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Help me choose rep for our Vienna/Salzburg/Munich tour!

Dear colleagues,
 
Next spring I'll travel to Vienna, Salzburg and Munich with my SATB high school choir. I'd love to hear your ideas for tour repertoire.
 
- a cappella
- sacred or church appropriate
- some selections suited to service participation
- mixture of American and Austrian/German repertoire
- connected to the cities we're visiting
- suited to advanced high school singers
 
I'm eager to hear what you have to suggest! Thanks in advance.
 
Kayla
Replies (12): Threaded | Chronological
on April 15, 2014 2:41am
On a like tour, my college choir sang some Brahms folksong settings the German audience didn't know, and
they also liked hearing Simple Gifts and other American folksongs.
James Olesen
on April 15, 2014 5:03am
Having lived there for a few years, I would say to do a mix. They get to hear their own music a lot, so I wouldn't do too much of that, but I'd include a few Austrian/German pieces. They love hearing American spirituals and folk songs. It's a Catholic country where people still go to church, so sacred music is always appropriate. I'd include some of the English choral repertoire if you can -- they hear a lot of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and some Bach, but not enough of the English composers like Tallis, Byrd, Vaughan-Williams, Britten, etc.
 
Francesca Kelly
Applauded by an audience of 2
on April 15, 2014 8:19am
I am not sure if they would find it interesting, but I have a version of Carl Loewe's Erlking in German for SATB and piano. It features of each of the characters in the story. Take a look at a sample of it on my website. http://bvpublishing.net
on April 16, 2014 6:41am
Hi Kayla,
A new work of mine was recently premiered at the ACDA Southern Conference.
"If Ever There Is" is SATB a cappella, medium difficulty, and has a universal message: a wish for peace.
You can view the score and listen to it here: http://www.richcampbell.us/composer.htm
-Rich Campbell
on April 16, 2014 7:15am
I think Francesca is on the mark, Kayla.  When I go to a concert performed by a choir from another country, I want to hear THEIR music, not music from my country that I've heard many times before.  I think it's nice to do one or two selections from the native land, but put mostly American pieces on the program.  In addition to sprituals and gospel pieces, you might also include arrangements of hymns from the Sacred Harp or Southern Harmony.  There are also several arrangements of "Down to the River to Pray" that they might enjoy hearing.  In addition you could include some more "classical" contributions to the sacred repertoire by American composers.  (For example, Mark Hayes has a beautiful setting of the Te Deum that would be a bit of a challenge for your high school group, but worth the effort.  Lauridson's O Magnum Mysterium also fits into that category, along with many others by many of our well-known sacred composers.)  
 
I think it would also be worth the effort to find a person who can translate all of these pieces into German, and to put the English and German side by side in the program.  I think it will help them appreciate the music more.  
 
Good luck, and have a great trip!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 17, 2014 12:10pm
Kayla,
 
I encourage you to explore the repertoire available right here in The Choral Composers' Composition Showcase (http://www.choralnet.org/view/306612):  
 
"You're invited to browse our unique collection of quality music by living composers.  Community members have been asked to select just a few of their very best works.  Both well-known and relatively unknown composers are represented here in a wide variety of styles and voicings.  Take a look and discover something brand new.

"Listings generally include sound files and full or partial PDF scores, along with voicing and accompaniment information.  Most have links to the composer's ChoralNet profile and/or personal website."

 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on April 17, 2014 7:22pm
Hi Kayla,
 
German pieces: the skiy is the limit, but I'm rather fond of Georg Schumann's (Robert's cousin) "Und op ich von wanderte" (part of the 23rd Psalm) for a rich a capella late romantic German piece, it is definitely an advanced high school/college level piece to be done well, but definitely worth it. You could also go with an early baroque a capella piece and do some small vignette kind of pieces such as Praetorius' "In natali domini" (technically a macaronic Christmas text, but makes a nice opener. It is also free on CPDL).
 
For American pieces, I would suggest looking at some of Gwenyth Walker's arrangements/originals. A very American fuging tune setting by her is "Sounding Joy" (which is also a great opener). This is an arrangement of a song written by Justin Morgan (yes, the Justin Morgan for whom the Morgan Horse breed was named).
 
You may also consider bringing some "north of the border" (Canadian) repertoire. A particular favorite Canadian composer of mine is Larry Nickel (larrynickel.com). He has a myriad of lovely self published pieces coming from the Canadian Mennonite tradition (which often includes a verse in German). He is easy to work with (I've ordered from him on multiple occasions) and his pieces have all been wonderfully well written and well received by singers and audience. I am especially fond of his settings of "How Sweetly Chimes the Sabbath Bells" and "I Know My Jesus Lives". Interestingly, he also owns and runs Cypress music publishing which features choral music of Canadian composers. You might check that website as well.
 
Frequent on this website is Canadian composer Donald Patriquin, who has many lovely pieces (many in the French Canadian tradition including his incredibily popular - standard rep - piece "Jen te le moulin"). Hopefully he can respond and direct you toward some of his music.
 
An American music sub-genre that is ingrained in our music history as a country, but under-recognized is the second advent spiritual (which largely developed out of the 19th Century New England spiritual tradition). My second advent spiritual "Soon One Day" has been extremely well received by singers and audiences alike (SATB and TTBB versions available - no divisi). If you are interested in purchasing the score, please email me at michael.lee.sandvik(a)gmail.com and I would e-mail you the score and invoice ($1.50 per copy you intend to make). I have many other pieces in this genre as well, and if you are interested, I would be happy to acquaint you with some others (if you click on my youtube channel, you can a listen to a few of my other choral pieces)
 
Youtube link for "Soon One Day": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBFKEd1gIDg
 
Have a great trip and God Bless,
Michael Sandvik
Applauded by an audience of 1
on April 17, 2014 9:37pm
Hello Ms. Werlin:
 
I studied a year on Fulbright at Detmold's Nordwest Deutsche Musikakademie;  Among the pieces the Academy's choir sang, I had the assignment to prepare
Zielinski's In monte Olivetti.  I forget his first name it the last name could be Zelienski.  It's a Renaissance type piece, but as I recall written considerably later; a cappella.
Very pleasing but not the same old thing.nnThe chorus seemed to enjoy it.
I would say, go with whatever is close to your heart and you keep thinking about doing, or repeating.  Just make sure you cannot envision
a program without this piece or that one.  Forget what makes up some sort of an ideal program; direct your heart out.  The kids will respond no matter what, but
if they know you know that it's felt deeply, I predict your results on a tour to THOSE Places (Good gosh, what a trip) you need to be up for every appearance.
 
Off the top of my head, I'd think of looking into:  "Pale Horse and Rider" (forgot composer; a composed piece that borrows from Negro spirituals.  Something of G F
Handel, even though "they've heard most of it."  For example:  "Deck Thyself my Soul with gladness"  (Schmuecke dich meine Seele) of Handel.  Uses the traditional
tune entitled the same I think.  It's really well made, not all that difficult, but has a grand sound.  I believe it's accompanied, perhaps organ or keyboard being the best.
I recall that it could use strings if you have such available.   Despite all the advice to avoid the great Baroque composers, you might look into lesser done Bach
such as Cantata 50 - a "one-movement" Cantata, for Double Chorus (8 part) and instruments or keyboard.  It's about 4-5 min. only and is so powerful that you and singers will be inspired.  "Nun ist das Heil
und die Kraft und der Macht"  in D major and gloriously trimphant.  Not heard too often.
und die Macht" - I'm afraid you'll have to tackle the German or it won't fly.  Here's the skinny on it from the Internet search:
    1. Cantata #50 "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft" by J.S. Bach.Play VideoCantata #50 "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft" by J.S. Bach
    2. J.S Bach Cantata BWV 50 Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft und ....Play VideoJ.S Bach Cantata BWV 50 Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft und ...
    3. Cantata # 50, "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft," BWV 50, J ....Play VideoCantata # 50, "Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft," BWV 50, J ...
    4. Bach Nun ist das Heil.Play VideoBach Nun ist das Heil
    5. Bach,BWV 50: Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft.Play VideoBach,BWV 50: Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft
    6. NunIstDasHeil.Play VideoNunIstDasHeil
    More Bach: Cantata #50; Nun Ist Das Heil videos
  1. www.amazon.com/CANTATA-NUN-IST-DAS-HEIL/dp/B004UCVP9O   Cached
    CANTATA 50, NUN IST DAS HEIL [Johann Sebastian Bach] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
  2. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ookZBIOCXOA   Cached
    JS Bach,BWV 50 : Nun ist das Heil und die kraft
     
    Also consider some Aaron Copland:  His big motet with great mezzo-sop. solo "In the beginning" (Genesis) is I think a cap. and is a great piece.
    Some other Copland that should go over:  Choruses from his "The tender Land"
     
    I see someone mentioned Brahms' Folk-settings.  I can never forget my favorite; if you go down that path, please consider: "Da unten im Thale, laufts Wasser so kuhl"
    It's the German version of "Down in the Valley" more or less; probably less.
     
    That's a lot of stuff to think about; I'll quit and hope one or the other thought bears fruit.
    Stephen W. Klyce  on Choralnet in a couple of places.
     
    PS:  Just hit me:  you will please greatly with a sacred OR secular piece by Wm Billings, or G. Belcher, or a similar early American composer.  Don't forget Chas. Ives.
on April 18, 2014 9:43pm
I have taken high school students to these same places numerous times. I found that our audiences most appreciated American music  - contemporary formal choral repertoire of American composers, folk, gospel, spirituals, and pop. We did always learn an Austrian folk song to sing with our hosts and that was also appreciated. For the secular concerts we always included contemporary a cappella pop music and that was always a huge hit. I would recommend that you carry extra music with you to give away if you can afford it, and to also print a reperotire source sheet that you can share because people will ask you for your music. Since many titles are now available as PDF downloads that can be accessed via the Internet directly from composers, you will want to be able to share composers' websites with interested musicians and choral directors in your audience. My students and I have loved traveling to Germany and Austria - I hope that you have a wonderful adventure with your choir. 
Laura Sam
 
 
on April 19, 2014 5:42am
Absolutely do some spirituals/folk songs from the US. There are honestly so many to choose from. Keep in mind the more spacious acoustics of many likely venues.
on April 19, 2014 5:50am
Kayla -- Having lived in Austria a few years (Hi, Francesca!), I agree wholeheartedly that doing more than a couple pieces by local composers is a mistake.  That repertoire is not only performed frequently but usually performed well.  But good settings of American spirituals (white as well as black) and good folksong arrangements go over well.  I'd suggest you try to perform classical American repertoire from the 1700's, 1800's and 1900's as well as new music.  For example, some Billings, Read, Holyoke or Ingalls; some Parker, Paine, Whiting or Buck; some Copland, Persichetti, Harris or Lockwood or...).  Another way to connect with the audience would be to perform music by emigres who made their careers in America.  Austrian born Ernst Toch and Robert Starer come to mind.  Toch's spoken Geographical Fugue is well known, but using the American text rather than the German could be fun.  Jean Berger was born in Germany; his Pennsylvania Dutch "Devotional Songs" are nice and their text would intrigue your listeners.  Gute Reise!  
 
chris
Christopher J. Hoh
Applauded by an audience of 2
on April 20, 2014 2:37am
I seem to be very much the odd man out here, though I agree with Christopher above, but in my 7+ tours of Vienna, Munich and Salburg, as an American choir, we did American composers and they were very successful tours.  I often did "historical timeline" ranging from Billings to comissioned works by such composers as Daron Hagen.  Hovhanness, Bernstein, Barber, Schumann, Starrer, Horatio Parter and of course Charles Ives (Psalm 67 always a hit).  The William Dawson spirituals as well as hymns arrangements of Alice Parker or Virgil Thomson rounded out the fare.  There are extended works galore.  I think taking Austrian/German music is a bit of the old "taking coal to Newcastle" concept.  Now I did keep one or two Mozart, perhaps as an encore or two.  Just my opinion.  I feel the same way when hearing Europen choirs, or South American choirs when they tour here: introduce the music of YOUR country to my ears.
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