Kent Carlson: Women Singing in Winter

Publisher | a cappella,choral music,gay & lesbian,love,winter season,women's | Friday, July 18th, 2014

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Continuing in the vein of “winter in July,” YRM is pleased to announce another addition to our catalog: a new original composition (words as well as music) by Kent Carlson titled Women Singing in Winter for SSA a cappella. The piece evokes a sense of intimacy, sensuality and romance. It offers a very unique option for women’s choruses who are planning a seasonal concert this coming winter.

Carlson shares the following insights:

“When I wrote Women Singing in Winter, I had just finished reading Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle and June Arnold’s Sister Gin one right after the other, and then I was listening for the millionth time to k.d. lang’s album All You Can Eat. I was so inspired that I thought it would be fun to write a new song for SSA a cappella that incorporated the powerful works of these women. I envisioned two of my female friends in a wintery setting, singing together, enjoying literature, music and erotic fun. Then I wrote the text. The setting came a day later, and followed the natural rhythm of the words. I hope this a cappella work provides a welcome challenge vocally to the extraordinary women’s choirs of today, and perhaps also an unconventional yet satisfying text for December concerts.”

View a partial score PDF of Women Singing in Winter here, and the full lyrics are below:

First the setting: cold and quiet.
Next the players: you and I,
Resilient goddess and resilient goddess.

Women singing in Winter.
Warm by a fire, just singing with k.d.
Sipping Sister Gin in a Rubyfruit Jungle.

Reconteuse, skin like vellum,
Earthy, bold
Just like Women singing,
Singing in Winter.

Now the reason why: we just celebrate
The simple fact of being together in the Winter.
This is our song: the song of Women singing,
Singing in Winter.

Dennis Rosenbaum: Velvet Shoes

Publisher | choral music,famous poets,gay & lesbian,men's,mixed,winter season,women's | Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Walk in the snow

Once again it is July and thoughts at YRM are turning to snow… with a couple of new publications that touch upon the subject of winter (just in time for your winter concert programming consideration, of course!).

The first of these two new scores (the second one will be featured next week!) is a setting of Elinor Wylie‘s poem Velvet Shoes by Dennis Rosenbaum. He first became acquainted with this text when he heard Randall Thompson’s choral setting at an assembly in the seventh grade. He was intrigued by the imagery of walking in fresh fallen snow being likened to walking in “velvet shoes.”

To his delight that very poem was presented for study in an English class just a few weeks later. The text stuck with him over the years, and he was inspired to do his own musical setting in 2003. His intention was as follows:

“The overall mood I strove to create throughout the piece was one of romantic intimacy – a walk through virgin snow with a lover in a world which is quiet, hushed, and tranquil after a snowstorm; a moment which is private, event though it takes place in a public setting, a walk that becomes the moment when a relationship “gels,” and is ever after remembered as the start of that commitment.

The calm of the final plagal cadence represents the lovers resting into their new commitment to each other. The end result of the piece shows the calm of the outer world contrasted with the internal passion of the lovers taking a walk in “velvet shoes” for the first time in their relationship. In the end, the listener is taken on a journey not only through freshly fallen snow, but into the romance of the couple walking through it.”

This thoughtful and lovely piece is ideal for those choruses wanting to program music that touches upon the subject of winter, but isn’t tied to any particular holiday celebration. Velvet Shoes is available for men’s chorus, mixed chorus and women’s chorus with piano accompaniment (click on the link to view partial score PDFs).

Here’s a clip of a concert performance by the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus:

Sousa/Kuzma: The Stars and Stripes Forever

Publisher | choral music,humor,men's,mixed,patriotic,women's | Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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Happy Fourth of July! In honor of the U.S.A.’s Independence Day, we’d like to share John Kuzma‘s fun and quirky arrangement of John Philip Sousa‘s spirited march, The Stars and Stripes Forever. This performance was done by the Heartland Men’s Chorus (the arrangement is also available for SATB and SSAA).

Randi Driscoll: Love Is Love

Publisher | choral music,gay & lesbian,love,men's,mixed,uu,women's | Friday, June 27th, 2014

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The year was 2008, a decade after Randi Driscoll had composed what matters, a beautiful and moving tribute to Matthew Shepard. The songwriter was troubled to see her home state of California embroiled in the controversial battle over Proposition 8 and was inspired to pen Love Is Love as a response.

“[The song was] written as I contemplated where we stood as a country ten years after Matthew Shepard’s death, but more importantly, where I envisioned we, as a society could grow and evolve to. It is my hope for a better tomorrow.”

She collaborated with Kevin Robison (with whom she also worked on what matters) to have the piece arranged for a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Tim McKnight then adapted Robison’s arrangement for mixed and women’s chorus.

As LGBT Pride Month draws to a close, and in celebration of the momentous progress that has been achieved regarding LGBT rights since the fateful passage of Prop 8 nearly six years ago, Yelton Rhodes Music is excited to announce this new addition to our catalog! Please note that the writers have graciously agreed to donate all royalties from sales of this choral arrangement to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

[excerpt from lyrics]
There’s a million voices singing by the river,
There’s a hundred lovers dancing in the sand.
There’s a bridge that brings the two sides together,
And a peace that paints the skyline of the land.

Oh, the candles on the water,
The colors of the rainbow light the sky.
Oh, bless all your sons and daughters
So they may never have to know
How hard we had to fight for Love.
Love is love is love is love.

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Download partial score PDFs of Love Is Love for men’s chorus, mixed chorus, and women’s chorus.

Here’s a recording of the solo version of Randi’s song (we hope to have a recording of the choral arrangement soon!):

Long/Sobrack: Marrying on Christmas Day

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),gay & lesbian,humor,men's,YRM | Friday, June 6th, 2014

On the heels of President Barack Obama’s proclamation earlier this week declaring June as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, news comes today that seven couples have officially filed lawsuits against North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban. This means that the fight for marriage equality has now been brought to EVERY SINGLE STATE in the U.S.A. that doesn’t already acknowledge same-sex marriage rights.

It is remarkable how much progress has been made in the past few years!

The occasion seems appropriate to share a performance of Marrying on Christmas Day by the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus in 2012. Their whimsical and joyful rendition (complete with choreography!) was made at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in Oregon. Now, not quite two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt same-sex weddings in that state. The legal battle isn’t done, but it is clear that marriage equality continues to gain greater and more solid ground.

There is no overtly political tone in Marrying on Christmas Day (Lyrics by John Sobrack/Music by David Frank Long). It is simply taken as a given that a gay couple should be able to marry. After a humorous argument over whether or not Christmas is really the best day for a wedding, the couple realizes that ultimately what truly matters is love.

We’re marrying on Christmas Day.
It’s a dream come true:
Domestic partner wedding rendezvous.
Marrying on Christmas Day.
Side by side our lives have just begun
Where two hearts have become as one.

Partial score (PDF)

Rick Crom: The Davey Dinckle Song (arranged by Steve Milloy)

Publisher | choral music,christmas (secular),humor,men's | Friday, June 28th, 2013

You know it isn’t wise to eat yellow snow, right?

One of YRM’s most unusual… and HILARIOUS… holiday offerings is a piece for TTBB, solos and piano titled The Davey Dinckle Song, written by Rick Crom and arranged by Steve Milloy. The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus performed it on their Holiday Concert 2011.

Here’s a clip of that performance on YouTube!

When it is summertime and your mind is on holiday music…

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For many choral directors, the holidays REALLY begin in the summer as they consider what music to program for their upcoming concerts in November and December. It can be tricky trying to focus on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice when you’re dealing with July-August heat, vacations, and fireworks!

YRM customers frequently inquire, “What’s new in the catalog regarding holiday music?”

So, here’s a breakdown of the latest additions from the past three years (Click on the voicings to see a few pages from each score as PDFs. For those pieces which were featured in our 2010 Holiday Sampler, the links will take you directly to that download page):

All Hayle to the Days YR1N11 – traditional English carol arranged by Elizabeth Norton. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/Winter season

Campana Sobre Campana YR1C18v1-3 – traditional Andalucian carol arranged by Edgar Colón-Hernández. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Christmas

Christmas is a Season YR4C11 – original music and words by Jennifer Covert. SSAA, cello, piano and sleigh bells. Category: Christmas

Christmas Wish, A YR1D12 – original music and words by Ann MacDonald Diers. SATB a cappella. Category: Christmas/General holiday

Davey Dinckle Song, The YR3507 – original song by Rick Crom, arranged by Steve Milloy. TTBB, solos and piano. Caategory: Christmas/humor

Festive Joy and Peace YR3C11P – original song by Rich Cook and Cathy Bridges, arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB and piano. Category: General holiday

Marrying on Christmas Day YR9307- original words by John Sobrack and music by David Frank Long. TTBB (with optional soloists) and piano. Category: Christmas/humor

Mary’s First Lullaby YR5S13 – original music and words by Jonathan Santore. SATB and cello or piano. Category: Christmas

Peace In Your Heart YR2D11v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB and piano. Category: General holiday

Still, Still, Still YR3C12 – traditional Austrian carol arranged by Rich Cook. TTBB a cappella with tenor solo. Category: Christmas

These Holidays! YR2D12v1-2 – original music and words by Michael Davis. TTBB or SATB a cappella. Category: General holiday

This Holiday YR3508v1-3 – original music and words by Steve Milloy. TTB, SAB or SSA and piano w optional guitar, bass and drums. Category: General holiday

Together This Christmas YR7502 – original words by Barbara Fried / music by Alex Rybeck. Solos, TTBB and piano. Category: Christmas

Winter Blessing YR5M12v1-3 – original music and words by Lynn Fisher McCanne. TTBB, SATB or SSAA a cappella. Category: Solstice/Winter Season

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hamish MacCunn: Four Songs of Love and Longing

Publisher | choral music,love,women's | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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Yelton Rhodes Music was recently approached by musicologist Jennifer Oates with an opportunity to publish some partsongs by Scottish romantic composer Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916). MacCunn rose to fame at the age of nineteen with seven orchestral and choral-orchestral works based on Scottish topics (landscape and literature). At the same time, he cultivated a Scottish artistic persona that defined him throughout his career, but he struggled to mediate his Scottishness with his more cosmopolitan music, which was almost exclusively in smaller genres such as partsongs and songs.

Jennifer Oates’ primary area of expertise is in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, particularly Scottish art music. So the work of Hamish MacCunn has played a significant role in her research.

A few years ago she was asked to assist with a recording of some of MacCunn’s partsongs by the Queens College Vocal Ensemble (Selected Partsongs of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916) which can be purchased on iTunes).

In her own words…

Up to this point, I had spent most of my time studying MacCunn’s larger compositions. While I knew that his songs and partsongs are among his most expressive works with some of his most effective use of chromaticism and rapid tonal shifts, it was not until I was editing performance scores of the partsongs that I appreciated that these smaller, intimate pieces are in many ways the gems of his output.

Jennifer decided to seek publication of the partsongs for which she has prepared beautifully and carefully edited scores. She explains her motivation in doing so…

Much of my career has been dedicated to writing about MacCunn and his music. With so few scores of his music available, it has been challenging to get his music out there. While I have published scholarly editions of his overtures, the publication of seven of his partsongs, a genre in which MacCunn excelled, will bring his music to a wider broader range of musicians and to new audiences.

Our first collection is Four Songs of Love and Longing for women’s chorus and piano. These are extremely lovely, reflective works whose lyricism shines. They also happen to be the last partsongs MacCunn wrote, and as Oates claims…

… are his most sophisticated efforts in the genre reflecting contemporary musical trends and showing what he could do when unfettered by patriotism.

Four Songs of Love and Longing contains the following movements (each one is also available separately in our catalog):

I. Whither? (PDF score sample)

II. On a Faded Violet (PDF score sample)

III. O my love, leave me not! (PDF score sample)

IV. Night (PDF score sample)

*All recordings by Queens College Vocal Ensemble, conducted by James John. They are from the 2008 CD: Selected Partsongs of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916).

Jennifer Oates has an article titled “The Choral Music of Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916)” in the current edition of the American Choral Review, 55/1 (Winter-Spring 2013). Please check it out!

Donald Skirvin: Winter Reverie

Publisher | choral music,composers,winter season,women's | Friday, August 17th, 2012


We’re in the midst of an August heatwave here in Los Angeles, and that makes it even more of pleasure to feature Donald Skirvin‘s contemplative and lovely Winter Reverie for this blog update.

When Donald was commissioned to write a piece for the Seattle Women’s Chorus, he knew he wanted to set the poetry of Sara Teasdale to music. He’s set many Teasdale poems because he finds her sensitive, multilayered voice to be inspirational. Skirvin describes the piece as follows:

Winter Reverie is a setting of two evocative Teasdale poems that re-create a winter scene of walking on a snowy night, enjoying a good meal in a restaurant, watching twilight descend under “icebowed trees,” and returning thanks for “… the mother who bore me. (Click on the link to download a PDF containing the first few pages and the last few pages of the score.)

In the restaurant

The darkened street was muffled with the snow,
The falling flakes had made your shoulders white,
And when we found a shelter from the night
Its glamour fell upon us like a blow.
The clash of dishes and the viol and bow
Mingled beneath the fever of the light.
The heat was full of savors, and the bright
Laughter of women lured the wine to flow.
A little child ate nothing while she sat
Watching a woman at a table there
Lean to a kiss beneath a drooping hat.
The hour went by, we rose and turned to go,
The somber street received us from the glare,
And once more on your shoulders fell the snow.

Winter Dusk

I watch the great clear twilight
Veiling the icebowed trees;
Their branches tinkle faintly
With crystal melodies.

The larches bend their silver
Over the hush of snow;
One star is lighted in the west,
Two in the zenith glow.

For a moment I have forgotten
Wars and women who mourn
I think of the mother who bore me
And thank her that I was born.

Listen to a performance of the piece by the Seattle Women’s Chorus on YouTube by clicking here.

Mark Carlson: Common Link

Publisher | choral music,composers,humanity,men's,mixed | Monday, November 7th, 2011

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If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can [help] make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic, common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we are all mortal.

These words were spoken by President John. F. Kennedy as part of his commencement address at American University in 1963. And they were the inspiration for a moving choral anthem, Common Link, composed by Mark Carlson.

Mark gave us a little insight about setting this powerful text:

At first, it was an enormous challenge to set words that are not intentionally poetic—though undeniably beautiful and profound. But as the compositional process unfolded, I felt immensely honored to be setting these words. In fact, it was kind of overwhelming to set words of such depth, some 40 years after they were spoken, and I remain humbled by the experience.

And what really got me—and still gets me nine years after writing this music—is the line, “and we are all mortal.” In part, it was the realization that Kennedy was saying, “Why are we fighting each other? We’re all going to die, anyway!” But even more, it was the realization that mortality, much as we want to fight it, is a gift. No matter how young or how old we die, we all have a finite amount of time on this small planet. Why not use every moment of that finite time to do whatever we can to make this small planet a more beautiful, a more accepting place.

Common Link was commissioned by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus (directed by Miguel Felipe) as part of their 10th anniversary celebration. It was originally composed for TTBB, violin and piano, but has recently also been voiced for SATB, violin and piano as well. (Click on the links to see a partial PDF score for each voicing.)

This recording is the premiere performance by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, conducted by Miguel Felipe, in June, 2002.

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