Tried-And-True: Music for Elementary and Junior High Choir

SBO Staff • December 2009Repertoire Forum • December 8, 2009

This issue features several reviews by guest contributor Diane Hill.

– Drew Collins, forum editor

World Peace Canon
arr. Donald Moore
Two-Part (opt. SSA)
Alfred Publishing Co.

World Peace Canon is an arrangement of the traditional German canon, Dona Nobis Pacem. The two-part canon is treated as a partner song. The middle section uses as its theme a desire for “peace in every nation.” The vocal parts are fluid and melodic, simple and easy to sing. The vocal parts and piano accompaniment blend well together. Moore has included an optional instrumental part for flute or C instrument. Vocal ranges are:

Part I (opt. Sop. II): C D’

Part II (opt. Alto): C C’

Opt. Sop. I F D’

The Latin phrase is repeated throughout. This piece would work well for concerts throughout the year; holiday or spring concerts. It is also suitable for church choirs, especially appropriate for Lent or Peace Sunday.

Winter Fantasy
arr. Jill Gallina
Two-Part treble voices and piano
Shawnee Press, Inc.

Winter Fantasy, by Jill Gallina is a true holiday favorite. It is a partner song, combining an original melody by Gallina with another holiday favorite, Jingle Bells. The piece begins with Part I singing Gallina’s melody, followed by Part II singing Jingle Bells. The third repeat is a combination of Part I and Part II, maintaining this combination until the end of the piece. This rollicking, up-tempo song is fun to sing and one students are sure to enjoy. The brisk, exciting piano accompaniment adds to the moving energy of the piece. Winter Fantasy is a holiday concert selection that students can learn quickly and one sure to leave the audience singing.

Shoshone Love Song (The Heart’s Friend)
arr. Roger Emerson
Jensen/Hal Leonard

Shoshone Love Song is a lovely, two-part arrangement by Roger Emerson. The text is a traditional Native American lyric, however both vocal parts are sung in English throughout. The gentle, flowing piano accompaniment compliments the voice parts well. Shoshone Love Song would make a good choice for a fall or spring concert. Vocal ranges:

Part I: C C’

Part II: C C’ (contains several measures of optional divisi)

Also available: TBB, 2-Part, 3-Part Mixed. Performance Time: Approx. 2:30.

Japanese Folk Song, arr. Linda Spevacek
Two-Part Voices and Piano (opt. Percussion and Orff instruments)
Hal Leonard

Linda Spevacek has written a wonderful arrangement of Sakura, (Cherry Blossom Song), for two-part voices and optional Orff instruments. Both vocal parts are flowing and easy to sing. The majority of the piece is sung in Japanese. There is an interlude which can be played by piano alone, or by the entire Orff ensemble, which includes soprano recorders. The recorder part usually doubles the vocal melody.

Sakura is in the key of b minor, which may present an intonation challenge for some elementary students.

English translation:

Cherry blossoms, mist and clouds
gently flowing in the air
as far as one can see.
The fragrance is everywhere
come, come, let us go and see.

Don Gato
Mexican Folk Song, arr. Ray Doughty
Two-Part treble and piano
Plymouth Music

Don Gato, arranged by Ray Doughty, is a favorite Mexican folk song children love to sing. Doughty has written this song for two-part treble voices and piano. The voices sing in unison for much of the piece. The middle section on pages four and five has the voices singing in brief two-part harmony, as well as in the final few measures. Don Gato is a Mexican cat who falls in love with a fluffy, white female kitten. When she agrees to marry him, he happily jumps in the air, falls off the roof breaking his ‘solar-plexus,’ and dies. However, by the end of the story he is reincarnated, comes back to life and all ends happily. There is a dramatic piano accompaniment that assists in creating the dramatic quality of this piece. Don Gato could be performed with a brief dramatic skit as the chorus sings. There are a couple of tempo changes but nothing too difficult for an elementary chorus. A few Spanish words are included. This piece is great fun for children to sing and audiences will truly enjoy listening to it. The tempo changes and dramatic dynamics make this an excellent ‘teaching concept’ piece. “Ole!”

Junior High
A La Nanita Nana
Spanish Folk Song, arr. by David Eddleman
3-part mixed
Carl Fischer

David Eddleman has composed a wonderful arrangement of the Spanish folk song and Christmas favorite A La Nanita Nana. Eddleman creates in the piano accompaniment a Spanish guitar-like sound that is very nice. All three voice parts are nicely written, easy to sing and create a lush sound. This holiday piece is usually sung in Spanish. Eddleman’s arrangement contains Latin rhythms and he has provided the English translation throughout. A unique feature in this arrangement is the baritones singing alone on pages 7 and 8, in unison. Eddleman chose a moderate tempo of quarter note=c. 92, a tempo which allows for young singers to phrase successfully. He has also added a few interesting rhythmic ideas such as the quarter rest found on page seven. Vocal ranges are:

Part I (Sop) sing C-G’ Part II (Alto) sing low Bb-D’ Part III (Bari) sing F#-D

Challenges presented may include the Spanish text and that this is a somewhat longer arrangement. Plus, there is no Spanish pronunciation guide provided, so directors are on their own! All voice parts contain triplets and sixteenth notes. Sopranos sing to G’ and the dissonance created when the voices sing occasionally in minor thirds and fifths could pose some intonation challenges for a junior high chorus. This is a unique, lovely arrangement of A La Nanita Nana and would work well for a more experienced junior high chorus and definitely worth the effort!

God Bless America
Irving Berlin, arr. by Joyce Eilers (Bacak)
3-part mixed
Hal Leonard

Joyce Eilers has arranged this Irving Berlin classic in a moderately easy arrangement for junior high voices. The altos and sopranos each have a section singing alone where they can shine. The majority of the piece moves easily in a straightforward, chordal structure. Sopranos do not sing above D’ with an optional festival ending of C’ and F’ division. Baritone range is F Db. This piece is a great final selection for a patriotic themed concert. It’s also a great choice for inviting an audience to sing along in audience

participation. Teaching concepts include: study of American composer Irving Berlin, study and history of patriotic themed music, singing in three part harmony and exploration of the lyrics. Suggestion for a multi-media approach: include an overhead projection of lyrics or American scenery using PowerPoint or similar.

Shalom Chaverim
Israeli, arr. by Catherine Delanoy
3-part mixed
Shawnee Press

There are two arrangements of this tune that work very well for this age group; both are published by Shawnee Press. Catherine Delanoy has created a wonderful arrangement of this traditional Israeli melody, full of lush harmonies. The piano accompaniment creates a string-like sound and is complimentary of the voices. The middle section has the three voice parts dividing into a three-part canon. Delanoy’s arrangement uses a repeated Hebrew text throughout. This piece is a good choice for an end of year concert but can also be performed for a holiday concert or for Hanukkah. The moderately easy to sing voice parts may present some challenge in singing Hebrew text in a minor key. Baritone range is F – D with the option of singing down one octave in several measures. Soprano range is low A to D’. Alto range is low A to D’. Patrick Liebergen also has a very nice three-part mixed arrangement of Shalom Chaverim. His includes optional parts for flute, hand drum and finger cymbals (or triangle.) There is also an optional soloist voice opportunity at the beginning of the piece. It ends with a descant.

I Hear America Singing

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