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Stanford's 'The Blue Bird'

Is it musically acceptable to perform this song one to a part? Or is the effect of the sustained ATB chords under the magical soprano line only possible with a larger group? I've seen the song described as a choral masterpiece and as a part-song. I ask because I have a small group of high school age students who would like to perform it. At the same time I'm not so sure that the larger group from which they come would do the piece justice at this time.
Replies (10): Threaded | Chronological
on November 30, 2013 6:41am
The King's Singers do it, and there are only 6 of them. Which makes it acceptable as far as I'm concerned!
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on November 30, 2013 8:39am
You would need 5 voices as the Alto part is divided in the Oxford UP edition.  I conducted a High School chamber group that did it SATB with a solo soprano on the top part.  The balance was beautiful and striking; it worked very well.
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on November 30, 2013 9:55am
Thanks. Great advice from you both. 
on November 30, 2013 1:47pm
If the soprano has the breath control for it, sure.  I have sung this in a group with one on a part, and it was challenging, but possible, however, the soprano was not too happy with the dificulty of it.
on December 1, 2013 2:36am
A good point. I think she'll be fine. I guess that the effect will be very different. I'm concerned that the supporting harmonies will sound a little thin. We'll give it a go and see what we all think! 
Apropos Choralnet I'm amazed at the expertise which we have access to here. As a recent convert I can't believe the level of interaction, communication and discussion that goes on here.
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on December 1, 2013 6:12pm
From experience I know that it works nicely with eight singers. I think you can find our (Lumen Valo) version on youtube. A smaller group enforces the intimacy of the piece.
on December 1, 2013 7:40pm
I've performed this piece for sop solo and SSA choir with a cello playing the bass line.  I thought it worked beautifully.
on December 2, 2013 4:12am
In a word - no. The sustained note at the beginning needs sopranos who can share the "breathing". It's intense and difficult.  While this piece looks attainable to really get it right will involve much practice. "The lake lay blue .. ." the tonal quality has to be pristine and accurate.  If this piece is going to be performed acapella it becomes even more intense.  I love this piece. I've sung it a dozen times. However, it is in no way easily attainable. If I had an elite group of 16  I would do it - without at least 4 on a part - I'd say no.
on December 3, 2013 9:03am
As I said in my earlier post, the King's Singers do it beautifully and there are only 6 of them!
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on December 2, 2013 2:03pm
Does anyone know what Stanford envisged? I realise he composed at a time when large choruses were commonplace in England. I often get nervous about 'part songs' with large(r) groups. And yet Phyllis makes an interesting point about 'sharing the breathing.' And then there's the acoustic...
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