- November 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm #582739
We’ve nearly completed the installation of an excellent Allen four manual Bravura organ in our church, and I’m looking for suggestions on fine classical choral literature to show off this instrument with our choir.
Our chorus is quite small, but also quite good. However, I am concerned that this organ can easily over-power out singers, so I’m thinking of working on some early (or “earlier”-ish) music.
In other venues, the choir has sung the Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah, and quite a few Bach cantatas, for example. In the venue with the new Allen organ, it will have to be a smaller chorus, and there is not room for an orchestra.
Any suggestions for fine works to look at, as the church (Episcopalian) gets used to this new organ in its sanctuary? I’m excited about the possibilities.
-BruceFNovember 16, 2018 at 11:13 pm #582810
Michael A. GrayParticipant
You might take a look at
Britten: Rejoice in the lamb
Hanson: How excellent thy name
Holst: Let all mortal flesh keep silence
Hovhaness: Lord’s prayer
Mozart: Ave verum
Pfautsch: I’ll praise my maker
Pinkham: I was glad
Vaughan-Williams: Let us now praise famous men
Willan: Holy holy holy
While you are at it, please take a look at my own “Great God!” from the Centenary Antiphon. It is available for free download at
Hope that helps!
Michael A. GrayNovember 19, 2018 at 9:15 am #582900
Please consider my recently composition “Innocent Blood” for mezzo, chorus, flute, and organ. It tells the story of my eighth great grandmother Mary Esty, who was falsely accused of witchcraft and hanged in Salem, Mass. in 1692. Here’s a link to a recent performance on a lovely portative organ. I’d be happy to email you the score.
Thanks, Adrienne InglisNovember 19, 2018 at 11:52 am #582917
Is your choir singing for services or for concerts?
If services, I would happily suggest Henry Purcell’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G Minor and the anthem “Rejoice in the Lord”. There’s also plenty by Orlando Gibbons to enjoy, such as his Second Service and “This is the Record of John”. Or you could try Monteverdi’s “Beatus Vir”, which works with “quite small but quite good”.
But I don’t think you need to be constrained to earlyish works. A skilled organist with a generously specified instrument will know how not to overpower the chorus. May I make some later suggestions where the organ’s louder moments are during periods of choir silence?
S.S. Wesley’s “Blessed be the God and Father” is one organ-showcase for small choir.
I won’t go later than Herbert Howells, but at least imagine the chords at the close of “Like as the Hart” or the start of “Glory be the the Father” in “Jubilate”, from the King’s College service.
In between, there is the extremely singable Herbert Sumsion, Both the four-part evening service in G and “They that go down to the sea in ships” allow a smallish choir to combine with plenty of organ.
If your organist is indeed a sensitive accompanist, then don’t rule out Edward Bairstow. “Blessed City, Heavenly Salem” could justify the cost of the organ by itself.
I wish you many happy seasons of planning repertoire.
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