Monday, January 25, 2016

Contest Selections for Secondary Choirs

by Mark Jauss, Advertising Associate and Choral Director

The Christmas season is often coined the busiest time of the year. If you're a music educator, however, Christmas doesn't hold a candle (pun intended) to the months of January through May. With the start of the new year come preparations for solo and ensemble, contest, musicals, and spring concerts, not to mention fundraisers for all of the above.

With all that you have going on, the last thing that you have time for is an extended search for the perfect, hand-selected contest piece. Because we want you to be able to spend more time rehearsing and less time reviewing, we've selected five pieces of music that we're confident will inspire your singers and captivate the judges.

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
André J. Thomas

André Thomas was at his creative best when he wrote this energy-driven setting of the spiritual standard. The repeated material makes for quick memorization, allowing you to easily and effectively showcase your singers in a vibrant program pleaser that utilizes a cool jazz piano accompaniment.

SATB, TTB/TBB, and Three-part Mixed

Cool Moon
Richard A. Williamson

With limited horizontal movement in the vocal parts and no awkward melodic skips, Richard Williamson’s Cool Moon offers an easy and effective introduction into contemporary a cappella singing. Soothing harmonies enhance this beautiful pairing of words and music.

SATB, a cappella

Don't You Weep, Don't You Mourn
Bryan Sharpe

Cool vocal jazz elements in a relaxed swing style bring this traditional African-American text to life in a fresh, original work. With independent parts and spontaneous twists and turns throughout, it would be equally effective programmed with a full choir or a smaller ensemble drawn from your best singers.

SATB, a cappella

Down by the Salley Gardens
Douglas E. Wagner

This beloved Irish folk song includes the words of William Butler Yeats in an unusual arrangement for women's voices. The vocal parts combine with the masterfully written piano part to add a depth to the musical fabric that will make this piece a lasting and substantial contribution to the concert and contest repertoire.


And Music Shall Untune the Sky
Douglas E. Wagner

Showcase the fullness and strength of the male voice with this robust setting of a powerful passage from Dryden’s A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day. An exceptional opener, this selection would make a dramatic first impression at any concert or contest. "The trumpet shall be heard on high and music shall untune the sky."



Mark is a graduate of Wright State University in Dayton, OH, having received a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in choral conducting. 
Before coming to Lorenz, Mark was the director of choirs at both Howard W. Blake High School for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL, and Monroe Jr./Sr. High School in Monroe, OH.  Mark is also currently the director of the KCC Concert Choir, an advanced treble choir within the Kettering Children’s Choir organization. The group has toured extensively, and recently sang in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and with the South Cape Children’s Choir and various performing ensembles on a tour throughout South Africa. In the Spring of 2015, Mark also had the privilege of preparing the choir for performances of the Britten War Requiem under the baton of Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops. In addition, Mark has been the music director at his church since the age of 18, and regularly travels throughout the country giving workshops on conducting and worship leading. 
Mark is the blessed husband of Jennifer and proud father of Michael and Ellie.

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