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Choral Arranging

I've been an amateur musician all my life, by which I mean that I make music because I love it, even if I do occasionally get paid.

Lately, I've become an amateur composer as well.  It starts with the old story: "I'm in a choral group, and we want to sing an arrangement of ..., but can't find one we like."   After that, the composing bug keeps returning like a social disease.  Of course, it helps if you can occasionally find folks to sing your stuff!

If you're involved with a choral group, please take a look at the postings.  I'm aiming for a fun sing, not high art.

 

Music for Women's Chorus

A Dutch Lullaby (2014)

A new setting of the poem by Eugene Field (1850-1895).  Also known as "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod".  SSAA, accomp., with soprano solo.  About 4:20. (JWP)

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

For The Ladies (2011)

A commission from former choir buddy Derrick Tilus blossomed into three pieces for women's choir.

  • Hidden Love, Sara Teasdale (1884-1933).  SSA, accomp., with brief S1 divisi.  About 2:40 in length. (JWP)
    This is the commission piece.  Premiered by the Chippewa Falls High School Varsity Women's Chorus on May 29th, 2013.
    • View the score - PDF
    • YouTube video and MP3 of the premiere performance.
  • A Winter Ride, Amy Lowell (1874-1925).  SSA, accomp.  About 1:40 in length.  (JWP)
    Energetic and full of the joy of life.  See the SATB version in the Mixed Voices listing.
    • View the score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3
  • A Ballad of Two Knights, Sara Teasdale (1884-1933), with fal-ral-ral interruption.  SSA, accomp., brief a cappella.  About 2:40 in length. (JWP)
    A fun send-up of men who know exactly what they want in a woman, until they find exactly the women they want.
    • View the score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3

 


 

 

Music for Mixed Chorus

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (2014)

This is an old hymn that I stumbled across as a youth - a moving text by Horatius Bonar paired with Thomas Tallis' "Third Mode Melody".  (The music was later used by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis".)  I've arranged the hymn into a somewhat more choral setting for mixed voices (SATB divisi).

  • View/download the score - PDF

This arrangement is offered free to all in memory of my late wife, Pastor Ann Dwelle Ward.  You are invited to download, copy, and use without cost, so long as the complete score (including cover, copyright notice, and all attributions) are present in all copies.

Note: This was originally intended as for men's voices, so a TTBB arrangement may be posted in the future, also available without cost.

 

A Winter Ride (2013)

A commission for women's voices led to three pieces.  This one I rewrote for mixed voices. (JWP)

  • A Winter Ride, Amy Lowell (1874-1925).  SATB, accomp.  About 2:00 in length.
    Energetic and full of the joy of life.  See the SSA version in the Women's Chorus listing.
    • View the score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3

 

A Prayer of Dedication (2011)

SATB with piano accompaniment. (JWP)

Setting of the familiar "Prayer of St. Francis", with a lively syncopated rhythm through much of the work.

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

Poetry by Bill Holm

Bill Holm was a well-loved Minnesota author, poet, and SMSU professor.  After his death in 2009, I was asked to set a couple of his poems for the SMSU Concert Choir.  "Bread Soup" was performed at a tribute in the Spring of 2009, and "Letting Go of What Cannot Be Held Back" was premiered in 2010.

I have permission to share these works with interested Minnesota choirs at no cost.  Please contact me by email if you'd like to receive a copy.

 

  • Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe (2009) SATB a cappella.
    Bill's version of the recipe emphasizes the time it takes to steam and soak and boil until the soup is "just right".  Perhaps a metaphor for the creative process in general?
  • Letting Go of What Cannot Be Held Back (2009) SATB a cappella.
    The final poem in "Playing the Black Piano", from a section reflecting on the loss of a dear friend, this poem reconciles with the realization that in the end you must let go and "practice your own song".
    • Concert Choir performance from Spring, 2010 - MP3

 

Danny Boy (2008)

SATB with piano accompaniment.  An easy arrangement for both singers and accompanist. (JWP)

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

Hard Times, Come Again No More (2008)

SATB a cappella with oboe obbligato. (JWP)

An arrangement of the familiar Stephen Collins Foster song, with a bit of a Celtic twist.  Includes three verses, sung out of order.

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby) (2012)

SATB a cappella.

A straightforward adaptation of the original harmonies for 4-part chorus.  Simple but sings well.

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

Revelation (2008)

SATB a cappella.

An early poem of Robert Frost captures the tension between needs for intimacy and anonymity.

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

MnSCU Fight Song (2009)

SATB a cappella.  Strictly for fun - a fight song for the seven universities of MnSCU, all at once!

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

 

 


 

 

Ordering information

This is copyrighted material, with all rights reserved.

  • Evaluation copies:  Permission is given to download and print an evaluation copy.
  • (JWP) - Print copies from J. W. Pepper:  You can find most titles on J. W. Pepper through the MyScore page, or with an name search.  Or click on any (JWP) link below for individual items.  Print copies are generally $2 each.
  • Digital delivery / print permissions:  I'm happy to provide permission to reproduce, typically $0.50 per copy.  Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Cash or check orders only.  J. W. Pepper can handle digital delivery through the MyScore site with a full range of payment options.  The price, however, is the same as for print copies.

 


 

Music for Men's Chorus

To The Ladies (2011)

Three songs for men's chorus dedicated, well, to the ladies.  Debuted by the SMSU Men's Glee Club in April, 2011.

  • No Platonic Love, William Cartwright (1611-1643).  TBB a cappella, with brief tenor split. (JWP)
    Cartwright basically pokes fun at lovers who claim to have passed beyond interests of the flesh to enjoy a purely spiritual connection.  The most challenging sing of the set.
    • View the score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3
  • Let the Toast Pass, Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816).  TBB a cappella (JWP) or accompanied (JWP), with brief tenor split.
    From his "School for Scandal".  Think "I went to a bar, and a song broke out."  Lift a pint to the ladies - every one of them.
    • View the accompanied score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3
    • View the a cappella score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3
  • Jenny Kiss'd Me, Leigh Hunt (1784-1859).  TBB a cappella. (JWP)
    There are several stories of the poem's origin, but "Jenny" is probably Jane, the wife of poet Thomas Carlyle, and the kiss a friendly greeting rather than a romantic encounter.  Hunt celebrates the perfect moment which time cannot steal from him.  A short and simple setting.
    • View the score - PDF
    • Computer-generated MP3

 

Precious Lord, Take My Hand (2008)

TTBB a cappella.  Debuted by SMSU Men's Glee Club and sung by smaller groups, including an octet at poet Bill Holm's funeral.

Thomas Dorsey - the gospel musician, not the bandleader Tommy Dorsey of the same era - wrote new lyrics and adapted an older hymn-tune while grieving for his wife and newborn child.  He gives voice to the weary, grieving soul: "I am tired, I am weak, I am worn".  But he also echoes the hope of the dying: "At the river I stand,...lead me home".  In this arrangement,  a counter-melody is paired with the traditional melody and text.

This work is available in print only.  The good news is that I miscalculated my costs, so copies are only $1.50.

 

The Fox (2010)

TTBB a cappella.  Traditional Appalachian song goes west and falls in among surfers.  Much fun, lots of energy.

  • View the score - PDF

 

The Hunting Song (2008)

Sorry, this work is not available to the public.  Arrangement of music by Tom Lehrer.  TTBB with piano accompaniment.  An outrageous spoof of the overzealous (and under-cautious) hunter.  This version includes nods to Mendelssohn and Woody Woodpecker in the accompaniment.  Debuted by SMSU Men's Glee Club.

 

 


 

 

Other Works

Oh Yet We Trust (2011)

Accompanied solo voice.  Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892).

  • View the score - PDF

Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (2009)

Solo voice with piano accompaniment.

A very straightforward accompaniment - definitely not Roger Quilter - born of necessity.  I was accompanying for a recital and didn't like the accompaniment provided.  Free for non-commercial use.

  • View the score - PDF
  • Computer-generated MP3

Yet Another Pi Song (2010)

Especially for March 14th.  Fifty digits of pi to the tune of Greensleeves.  No permissions required.  Knock yourself out.

  • View the score - PDF