I am always looking for SATB music. I have a small select ensemble at my high school and a large mixed church choir at a Unitarian Universalist church. Many times, I am able to use some of the same music for both school and church. However, for a number of reasons, I struggle with doing too much divisi music with either choir. So the pieces that speak to me the most are often those with just single soprano, alto, tenor, and bass lines with minimal or no divisi. In this post I will share just three of many such pieces that work well for any SATB choir, regardless of size.
The first is a chorus from one of Telemann’s oratorios that came to be known as Hamburgische Kapitänsmusik, performed at the annual Hamburg Militia banquets. “So gehe hin und Iβ dein Brot mit Freuden” is the closing chorus from 1730’s banquet. This jaunty piece features alternating chorus and four-part solo sections, often repeating the same or similar material. Featuring a modest range across all four voices, there are a handful of melismatic passages that are very manageable, fun syncopations, and very easy and repetitive German. This piece with piano reduction is available on CPDL in an excellent edition by Camille Martin and can be found here.
Next is “Voices of the Night” by Donna Gartman Schultz, with text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This beautiful song that features an oboe (or flute) solo is in a very comfortable range for all voices, and its choral harmonies—while sometimes complex and always very interesting—are helped along seamlessly by the piano accompaniment. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for sensitive music-making amid a text that celebrates the beauty of nature. Published by Walton Music, the piece can be found here, along with an excellent recording.
The final SATB piece I will explore in this post is “The Vow of Shantideva” by Thade Jude Correa. This song is a setting of a well-known Buddhist text, along with the famous mantra of compassion, “Om manee padmay hoom”. Simplistic and repetitious, Correa’s work is meant “to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility” (composer notes). He allows for creative license with regard to dynamics and number of repeats. “The Vow of Shantideva” is a cappella and published by Alliance Publications, Inc. It can be found here, along with a PDF sample.
Obviously, there are thousands of SATB pieces out there that work well for choirs of all sizes. The pieces I mentioned are just a handful that have worked for me that I wish to share. I would love to know what SATB pieces others have found to be a good fit for their choirs. Feel free to share in the comments! And, as always, if you have ideas for pieces you would like to see included in a post, send me an e-mail at .
Brandon Moss is a choir director, teacher, and composer/arranger living and working in Central Ohio. He teaches at Central Crossing High School, directs the Chalice Choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and serves in leadership roles with the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Ohio Music Education Association. He is currently working on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting at The Ohio State University.