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2016 Spring Choral Contest
This spring we held a school choral program contest, in which choir directors at the elementary, middle, high school and college levels were encouraged to submit the repertoire list for their school's spring choral concerts. The choral programs were judged based on originality, thematic content and age appropriateness. The winners received a $200 gift certificate to Sheet Music Plus. They shared the inspiration behind their creative programming with us.
Congrats Alison from Mount Nittany Middle School in State College, Pennsylvania!
Her concert program theme was entitled "Finding Peace"
"This is a program for my auditioned chamber choir (The Clef Hangers), which is comprised of students in grades 6 through 8; this is a group of advanced singers who perform only a cappella repertoire.
The idea for the program actually first started last spring and stemmed from the piece "Earth Song" (Frank Ticheli). If you're unfamiliar with the piece, it's full of many 20th century dissonant chords and harmonies, something my middle school students hadn't yet been exposed to. The text is also written by Ticheli himself but isn't cliche or contrived; it discusses how despite the violence and negativity in today's world, music and singing always overcome. The last held out chord is on the word "peace," which sparked the idea for my entire program. In regards to my other selections, my students love the Beatles arrangements by Deke Sharon; they were easy to teach and fit perfectly with the peace theme (Hey Jude--finding peace within yourself in times of sadness/negativity, and Blackbird--about civil rights and finding peace amongst people). Finally, my students have really been enjoying the SAB arrangement of Palestrina's "Sicut cervus." I love using Russell Robinson's arrangements, as it allows me to do high quality choral literature with my middle school voices; I use at least one of his arrangements on every concert! The points of imitation in Palestrina's writing almost perfectly simulate the idea of finding peace within any given situation, and the text translation fit well with the peace/nature theme of our program.
I believe that regardless of "themes," it is so important to choose quality repertoire for singers of any age, particularly middle school. As one of my mentor's Dr. Tony Leach would say, "Your repertoire is your textbook." Make it count!