Selecting Choral Music for Performance
Quality of text is very important in the selection of choral music for performance, as every choral director knows. In the case of sacred music, the text should be inspiring as well as theologically sound. If the text is poetic, the poetry should be of high quality. The natural declamation of the text should match the natural beat patterns and stresses of its musical setting. A beautiful and inspiring text set to a graceful, appropriate melody is a glorious thing!
In evaluating a musical setting, you will need to take into account a variety of factors. First is the skill with which the composer has set the text. If there are strong melodic elements, look for melodies that singers will easily learn and that will flow naturally for the voice. If there are strong harmonic elements, look for harmonies that are interesting and supportive of the melody. Interplay of melody and harmony should be effected with skill. Next, consider the range of pitches used for each of the voice parts, being certain that the pitches are within the capabilities of your singers. Finally, evaluate the accompaniment. Whether for piano, organ, or other instruments, the accompaniment must be idiomatic to its instrument(s) and supportive of the choral writing. Accompaniments must be interesting and well-written, as well as within the technical capabilities of the performer(s) with whom you will be working. If you are successful in identifying and integrating all of the textual and musical elements indicated above, you will have chosen a musical composition of extraordinary quality that will prove to be a welcome addition to the repertoire of your choir!
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