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American composer repertoire

Hey all,
I am looking for pieces by American composers that would be for a (medium) high school level choir with very few tenors and basses. SAB or SATB is acceptable. 
Please let me know if there is any repertoire that would fit this criteria that you or your choir has enjoyed! 
I look forward to ideas! 
Choral Graduate Teaching Assisstant - Central Washington Univerty 
Replies (9): Threaded | Chronological
on April 22, 2014 11:23pm
You might take a look at these; I think you’ll find most of the tenor lines high enough to be supplemented with altos:
Berger:  Five Canzonets & Speak to one Another
Billings:  Broad Cove (“Time what an Empty”) & Jordan
Dello Joio:  Jubilant Song
Hairston:  In dat great gittin’ up Mornin’
Harrison:  Mass to Saint Anthony (with strings, harp, trumpet)
Jones:  hist whist (with percussion)
Niles:  I wonder as I Wander
And, if you don't mind just any old American composer, please take a look at my "Book of Sonnets" for SAB, piano.  It can be downloaded for free at
Applauded by an audience of 2
on April 23, 2014 6:59am

I've got a piece called "Goodbye, Then" that's I've recently voiced for SAB. I don't have it online yet, but here's a link for the TBB version. Let me know if you want to see the score for the SAB. Text is by American poet Doug Wilhide.

We said goodbye then
With people there
So it wouldn’t be quite so hard.
And we had said what we wanted to say
Or at least we knew by then
What didn’t need to be said,
So it wasn’t so hard.

We would see each other again
Thought we didn’t know when
And we could call and talk
Across the thousands of miles between us.
After all we had known each other
All this time
And would know each other
always and anywhere.
So it wasn’t hard.

But – both of us – our eyes were tears
And the world and the people were not there,
And that last hug –
How could I not hold you?
How could we separate our hearts
When we felt them beating together?
And how – God, how – could I let go?

- Doug Wilhide, used with permission

on April 23, 2014 7:16am
Hi Megan,
Another in the "just any old American composer" category: I've got two arrangements for SAT(supported)B, where the men are almost always doubled by the women or sing in unison.  Here are the links:
Best of luck with your search,
Carol Barnett
on April 23, 2014 7:49am
Hi, Megan,
I'd invite you to take a look at a couple pieces of mine: One is a recently commissioned/premiered piece for SAB called An Exhortation; you can see/purchase the score here:
Another slightly more challenging piece is my SATB (no divisi) arrangement of American folksong Frog went a-courtin'.  You can see/hear/purchase the score here:
Thanks for taking a look/listen!  Best of luck putting together your program.
Joseph Gregorio
on April 23, 2014 8:12am
These two titles by Elizabeth Alexander are frequently performed by high school, college and community choirs which find themselves similarly challenged!
If You Can Walk You Can Dance (SAB, piano, claves)
Steve at Seafarer Press
on April 23, 2014 9:55am
Hi Megan,
Please check out my website,, for my easy-to-sing patriotic and inspirational songs, which have been performed by student choirs across the country. For your choir, I would recommend "The Spirit of America," "Take My Hand," and "Carry On," all of which have medium-level SATB arrangements.
Best of luck with your search!
Hank Fellows
on April 23, 2014 7:35pm
Hi Megan,
I saw the recommendation for Billings' pieces above.
While I love Billings' music, it should be noted that you need strong basses and tenors for almost all of it (if performed at all close to Billings' desire: his ideal choir was about 50% bass, and then often writing the melody in the tenor line). With that said, I performed Billings' Jordan (mentioned above) with a choir which had a weak bass section with fine sucess a few years ago. The tenor line (arguably, but almost certainly) carries much of the melody (most prominent line is probably a better description). You could beef up the tenor line with a few altos as the tenor line should be accessible to many altos without voice strain (as mentioned above).
You might also check out Greg Gilpin's arrangement of "The Wayfaring Stranger" (SAB) which is extremely well written. Just look it up at jwpepper or sheetmusicplus (depending on the day one may be cheaper than the other). Greg Gilpin has many SAB pieces that aren't chincy or trite but are high quality in my opinion.
You might also look at my piece "Hold On For A While". It is set for SATB, no divisi, + solo (usually alto, but can be baritone). This piece has been extremely well received by singers and audiences every where it has been done, especially giving hope to those who have experienced recent grief. If you are interested, please email me at, and I would be happy to let you peruse a pdf score. If you would like to perform it, it is $1.50 per copy from pdf you make. Here is a link to a recording of the piece (good choir, but an amateur recording):
God Bless,
Michael Sandvik
on April 24, 2014 12:17am
Hi, Megan,
At, top of the page, you'll find a recording of Agnus Dei for SAB.   It was recognized this week with a 'silver platter' award at choralnet.    There's a link given for the perusal pdf score.  
Not yet printed in octavo but I license it for pdf delivery.   My goal was to make a fairly easy piece with restricted range and a beautiful piece and also a piece that illustrates the new science of composition I've been developing over the past few years.
As far as I know it's unique in music history.   The congregation part, of course, can be simply ignored for a non-church use.   You can also ignore the very detailed intonation information, just sing it naturally without piano and it should fall closely into my recommended intonation scheme.    
I think of the rhythm as more like Messiaen, freely flowing, rather than highly syncopated, even though the easy 4 4 meter makes it look syncopated.  
William Copper
on April 25, 2014 2:55am
Billings often split sopranos and fenors, half singing the soprano line (obvious octive) and ha;f on tenor.  Not recommended for say I am the Rose of Sharon, but it works for many of his shorter anthems, such as David's Lamentation and Jordan. Kittery goes over well as sudbury.  Two Billings canons, When Jessus Wept, and Wake Ev'ry breath should have voicces equally distributed in the groups.
I am a big user of canons with choirs such as you have. I love the "Barnyard Congitations" and Randall Thompson "Lines fro The Ancient Mariner".  You will have to track down copies of the Presser Publication "Modern Canons", worth the effort. Bradt's "3-way Canon Blues" is available and a good jazzy piece.
Great unison work with brass is Henry Cowell's Suplication, great opener.
hope that helps
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