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The transforming and ameliorative power of music

Hi, folks -- I'm doing an SATB program focused on the transforming and ameliorative power of music. I am looking at pieces like Schubert's "An die Musik" (to be sung in unison in the middle-voice key), Vaughan Williams' "Serenade to Music," and Lasso's "Musica dei donum optimi." I'm looking for a few more pieces to round out the program. Any ideas you'd care to share?  Thank you!
on August 25, 2015 12:12pm
A few suggestions:
If Music Be the Food of Love – David Dickau
Sing a Mighty Song – Daniel Gawthrop
There is Sweet Music – Edward Elgar
Sounds like a lovely program theme.  Wish I could be there to listen.
on August 26, 2015 8:16am
The Choir Invisible by Ron Harris 
I sang this with Allen Crowell at Westminster Choir College and although it took some time to learn the harmonies, it was satisfying and the text is beautiful.
on August 27, 2015 7:10am
Muusika by Part Uusberg is exquisite. The translation is truly beautiful and harmonies uplifting,




It must be somewhere, the original harmony,
somewhere in great nature, hidden.
Is it in the furious infinite,
in distant stars’ orbits,
is it in the sun’s scorn,
in a tiny flower, in treegossip,
in heartmusic’s mothersong
or in tears?
It must be somewhere, immortality,
somewhere the original harmony must be found:
how else could it infuse 
the human soul,
that music?

Source: Poetry (June 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011

Report a problem with this poem

on August 27, 2015 9:05am
There are many good versions of "How Can I Keep From Singing?" including Gwyneth Walker's:
Jean C. 
on August 30, 2015 4:54pm
Hello Joseph,
Sounds like a great program! If you're interested in an SATB-piano arrangement of Schubert's "An die Musik," I have one you may like. You can see sample score pages and hear a recording here:
An SATB/orchestra version was commissioned by the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra in California, and I created the SATB/piano version from it.
All best,
Loretta Notareschi
on August 31, 2015 6:15am
We've performed that wonderful Lassus, Handl's Musica noste amor, various Cantate Dominos  , Laudent Deums, Peuerl's O Musika du Edle kunst, Tompkins Music divine, Lassus In Hora Ultima, Busnoys I Hydraulis, Many deplorations/encomiums (by Moulu, Compere, Josquin, Mouton, ,Isaac, Certon) which speak to the value of music and musicians. Many pastoral settings calling on the music in nature-Monteverdi's Ecco mormorar...-too many others!, Note that many of these are for 5/6vv.
Should you want notes/ translations contact us separately. I'd like to hear about your final selections!
 best Regards,
on August 31, 2015 5:23pm
Brian Holmes has a beautiful Serenade to Music.
on August 31, 2015 7:50pm
Many thanks, everyone, for your suggestions!
on September 2, 2015 12:56pm
Greeting Joseph:
If I may, I would humbly offer four of my pieces:
"I Hear A Sky-Born Music" - SATB, with piano accompaniment (soon to be published)
"Music, I Yield To Thee" - SATB, with piano accompaniment (published by Santa Barbara Music)
"Sing Me The Universal" - SATB (also available in several voicings), with piano or full orchestra
"When Music Sounds" - SATB, with piano accompaniment
If you wanted to include your women's group, I would also offer:
"We Are The Music Makers" - SSA, with piano accompaniment (published by Colla Voce)
Best of luck with your programming!
on February 25, 2016 7:11pm
Greetings all,
I thought I'd comment again on this thread to see if there are any new suggestions for this theme. I'm building a program based on Joseph's idea, and have a couple of minutes yet to fill. I'm using a number of the suggestions listed above, so I'm really looking for one or two pieces that have not yet been suggested. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful responses. I'm excited about this program. 
Best wishes,
Rich Nutting
Abendmusik of Colorado Springs
on February 25, 2016 10:50pm

Cantate Domino was mentioned previously. If this text is suitable, you might consider using Hyun Kook's recent setting. Certainly not easy, but very exciting – well worth checking out!


on February 26, 2016 8:22am
on February 26, 2016 10:54am
Hi Joseph,
"Each Future Song", published by Mark Foster/Shawnee Press through Hal Leonard - my composition on part of a Phillis Wheatly poem.
VW Kyrie from G Minor Mass
on February 26, 2016 11:07am
Hello Joseph,
I don't think any one has mentioned Samuel Barber's extraordinary Agnus Dei, perhaps better known as 'Adagio for Strings'. The choral adaptation was arranged by Samuel Barber himself, having begun its existence as the second movement of his string quartet Opus 11 (1936), which he later arranged for string orchestra and in 1967 for Choir, for which he used the Agnus Dei as text– speaking of transformation! It's eight+ minutes indeed transform me everytime I listen to it with intent. It hardly need introduction, but if you have eight minutes...  (Published by G. Schirmer; sung here by The Choir of New College Oxford.)
Applauded by an audience of 2
on February 26, 2016 1:09pm
How about Lowell Mason's  O Music?   Mason was one of our first American composers, wrote hundreds of hymns, and was responsible for getting music classes started in the Boston public schools.  O Music is usually sung as a round; may be available in other arrangements.
on February 27, 2016 7:44am
As a related aside, researchers are making some interesting correlations between the possibility that specific rhyithms may infuence brain waves and thus translate into emotions.
on February 27, 2016 4:33pm
"The Promise of Living" 
      By Aaron Copland
(My all-time favorite choral work!)
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 27, 2016 7:57pm
I'm kind of surprised that no one has mentioned Joseph Martin's "The Awakening". Besides being a powerful text on the subject of the role of music in the world and in our lives, the story behind the song is just as powerful of a story about music in students' lives.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 29, 2016 11:20am
WE love YOU ARE THE MUSIC with French horn by Dan Forrest. Great ending piece.
Carolyn Eynon Singers
on March 1, 2016 3:35am
For a short, easy, and rousing piece, there's Susato's Cum Decore (entitled Signum on cpdl)
Cum decore, cum amore, cum splendore, cum ardore, cum vigore, cum calore, voce cantate melodica. Gaudia mirifica, magnificate in musica.
Our small holiday choir, Exultemus, uses this as an opening number to great effect. Or it could be an encore.... We even flash-mobbed it at a Lifeboat fete in Scotland....!
It has a simple structure, but you can play with it, start with a solo sop line, then upper voices, lower voices, add a recorder, whatever you fancy. It's fun!
all best
Alex Murchie
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