 5 minutes long.  You can hear a recording at JWPepper.
   My music is available on or from my website http://johnbeemancomposer
Thank you,
John Beeman
on November 9, 2013 3:25pm
Sorry this is such a long list but the phrase, “elements of nature” brought a lot of music to mind; one piece suggested another and it was hard to know when to stop.
Anon:  Caeli Deus Sanctissime (unison) –esp. Gustave Reese’s English translation
Josquin:  El Grillo
Marenzio:  Gia Torna –esp. Clough-Leighter’s translation
Monteverdi:  Ecco mormorar lónde
Bennet:  All Creatures now are Merry-minded –from the “Triumphs of Oriana”
Gibbons:  Now each flowery bank of May
Handel:  For who is God (from Chandos #10) –a favorite setting of lightening!
Haydn:  Selections from “Die Schöpfung” or “Die Jahreszeiten” –esp. Novello translations
Schubert:  Gott im Ungewitter –God in a thunderstorm!
Cornelius: Die Sternlein
Ireland:  The Hills
MacDowell:  The Brook
Mendelssohn:  Herbstlied
Brahms:  Waldesnacht Op. 62 No 3 –esp. Herny Drinkler’s translation
Finzi:  I praise the tender Flower
Holst:  Ye Little Birds Op.12, no 2
Elgar:  As torrents in Summer
Warlock:  The Spring of the Year
Barber:  To be sung on the Water
Dello Joio:  Dalliance of Eagles –yeah, that’s what it is about but the depth conveys the Wild very well
Corigliano:  Fern Hill –big challenge but the piano-vocal score is great in concert
Copland:  In the Beginning –but only if you have a really great group!
Pinkham:  In the beginning of Creation –early tape piece for beginning choirs
And finally, please be so kind as to look at one of my own pieces, “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day.”  It’s available for free download at
on November 9, 2013 5:01pm
I have two things that might fit perfectly right away:
Of Nature and Humility (Double SATB with S solo a capp; juxtaposing Psalm 131 in Hebrew & English with Thoreau’s sonnet Nature.
You may listen to it here:
This work was one of two works of mine that were chosen as finalists for the 2012 American Prize for Choral Composition.
Nature (Thoreau’s text) is also available as a separate work for SATB div. and S or T solo.
You may listen to it here:
Psalm 131 (SATB, S solo; Hebrew & English) is also available as a separate work should it be of interest.
You may listen to it here:
Also, for your concert theme specifically:
Hymn to Earth (SATB div., fl, cl, hp or kbd., org or string 5tet/orch.) on a text by Jim Miller.
You may listen to it here:
Sampler scores and pricing are avialble on request, privately.
If you're ever in need of something cantata-length on this theme, I have one:
Of Arts and Elements (1999; c. 17 min.) (SATB div., 3 trpt, perc [2 players], pno, strings) on an original libretto by Charles Crawford commisioned by Radnor HS (PA) for the dedication of their new (at the time) performing arts wing. The four elements correspond to art forms (Air = Music; Fire = Drama; Water = Dance; Earth = the stage and the building itself). Recording and score samplers available on request.
Hope this helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
robertamross(a) <Robert Ross 11>
on November 10, 2013 8:23am
Good Day, Mark,
I invite you to consider a work based on "Walden”– Henry David Thoreau's epic writings on the New England wilderness.
Reflections on Walden Pond was commissioned by Pennsylvania's Cantate Carlisle, with the text being excerpted from ‘Walden’ by a professor at Dickenson College. It is some 20 minutes long, and consists of five movements– Woods & Life, The Hawk, Spring Grass, Fishes & Time and To Nature. The titles give some indication of the content and direction of the suite, as each movement is concerned with Thoreau's love for the natural beauty of the flora and fauna in the area area surrounding Greater Boston, where he sequestered himself in a cabin for two years and wrote his beloved 'Walden’. It is scored for SATB (with divisi), piano and optional violin and cello. Individual movements, each four to five minutes long, are available separately and are definitely complete in themselves.  CD available.
on November 10, 2013 1:29pm
Hi Mark, 
What do you have available for accompaniment/orchestra?  And what difficulty level pieces are you looking for?  How many singers do you have?  Sacred or secular?  
How about a setting of "Singet dem Herrn"?  There are lots of good settings of that, and it includes the text
"Let the sea roar, and all that is therein,
the earth and they that dwell in it.
The floods exult,
and all mountains be joyful 
before the Lord,"  
That's pretty elemental.  (:
Or for some bluesy gospel, "I shall not be moved."  Just like a tree, planted by the water, I shall not be moved.  
Or for something contemporary, Whitacre's "Water Night."  
on November 10, 2013 11:15pm
These settings of Wendell Berry might fit your needs:
Program notes: Wendell Berry is well known as a poet, essayist, and environmentalist. His writings speak with directness and disarming simplicity, of nature, of humanity, and of the complex interactions between all parties. With seriousness of purpose, his poetry exudes patience, warmth, and quiet humor. In all his writings he values community above individual whims, with an unsentimental but unwavering sense of responsibility paramount.
He has lived the kind of environmentally responsible life that he advocates. Although he taught English for many years at the University of Kentucky, he has lived and worked for most of his life on the family farm in Henry County, Kentucky, where he raises crops and livestock. He refuses to own a computer or television. He writes in pencil, and his wife types up his final copies on a manual typewriter.
A Timbered Choir is a collection of poems written on Sunday morning walks from 1979 to 1997. This setting is of several of these poems from the 1997 set.
"Best of any Song " refers to the song of birds, and how to hear them. The four voices in this setting chirp the same short tune at various levels and recede into silence. "Even While I Dreamed" decries the loss of natural and human community for the sake of the short-sighted "objective." "I was Wakened from my Dream" follows, as the real rain washes away the nightmare of alienation. "There is a Day" quietly prefers being to going. The short text is set with very little music, which spins around itself canonically, ultimately neither coming nor going, but rather enjoying the spin.
This setting of A Timbered Choir was commissioned by and is dieicated to Donna Di Grazia and the Pomona Colege Glee Club.
on November 15, 2013 1:42am
Oh! You might enjoy my Spell of the Elements for SATB double chorus & piano, commissioned by the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota in 2008.  There's a "mock" fugue in the middle which has each of the four voice parts assigned to an element: sop = water, altos = earth, tenors = hot air (just kidding), basses = fire... and the 4 parts of course end up moving together to make the whole.  Also some not-so-subtle stomping and turning indicated in the score (with little footprints) so the audience can see the four parts working together as they hear it.  Kinda fun!  Preview the score here:
Also:  Joan Szymko's "Sioux Prayer" is lovely.... for the sky, the earth, and the four directions.
on November 17, 2013 6:24pm

Hi Mark – here's a piece that might fit the brief. It's my setting of The Birds (Hilaire Belloc). This piece hasn't been performed in the States yet. Here's a link:


Please let me know if you'd like any more information.


Kind regards – David Basden, Sydney


deebee (at) pacific (dot) net (dot) au

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