A great perk of writing this weekly blog has been that many composers send me their more attainable pieces to peruse and possibly recommend. This week’s post will focus on two great pieces that were passed on to me that I would like to share with the choral community.
The first is “Hold My Hand!”, a jubilee song for SATB by Wallace De Pue, Sr. This rousing piece begins slowly with the choir in unison on the melody over a bass solo. Then, the meat of the piece gets underway, with the tenors introducing an ostinato pattern that figures throughout the song while the sopranos and altos begin the melody. For the duration of the song, each part gets its chance at melodic lines, rhythm-keeping, and harmonic filler on “oo”s and “hum”s. It is different enough to keep each section on its toes but not at all so complex that it is confusing. Ranges are very appropriate, and there are many great opportunities for teaching dynamic contrasts, balance, and intonation. At the end of the piece, De Pue gives the conductor some options, allowing for a fade to niente, a repeat of the entire piece at a faster tempo (which seems to be recommended), or a slow big finish. At any rate, “Hold My Hand!” is a great piece to teach singers (much of it is solfegable and can offer conversations with singers about how to handle brief modulations) and will be loved by audiences. It is available on De Pue’s website, www.wallacedepue.com.
The other piece I will feature here is “Bring the Light” by Australian composer Glyn Lehmann. Lehmann details in the notes of his piece that he was inspired to write it after seeing the benefits of solar lighting on impoverished communities in India. He writes, “Our ability to generate light gives us the power to extend our days, expanding our hearts and minds in the process”. “Bring the Light” begins with wolf howls and a unison melody in the tenor and bass parts that gets chanted by all parts at many times in the piece, including in two- and four-part canon. The most writing in four parts (SATB) occurs on the text, “In the light we learn to shine. Bring to life our hearts and minds. In the light we’ll find our way. Turn the darkness into day.” With a couple of exceptions, the piece is completely diatonic, it uses repetitive rhythmic figures, and all of the ranges are extremely modest. This is a particularly great song to program if you need to put something together quickly that sounds like you worked much longer on it! “Bring the Light” contains a piano accompaniment and is available here.
Are you a composer who has written music accessible to the “average” choir? Please share in the comments, and, as always, feel free to e-mail me ideas for pieces you would like to see featured in “Music Within Reach” 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.