Home 9 Composers 9 LEONARD ENNS

Composer and conductor Leonard Enns (b. 1948) holds advanced degrees from Northwestern University, Chicago: a PhD in Music Theory (dissertation on the choral music of Harry Somers), and a MMus in Choral Conducting (supervised by the late Margaret Hillis, for whom he worked for three years as a graduate assistant at NU). In his early twenties Enns taught high school music for several years, and then spent three and a half decades as faculty member in the Music Department at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Ontario, teaching conducting, composition and theory, and conducting each of the three departmental choral ensembles at various times.  He is the founding director of the award-winning Waterloo-based DaCapo Chamber Choir (www.dacapochamberchoir.ca), focusing on contemporary and largely Canadian works.  His compositions have won a number of recognitions, including a 2010 JUNO nomination for NOCTURNE, and the 2020 Choral Canada Outstanding Choral Composition award for THIS THIRSTY LAND.  Visit his website here: www.lenns.ca

A Little More Time

by Leonard Enns

SSATB a cappella  –   CP 2166   – duration 4:05
From the composer: This piece was composed in the spring of 2020, during the early days of what was to become an extended shutdown because of the pandemic. I had set myself a personal project of writing a short choral work each week, as our social activities became restricted. My commitment lasted for about two months, while, unfortunately, the pandemic had much more staying power. A friend had pointed me to… [Rilke’s]Book of Hours. The Book of Hours comes out of Rilke’s first of two trips to Russia. Inspired both by the ubiquitous Orthodox iconography and the immense landscapes, and by his associations with Leo Tolstoy and other writers, Rilke sees nature and the world as a pantheistic consciousness slowly coming into existence. The text, written by Rilke in his mid-twenties (in 1900), seemed presciently relevant for our time. Ultimately, Rilke asks for “a little more time” before the earth returns to “forest, water, and flourishing wilderness.” This plea reflects his concept of the Divine, which is rooted very much in nature — what he refers to as “God” is a life force gradually coming into being — the dark is a beautiful and potent thing — hence “you darkening deep” in his opening line expresses the idea of a divine reality that is positive, emerging, and being constantly created.
There is certainly motivation in the idea that we are responsible for what is to come, that it is time for us to deal with the walls we have created, walls which limit the emerging divine creation; we are called, in Rilke’s words, to “love all things, as no one has loved them.” That challenge calls to us today, while the earth warms and warns around us. Yet, in his final lines, Rilke introduces a corrective to our hubris — it is not we who will ultimately do the “writing” of this new reality; our work is controlled by a greater Hand.

Beautiful City

by Leonard Enns

SATB with organ/piano –   CP 2179   – duration 6:15
This glorious anthem raises the rafters with joy and optimism.

I see a beautiful city rising from the abyss;
the tears of mourning will soon be turned
to dancing and joy! There is a river, 
whose streams make glad
the beautiful city of God!


by Leonard Enns

SATB a cappella –   CP 2265   – duration 4:55

I was drawn to Ungar’s poem as the perfect text for this commission, since the poem was a call for community effort to address ills that surround us, ills in which we are often implicated knowingly and unknowingly, despite centuries of well-meaning effort. The relevance of the text was deepened when I learned about the genesis of the poem, after contacting Ungar for permission to use it. The poem was written in remembrance of Eric Garner, who died on July 17, 2014, after a New York City Police Department officer put him in a chokehold while arresting him. That knowledge added a profound layer of meaning to the words for me.
Then, on May 25, 2020, less than a month after the composition was completed, the killing of George Floyd – again by violent asphyxiation – rocked the news and led to wide-spread protests. The agonizing truth is that neither of these incidents was exceptional; they remain representative of a deep, deep need for a healing wind that will address the disparities, inequities, and violence that are still the daily bread of our world.
This composition is a call to come together and, in Ungar’s words, participate in this hurricane of healing.

Deep Peace, Healing Light

by Leonard Enns

SSA a cappella  –   CP 1224   – duration 2:30
Treble choirs; women or children, will really connect with this heartfelt expression.
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you,
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you 

God is the Dance

by Leonard Enns

SSTB with piano  –   KH 041   – duration 2:50
Who is the life within the grain
Who gives the sun, who brings the rain?
And fills both dawn and dusk with praise?
Who is the dance in all our days?

One Ruby-throated Moment

by Leonard Enns with poetry by Rae Crossman

SATB a cappella – CP 1963 – duration 3:20

if only for one
ruby-throated moment
you could drink
from the chalice of the sun

Red River Valley

arr. by Leonard Enns

SATB with piano, optional strings  –   CP 1354   – duration 2:50  
Len has set this classic Canadian folk song to suit a mixed choir. (It’s usually from a cowboy’s point of view) 
A touch of country humor in the harmonies and accompaniment will endear the audience.
Listen to the laughter on this recording. The string players were holding their instruments like guitars.

Come and sit by my side if you love me. Do not hasten to bid me “adieu”.

optional string parts – $20 for the full set – sent via PDF files.

There Are No Words

by Leonard Enns

SATB a cappella  –   CP 2244   – duration 6:43

The expression of grief often strains the capability of our spoken language; there are no words. That reality was the starting point for my composition, originally written in memory of my nephew, Jason, who died of cancer in the midst of a vigorous life, leaving a pre-teen son, a wife, siblings and a father with an echoing gap in their lives. Then, a week before the premiere of this piece, my dear niece, Tessa, died in Toronto, also of cancer, leaving a husband, three young children, parents, sisters and a loving extended family. This piece is dedicated to the memory of both of these dear people. 
Words fail.

This Day

by Leonard Enns

SATB a cappella  –   CP 1355   – duration 4:50
This Day is an exuberant anthem – perfect for any choir that wants to celebrate the rising of the sun and the joy of a fresh start each day. Diatonic voice leading into unique dissonances make this piece both approachable and exciting.

Until You Wake

by Leonard Enns with poetry by Christian Rossetti

SATB a cappella  –  CP 1962   – duration 2:05

The Love which does not sleep
The eternal Arms surround you:
The Shepherd of the sheep
In perfect love has found you.

Winter’s Blanket

by Leonard Enns
SSAA a cappella with opt. piano  –   CP 1173   – duration 2:25
This lovely musical gem sings itself with a lyrical melody, sweet spot vocal registers and intuitive voice leading.  Women and the audiences they sing for will love it! Ideally suited for a Christmas program but will work fine any time of year.
“Winter is a striking (and bracing!) reality on the Canadian prairies, and Christmas takes on a special character because of this.  Snow is, of course, an overwhelming presence.  I have taken this soft gift of winter as an image of Christ’s presence among us—the biblical promise that the Messiah will make the rough places plain finds a wonderful parable in the quiet snowfalls that gently smooth the plough furrows of the fields. There is forgiveness and hope in this blanket of white that soothes and smoothes the rough earth in its annual ritual.” L.E.