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British Isles

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 07:28:19 EDT
From: JudithHigb
Subject: great English repertoire- compilation

Sorry for the long delay, here are the suggestions I received as well as my
two posts. Thanks to all who responded.

For next spring's annual Arts Festival at my church, we are considering an
English /British Isles theme. Possible plans include Simon Preston for an
organ recital, 3 performances of *Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat* an informal outdoors presentation by Highland dancers, etc.
Normally, my church choir does a majorworks concert often w/chamber orchestra
for the festival as well. I am considering doing a choralfest complete with
guest conductor where several area church choirs would combine for the event.
We would have at least one combined rehearsal in advance and then have
rehearsals all-day Sat. with the clinician as well as Sunday afternoon and
conclude the entire festival with the choral/orchestral performance on Sunday
MY QUESTION IS (after that long intro.): What suggestions would y'all
have in regards to a great piece of sacred choral lit. from the British Isles
that would work with experienced non-auditioned singers. Are there
anniversaries in 1999 that I should be thinking about? I'm also considering
using several slightly smaller works such as one of Handel's Coronation
Anthems, Britten's Te Deum in C and Rutter Gloria. These are works that could
be used again by the choirs individually.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Judith Higbee
Church of the Saviour (UM)
Cleveland, OH
Greetings all,
i am still working on English repertoire for our 1999 Arts Festival. I was
wondering if any of you are familiar with any of the following works? I would
be interested in your impressions and advice.
Delius' Requiem
Elgar's The Apostles
Elgar's The Light of Life
Howells' Requiem
If you want to get REALLY English, you might be interested in Elgar's
"Spirit of England." It's published by Novello, has excellent text, and my
chorus loved it, despite the rather parochial focus of the text. But then
the music universalizes that, as always. A major, 3-movement work, but not
that long.
Sounds like quite a project no matter what your choice of music. Hard to
say...your choir has certainly done challenging music, I guess I'd still
suggest you have a look at Sea Drift.
I think it is certainly within your range..the trouble with Delius is
that it really demands nuance which will be a challenge to achieve with
limited rehearsal. As far as recordings go, I'm actually a bit out of
touch with newer releases and would have to fall back on recordings from
earlier times, all of which date from LP days and might have been
re-released on CDs. Beecham was of course the real definitive
interpreter of Delius' music and anything with him would be wonderful.
The Howells Requiem is a wonderful work, I believe only released for
publication after his death. There is a great recording of it by the Dale
Warland Singers through the American Choral Catalog.
My name is Dr. Donald Caldwell (Driector of the Men's GC and Chamber
Singers at Caltech in Pasadena)...the Dr. comes froms from a DMA thesis
on the choral works of Delius. Needless to say it warms my heart to see
your interest in Delius' choral music...obviously I have a certain
fondness for these marvelous works and would be glad to make some

You were not too specific regarding the forces you had at your diposal
and how long a work you might be considering. Delius' works range from
simple part songs to the Mass of Life which is akin to the Missa Solemnis
in length and difficulty. Assuming a more modest circumstance, there are
several works to consider: Sea Drift (Whitman text - ~30 Min SATB/Bar.
Solo/orch), Requiem (Delius' text - ~40 min - SATB and Soli), Songs of
Farewell (Whitman text - ~22 min double SATB/orch). These have the most
choral content. Songs of Sunset and Arabesque are soli with chorus. All
Delius has extremes in range with divisi and a choral high b or even c,
he loved the baritone solo voice and as such, a strong soloist who has
command of range and expression would find any of these works and
exquisite challenge. Of them all, I would probably start with either Sea
Drift or Songs of Farewell.

All of the works save the Mass of Life end with wistful release. The
Mass has a final choral/soli combination which is everybit as tough as
the 9th

Hope this gives you something to go on. I'll be happy to elaborate
further as you like
It's gorgeous. Not easy though. 8 part a cappella with divisi in places,
and requiring, as all Howell's does, excellent breath control. If your
choir can do it though, it's a must.
Have you considered the Abdrew Carter Benedicite for Adult nd Children's
Also the Dona Nobis Pacem of Vaighn Williams is nice and the Five Mystical
Songs. Great idea to have this festival.
I've sung the Howells' Requiem several times with the Dale Warland Singers.
It's a very powerful, moving work. You'll need some good soloists,
especially a great baritone. Brian Newhouse (of MN Public Radio, also in DWS
and sang the baritone solo) has written some fabulous program notes. If
you'd like, I could try to get my hands on them from a previous concert.
Almost anything by Vaughan-Williams, especially movements from Dona Nobis
Pacem. They are easy to sing and very approachable for the audience. You
might also try arrangements of the Lost Chord by Sir Arthur Sullivan or bits
of Belshazzar's Feast by Sir William Walton.
he Coronation Anthems are great. The Dettingen Te Deum is also, I believe, a
stron contender. I like most all of wht I've heard by Stanford and by Mathias
as well. And don't forget our friend Purcell.
Had another thought: What about Britten's Spring Symphony? You could also
make use of a children's choir if you have one. It is taxing, but not
impossible. Another possibility would be the V-W Mystical Songs, but
they're really more of a baritone solo piece with the chorus being part
ofthe orchestral sound, except in the final number. And on the subject of
V-W, there is a version of the Serenade to Music for SATB divisi choir and
SATB solos. That's gorgeous, but not really enough to fill a concert on
its own (neither are the Mystical Songs).
For what it's worth, 2 birth anniversaries for 1999 are John Blow and
John Hilton. Of the Vaughan Williams works I have sung, I wonder if you
would be interested in (1) Dona nobis pacem, cantata-length, S and B
soloists, SATB and orch (2) Sancta civitas, oratorio, T and B soloists,
SATB and semi-chorus, orch (3) Mass in G minor double chorus SATB , SATB
soloists (a cappella but I love it).
The new Grove also lists "Three Children's Songs for a Spring Festival"
unison chorus, strings. Have never heard it or seen it on a recording,
but it intrigues me and might be a way to include an ecumenical
children's choir.
Britten Rejoice in the Lamb comes to mind...I enjoy William Walton's
music, but like his shorter, anthem length works the best...Michael
Tippett?...Gerald Finzi...he has a piece called "For St. Cecilia" for T
solo, chorus, orch. I have not heard it, but love everything else he
wrote. Your spring festival idea sounds wonderful, best wishes to you.
Off the top of my head, how about Elgar's Dream of Gerontius? I don't
actually know it myself, but everyone I know who does know it raves about
it. Or if you want to be really English, there's always "Spirit of
England". If I think of anything else I'll let you know.
On the subject of the Rutter Gloria, I'd leave it if I were you. Most
choirs of any standard over here wouldn't touch it (or any of his later,
contrived, unimaginative, and by his own admission commercial stuff, such
as the Magnificat), so it wouldn't be being particularly British. I really
would hesitate to call uch of his recent work "Great English Literature".
We have plenty of better contemporary composers around!

Date: Fri, 15 Dec 95 12:43:31 PST
From: "Brown, Mollie"
Subject: British Isles Results

Here are the results of my request for suggested literature; theme: the British
Isles. Thank you very much to those who responded. If you would like to add to
the list, please respond to me privately at [mbrown(a)].

BARBER, Samuel: The Coolin; SATB

BRITTEN, Benjamin: Gloriana Dances; SATB, SA, TTBB

BRITTEN, Benjamin: Hymn to the Virgin; SATB

CUNNINGHAM, Tom, arr.: Loch Lomond; Scottish; SATB; Unpublished

CUNNINGHAM, Tom, arr.: Ye Banks and Braes; Scottisch; SSATBB; Hinshaw HMC-1279

DUSON, Dede, arr.: Danny Boy; Irish Folk Song; SSAA; Kjos, 6171

DUSON, Dede, arr.: Loch Lomond; Scottish Folk Song; TTBB; Kjos, 5564

ELGAR, Edward, arr.: (Settings of English Folksongs arranged by)

HOLST, Gustav, arr.: (Settings of English Folksongs arranged by)

LOCK, William, arr.: Oliver Cromwell; SATB; Gentry, G-4012

MILLER, John D., arr.: O, No John; English Folk Song; SATB; Theodore Presser,

MULHOLLAND, arr.: O My Love's Like a Red, Red Rose; SATB

PARKER, Alice, arr.: Has Sarrow thy young dat shaded; Irish Folk Song; SATB;

PARKER, Alice/SHAW, Robert, arr.: Annie Laurie; Scottish Folk Song; SATB; G.
Schirmer, LG 647

PARKER, Alice/SHAW, Robert, arr.: (Irish folksongs arranged by)

RUTTER, John, arr.: (Settings of English Folksongs arranged by)

THIMAN, Eric H., arr: Kitty of Coleraine; Irish Melody; two-part, piano;
Boosey & Hawkes, 6138

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph, arr.: She's Like the Swallow; English Folk Song;
unison, piano; Oxford, 1147

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph, arr.: The Turtle Dove; SATB

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Ralph, arr.: Five English Folksongs; SATB

WILBERG, Mack, arr.: O Whistle and I'll Come to Ye; Scottish Folksong; SATB,
piano duet; Hinshaw, HMC-649
on September 27, 2004 10:00pm
Why haven't you included Thomas Morley or William Byrd?
on September 6, 2007 10:00pm
Dear sir,
I've been looking for the lyrics and the music of a song I heard in England back in the '70s. The first lines run as follows: "Little Tommy went 'afishing on a very pleasant Sabath day."
In vain have I been trying to find this (humorous) song anywhere. Could you hepl me with my research?
Thans in advance.
Yours sincerely,
Bernhard Buecker, OStR i.E.
on November 9, 2012 7:55am
I would really like to mention the music sung by my group, Albion.   (You may know that 'Albion' is the first known name for "these islands" - it dates from some time around the Roman occupation!)   
The niche we have chosen to explore with our repertoire is exactly this - the music of the British Isles (and of Ireland!).   I find this to be a most inspiring and inexhaustible source of material, and not something that any other choirs exclusively focus on (as far as I know).  There is such a variety, and such a long history, from folksongs to madrigals, plainsong, rounds... and of course our great literature as well: Chaucer, Yeats, Shakespeare, sacred texts, etc etc ...  I feel that we are following in the hallowed footsteps of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Sir Edward Elgar, and Benjamin Britten in ploughing the furrows of this music.  It is part of our heritage and we sincerely want to make it part of our future as well.
All of Albion's repertoire is arranged or newly composed (to existing texts) by myself.  The group consists of ten singers:  SSSMsATTBarBB.  This gives us great flexibility in texture and form.  The scores are mostly in 4 - 6 parts, often with one or more solos, nearly all unaccompanied (though some with piano, organ, or guitar) so it suits the group perfectly (it should do, as it's written for them!).  But it's also very flexible, and much of it can be performed by just one singer (ideally with keyboard or guitar) or, as has been successfully shown by many groups, by larger chamber choirs and even choral societies.  It's all very accessible and not difficult to learn.   We perform without copies or a conductor, so I have to make it logical for the singers and to structure it in a simple way that can be memorised.
So if any of you are looking for 'the music of the British Isles', I would warmly invite you to have a listen to / look at Albion, and to contact me freely.  We'd love to have the music of our land more widely performed.  We've got a Christmas disc on the way as well, so we might just be talking about that when you come to see us...  and we're also on Facehand, Tweeter, SoundCloud, YouTube and all the rest of it...    All the best.  Fraser