Home 9 Composers 9 STEPHEN SMITH

Stephen Smith (b. 1966) grew up in rural Nova Scotia, where he sang and played the piano from an early age. After initial studies in his home province in both piano and organ, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. While there, he participated in national and international competitions and won numerous awards and distinctions. Since 1990, Stephen has lived in Vancouver, obtaining his doctoral degree in piano performance from the University of British Columbia and contributing to the musical life of the city as a performer, teacher, composer, choral conductor, and adjudicator. His choral arrangements and compositions have been performed and recorded by choirs from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Seoul, South Korea.

Ae Fond Kiss

arr. Stephen Smith

SATB a cappella – CP 1749   – duration 3:05
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; 
Ae fareweel, and then forever! 
Deep in heart-wrung tears   I’ll pledge thee, 
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee. 
poetry by Robert Burns

A la claire fontaine

arr. Stephen Smith

SATB a cappella – CP 1449   – duration 2:00 
This arrangement recasts the beloved French-Canadian folksong with fresh harmonies and jazzy rhythms. Recorded by musica intima on their CD “clear.”

Chi Mi Na Morbheanna

arr. Stephen Smith 

TTBB a cappella – CP 1012   – duration 4:05
SATB a cappella – CP 1209   
This beloved Gaelic song of longing for home is simply but richly scored for four-part mens voices and supplied with a thorough pronunciation guide.

Consider the Lilies

by Stephen Smith

SSAA a cappella – CP 1312   – duration 5:50
Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin.
Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  (Matthew 6:25-36)

These words of comfort and assurance are set beautifully for an accomplished women’s choir, which is why it’s a part of The Elektra Women’s Choir Series. The use of an artificial mode (C,D,E,F,G,Ab,Bb) and characteristic vocal embellishments give a middle-eastern flavour to this meditative setting of a passage from the “Sermon on the Mount.” Layered vocal lines gradually build and subside, creating two climactic moments within the piece’s six-minute span.


by Stephen Smith 
TTBB a cappella – CP 1069   – duration 2:45
Written for the Vancouver Mens Chorus, this piece captures a sultry Spanish atmosphere using vocables, ostinatos, irregular meters, and semitone dissonance. From a soft beginning, tension and excitement build to a climactic chord cluster with tenors on a high B from which they drift down gradually as the piece dies away.

If My Love Leaves Me

arr.  Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 1748   – duration 5:50

I once loved a boy… and a bold Irish boy, 
who would come and would go at my request.

It Was a Lover and His Lass

by Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 2157; duration – 2:00

This is the second movement of “Two Shakespeare Songs”. (please see below for details)

Land of the Silver Birch

arr. Stephen Smith

SATB a cappella – CP 1310   – duration 3:05
Yes, this is the chant you used to sing around the campfire! Stephen Smith has created a whimsical yet beautiful arrangement which incorporates canons, ostinatos, and even a few musical quotations, and which has a featured role for a quartet of soloists.

NEWT - (from "The Lost Words")

arr. Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 2201   – duration 1:25
Newt is a brief dialogue between two animals-a coot (which is described as “emoting” its lines) and the spell’s eponymous amphibian (which is said to “roar” its reply!). Finding a suitable way for the choir and instruments to represent these two peculiar characters was an interesting challenge!

When the most recent edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary – widely used in schools around the world – was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. The words were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attach-ment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions – the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual – became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

In response, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that would conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren.
Morna Edmundson, Elektra Women’s Choir director, decided to commission 10 composers to write 2 compositions each – 20 compositions set to the poetry of Robert Macfarlane – and a fabulous concert program was born (premiered in 2022). These pieces are available individually and also as a complete book. They can be performed with piano alone or with instrumentation; flute/piccolo, violin, cello, clarinet/bass clarinet and marimba/percussion.

Pity Me Not

by Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 1585   – duration 4:45
Commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir for a concert they gave in 2016 celebrating Stephen Smith’s 50th birthday, “Pity Me Not” was in a way both the choir’s gift to him and his to them! With a gorgeous text by Edna St. Vincent Millay wedded to romantically wide-ranging vocal lines and a lush piano accompaniment, this piece will be a gift to your choir, your pianist, and your audiences as well!

Sea Fever

by Robbie Smith, arr. Stephen Smith

TTBB with piano – CP 1992  – duration 2:45
SATB with piano – CP 2025

A fetching piano intro is followed by a solid sea shanty in 6/8 time, with a rousing swing. This arrangement is ideal for choirs at any level of ability.

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

poem by John Masefield

Skye Boat Song

arr. Stephen Smith 

SATB with piano – CP 1174   – duration 3:15
TTBB with piano – CP 1175
A sweet and simple, yet satisfying, arrangement of the beloved Scottish song which recounts Bonnie Prince Charlie’s legendary escape to the Isle of Skye in 1746. 

Song for the Mira

by  Allister McGillivray   arr. Stephen Smith

SATB a cappella – CP 1645   – duration 3:20
One of Canada’s most enduring and endearing folk songs, Song for the Mira has been covered over 300 times. Anne Murray says it’s one of her favourites. So composer Smith applied all of his skills and passion to this one.

STARLING - (from "The Lost Words")

arr. Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 2204   – duration 2:30
Starling vividly describes its subject’s iridescent feathers, chattering song, jet-black eyes, and flight behaviour. And it does so in such a way (using multiple compound adjectives to propel the tempo, and a plethora of percussive consonants to create a cacophonous effect) that it actually mimics a starling’s voluble and varied vocalizations. (read about “The Lost Words” about – “Newt”)

To People Who Have Gardens

arr. Stephen Smith

SSA a cappella – CP 1070   – duration 1:30
A very pretty madrigal/song with a strong rhythmic element, celebrating simplicity in life and beauty in work.

Two Shakespeare Songs

by Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 2170  – duration 3:30

“As You Like It” – and you will indeed like this poignant combination of Bard poetry.
please read the composer’s well informed notes here

Under the Greenwood Tree

by Stephen Smith

SSAA with piano – CP 2156; duration – 1:25

This is the first movement of “Two Shakespeare Songs”. (please see details above)

We Rise Again

arr. Stephen Smith

TTBB with piano – CP 1136  duration – 4:00 
SSAA with piano – CP 1143
SATB with piano – CP 1141
“Stephen Smith’s rousing arrangement of the Rankins’ hit has been sung and recorded by hundreds of choirs, including a 3000-voice mass choir at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics. With its message of hope for the future, this song never fails to inspire, and the arrangement is a definite crowd-pleaser.”

Ye Banks and Braes

arr. Stephen Smith

SATB a cappella – CP 1054  – duration: 1:45
The basses carry the melody in this arrangement of a classic Scottish folk song.  Intuitive voice leading and sweet-spot vocal registers will make this easy to learn and open to lovely phrasing.