Pieces for Mixed Voices, SATB and Beyond
All pieces are a cappella, and published by Boosey & Hawkes in their CME series, unless otherwise noted. Some of these pieces are ostensibly published for treble voices, but work equally well for mixed voices, and were designed with this kind of adaptability in mind. The polyphonic nature of my work lends itself to being moved from one combination of voices to another.

Kokopelli from Edmonton, in Banff with their twin choir, Mascato Coastal Youth Choir from Namibia.

African Celebration

(SATB)   979-0-051-47072-3
(treble)   979-0-051-46706-3

A medley that interconnects several South African freedom songs, sung in Zulu dialects and English. Features the round I built around the famous Freedom Is Coming . (The title "African Celebration" is courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes, and I've never been comfortable with it.) Sections can be excerpted and performed on their own - doing the whole suite requires the stamina of fairly advanced singers. Packs a considerable emotional wallop, and is especially good for large choirs. A word about the tempo markings on the score: I've been trying to remember how they got there in the first place, and can only assume that I was out of my mind. I do not intend for the opening tempo to be so suddenly slowed down at m. 95, nor do I mean for too sudden an upswing at m. 122 or 131 (depending on which edition you have, there is a change in metronome mark at one of those spots.) I intend for the beat to be flexible enough to broaden at m. 95, and then re-energize at m. 131, but I want it to sound like slight variations on the same underlying tempo, rather than a lurching change of gears. The Amabile recording is a good guide to tempi that I like.

For the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir of Toronto, Ontario, from the treble version for the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Ain't That News
(SATB: recording available of the treble version.)

(treble)   979-0-051-46907-9
(SATB)   979-0-051-47269-7

An original piece in the gospel style built aroundthe spiritual On My Journey Now. If desired, the voice parts easily form the basis of a piano part, but I don't recommend this unless your pianist has gospel chops. The piece mixes a lot of soul stylings into the gospel brew, with a funky, chanted ending that can go on for as long as you'd like. I'm pleased that the chart has gone down well in the American south. Medium difficulty. The Amabile clip demonstrates how I like to handle the ending, staggering the entries in a way not indicated in the score. I also change the work "mother" to "momma" throughout the piece.

For Chattanooga Sings! from the treble version for the Glen Ellyn Children’s Choir, IL.

All For Me Grog

(SATB)   979-0-051-47383-0
(SAB)   979-0-051-47511-7
(TTBB)   979-0-051-48033-3

Peterborough Children's Chorus
Now available for TTBB, revoiced for the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix. This is a sea shanty from Nova Scotia, first arranged for the Cantabile choirs of Kingston: a fun piece that lets the singers rant and roar. I've designed the SAB version so that if desired the whole piece can recycle the music from the first verse and chorus, both of which are easy enough to teach by rote if you wish. Additional verses can be sung to the music for the first verse, or they can be sung as written, creating as many variations on the first verse as the choir can handle. The baritone line has been written with young singers in mind - lots of melody within the range of a fifth - while the performance notes give further suggestions how the voicings can be shuffled and modified to give maximum comfort to changing voices and young tenors. Young singers seem to get a particular kick out of singing a choir piece that has a refrain like "All for me grog and tabacca!" Somebody in the SAB soundfile has a solar plexus grunt of which I stand in awe.

For Cantabile Youth Singers, Kingston, Ontario .

Corazón Vocal Ensemble
Corazón Vocal Ensemble from Nelson, British Columbia, directed by the queenly Allison Girvan. A soulful group that deeply internalizes their music, their soundfiles of 'All Too Soon' and 'Living In A Holy City', both to be found on this page, are recommended.

All Too Soon
(SATB with piano and guitar chords, optional flute, fiddle, accordion, bass and percussion)


Corazón Vocal Ensemble
A Celtic-flavoured piece written for Nova Scotia, "All Too Soon" looks at how, in the midst of all the talk of how small the world is getting, more and more young people must leave their ancestral homes for work, or for the university course that will get the work. At the same time, it's a swinging, rousing party-song, framed by a slower, tender prologue and epilogue. The party-song part can be sung with lots of gusto - the guys really let 'er rip. The piece is not too technically demanding - large parts of it are a quick learn - but you need to have that unbuttoned folk feel to really make it swing. Well, true, the opening can be a bear to tune, even though it's only in two parts. The piano part can stand on its own, although I've also supplied guitar chords, and the piece has an extra savour if you can get some other musicians to join in. (There's also an accordion player on the sound file included here.) String bass or electric bass can read along with the piano's left hand, while fiddle and flute play along with the right hand. The ideal drum would be the traditional bodhran (pronounced BOR-un), but drumsticks on a floor tom work splendidly too. I've found that singers and audiences latch on to the human element in the story, but they also like the strong beat and the very catchy tunes - in rehearsals this was the song that nobody could stop humming to themselves. The soundfile by Corazón has some clever customizations: altos added to the bass solo (nice!) and a subtle instrumental support in the slow opening section (very nice! Especially since that section is twice as hard to keep in tune as I thought it would be.)

For the Pictou County District Honour Choir, Nova Scotia.

Amazing Grace
(SATB with C or Bflat instrument)

(SSA)   979-0-051-47465-3
(SATB)   979-0-051-47126-3

Do we need yet another version of this famous song? I didn't think so, and yet it turned out to be one of my best inspirations. The wind instrument(s) take the melody, and the choir sings slowly-building counter melodies that produce, if I do say so, quite a gorgeous and powerful effect. Since it's a very fast learn, it's proved to be a useful way to start the fall rehearsal schedule. See "Ower the Hills" on the page for 3 part treble voices for advice on instrumentation.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.


Members of the Juvenata 2008 Festival Choir who sang the children's part in "As Above, So Below". Photos by Alex Keir.

As Above, So Below
(SSATB or SATB and children's chorus)


Juvenata! 2008
This belongs to the tradition of "music of the spheres", where the text and musical texture of the piece evoke the interdependent workings of the heavens and our own little planet. Full of circular, grooving ostinati that exert various kinds of magnetic pull on each other, the text is also full of circles ("I'm having déjà vu explaining that I'm having déjà vu…") as it links the cycles of the moon and the sea with the cycles of human history and the cosmos whose nature we reflect in miniature. This may sound rather highfalutin' , but the piece is meant to be funky and good humoured. The ostinati are quite simple in themselves - the challenge comes when cross-rhythms arise when they are superimposed. A piece with a very allusive text set to music with one foot planted in a Detroit horn section.

For the Vancouver Island CME, July 1999.

Baj Baj Baj
(Trouble, Trouble, Trouble)

SATB with some divisi

(SATB)   979-0-051-47723-4

Central Bucks
Central Bucks High School - West
A powerful, full-throttle folk song from Transylvania, this barn-burner imitates the slashing, rhythmic style of traditional village string playing. The text is Hungarian, although an English version of the verses has been included (and will, I hope, be ignored whenever possible). Suitable for small or large ensembles, this chart has more red meat than a freezer full of sirloins and more cutting edge than a tool box full of chisels: an excellent way to promote healthy, robust vocal tone, and to explore the folk music from a fabled part of the globe.

Two pronounciation hints not in the score: the word "baj" shouldn't rhyme with the English "bye-bye", but should have a bigger, more open vowel, such as the "aw" sound of, "Hey, Maw!", and the final consonant of the word "mint" should not be the crisp, sibilant "t" we have in English, but be something halfway to a "d".

For Central Bucks High School-West Chamber Choir, Doylestown, PA.

Juvenata 2008
Kokopelli of Edmonton, Alberta, entertains other singers with an African song during a break in rehearsals for Juvenata 2008. Photo by Alex Keir.

Ballad of Skipper Knight, The

(SATB, piano)   979-0-051-47721-0
(treble, accordian, violin, bass, and Spanish guitar)   979-0-051-10501-4
(treble, piano)   979-0-051-47412-7
(TTB, piano)   979-0-051-47722-7

Newman Sound
A lilting 6/8 song set in Newfoundland, where the singer walks along the ice fields in the moonlight, thinking of families and lifestyles gone by. The mood is both tender and triumphant, the melody is catchy and the beat invites you to sway in your seat. The part writing is unison or two part, with easy SSA divisi in the final chorus, although there are nuances of rhythm and phrasing to reward advanced choirs. An inspirational, spiritually uplifting piece that at the same time is a singalong country waltz. Good for both large and small choirs - and the option of adding accordion, violin, bass and guitar brings out the downhome flavour of the music.

In measure 98 there is a typo in the text, which should read, "No don't you", not "No you don't".

For Shallaway: Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus.

A final rehearsal in a suprisingly chilly hall for
"Best To Be Singing In Difficult Times", Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
Photo by Alex Keir.

Best To Be Singing In Difficult Times
SATB, piano and percussion (optional accordion, fiddle and/or flute)


Juvenata! 2008
Like "All Too Soon" this piece was written for "Juvenata", a wonderful festival in Nova Scotia hosted by the Pictou District Honour Choir, and both pieces rose from messages sent by the choir in which they discussed the large and small concerns of their lives. From the many letters that talked of disruptions in the family circle and the seasonal cycle came the title, "Best To Be Singing In Difficult TImes" and the desire to write a song that would stare the difficulties in the face with determination, not despair. As the song says, "It gets confusing. It makes you wonder what we're losing, and what's already gone." I open with a melody by De Lassus, set to my own ground, in which music is presented as "Dei donum optimi" - God's greatest gift. I then swing the De Lassus melody into the triple time of a slip jig, creating melodic and rhythmic variations on the original while preserving its canonic nature, so that part of this piece becomes a round between the men and women. A good percussionist is crucial, either on the celtic frame drum the bodhrán (which is the ideal), or on a floor tom, whose rim clicks make a good imitation of the bodhrán click. The piano part comes with instructions as to how it can be adapted for accordion, fiddle and/or flute. If you are able to form a "kitchen party band" with these instruments, I'd usually leave the piano out.


Boar's Head Carol, The


Cantus Vocum
Based on a carol as old as the Renaissance, this chart makes a splendid processional if desired, and indeed originally was sung as the Christmas feast processed into the dining hall at Queen's College, Oxford. Each verse gets its own musical variation, but for an especially quick learn the choir can stick to the music for one verse and just change the words. This carol, sung in English with a few tasty Latin tags, is both stately and festive, and would add plenty of atmosphere to a holiday concert - in fact, to any concert since the text describes a feast without any specific reference to Christmas. Soundfile by Cantus Vocum of St. John's, Newfoundland: Chad Stride, director.

Measures 24 and 28, the A naturals in bass and soprano were intended to be A flats, but the naturals work well too in a different way.

For the Oriana Singers, Cobourg, Ontario.

Bobinom' saintom'
SATB a cappella

(SATB) earthsongs   no IBSN

Choeur classique
Choral De La Salle
Bobinom' saintom' is from Les voix de la Vallée de l'Outaouais (The Voices of the Ottawa Valley), a collection of French-Canadian songs and field recordings compiled by ethnologist Lucien Ouellet, a close friend of Marius Barbeau. The music of the Ottawa Valley has not circulated widely as have the many famous French songs from Québec, and I'm grateful to Robert Filion for introducing me to Ouellet's collection, which remains too little known, even amongst French-Canadians. The logging business, which often appears in this collection, could be a much-needed meal ticket for the men of the Ottawa Valley, but as our narrator tells us, the work was so hard that unemployment could seem the lesser of two evils. The refrain of "Bobinom' saintom'" brings together bobin (a spool of thread or bobbin), homme (man) and saint, like the English "saint". (French-Canadian songs are full of off-hand religious references, even in a text that is otherwise secular, and do not carry the connotations of impiety one might feel in an English song.) The refrain then is a half-nonsense chant on "bobbinman, holyman". Whether or not it's intentional, the bobbin makes me think of the circular nature of this song, where words, rhythm and scraps of melody unwind in steady, rapid spirals, like thread shooting off a spool. I'm reminded of the French-Canadian tradition of children spinning their tops as they sang. The score comes with an optional English translation which preserves the rhyme scheme of the original. Commissioned by Robert Filion for Le Choeur classique de L'Outaouais.

The "Choeur classique" soundfile gives a good sense of the robust tone colour of the style. "Choral De La Salle", recorded in a dry acoustic, is lighter in timbre but gives a good up-close model for pronunciation.

TYPO: pickup to measure 45 to measure 47: sopranos should not be singing in parallel seconds with the altos, but should be signing in thirds as they do everywhere else in the score, for example, at m. 58.


Café de Chinitas
SAB voices and piano

  (Canada) Cypress CP 1135
(US) Musical Resources of Toledo

Larry Nickel Singers
Based on a traditional Peteñeras melody that I dance around the room to my own drummer, this Flamenco-drenched story starts at a slow, moody rubato and then builds full speed ahead. The piano burns slowly then spits fire. The piece gives the option of two different endings, one more advanced with divisi in every vocal part. Although an advanced choir would find plenty to challenge their styling and energy, the piece is meant to lie within the vocal ranges and the capabilities of a good middle-school choir - it was in fact Kingswood-Oxford Middle School who commissioned the piece. There are some passages of simple divisi in the soprano line, and a moment here and there where there is an optional tenor phrase that rises from the baritone. An entire curriculum unit could be based on the piece if desired, for the score comes with copious background notes on the style and history of Flamenco, handclap techniques, and the stories of the real Paquiro and Frascuelo, the two characters in the song. Yes, they really lived, but they did not live at the same time, so if these two bullfighters are having an argument in a café, it's no café in this world. The lyric was collected by Federico García Lorca in his account of folk music in Granada, "How A City Sings From November to November".


At the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff, after a great clinic
with Glenlawn Collegiate Institute, directed by Rob Monson.
The picture does the mood justice.

Canary In A Coal Mine


Young Singers
Written for the 20th Anniversary of the Young Singers, led by Anna Lynn Murphy, this piece makes it possible to bring together three ensembles: SATB, SSA and Unison. It can also be sung by a single SATB divisi ensemble, especially if the SA voices outnumber the TB voices, as is often the case. The Unison vocal line, which first enters at the pick-up to m. 57, can be sung by any mix of voices. Although it might require amplification, the SSA and/or Unison parts can be taken by soloists.

In olden times the men would go to the mines.
And to be sure that the air was there in the lines
They’d take a canary, and as long as it sang
They knew they were fine.

Sometimes you feel you sing alone in the dark.
Sometimes you feel you’re the only soul on the ark.
The dove carries the olive branch, canary carries the song,
And we all work the mines.


Come This Far
(triple SSA choir or double SSA choir and TB choir)


"Come This Far" is a sort of battle call that honours the grass-roots explosion of young choirs in our culture, and champions the choirs' role in holding together our musical traditions, hence our sense of identity. It has an anthemic force while keeping a modern, somewhat colloquial tone in the text: we're the kids who've come this far, come to tell you who you are. The piece was written for triple SSA forces, with the middle SSA choir designed to be sung by TB forces (the performance notes show how to keep the TB voices in two-part most of the time, should that be desired). But despite the triple choir texture I mean this to be an accessible piece that is manageable enough to be part of a choir's repertoire, not the laborious, one-shot-deal you practise like mad for and then never perform again. There's lots of repetition, lots of doubling of parts in different combinations, some unison passages - everything I can do to make it user-friendly. The result is a not-that-hard piece with lots of striking antiphonal effects that can be staged in a variety of ways, such as having two of the choirs sing from the right and left in the balcony, with the middle choir on stage.

For the 20th anniversary of the Mississauga Children&39s Choir, Ontario.

Rajaton: the superb Finnish group whose name means "No Boundaries".

Construction Ahead
(SATB and SSA choirs, or SATB choir with treble divisi, and percussion)


A Celtic-flavoured piece that merges with martial percussion, this chart is not driven by harmony, but by an involved and briskly moving melodic line often sung in mass unison or in two part texture. So even though the piece was scored for double choir, it could easily be rethought for single choir with passages of SA divisi. Themes drawn from Irish and British folk music (most particularly "The Rocky Road To Dublin" and "Royal Forester", both of which deal with the weary journey en route to justice) are fused with original text that examines the strange, distancing effects of modern journalism, where footage of human suffering is surrounded by computer graphics, network logos and pumped up theme music, so that human history becomes not a reality, but a virtual reality. The overall effect is meant to be a challenge, but not a downer. I wanted to write something inspiring and uplifting, but which stares the difficulties of this world straight in the face. The number of percussionists is flexible. At the premiere we had a smokin' snare drum with a floor tom and a djembe holding down the low beat.


Don't Bend Down
(SATB and piano, optional bass and drums. Can be done with children's chorus and SATB)


The title is Caribbean slang for "don't be pushed around; stand up for yourself." A molten swamp of gospel/funk/blues, this is designed to get the choir down and dirty, and the audience up and roaring. In keeping with traditional gospel SAB voicings, the tenors and basses often work in unison, but they still get their chance to go their own way. Some simple divisi occurs in the SA voices. I revoiced the published version from its original format of children's chorus and SATB, but if you want to include children on their own part, just contact me, and a few lines of instruction will let you put the voicings back into their original format. Lucky me, Jennifer Greene (aka Swamp-Mama) of Tennessee agreed to supply the piano part, and a baaaad handful of keys it is indeed. If your pianist wants to stir up some deep gumbo, this is the piece for you. The vocal parts aren't very hard, but your pianist should be ready to rock.

There are two balance issues I've found when working with choirs whose trebles do not thoroughly outnumber the T/B voices. At m. 37 have two or three tenor voices hold onto the E natural for m .37-8, coming off with everyone else at m. 39. In the three places where the 1st sopranos have a low entry (pick-ups to m. 11, 25 and 64) I have their part doubled by two or three strong male voices. They enter on the D above middle C, like the sopranos, except for the men the note is high in their range. When the sopranos jump up the octave for the second "Don't you bend down", the men do not jump an octave, but repeat their phrase on the D above middle C.

For Chattanooga Sings! Community Chorus, TN.

Double Shot (Honey in the Rock)
(SATB with low male or female solo, also available for treble voices)

(SATB)   979-0-051-47384-7
(treble)   979-0-051-47385-4

This is a slow gospel blues where I've built an original song around the gorgeous traditional refrain of "sweet honey in the rock". A hypnotic slow cooker that builds and builds until, deo volente, the roof is at least half a foot higher than when you started to sing. The solo is designed so that it can be sung "straight" or with gospel styling. Quick to learn, but still a showcase for phrasing, styling and deep-as-a-well vocal tone.

For La Jeunesse Girls' Choir, Cobourg, Ontario.

Drumbeat and Willowsong
(Pukjantan Yangryu Ga)

High Voice / Low Voice (with a dozen measures of divisi), flute, drum

(Individual parts for flute and drum)   979-0-051-10576-2

Nove Voce
Although originally written for the Cantabile Young Men's Chorus of Kingston, Ontario, this suite of South and North Korean folk songs can be sung by any combination of singers in a two-part texture of high voice and low voice. I have always been attracted to a mixture of sorrow and joy, and Korean folk music brings these two opposites together in a particularly striking way. The suite unfolds as a quest for both romantic and patriotic love as the beauties of landscape intertwine with the beauties of the fantasy lover. The singers find themselves in fishing boats, rounding a noble cape to the sound of drums; or climbing the passes of high mountains to the sound of rushing rivers; or hypnotized by the perfume of flowers and the scent of the beloved, to the sound of honey-drunk bees and birds. The use of a single drum (options for what kind of drum are discussed in the score) is in tribute to Korean p'ansori, one of my favourite forms of vocal music, while the use of the flute pays tribute to how in this culture the flute can suggest the languor of love, the vigour of adventure, and the undulating line of a landscape. The suite, which is sung in Korean, comes with detailed notes on pronouncing the language (the IPA transcription is much more straightforward than you'd think) as well as lots of background on the songs and their cultural context. More research and scholarship went into this suite than anything else I have published. My thanks to my Korean coach Lee Sunghwa, whose name means "a star in harmony and balance", and who brought both of these qualities to our discussions. The soundfile is taken from a section of the suite that shows the sudden tempo changes common in Korean music. Note that individual parts for the flute and drum can be ordered from Boosey. These parts are incorporated into the vocal score, but in that format they will not be convenient for the flautist and drummer to use in performance.


A smoking version of 'Dubula', performed by Hopewell Valley Central H.S., New Jersey,
where the men can jam even with the tops of their heads removed.
Photo by Matt Schwartz, www.mssphoto.com


(SATB)   979-0-051-47381-6
(SSAA)   979-0-051-48127-9

Originally written for Mark Sirett and the Cantabile Youth Singers of Kingston, Ontario, there is now a treble voicing written for the 2012 Windy City Youth Choral Festival, hosted by Elena Sharkova and her choir, also named Cantabile, although this Cantabile is from Silicon Valley. A Xhosa song well known in South Africa, "Dubula" has all the rhythmic drive and open-chord vocal gorgeousness you'd expect from a South African song, along with two other characteristics less common in the South African songs usually championed by the global choral movement. It opens with a half-chanted section in free time, which makes an excellent contrast when the driving rhythm suddenly kicks in. And unlike the "freedom song", "Dubula" has nothing to do with themes of religious and political struggle: it's just flat-out party. Optional dance steps, very easy to do and manageable on risers, are provided with the score. Although not hard to learn, "Dubula" makes for a barn-burning concert closer. I have had conflicting advice as to whether the syllable in the third measure be "ngom" or "ngem", but at the moment the "ngems" out-number the "ngoms" two to one, so I will go with "ngem". Oh yes, and in the chorus the syllable hayl should rhyme with "smile", not "whale".

The phrase at m. 4-6 and 15-16 suggests a child whining that the bird has stolen all the food, and when I conduct this piece I get the singers to use a whining tone and rub their eyes like fretful children. In the SATB voicing the basses have accented, low-pitched figures on the word "Dubula" at m. 72, 74 and 76. Unless a choir has a bass section big and strong enough to pump out those low notes, I get the basses to jump up the octave for the three "Dubula" figures. To see this option notated, click here.

People have told me that when they look up "Dubula" on the web, they are sometimes led to a piece whose title and lyrics translate as "Shoot The Boer". This is not the same song as "Dubula", whose title does mean "shoot", but whose lyrics have no reference to the Boers or to shooting another person. When singers perform my arrangement of "Dubula", they are not advocating violence or revenge. "Dubula" did originally carry a subtext of "Africa for Africans", but now the song is performed with an ethos of high spirits and good will. I have seen South Africans of several races and geneologies join together in raising the roof.




Tenors and basses are in unison, not to make it easy on them - this is an advanced piece - but in order to make a different sort of colour than is usual with SATB voices. I took a snippet from a Madagascar song in 5/4, and a snippet from a Yiddish song in 4/4, and found various ways to merge their DNA. This is a very joyous piece, very melodic, very fresh in mood, and although often performed by chamber choirs, it sounds wonderful with lots of voices, and seems to really energize the singers. Some of 5/4 rhythms look forbidding in notation, but sing very naturally when you get them off the page. And every rhythm is used repeatedly, so when you've learned one measure, you've learned a dozen. Ideal for a choir with a strong alto section.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario, for their 10th anniversary.

En El Principio


Commissioned in California by the Bakersfield High School Chorale and their director Christopher Borges, the bilingual text (English and Spanish) was written in collaboration with choir accompanist Alicia Ellsworth. En el principio somos diferentes – diferentes nombres, diferentes caras, historias, razas. “In the beginning we were all different – different names, faces, stories, races.” The choir becomes the image of e pluribus unum, and the yin/yang themes of unity within diversity and diversity within unity are musically underscored by the use of counterpoint, interconnected ostinati, and the trading of vocal lines between the sections. Percussion and string bass help create the Latin beat, and although the piece can be performed without the bass, it is much richer and harmonically more grounded with it. While workshopping the piece with the choir we found that different tempi created interesting variations in mood and groove. The accompanying soundfile has the crackling energy of the premiere, but we also liked the suave feel when the tempo was a little slower.


Ezekiel Saw The Wheel
(SSATB, optional solos)


There are many settings of this famous spiritual, but mine still strikes people as fresh - exhilarating, in fact. It's very energetic, fast-swinging and hard-driving, with lots of rapid fire call and response and sudden changes in dynamic. If you have a singer or two with jazz chops, there's opportunities for scatting, but the piece will work fine without it. A real barn-burner, great for big choirs, and great for ending with all engines roaring.

For the Seattle Men’s Chorus, WA.

Dr. Joseph Ohrt
Dr. Joseph Ohrt on the road with Central Bucks High School-West
from Doylestown, Pennsylvania

First To Know

(SSA/SATB or SAB/SATB)   979-0-051-47651-0
(SSA/SSAA)   979-0-051-47652-7

I intended this piece to combine a three-part chamber choir with a larger 4 part ensemble, but there is room for balancing the forces in various ways. This is a bluesy cooker with a deep backbeat that gathers together various influences from the gospel tradition. The text paraphrases sayings such as "Oh Lord, I ain't what I ought to be; but oh Lord, I ain't what I used to be"; "I want to walk in Jerusalem, just like John"; "Every sinner got a future, every saint has a past." The melody is based on the great gospel classic, "Good News! The Chariot's Coming!" There's lots and lots of counter-melodies, lots and lots of call and response, and an energy that builds and builds into what should be a killer way to either open or close a concert. Also available for double treble choir.

For the Seattle Men’s Chorus, WA.

An explosion of raw aggression on the Cleveland stage. Central Bucks High School West,
one of the commissioning bodies for Flying Colours, shows how effectively a costume can be
combined with the singers' formal recital clothes. For pictures of an alternate production,
look up Flying Colours on the Compositions Page for four-part treble.

Images captured from the DVD of Flying Colours.

Flying Colours
any combination of voices with percussion and optional piano


Part 1 - Central Bucks High School - West
Part 2 - Central Bucks High School - West
This is a masque of about twenty minutes in length, in which the story is told through ritualized movement and costume as well as through music. The video file shows footage from the beautifully realized premiere performance by the Saskatoon Children's Choir led by Phoebe Voigts. (The piece, a three-way commission, was also written for Joe Ohrt and his Central Bucks High School-West Chamber Choir, and Eric Wilkinson and the Sumpter High School Choir.) "Flying Colours" is a parable of suspicion and conflict. Four tribes, each with their own standards of costume and custom, concentrate so much on each other's differences that they miss how their four tribal chants create a lovely texture when sung simultaneously. Tensions mount amidst escalating skirmishes and broken treaties until there is war, destruction, an afterlife of haunted grief, and a closing section that suggests both how we never learn, and yet at the same time how we must. Whether the masque closes in an atmosphere of sunset or sunrise is up to the group, as are many other creative details of costuming and choreography. My text, thanks to the suggestion of Phoebe Voigts, is in "Amadeus language" - nonsense syllables out of which each tribe constructs its own speech. This has the side benefit that in the war sections where everything is fast and loud, the audience doesn't have to keep track of actual words. Percussion instruments (kalimbas, drums, rainsticks, cowbells, vibraslaps and finger cymbals) are distributed amongst the tribes as marks of status and honour as well as the instruments that keep the masque moving forward. The performance notes give details as to which parts are the most advanced and how the instruments are to be distributed. At the premiere, the Saskatoon Children's Choir had the kalimba parts softly doubled by a piano, which sounded very well as the piano's greater sustain helped the kalimba parts carry, which helped the singers keep in tune.

TYPOS: m. 127 in the top voice, the syllables should be "do-zo" not "lo-zo". At m. 99, the accents in the drum pattern should be the same as in the passage that starts at m. 109.


Bell' Arte Singers
The Bell' Arte Singers in a final rehearsal with founding director Lee Willingham. "From The Lee Shore"
was written in honour of their last concert together. The choir also commissioned "Hard Shoulder", one
of my best pieces.

From the Lee Shore


Bell' Arte Singers
Lee Willingham has conducted Toronto's Bell' Arte singers for twenty years, and this piece was sung by the choir as a surprise farewell at his final concert. The title puns on his name, but the true meaning of the title is that since the wind blows towards a lee shore, when we say farewell we must push away from a shore that doesn't want us to leave and sail into the wind. The piece, which combines rich chords, plainsong and polyphony, bears no textual reference to anyone, and becomes a farewell to a way of life or a way of thought as much as to a person. The piece is calm and reflective, but also celebratory, especially of the choral musician's life. As the Latin plainsong in the middle of the piece proclaims, "In the beginning, God created sound."


(SSATB, recording available)
(Sound file is SSAAB.)


An exotic, early Renaissance feel that singers like to help create. Room for 1 to 4 soloists. The choir only has about fifteen seconds' of music to learn, but you can get many variations by mixing and matching the different voice sections. For example, the soloist sings his/her bit, then have two or three of the parts sing the refrain, then repeat the refrain with all five parts. Bring in the next soloist, and start the process over, but with a different set of two or three voices doing the first refrain. For choirs not up to five parts, the polyphonic texture will also work with fewer voices. Good for when you need a Christmas number that can be learned quickly. Lends itself to processionals and candlelight. I wrote this for a high school choir in its first year, but accomplished choruses will find plenty here to please them as well.

For Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario.

God-Bless Wassail


This piece comes in three short sections that can be mixed and matched any number of ways: ABCA; BCACB; ACBCABCB; AB and forget the C; etc. This allows you to create a close-the-concert anthem that you can be customized to the length and mood you want. It's a swaying, carousing triple time andante with a chorale-cum-madrigal center, and you can perform it in every style from dignified to office-party. Although originally commissioned to end a Christmas concert, it can be used at any season for any faith, sacred or secular. Not difficult, although there is a contrapuntal independence of parts in the B section.

For the Amabile Boys’ Choir of London, Ontario.

Hard Shoulder
(SATB - published by Roger Dean)

(Roger Dean)   15-1756R

Written to honour the House of Compassion, a Toronto outreach to street people, Hard Shoulder is narrated by the street people themselves. Although there is no explicit language, the reality of life on the streets is still presented in an unvarnished way that hits audiences where they didn't expect to be hit. The struggle of the homeless, and of the people who wish to help them, is presented without platitudes, without sentimentality, and without easy answers, but the final message of the piece is humanitarian with a capital H. No other piece of mine has connected so powerfully with so many different types of listeners: among the people who have embraced the piece are substance abusers, runaways, born-again Christian preachers, atheists, professors of ethics, theology students, social workers, political scientists, and fans of Broadway who respond to the vivid characters in the piece and the equally vivid music that summons up life on the street - a mixture of Caribbean, Middle Eastern, classic rock and swing, as if a dozen different radios were spilling out of a dozen different windows.
There are some missing accidentals in the first edition of the score. In m. 16 all the B's should be Bflats. In m. 190 the alto F should be Fsharp. In m. 206 in the bass the Bflat should be Bnatural.


Heave Away

(Alliance)   AMP 0716

Juvenata! 2008
In many SATB groups the SA voices outnumber the TB voices, sometimes drastically - especially when several SATB groups combine in a massed choir. "Heave Away", like its companion piece "Sarah", also published by Alliance, was written for situations where the upper voices are in abundance. The SA voices extend themselves through simple but rich divisi, while the men have a part with lots of spotlight that still works when the TB voices are in the minority. "Heave Away" is a foot-stomper from the Newfoundland docks that alternates between lilting melody and great big fat chords: great for starting the concert with some open-throated oomph. The part-writing is straightforward in the desire to make "Heave Away" and "Sarah" practical for big groups.

For the 2006 Festival of Catholic High School Choirs, Archdiocese of Seattle, WA.

Heaven Bound Train

(double SSAA choir)   Colla Voce 21-20226
(SSAA and SATB choir)   Colla Voce 21-20112

A slow cooker that builds to meltdown, this setting of an obscure spiritual takes the old gospel train image (plus the image of the underground railway to freedom) further than ever before, complete with long, scalding steam whistle blasts at the end. Packs a huge wallop that seems to really grip singers - of all my charts, this is the one that choirs have most repeatedly told me they are dying to try. Advanced. Both voicings are for a double choir, and in each case Choir 1 is SSAA. (Depending on the voicing, Choir 2 will be SSAA or SATB.) In both voicings Choir 1 is the more technically demanding, and is suitable for a double or triple quartet as well as a chorus.


Heaven Somewhere
(SATB, with soprano divisi in final chorus)

(treble)   979-0-051-47074-7
(SATB)   979-0-051-47267-3
(TTBB)   979-0-051-47073-0

Western Oregon U.
A gospel number associated with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the woman who mixed swing with the sacred like nobody had done before. Lots of energy, with a funky middle section, a great beat, and an irresistable melody. The fingersnaps in the score show that the swing style is uppermost, for fingersnaps have no place in the gospel tradition. N.B. Typo in m. 34: 2nd soprano should be rhythmically the same as the ATB voices.

For the Arts Bureau of the Continents, the Niagara Festival 2000, from the original version for the Seattle Men’s Chorus.

Cantus Vocum, the wide-ranging and well-traveled chamber choir from St. John’s, led
by Chad Stride, who commissioned "Heaven To Earth" and "The Jolly Roving Tar."

Heaven To Earth
SATB with divisi


Cantus Vocam
Chad Stride, founder of the St. John's chamber choir Cantus Vocum, asked me for a piece in which somebody reconnects with a lost faith at Christmas. Well then, in St. John's, which may just have the foggiest, most turbulence-bedevilled airport on earth, it becomes a matter of faith whether or not your plane is ever going to land, especially at Christmas Eve. Anyone who has lived in St. John's has their own stories of white-knuckle flights where all sorts of bargains are made with God as the plane is tossed about the stormy skies like a matchbook in a hurricane. This song, which combines elements of folk music, blues, crazy chords and gentle lullaby, follows the thought processes of a frightened passenger as the text develops into a multi-levelled Christmas Eve prayer for airplane and redeemer to both "come down". The soundfile is from a Christmas Eve performance in the home of Chad Stride himself.


Holly and The Ivy, The
SATB a cappella

  Porfiri & Harváth
PHP 112 055

My arrangement of this famous English carol uses a little known alternate melody in lilting 2/4 time, so that my version would strike audiences as both familiar and new, which is a handy combination when you're putting a concert together. The folk-song atmosphere is matched by lots of Hatfield-style counterpoint, so that all four voices have lots of melodic material, and every voice has a chance to be in the foreground of the vocal texture. The arrangement is designed to be a quick learn for a "reading choir", while still giving ample opportunity for polish and nuance. The soundfile features the Victoria chamber choir "Soundings", led by Denis Donnelly.


In Europum Natus Est   In Europum Natus Est
Rehearsing "In Europam Natus Est" with the Gentlemen Singers. I’ve been up about 36 hours at this point.
For a shot of the whole ensemble in the studio, look up the piece on the composition page for Men's Voices.

In Europam Natus Est

(SATB)   Order through this website
(TTBB)   Order through this website

Gentlemen Singers
Gentlemen Singers
Written for the Gentlemen Singers of the Czech Republic, “In Europam Natus Est” (“He Is Born In Europe”) is an a cappella suite, about twenty three minutes in length, that brings together Christmas carols, liturgical chants and quotes from Chesnokov and Handel (plus some secret handshakes with Beethoven and Rachmaninoff) to form a mosaic of melodies first heard in Spain, Catalonia, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Burgundy, Provence, Sicily, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania and – as the suite moves from the edge of one continent, one time frame to another – Byzantium. Christmas medleys can be difficult: how do you keep such a frequently visited genre fresh? How do you avoid the predictable, episodic sense of, “Here’s a melody, and here’s the next one, and the next, and now we can tell we’re gearing up for a little change of mood owing to the completely obvious signals in the music….” But at the same time, a Christmas suite is not the time to get too iconoclastic, too clever-by-half. That’s not the right social contract with your audience.

With my suite I have created a narrative that starts with Latin chant for Christmas and ends with a Byzantine chant for Easter; and by frequently dividing the choir into a double choir, I am able to create an underlying antiphonal structure that gives form to the rapid interchange and intertwining of melodies as carols are compared on the basis of their theme, melody, or rhythm. The two excerpts from the suite included on this website take you from the opening Latin chant into the first antiphonal exchanges between the double choir, and then move towards the middle of the suite where the carols alternate more slowly, receiving more thorough development before we careen back into the 2nd set of antiphonal exchanges that start the second half of the piece. Some of these carols are world famous. Some are rarely heard outside their own land. Publishers are frightened of an a cappella piece that lasts this long, but there are places where one can pause and retune if one needs to, which the Gentlemen Singers have done on occasion, especially in early performances. The suite is intended to work whether or not the audience has translations of the texts. The piece is especially suitable for chamber choirs of at least eight voices.

My thanks to the following people for their help with the many languages that appear in this suite: Taylor Adams, Marcos Carreras, Jussi Chydenius, Ivars Cinkus, Dr. Florin Diacu, Rudy Heijdens, Joanna Kazik, Stijn Kolacny, Lukáš Merkl, Eva Mezo, Jean-Claude Minet, Zimfira Poloz, Martin Ptáček, Elfie Schau, and in particular Dr. Deborah Hatfield Moore.


The night sky at Hradec Králové, homebase during the
Prague recording sessions for 'In Europam Natus Est'.

Jabula Jesu
(SSATB and two percussion, optionally more)

(SATB)   979-0-051-46723-5
(treble)   979-0-051-48254-2

Hopewell (SATB)
Partner in Praise (treble)
To answer the question I'm most frequently asked, yes, both 'J's are hard,  and "Jabula" is accented on the middle syllable. (There is a pronunciation guide with the score.) An irresistible South African melody in a very rhythmic setting that spotlights every section of the choir. Singers seem to get a big charge out of this one - I wrote it for a first year high  school choir, and it's also been done by middle schools, but even experienced choirs get completely hooked. Easy to learn, and makes quite a show stopper.(An abridged version of this song appears in African Celebration.) If you had success with this piece and want something similar yet different, check out Living In A Holy City.

There is a crazy typo in the translation which has pursued various editions of this piece. "Thandaza" should be "pray", not "play". However, the phrase "have a good time" is not an accident. When I was learning the song from a young man named Prince, he stressed that the mood in this song is one of joyful prayer. "Have a good time" was Prince's own phrase, and I think it may have been that phrase that convinced people that the word was "play". The confusion does raise a pleasing point though. Isn't it rather lovely that the two verbs, play and pray, can have fused owing to this ongoing mistake.

For Mayfield Secondary School, Brampton, Ontario.

Jacob's Ladder
(SATB and soloist)


Western Oregon U.
Seattle Catholic Schoolboard
Not to be confused with Carol of the Ladder, which is described above. I aim for the strong emotions in this well-known spiritual, starting soft and mournful, slowly building to grand jubilant chords that melt into an ending that is both spooky and at peace. The choral parts are not difficult, but there's lots of room for styling. Lots of slow, intense call and response between soloist and choir. Such a powerful song, and this version seems to really get audiences where they live. (Unfortunately, that's not much use if they're out of the house and at your concert.) (Where I come from, this passes for humour.) (Just barely.)

For the Seattle Men’s Chorus, WA.

Ronnie Milsap and Stephen Hatfield
Dress-rehearsal at the Grand Ole Opry: leading the Crossroads Childrens Festival Chorus with Ronnie Milsap at the piano. Photo by Doug Wright.

J'ai vû le loup

(SSA)   979-0-051-47563-6
(SATB)   48019910

Amabile (SSA)
Juvenata! 2008
For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario, revoiced for SATB for Hopewell Valley Central H.S. of Pennington, NJ. The title means "I've seen the wolf". In this down-home kicker of an old French song the narrator meets with a fox and a hare as well, and outdoes them all when it comes to shouting, whirling and twirling, and being a wild, victorious thing in general. There are only a few lines of French to learn, along with a melody that will have the whole choir humming as they leave rehearsal. Not too technically advanced a chart, but one that does well with some more mature, high school voices in the mix. Overall, a song of triumph that starts with a whisper and builds to a roar. If you compare the soundfiles you will notice the treble version by Amabile goes at a brisker pace. Originally I wanted the whirlwind of energy created by a quick tempo, but came to feel that a slower pace added defiance and dignity to the revels. This is, after all, a song of survival.


Jesus Met The Woman At The Well


A gospel tune that gets treated to a bluesy swing with a heavy groove and strong backbeat. The choir really gets to tell a story, with lots of role-playing  and call and response between the "characters". There are scatting opportunities if you have singers so inclined. The beat is mighty infectious, and this chart has proven to hook singers and audiences alike. Some big, tasty chords, some wicked little licks, and a lot more serious humour than this style usually affords.

For the Seattle Men’s Chorus, WA.

Job, Job
(SATB with some divisi)

(SATB)   979-0-051-47806-4
(SSA)   979-0-051-47572-8

Partners In Praise
The Drake Chorale
Best suited for the more mature sound of high-school singers or older, this piece comes from the bluesy, moaning, deep-souled traditions of the field yell and the gospel holler. According to the choirs who've sung it there is an electricity in the air from the first notes on. There is some soprano divisi, although it's simple and homophonic in nature. Centered around the famous story of Job, the piece contains both the darkness and the uplift we associate with that harrowing tale. It starts out as a groan of grief and ends like a blazing chariot, soaring and victorious. The soundfile features Partners In Praise Girls' Choir, directed by Julia Fahey, performing the treble version of the piece.

In the first editions of the printed score, the 1st line of the 2nd paragraph in that part of the Performance Notes called “optional percussion” should say, “In the choruses you could introduce a tambourine”, not “In the verses you could introduce a tambourine”. Some sharp-eyed conductors have noted inconsistencies in the placement of vocal scoops. These inconsistencies are unintentional (my apologies). Choirs can assume that when melodic lines are repeated, the approach to the scoops remains the same, and a scoop that occurs in one voice will also occur in another.

For Partners in Praise Girls’ Choir for their 10th anniversary.

Jolly Roving Tar


Cantes Vocum
Cantus Vocum, a chamber choir in St. John's, asked for a rollicking Newfoundland folk song that had nothing to do with fishing. The hero of this song may be a sailor, but it's the drink, not the fishing, that keeps him wet. He flirts with the ladies, gets to know the floor of certain pubs extremely well, and bids farewell with a salty nobility, his eyes raised to the setting sun, while the choir sings him to rest with the song's thumping refrain, "When the money's gone it's the same old song: Get up Jack! John, sit down!" The chart features some "chin music", or Celtic scat where the STB voices imitate a traditional dance band while the altos lead the verse. Soundfile by Cantus Vocum of St. John's, Newfoundland: Chad Stride, director.


Aliqua   Aliqua
Aliqua performs their customized version of "Ka Hia Manu".

Ka Hia Manu
(SATB and two percussion, optionally more)

(SATB)   979-0-051-47137-9
(TTBB)   48019909

A suite of Polynesian styles, ranging from very ancient and energetic chants, to a hushed pentatonic murmuring, to the melodies that grew out of the hybrid between native music and missionary hymns. The title means "Many Birds" and birds, which are central to Polynesian mythology and folklore, are the main thematic link in texts that merge the holy places of the islands with the heroic king, Hotumatu'a. The Polynesian words are easy to pronounce, and much of the piece can be learned quickly. A lot of fun for the singers, and the chants are ideal if you have a high-spirited choir. The men get to grunt and snarl like true warriors.
In m. 62, the soprano F should be Fsharp.
Here are some tips for when the percussionists are asked to hold bamboo poles and strike downward. Bamboo poles can usually be found in Chinatown furntture stores, but PVC pipe may be easier to get. I've used a wide variety of diameters in both bamboo and PVC. In order to get a big, resonant sound (and to protect the surface you are "poling" against) it helps to strike the poles against the little wooden platforms that are staples in theatre arts departments. The space in the wooden structure acts as a resonator and amplifier. Depending on the size and height of the platforms I've had the percussionists stand on the floor and drum the poles against the platform, or sometimes the percussionists are standing on the platform as well, although depending on the equipment you're using that can deaden the sound somewhat.
At m. 267-70, the score has you alternate between 2/4 , 3/4, 2/4, 3/4. I find that it is better to reverse the pattern and conduct 3/4, 2/4, 3/4, 2/4. The rhythms do not change, but will be divided into different metrical units that feel much more stable to me. I also keep the poles and handclaps driving non-stop together right up to the break before m. 271.

In the published score there is a line missing from the translation. "Tahiti vai mare'are'a" is something along the lines of "Tahiti, our country, 'tis of thee!" - a rhetorical, elegaic invocation of Tahitian glory in pre-colonial times . It is, by the way, a phrase associated with Tahitian poet Henri Hiro, a champion of Tahitian national identity and a much revered figure, even though his poetry, deliberately written in archaic, classical Tahitian, was not read with ready comprehension by most of his countrymen.

For the Amabile Chamber Choir of London, Ontario.

The piano scatters the first raindrops, and the ladies reach for their shawls. Kokapelli of of Edmonton, Alberta
unleashes the premier of "Koka" at Podium 2008 in Sackville, New Brunswick.

SSAA or SATB and piano, four hands

(SSAA)   979-0-051-47910-8
(SATB)   979-0-051-47911-5

Juvenata! 2008
Kokapelli Choir
Written for Kokopelli of Edmonton, Alberta, because I knew they would turn the piece into their own miniature Bollywood spectacular. This old Punjabi song also works without choreography, but it won't work without two good pianists at the four-hand piano, where precise rhythmic control is crucial. The song finds our hero and heroine in India's rainy season, trapped by a sudden downpour. Ths gives our heroine the perfect opportunity to use all her powers of persuasion to get her man to buy her a "koka", or a "nose ring", to honour her youth and her beautiful complexion. For most western choirs it will take a while to get used to singing in Punjabi, but oh boy is it worth it! The piece is advanced, not because of crazy tuning, but because I have tried to keep the Punjabi vocal ornaments, traditionally sung by a soloist, in place in the choral texture. The song is in straightforward 4/4 time, but rhythmic challenges abound nonetheless as the voices imitate the flexibility of an Indian flute and the four-hand piano imitates the shimmering, virtuoso licks of an entire Indian dance band. My arrangement is not only a tribute to Kokopelli, but to musicians Kiran Ahluwalia and Kiran Thakrar.


Les draveurs de la Gatineau (Raftsmen of the Gatineau)
SATB and piano

  Cypress CP 1204 (Canada)
(US) Musical Resources of Toledo

Les Choeur classique
Commissioned for Robert Fillion and Le Choeur classique de l'Outaouais as part of a project that explored the French-Canadian folk songs of the Gatineau region, I learned this song from a lady singing a cappella in her kitchen. Arranged as the sort of old-fashioned waltz the raftsmen might dance to at the end of the drive, the SATB voicing is straight-ahead and uncomplicated, but with lots of variety and opportunities for every part to get some spotlight. The French text is a marvelous piece of time-travel, taking us into the logging camps, down the rapids, through the trading post and finally into the party that celebrates the end of the dealings and the close of the working year. While I encourage choirs to sing the French, the score also comes with an English version that is faithful to the meaning, if not to the panache, of the original. The French is much more standard and easily learned than the colloquial texts of many French-Canadian songs, and this piece would be useful to the many choirs in Canadian festivals and competitions who need to sing in both of our national languages.


The Crossroads Festival choir burns through 'Living In A Holy City' at a warm-up concert for the
big show at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Doug Wright.

Living In A Holy City
(SATB (some soprano divisi) with optional percussion)

(treble)   979-0-051-47276-5
(SSATB)   979-0-051-47294-9

Corazón Vocal Ensemble
For the Peace College Chamber Singers of Raleigh, NC, at the inauguration of their head. “Living In A Holy City” is a musical hybrid; inspired by the nature of the commission, I grafted the “Crown him!” refrain from the old hymn tune Diadem onto the melody of a South African freedom song that expresses the yearning for a spiritual home. The hybrid moves into original music that incorporates my favourite technique of superimposed ostinati that slowly unfold like a kaleidoscope pattern. (If you like “Jabula Jesu”, this is the next step.) In the soundfiles you will hear some different approaches to the percussion, and indeed, I’ve often used the piece without percussion or handclaps at all. Tuneful, rhythmic, with every section getting lots of tasty lines, this is suitable for both sacred and secular gatherings, as either a concert opening or a closer. Cultures all over the world start out with the assumption that the divine resides on mountain tops, until the revelation comes that all the land you see below you is divine as well, so that “every step you take is the promised land”. That is the theme of this piece, which reminds us that all cities are holy (interesting to note that I wrote the words while walking the hills overlooking Belfast).

The piece can easily be adapted so that a second unison choir joins in, singing the melody and then repeating the unison chant of “I must be living in a holy city” in the closing section. The recording by Hopewell uses this approach, as does Amabile on the CD ‘Live and Kicking! See the discography for both recordings.

I have always been embarrassed that Boosey & Hawkes lists this piece as “words and music by Stephen Hatfield” when the music is so clearly based on a well-known South African freedom song, for all that I am expanding on it. Apparently at the time of this commission there were some startling copyright claims were being placed on various freedom songs - none by Africans, of course. The powers-that-be wished to avoid the matter, and so against my pleas this piece went into print with the music credited to me. My earlier website entry for this piece tried to tippy-toe around this issue, as this new entry must also do to some extent. But I want nobody to think that I am claiming responsibility for that great melody. (In my own little act of defiance of the legal situation, “Living In A Holy City” makes a continual multilingual pun between the English “City” and the Zulu “Sithi!” (we say, we proclaim).


Rehearsing at Juvenata!, Nova Scotia
Photo by Alex Kier

La Lluvia (YOO-be-ah)
(SATB and three percussion)

(treble)   979-0-051-46941-3
(SATB)   979-0-051-46940-6

Non stop rhythmic energy below a cool surface. Inspired by a panpipe riff from the high Andes, the whole piece spirals out of a couple of ostinati. The interweaving riffs create a soundscape of la lluvia, or "the rain." The basic ostinato, from B below middle C to the D a tenth above, moves upward through the choristers' break in a way that strengthens and limbers up the voice. The basic material is learned very quickly, but the choir needs to be on their toes when all the spirals are put together.

There is a typo in m. 34 of both the treble and SATB voicings. The second to last note in the measure should be an E, not an F# - a correction which will make instant sense to anybody learning the score.

There is a typo in the alto at m. 8. The final note in the measure should be an F, not an E. Compare with m. 88.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Table for 6  
"Table for 6", a new vocal ensemble from St. John's who are equally at home with folk or the classics.

Love, Deliver Me
SSATBB a capella

(SATB)   979-0-051-48183-5

Nova Scotia Honour Choir
Conductor Michael Zaugg had programmed an evening of songs about love for the Nova Scotia Honour Choir, and he asked me to write something that would be an overall reflection on the theme.

Much of the power of this piece comes from the deep, slow groove. Connecting with the words is a good way not to rush. Choirs often tell me they get so focused on singing well that they go on automatic pilot when it comes to the text. Don't let that happen. If I've written this piece right, there should be something in the text everybody can apply to their own lives, and to those moments when you feel an utter sadness sigh itself into something radiant.

Singing multiple levels of text requires a clear, transparent texture (I think of 3D chess boards), especially if you are in a resonant performance space. Balancing the parts will require the singers to be aware when they are moving in and out of the foreground of the song. The challenge is to keep good, firm presence in the singers' tone, even when they have to "make sonic room" for additional voices. This is especially true for the basses, who are at the center of the groove no matter how many voices are added.

The recording by the Nova Scotia Honour Choir is beautifully conducted and beautifully sung, but it also points out the difficulty of keeping the text clear in the sort of reverberant acoustic that suits other choral styles so well.

Patient Love can reign and reign
O'er years of woe, over worlds of pain.
Obedient Love can hear you groan,
But it won't come down for your tears alone.

Patient Love can wait and wait
For tangled lives, for your twisted fate.
Obedient Love, who hears me sigh,
You know my voice so much better than I.

I sang of Love into the evening.
I'll dream in moonlight 'til the end of this song.
Sometimes so much of Love is grieving.
And sometimes grieving is the gift
That just keeps giving on and on.

And I'm ready to bear the charges,
And I'm steady for the plea.
Just to be worthy to say, come and find me today.
Love, deliver me.




Juvenata! 2008
This exquisite song, which Newfoundlanders assured me was an old folk tune, turns out to have been written by Scott Richardson, who has achieved the ultimate: writing a song in the folk tradition that is so convincing that it fools even the people whose culture is being drawn upon. The ballad tells the true story of our brave heroine who is exiled on the horrible Isle of the Demons with her true love and their child. Sad and beautiful - one of my favourite combinations - the song gently moves to a haunting, simple and powerful confirmation of love. The choir portrays several characters: the lovely and long-suffering Marguerite, her villainous father, her tragic lover, and finally the narrator who tells the tale and learns its deep lesson. Many thanks to Emily Noble who sang this gem for me as my eyes grew big as saucers. My arrangement gives every voice part lots of spotlight, and lots of opportunity to take on the various characters in the tale.

For the Oriana Singers, Cobourg, Ontario.

Max Orland
Max Orland at the Hopewell sessions for for "Mayn Rue Platz".

Mayn Rue Platz

(SA (with divisi), violin and percussion)   979-0-051-47811-8
(SATB, violin and percussion)   979-0-051-47810-1

Juvenata! 2008 (without violin)
I've taken a Yiddish lament, usually sung slowly, and set it to Arabic-flavoured dance grooves which are both ecstatic and edgy, aggressive and smouldering. The piece evokes the MIddle East without being culturally specific, as I want this arrangement to suggest a lament for all the people of that part of the world. The violin is strongly featured and combines rhythmic chops with a wailing cantabile. At least two percussionists are needed on tambourine and doumbek but the performance notes give various options for different numbers of players and different styles of drums. The vocal lines are passionate and undulating, like a silk ribbon on their breeze, like tendrils of perfumed smoke. The cantabile vocal lines combine with the driving percussion to create a piece which could equally open or close a concert con fuoco. My thanks to the Virginia ACDA for asking me to write them something.


Missa Brevis
(SATB: recording available of the treble version.)

(treble)   979-0-051-46779-2
(SATB)   979-0-051-47268-0

Nove Voce (Agnus Dei)
An SATB rethinking of the original SSA, with some nice new material generated by moving from three parts to four, although the opening Kryie remains three part SAB. This score retains my original plan to put the Sanctus before the Gloria, reinstating the original key relationships and emotional progression as I first envisioned. Each movement is inspired by a folk melody from a different part of the world: Scotland, the Andes, Norway, and Central Africa. Typo: in m. 35 of the "Sanctus", the tenors should have E naturals, with the E flat returning in m. 37.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Missa Primavera (Our Lady of the Spring)
Soprano Solo, SATB (divisi) and Chamber Ensemble

Czech Choir Festival


Agnus Dei
Premiered June 9, 2012, at the Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie (Church of the Assumption of the Lady Mary) in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic, at the Czech Choir Festival ‘Napsáno pro Sborové slavnosti’. The soprano soloist was Kamila Zborilová, and the Chamber Ensemble was formed by the Gentlemen Singers, who also sponsored the Festival. Ze specjalnymi podziekowaniami dla (with special thanks to) Chór Kameralny Dysonans from Poland, who were at the heart of the sound.

The Chamber Ensemble, which needs at least eight singers, can be TTBB or SSAA. At the premiere the Chamber Ensemble sang the Kyrie from the back of the church; moved to the front at the start of the Sanctus and then performed from there; sang along with the choir in the Gloria; then returned to the back of the church at the start of the Agnus Dei, from where they finished the movement.

I was asked to write a Missa Brevis with multicultural influences, which led to its deep roots in the dance, an art form long connected with the sacred. The Kyrie opens with a phrase that recalls a distinctly Bulgarian rhythm and melodic contour. If taken at twice its speed, the Sanctus could invite Turkish finger cymbals. The Gloria is inspired by the mandolin figures of bluegrass waltzes. Traditionally the most introspective part of the mass, the Agnus Dei recalls lands seen earlier on the voyage, with further travels that bring the Peking Opera together with plainsong and the blues: two modal brothers separated at birth. In this Missa the Gloria and the Sanctus have traded places, and it is now the Gloria that becomes the most light-hearted expression of joy.

The subtitle of my mass links the music to the eternal feminine, the great mother Mary, through whose intercession even fallen nature could appear in its unfallen radiance. Mary’s name comes from the word for “bitter”, and spring is a notoriously vulnerable, bittersweet time of year: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May” (Shakespeare). There is a similar emotional vulnerability in this Missa, which is named for springtime but is full of dark skies. Even the cheerful Gloria, the only movement stable enough to earn a key signature, has moments of shadow. Shadow is a very beautiful thing. The Spanish for “man” (hombre) contains the French for “shadow” (ombre). As if mankind were a shadow that started with a tiny puff of air.


Missa: Our Lady of the Snows
(SATB, two movements in SAB: recording available - published by Boosey & Hawkes: The Music of Stephen Hatfield)


Bell' Arte
A Missa Brevis with three different Kyries, one before the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei . I vividly remember my thrill when I first sang polyphonic music, and this Missa is a tribute to everything about it that fascinated me. The style is unabashedly nostalgic, with all manner of Baroque touches, as well as allusions to the Renaissance, old hymnals, and the blending in of folk music influences heard in so many churches in the sixties. Sections of the missa, such as Kyries II and III, are simple enough for new choirs, while the many Baroque and Renaissance techniques in the music would help singers unaccustomed to those eras to prepare for the Masters.

For the University of Northern Illinois Concert Choir.

Octarium, the dynamic chamber choir from Kansas City
who perform my "Missa Brevis" so beautifully.



MosaiK 2013
Written for MosaiK, a festival held in Canada's capital city Ottawa, and commissioned by Kurt Ala-Kantti and Robert Filion. MosaiK pays tribute to both of our official languages - hence the spelling of "mosaik" which is both French and English, and yet neither. The bilingual text, co-authored by Jean-Pierre Dubois-Godin, uses the mosaic tile and the human voice as metaphors for each other, each individual unit adding its crucial contribution to the whole. That the title "mosaik" is all in lower case suggests that any tile, any voice, has as much to contribute as any other, in the same way that English and French have been equally crucial in shaping Canada. This is why the text has been set up so that the French and English lyrics rhyme with each other. By the way, the opening lines translate as "We can't all talk together at the same time, but we can sing together." Although written for a massed choir, "mosaic" also works with concert and chamber choirs, and the themes of cultural diversity and cooperation are universal. The piece is designed to be medium difficulty and a fairly fast learn. There are a couple of challenges, such as the transition at m. 49/50 which always needs some TLC, but there are also some very easy passages, and plenty of repetition in the musical lines. I had a glorious time at this festival, and I'm delighted to see its anthem in print.


O Sapo (The Toad)
(for SSATB: percussion optional but I highly recommend 4 to 5 players)

(SSSAA)   979-0-041-47358-8
(SSATB)   979-0-051-47654-1

Les Ms
This Brazilian charmer is one of my most groovelicious charts, and goes down like Perrier and lime on a hot day. The vocal parts are rhythmic and repetitive, so although the singers have to get their lips around a few rapid lines of Portuguese, there are also only a few phrases of music to learn. The text is somewhat in the Tico Tico tradition of brisk, impudent alliteration whose meaning is a distant second in importance to the sheer bravura of the diction. A perfect piece to program when you need to get the audience bouncing in their seats - or at least flaring their nostrils in time. Described by one conductor as "the most joyful piece of music I've ever heard." In a lot of ways this is not that hard a piece, but it takes style and verve to pull off. The piece works at various tempi. Compare the performances by Amabile and Les Ms. Edie Yeager sent the soundfile from West Valley Middle School, an ensemble she described as a "7th grade group of ordinary, non-auditoned students." I am pleased to receive such confirmation of my belief that many of my nominally "advanced" charts do not exclude young singers.

In Soprano 1 at m. 23, the fifth and sixth notes of the measure should be C an octave above middle C, not D.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

A Toronto workshop with choirs from Earl Haig S.S. (Pamela Hetherington, director)
and Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute (Ann Willoughby, director).
Photo by David Bradley.

(SSAB with percussion)


Published for treble voices, but I always intended it to work if the men formed a baritone line and took the "soli" part. A romper stomper of a French Canadian folk song, full of call and response. Although the score has parts for several percussionists, as well as body percussion from the singers, it can all be replaced by one good drummer with a snare drum and brushes. From the tradition of the "merry monks", the song is in colloquial Canadian French, and recounts the unorthodox style of a "p'tit moine" who likes a glass of wine while he gives confession. Designed as a barnburner, the piece goes lickety split with a raucous edge. On the easy side of advanced..

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Ödi Ödi
(six part voices - works well as SSATTB - can also be sung with less divisi)


This setting of a Tamil song works well if the women take the Choir I part, and the men the Choir II part. Both Choirs get a chance with the melody, and with the hypnotic background chant. Its message - searching for a light that was within us all along - lends itself well to various sorts of thematic programming. Since the song is in 7/8, it gives choirs a chance to experience something of the rhythmic flexibility of the Indian tradition. A very dreamy, meditative mood is created. There is also a simple but very evocative part for zils. The second sound file, by Madrigaïa, shows how the piece can be customized.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Ohisashi Buri
(SA children's choir, SATB choir and 4-hand piano)


More and more choirs are looking for pieces that can combine a children's group with an SATB ensemble. The title means "It's been a while", or "Long time, no see", and refers to the fact that I'm revisiting the ancient Japanese tradition of "kakegoe" - the shouts of encouragement and effort in a work song that helps drive the workers on. My text is "kakegoe" from four old Japanese songs (very short phrases - very little Japanese to learn), and with the help of 4-hand piano I set up lots of antiphonal chanting as the choir carries the shouts of encouragement through a variety of tonal styles, from pentatonic ostinati to sequences of jazzy compound chords. Neither the part for the SA choir nor the SATB choir is too difficult, and sections repeat note for note, although as with other of my pieces the challenge comes with the choir tackling a texture they're not used to. This is a high energy piece that ends with a wallop, and gives your pianists a chance to make some noise.

For Scala of Brussels, Belgium, and Ritsuyu-Kai of Japan.

Edison Chorale
Director Brad Morris and his beloved Edison Chorale from Tulsa, Oklahoma, seen here after cleaning up the awards at the
2010 Arbuckle Wilderness Festival. It's not the first time a choir has told me they were hooked on Hatfield by my "Barb'ry Ellen".
Look at the men in the background: can't you just imagine what those swashbucklers do with "All For Me Grog"?
Brad is also a literature man, a combination of artistic disciplines that always does my heart good.

On The Rio
four parts for any combination of voices
and optional gospel tambourine


Forest Ridge
Here is a flexible chart designed to appeal to any number of choirs, green or ripened. It brings together two songs of the sea which can be performed separately if desired. The vocal texture is designed to allow for any mixing and matching of high voices and low voices, with options built into the score so that young men whose ranges are on the idiosyncratic side have alternate routes within the line they are singing. The first half of the piece is a slow-stomping 6/8 rouser of a sea shanty which grows into a gospel/blues fireball telling the tale of a hurricane at sea, a gallant captain, and a chorus of wailing souls on the water. For conductors who wonder what sort of subject matter will appeal to the boys they long to recruit: here it is. The soundfile comes from a Hatfield festival organized by Alison Seaton at Forest Ridge in Washington State. All the participants joined in on this piece, with the men's voices scattered throughout the four parts.

For the Pennsylvania ACDA, 2005.

Ower The Hills
(SATB with C or Bflat instrument - bagpipes part available from the publisher)
(See "Amazing Grace" for a soundfile of the suite's finale.)

(treble)   979-0-051-46942-0
(SATB)   979-0-051-47807
(instrumental parts - bagpipes, C and Bflat instruments, percussion)   979-0-051-10460-4

If you have a big choir and the right acoustics, the bagpipes are a possibility, but this suite of traditional Scottish melodies works beautifully if the pipes part is taken by any combination of oboe, violin, flute, clarinet - unison instrumental playing is very much in the Scottish tradition. The suite ends with "Amazing Grace ." Do we need yet another version of this famous song? I didn't think so, and yet it turned out to be one of my best inspirations. The instruments take the melody, and the choir sings slowly-building counter melodies that produce, if I do say so, quite a gorgeous and powerful effect. Many choirs have performed this coda on its own, and since it is a very fast learn, it's proved to be a useful way to start the fall rehearsal schedule. The melodies in the suite proper are fabulous, with lots of back-and-forth between choir and instrumentalists. Medium difficulty. The original score contained the bagpipes part written out for C and Bflat instruments. Instrumental parts can also be ordered. The soundfile is from the treble version of the piece.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Rise And Fall
Four-Part Voices, any mixture, and percussion

(SATB)   979-0-051-48185-9

The early years of the 21st century have seen one disaster after another, natural and man-made. The slow, ceremonial beat of the drum in "Rise and Fall" is timed to the death-march of the news clips, and the buildings that seem to collapse in slow motion beneath the colossal blows of tsunami, fire, storm and earthquake and the destruction of everything in their way. When Marcos Carreras, choral director at the Kingswood Oxford School, asked for a piece to remind his students that "they have it pretty good in a world where most people don't", it led to a text that looks at the world, and our place in it, from a distance where centuries are as short as seconds, and we watch civilizations, like mountain ranges, rise and fall. Let the word "rise" have a little lift to it when sung, a little scoop up into the pitch. It is the most important word in the title and the text. This piece combines edginess with compassion and tenderness, and the audience should feel that compassion carries the day. Elsewhere I describe the piece as a slow march, but it's also something of a lullaby.


Rosebud In June
(SSATB with options for solo/soli)

(SSAA)   979-0-051-47527-8
(SSATB)   979-0-051-47528-5

Nove Voce
A goooorgeous minor modal melody collected in Somerset by Cecil Sharp, a text full of the primal magic of the shifting seasons in old agrarian England, and an arrangement that moves from unison to six parts (SSATB plus descant) like a slowly spreading fan, a curtain gradually opening on a distant past blooming into summer. Ideal for a large choir, where it creates a great swell of sound, but I've heard well-balanced chamber choirs make good use of the options built into the score for solos, trios and quartets. The mood combines gravity and gaiety; it has the dignity and the ritual splendour of a processional, but a processional done in big boots over meadows and ditches, with everybody red-faced and rosy-cheeked from singing their hearts out in the open air. There are a couple of measures of three-part texture in the men's voices, and two passages where the SA voices move into four parts. The verses are more demanding than the chorus, and I've used this piece with green choirs through assigning the verses to the most experienced voices, and keeping the full choir for the chorus, which is grand and involved enough that they don't feel they're being patronized. The audio clip is from a candlelight performance by Quintessential Vocal Ensemble of St. John's.

For the Cantangeli Young Women’s Choir, Iowa.

Run Children Run
(SATB - in effect, two antiphonal choirs, one SA and one TB)

(treble)   979-0-051-46972-7
(SATB)   979-0-051-47159-1

A barnburner and crowd pleaser, I took an old field yell and turned it into a slow cooking, hard rocking number. The piece builds on just a few basic riffs, and I've taught nearly the whole thing to massed choirs, and performed it, in less than an hour (although I have the advantage of knowing it really well). If you have some soloists who can improvise over a riff, this is their chance to shine. Nowhere near as hard as it first looks on the page. The soundfile shows how the Chicago Children's Choir builds a fire under the second half of the piece. The soundfile shows how the Chicago Children's Choir builds a fire under the second half of the piece.

For the Children’s Aid Society Chorus of NYC.


(Alliance)   AMP 0715

Seattle Festival
In many SATB groups the SA voices outnumber the TB voices, sometimes drastically - especially when several SATB groups combine in a massed choir. "Sarah", like its companion piece "Heave Away", also published by Alliance, was written for situations where the upper voices are in abundance. The SA voices extend themselves through simple but rich divisi, while the men have a part with lots of spotlight that still works when the TB voices are in the minority. "Sarah", a song much beloved in Newfoundland, tells a fine tale of comic romance as a young couple tries to outwit the girl's ferocious mother: lots of story-telling, character-playing and exchanges between the sections. The part-writing is straightforward in the desire to make "Heave Away" and "Sarah" practical for big groups.

For the 2006 Festival of Catholic High School Choirs, Archdiocese of Seattle, WA.

Quintessential Vocal Ensemble of St. John's, Newfoundland, conducted by Susan Quinn.
I had a great meeting of the minds working with this ensemble. Photo by Ruth Skinner.

Scarlet Cover, The


This is a medieval fantasy, full of magical symbols of colour and setting whose backgrounds are thoroughly explained in the performance notes. A wounded knight lies in an enchanted sleep, while all around him the furnishings of his enchanted hall vibrate with the mystic tension of a resurrection that feels ready to happen at any moment. Suitable for both Christmas and Easter, the piece can also work as a meditation on ancient symbols and ancient rapture outside of any particular religious festival. The refrain of "I love my Lord Jesus above anything" keeps the piece grounded in the Christian tradition, but if so desired the piece can be presented as something beyond any particular creed, so strong is the mood of hushed, colour-drenched enchantment. In the soundfile you'll hear the second half of the piece performed by Quintessential Vocal Ensemble at one of their celebrated Christmas concerts in my adopted city of St. John's, Newfoundland.

For the Amabile Chamber Choir of London, Ontario.

Son de Camaguey
(SATB with flexible number of percussion - three at least)

(SATB)   979-0-051-46973-7
(TTBB)   979-0-051-48110-1
(SSAA)   979-0-051-48109-5

Now available for TTBB voices. For those choirs who went to town on Jabula Jesu, this chart is the likeliest follow-up: a bit harder, and a different rhythmic style, but the same approach of interlocking ostinati, in this case built around the chorus of a Cuban folk song. High-spirited and uptempo, with every section getting lots of spotlight, this chart only has a few phrases of easy Spanish to learn. (I've been told that the local pronunciation of "Camaguey" turns "quey" into "way". ) The percussion parts, which are sketched in but rely on the players' ability to comp, are ideal if you have, as many schools do, a tribe of percussionists, often non-reading, whom you'd love to motivate, but can't think of anything to do with. The Cuban style gives them a chance to bring out all the toys, and the score gives them the chance to solo, as well as accompany.

For the Governor Simcoe Senior Secondary Choir, Ontario.

Sparks Fly Upward, The
double two-part choir and four percussion


Written for my 50th birthday bash with the Amabile Youth Singers, the double choir is scored SA/SA, but can be done in any number of ways by thinking of the soprano lines as any combination of high voices and the alto lines as any combination of low voices. The 1st choir gets a bit of divisi, and the 2nd choir, which has less text and is a faster learn, has a fair bit of unison. A funky chant with a deep backbeat and non-stop call-and-response, my text deals with the strange business of learning the links and divisions between the waking world and the world of dreams, the world we live in and the world we want to escape to. The song moves from summer camp, to cavemen around the fire, to ancient burial rites, to experiments with lucid dreams, to a choir around the Pearly Gates: an apotheosis of singing, Hatfield style. The soundfile features The Amabile Youth Singers, directed by John Barron and Brenda Zadorsky.


A Cleveland performance of 'TJAK!' by Central Bucks High School West, directed
by Dr. Joseph Ohrt: a choir and a conductor that have long excelled at Hatfield
pieces that call for refined chaos - or a chaotic refinement.

(four part voices)


Amabile: live
Amabile: studio
Central Bucks High School - West
Inspired by the Balinese monkey chant, and performed without conductor, with vocal cues given by the "elders of the choir." The piece can be reassembled in any number of ways, and even if performed in the uggested sequence, there's lots of room for improvisation. Looks like a royal pain on the page, I know, but it's nowhere near as hard as it looks. Middle school choirs have managed it. Check out a recording, which will make all sorts of grey areas instantly clear. Choirs enjoy turning this piece into their own spectacle, and I've heard of every possible method of presentation being tried. Because the piece is not set out in a conventional way, choirs can at first feel uncertain about it; but in my experience, once they get into it, even the sceptics are converted. Has a tendency to make audiences go batty. Gets more ovations than anything else I've done.

There is a missing accent in treble 4 at the downbeat of m. 12. The accented downbeat in treble 4 and the accented pick-up in treble 3 should be shot back and forth between the groups like a sonic volleyball.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Turning Point


Alliance Festival
Here is a piece that unites references to knights in armour to modern masters of the Xbox. The musical style combines aspects of the chorale with the slow-burning gospel anthem, while the text looks at the difficulties of life in terms any age group can understand, leading to a proclamation of self-discovery that could not be achieved without those difficulties. Originally written for a massed choir of hundreds of men and boys, this chart can also work for chamber choirs equally well in different ways. This is a piece for a choir that is looking for something beyond the feel-good platitudes that infest the choral scene: a piece for choirs, regardless of age, who want their intelligence and private sorrows respected.

For the 2005 Alliance World Festival for Men and Boys, MN.


Soundings, a beautifully balanced and highly motivated choir from Victoria, B.C., led by Denis Donnelly.

Un Flambeau, Jeanneatte Isabelle
(Bring a Torch, Jeanneatte Isabelle)

(SSATB - published by Roger Dean)

(Roger Dean)   15-2702R

There are many versions of this famous Provençal carol, but in my arrangement I slow it down to a lullabye lilt, and create some of my most melting and velvety vocal textures - it reminds me of a viol consort with its dark, butter-and-rosin timbres and the gently undulating lines in all the voices. Whenever I've done this piece, singers and audience go "Aaaaahhh." A fine showcase for a choir's tone and phrasing, and a gentle spellbinder in concert. In the audio clip I am trying a particularly slow and dreamy tempo. Nowadays I take it a little faster, to keep the dance going in the dream.
In the background notes I made a colossal proofreading blunder - Elvis must have stolen my brain that day. The place the carol is from is Provence, not Provençal. Provençal is the dialect or the adjective. One can say a Provençal carol or a carol from Provence, but not a carol from Provençal.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

Ups and Downs, The


Western Oregon U.
A romping, stomping British folk song about a dairymaid who meets a drummer boy on the way to market. She never does quite get to the market, although the narration is euphemistic enough that nobody in the audience will faint. Everybody gets melodic lines to sing, and the piece ends in an exuberant splash of fireworks that has brought festival audiences shouting to their feet. (Honest! I was there.) The goal is to keep more of the smell of cider and sawdust in the piece than is often the case with arrangements of traditional British music.

Originally the tenors were singing a 3rd higher than the basses from the pick up of m. 27 to the end of m. 27 and at m. 56. I changed from those parallel thirds because they seemed so obvious, but I now feel strongly that in telling this story, some obvious vocal/narrative touches are just what we need, so I now invite conductors to put those thirds back in.

For Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario.

Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy, The

(treble)   979-0-051-46911-6
(SSATB)   979-0-051-46912-3

Pure Heart
mosaic (SATB)
This setting of the well known Trinidad carol gives the contrapuntal aspect of calypso particular emphasis. Lots of interlocking counter-melodies and bubbling ostinati. A very fresh and joyful flavour. Perfect for anybody who suspects, as I do, that there is a club in Paradise where the angels sing nothing but early Harry Belafonte records (shake your body line!).

The soundfile from Pure Heart shows how well and how charmingly a Japanese choir can channel the style. Check them out at pure-heart.jimdo.com .

Additional voicings within the choir are explored by having the tenors and basses unite on the chorus while the sopranos divide.

For the Amabile Youth Singers of London, Ontario.

During the premiere of Missa Primavera: Our Lady of the Spring, a piece that was deeply embraced
by the Czech Choir Festival (Napsáno pro Sbroové slavnosti).
Photo: Valdimír Fišar.

Vive La Rose
SA(T)B and piano
SSA and piano

(SSA)   979-0-051-48082-1
(SA(T)B)   979-0-051-48031-9

Cantus Vocum
Table for Six (and friends)
A French folk song beloved on both sides of the Atlantic, this bittersweet arrangement was commissioned by Dr. Claire Wilkshire and La Rose des Vents, the choir of the Francophone Community Association of St. John's, Newfoundland. The story of a damsel's broken heart is told with the mixture of simplicity and subtlety in which French songs often excel – what a depth of contradictory feeling there is in her final lines: "Mardi reviendra me voir, / Mais je n'en voudrai pas." "Tuesday he'll come back to see me, But I wouldn't want him anymore." This is one of those songs where the choir tells a sad, sweet, simple tale that also showcases their phrases and vocal warmth. Lots of counter-melodies, lots of counterpoint amid the sad, sweet, simple harmonies. The arrangement is intended to work for trained choirs as well as community choirs where one cannot always count on wide vocal ranges or experienced readers, where the tenor line may be doubled by the contraltos and the baritones may not always be able to divide into tenor and bass. "Vive La Rose" has been recorded by many famous French musicians, and the version of the text that I have used is a tribute to the father of French Newfoundland fiddle music, Emile Benoit. Both soundfiles are from choirs in St. John's, Newfoundland, which is something I had very much hoped for. If you are following Cantus Vocum with a score, note the changes in the baritone at m.28-34 and 84. Thanks to Dr. Claire Wilkshire for making sure the French was accurate.


Vus Vet Zayn
SATB - published by Collo Voce

(Colla Voce, three-part treble)   21-20231
(Colla Voce, SATB)   21-20110

A passionate Chassidic song, sung in Yiddish, about the coming of the Messiah. Starts dark, rapt and moody, and graaaadually speeds up until it's a high-kicking jubilation. Not too much music to learn, and a crowd pleaser. Massed choirs have liked this. My Yiddish pronunciation guide is a guide only - there are so many variants, and my attempts to find a middle ground are OK, but not ideal. Try to bring in somebody who knows the language to do some coaching. The SATB revoicing was done for Hopewell Valley Central H.S., Pennington, N.J. I asked Max Orland, one of the Hopewell choristers, to come up with an accompaniment for klezmer band, which can be heard on the Hopewell soundfile.

For the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, IN.

When The Stars Fall
(SATB with an optional male or female solo)

(SSA+oboe)   979-0-051-47302-1
(SATB)   979-0-051-47216-1

Nove Voce/Tapestry (SSA)
Easy enough for an inexperienced choir, but with enough room for shaping and styling to satisfy the most advanced ensemble. This is my text set to a gorgeous hymn tune I found in Jutland, and when it came to my arrangement of the music, I do believe the Muse descended. The effect is of meditative serenity and simple beauty. A spiritual piece that does not proselytize, this piece is a good study in creating a timbre both rich and transparent. Choirs have expressed a particular devotion to this one.
In measure 10 there is a typo in the bass, where the text should read, "Yet will I", not "Yet I will".

For One Voice: An Outreach Choir, IL.

Willie Taylor


A British folk song with a twist to the old plot where "girl dresses like sailor to follow her true love over the foam". Instead of the tender reconciliation one expects, our heroine settles her affair of the heart with a brace of pistols and is made a ship's commander in honour of her pluck. It's one of those great old folk tunes that moves between major and modal minor, with lots of role playing, lots of antiphony between male and female voices and lots of melodic counterpoint in the choruses.


The deeply soulful and accomplished Chicago Children's Chorus, whose outreach program
reaches 2,600 children. They commissioned "You're History", and are one of the great
performers of "Run Children Run". Photos by Kenny Kim.

You’re History (Stop At Nothing)
SSATB and percussion


Commissioned by the Chicago Children's Choir in the final stages of the 2008 American Presidential Campaign, the title of the song reflects the sense of "history being made around us" that was so strong during this time, especially when you consider that, for various reasons, the election of Obama, Clinton or McCain would all have been epochal events. Bearing in mind that the Chicago Children's Choir grew out of the epochal event of the American Civil Rights movement, my piece alludes in a non-partisan way to the struggles for political change in the outside world, and the struggles for personal change in the internal world, both struggles coming together in a phrase that alludes to the famous quest in Tolkien: "not everyone who wanders is lost". The title takes a put-down (You're outta here – you're history) and turns it into an affirmation. The style alternates between a slow-burning gospel anthem, set to the slow drums of a state procession, and a syncopated dance-anthem, influenced by the rhythms of classic reggae. Singers and percussionists alike get to sink deep into a style and then turn on a dime. "Sometimes I’d much rather run than fight. Sometimes my faith gets crossed. Sometimes my feet don't know left from right. Not everyone who wanders is lost."


Dazed and confused: a moment of deep exhaustion during the marathon recording of the Floating Upstream CD.
The microphones went back on and these Hopewell H.S. kids nailed it.