Yesterday afternoon, I submitted my TMEA program repertoire to Janwin Overstreet-Goode. I felt confident of all selections. Everything had a nice fit together. 8 pieces. 20m30s of music - approximately. 4 pairings. 5 foreign languages. 3 English texts. 3 A cappella. 3 from the PML. I am excited and at peace with these selections. I have created a themed program of repertoire. YAY!
This morning, I received an email from Janwin that 1 of the pieces was already selected by another choir (and it was performed last year?). Here's a little perspective: it has been 6wks since the TMEA invitations were issued. There are 8wks until the repertoire submission deadline. People are already turning in informal submissions to Janwin. This is a "pay now or pay later" lesson. Be prepared. Do not delay in choosing repertoire. If this early in the process, a piece is already earmarked, then it is back to the drawing board & act fast for me.
Since I am not using the piece any longer..........I had selected Jesu, composed by Andrea Ramsey.
My task this afternoon was to find a song that met the following criteria:
- 2pt or simple 3 pt
- contemporary setting
- preferably English text
- piano accompaniment
Tall order. I called Sandi Parks with this list. She suggested a piece that she conducted with the Louisiana All-State Children's Choir. I like it, but it is another language piece. I scour the PML books. Immediately, I have 3-4 pieces that are sufficient. One in particular that I have taught before and is well-loved by students. A familiar melody and one of my favorite lyrics of all time. Is that what I want though? Hmmmm....I need more. I begin digging through JWPepper website - searching composers that I like. Do any of them have a piece that meets this criteria? I find a couple of pieces. Go to youtube, listen to recordings. Within a few hours, I have found a replacement. A contemporary piece that I have taught before. Meets all the criteria. The girls loved it when I taught it 3-4yrs ago. Lush melodic lines, good harmonic structure. Does it fit with the other piece in the pairing? (Jesu was originally paired with sacred liturgical piece from the Classical music period). It is not an exact fit (what really comes close to the original selection?), but it works on a contextual level.
Finding a new piece so quickly. Did I choose the right piece? I think so. I have pushed myself in the past few years to know middle school choral literature. I don't know ALL of it, but I understand the needs of my choir and know what appeals to our ears. And I do know a lot of pieces. This is such an important part of my job. I scour those PML books 2-3 times a year and my single octavo file....well, that needs some cleaning out. I also keep a file of every piece I have performed with a choir. These things are meant to help me choose music for my choirs.
That is done. For now.
Another wrinkle. A very interesting one. The song that I have chosen to pair with the closer is a folksong from "across the pond". I learned the piece a few years ago and have loved it ever since. I have the anthology that it is published in by a national music organization. I have already contacted the organization about copyright issues. Today, as I am scouring the PML books, I find the song by the same arranger. Huh?!? I didn't think it was on the PML?!?!? I turn to find the song. It IS the same song, but accompanied and published by Alliance Music Publications(AMP). I spend the next 30 minutes discovering that both pieces - the SAME arrangement - have slight differences:
- the anthology version is a cappella v. the AMP version uses piano accompaniment
- both versions are published in the same year
- the AMP version has a few changed notes in the harmonic lines and a few text placement changes
- the AMP version seems to be out of print, but still on the PML, Grade 3. (double checking this detail).
It is my understanding that composers can't submit the same piece at the same time to different publishers. Maybe 20 years ago, this was okay though. Anyway, this composer/arranger got a double whammy every time her arrangement sold. However, if the AMP version is P.O.P, then she may not have made much money from the arrangement. Who knows? It was an interesting find today. I could use the PML version, I guess. But I would want it to be a cappella for TMEA. I could use the accompaniment for UIL contest. Not a decision I have to make right now. very interesting.....
Overall, a good 2 days of repertoire building.
Tomorrow - I will enjoy a holiday! Happy Independence Day to America!