Home 9 Composers 9 Frances Farrell

A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Frances Farrell pursued her music studies in Winnipeg, graduating with both Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Manitoba. She subsequently earned a Master’s Degree and Artist’s Diploma in Vocal Performance from McGill University. Frances graduated with her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Toronto. Currently, Fran is based in Halifax where she directs a community choir called the Dartmouth Choral Society as well as two senior high choirs as part of the Halifax Regional Arts Program. In addition to her role as a high school music educator, Fran has worked as a choral clinician in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.


by Frances Farrell

SSA with piano – CP 2119 – duration circa 7:45

1) Elegy. 2) The Rose That Grows. 3) Women Are Not Roses
Please examine each movement, listed below.
This lovely choral suite exams the strength of women from a variety of angles, using the image of a rose to symbolize truth.

“But he who dares not grasp the thorn 
Should never crave the rose.
― Anne Bronte

ELEGY - mvt. 1 - A Rose by Any Other Name (trilogy)

by Frances Farrell

SSA with piano – CP 2116 – duration 2:55

In this day and age of “fake news”, the notion of truth is becoming an archaic construct. Hence, the return to the Baroque era in this first movement. Elegy is meant to replicate the stately elegance of a Handel aria with occasional neoclassic nods to Purcell and Bach. (This piece was originally conceived as an acapella work. A piano part is also provided, however.) An elegy is a lament for the dead – a fitting description for the truth, represented here by a rose, that is slowly being stripped away petal by petal. The text for this movement comes from the last stanza of the poem Night by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)

THE ROSE THAT GROWS - mvt. 2 - A Rose by Any Other Name (trilogy)

by Frances Farrell

SSA with piano – CP 2117 – duration 2:25

This movement draws inspiration from Tupac Shakur’s The Rose That Grew from Concrete. The truth is fighting to emerge, despite formidable barriers. The text (authored by the composer) speaks to the phrase “standing in your truth” and a belief in one’s self. This acapella piece begins with a vocal percussion section meant to emulate a rhythm section and the heat of hot summer’s day. A call and response texture underpins this movement. The vocal ranges are fairly similar, so voicing can be interchangeable.

WOMEN ARE NOT ROSES - mvt. 3 - A Rose by Any Other Name (trilogy)

by Frances Farrell

SSA with piano – CP 2118 – duration 2:25

The truth of who we are is often mired in societal norms and expectations. Ana Castillo’s poem Women Are Not Roses* is reflective of this statement. Musically speaking, you may notice deliberate attempts to play with expected musical norms with regards to time signatures, melodic construction, and tonality. 

Lullaby to an Ancient River

by Robbie Smith, arr. Frances Farrell

SATB with piano – CP 1986 – duration 3:55
SSAA with piano – CP 2017
TTBB with piano – CP 2146
TB with piano –
available upon request
Hear me, ancient river – the first line of Robbie Smith’s lyrics, captures the wistful sentiment of this pensive folk song that features charming melodies, unison singing, four-part harmonies, and a sensitive piano part that mimics the undulating strains of both Smith’s guitar accompaniment and ripples of an ancient river itself. An ideal choice for programmes about water, folk songs, nature, love, journeys, or the evening. 

Hear me ancient river
Close your weary eyes
You have traveled far this day
By the golden marshes
Warmed by the sun along your way

Painter of Wintertime

by Robbie Smith, arr. Frances Farrell

SATB with piano – CP 1958 – duration 4:10
SSA with piano – CP 1972
TTBB with piano – CP 1981
A lilting and lyrical depiction of a magical snowy morning based on Robbie Smith’s evocative lyrics and enchanting melodies that features a mixture of unison singing, four-part harmonies and an imaginative and sensitive piano accompaniment. An ideal choice for Winter-themed programs. 

Snow drift, fresh powder peaceful
Ice diamond aspen tree, tasting the wind
Snowflake, cotton and crystal
Candy cane Christmas tree, ornament sky

Painter of wintertime of smooth wispy swirl
Painter of wintertime, your canvas the world

Truly Home

by Robbie Smith, arr. Frances Farrell

SATB with piano and instr. – CP 2147 – duration 3:35
SSAA with piano and instr. – CP 2167
TTBB with piano and instr. – CP 2154

This up-tempo choral arrangement captures the spirit of the Robbie Smith original version, whose lyrics anticipate life’s final destination. Smith invites us to view death not as an occasion for sadness, but as a celebration: one’s soul is finally free from life’s burdens. Scored for piano and SSAATB choir, there are several call and response sections whose harmonies recall the “high lonesome sound” of Bluegrass music. There are also opportunities for vocal solos and an optional instrumental solo e.g. violin, mandolin. Equally suited to sacred or secular settings, Truly Home is a welcome addition to programs based on themes of spiritual or metaphorical journeys, celebration of life, and the power of music to comfort us in times of strife.

No more darkness to cloud my vision
To make me blind to the light I seek
No more chains now to keep me in prison
To make my heart grow weak

No more trials now to try my courage
To rob me of my strength to speak
No more failures to hurt or discourage
I’ve scaled that mountain peak
Home, I’m gonna follow my family home

Winter Proverbs - (a suite in four movements)

by Frances Farrell

TTBB a cappella –  CP 1590 – duration circa 7:00
SATB a cappella –  CP 2145

Winner of Chor Leoni’s inaugural C4 composition competition in 2017, this a cappella suite for men’s voices uses secular texts to depict the many shades of winter. This suite can be performed as a group or, alternatively, the last movement can be performed as a standalone work. A highly versatile set of pieces featuring moments of effervescence, humour, and solace, Winter Proverbs will be a welcome addition to your seasonal program.
These pieces are linked thematically using texts from various proverbs about winter. Cited as a Chinese proverb, the lyrics to this first movement, “The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship,” speak to
the steadfastness of winter, ice, and pine trees. These sentiments are underscored by the austere treatment
of voices and rhythms, as though the voices themselves were frozen.The second movement is a playful realization of the word “dance” that is found in this English proverb: “They that sing in summer, must dance in winter.” The third movement is based on the proverb “Those who don’t pick roses in the summer, won’t pick them in winter,

either.” This tongue-in-cheek treatment of the lyrics asks choristers to confront the thorny issue of how to pronounce the word “either”. The final movement comprises several proverbs: “O wind, if Winter comes, can Spring
be far behind?” – Shelly (Ode to West Wind), “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow” – Guinean

proverb, “The snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing” – Irish proverb. This movement is punctuated by sweeping vocal lines meant to emulate the movement of the wind.The last few measures of this piece recall the the opening idea of the first movement.