music for accomplished treble choirs

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Music for accomplished treble choirs

Morna Edmundson is one of Canada’s best-known choral conductors with a strong reputation for excellence. “Welcome to Cypress’ series of music for accomplished treble choirs. I’m very pleased to recommend these timeless Canadian compositions and arrangements to conductors looking for a challenge for their advanced high school, college, or adult women’s choir. Each has something to offer the singer and the listener. Be sure to listen to the audio links as you peruse the scores, and email me any time to discuss how these pieces might work for your choir.” M.E.

Adam Lay Ybounden

by Matthew Larkin

SSA a cappella    –    CP 1025   – 3:15
Written originally for a small church choir, this piece takes the ancient text and sets it with a mystical angularity, but maintaining a beautiful sense of line.

Ave Maria

by David MacIntyre   – 3:00

SSSAAA  a cappella  –    CP 1024
Written for Elektra Women’s Choir, this piece is now heard around the world. Using only the words Ave Maria this rhythmic and visionary work is suitable for women’s or very advanced children’s choir.

Blinded by a Leafy Crown

by Marie-Claire Saindon

SSAA a cappella (for two SSA choirs) – CP 1809 – duration 6:20
In her poem “Leaves”, Sarah Teasdale compares her faiths and beliefs to leaves – of a tree, or, in her very evocative analogy, a crown of leaves. This is a piece for two treble choirs, begins with the falling of our faiths, one by one, as voices intermingle like autumn leaves: one choir remains on the beat, and the other weaves on through with syncopations. As we look back at the past, during a time when our faiths still had a stronghold, the music becomes joyous and carefree. But it does not last long. When the sadness of the loss of the leaves takes hold, the music grieves a while, until the full realisation hits us: “Blinded by a leafy crown / I looked neither up nor down”. This is the most
stately moment of the text: simple but to the point. What follows is then a celebration of all the new things we can experience now that we are rid of our old blinders and prejudices. The music swells and expands in extasy of our new freedom, and ends in hushed humility and gratitude. 


Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

Traditional French, arr. Sarah Jaysmith

SSAA a cappella   –   CP 1778  

This sparkling arrangement of the traditional carol was commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir in 2015. It is suitable for intermediate to advanced choirs, and will be a delight for the choir and the audience! The score includes singing texts in either French or English.

This wonderful, uplifting song captures the night of Jesus’s birth as witnessed by the women of Bethlehem. Delighted, intrigued, awestruck, compassionate, eager to help – these reactions are set to a fun and vivacious SSAA arrangement, with several opportunities for short solos. Share the unique joy of this ground-level perspective on the Nativity with your choir!

Carol Trilogy

by Laura Hawley

SSAA with Piano –  CP 1774   – 13:00   

Laura wrote this challenging and highly effective trilogy for Elektra Women’s Choir. Great contrast of mood, cultures, and languages between the three movements. An outstanding pianist is needed.  Order the full trilogy or individual movements.

Changed Forever

by Shari Ulrich  arr. by Kate MacColl

SSA a cappella    –    CP 1242   – 4:15
SATB a cappella   –    CP 1250
When initially inspired to arrange a work for Canada’s premiere women’s choir – Elektra – “Changed Forever” was the first and only song to come to mind.  “Elektra’s members represent virtually every stage of a woman’s life, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t experienced at least one thing Shari has written about in this song – I imagined Elektra as I arranged the piece and know that many lives will indeed be ‘changed forever’ when they experience Shari’s incredible song”. This is one of the more poignant and meaningful pieces in the Cypress catalogue.

Consider the Lilies

by Stephen Smith 

SSAA (div) a cappella  –    CP 1312   – 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.

Da Pacem

by Jeff Enns

SSAA a cappella –   CP 1151   – 4:05
This plea for peace opens and closes serenely, with a contrasting, rhythmically vibrant middle section. Sung in Latin, the English translation is “Give us peace, Lord, in all our days”. One of the most popular scores in the Elektra Women’s Choir series.

Dawn is Not Distant, The

by Christine Donkin

SSAA with piano  –   CP 1302   – 4:15
The Dawn is Not Distant joins fragments of text from two very different sources: the Latin translation of Genesis chapter 15 and Tales of a Wayside Inn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When read together out of their original context, a new meaning is created.  Features a mezzo or soprano soloist.

Around the time that I began writing this piece, I was thinking about earlier times of my life, and in particular one event that left me heartbroken. The Dawn is Not Distant contains the message of hope and optimism that I would convey to my former self if I were able to travel back in time.  C.D.

Early Spring

Newfoundland folksong, arr. Kathleen Allan

SSAA (div) a cappella – CP 1142 – duration 4:50
This sad tale of a Newfoundland sailor lost at sea and the grief of his bride conveys the sense of hope turning to hopelessness, as her groom’s fate is related through this beautiful lament. Arranged for Bonaventure’s College Girls’ Choir by Kathleen Allan, it is moderately complex, suitable for skilled girls’ or women’s choirs.

Harp of Wild

by Allan Bevan

SSAA with piano  – CP 1862   – duration 4:00
Harp of Wild sets a text by Emily Bronte (1818-1848) who wrote her poetry in a kind of “white heat”. Perhaps as a result of the speed at which she wrote, the poem exhibits improvisatory and ephemeral qualities that I wanted to somehow capture in my setting. The theme of the text describes how the sound of the poet’s harp is perceived by the writer, both now and in the past. She remembers the “good old days” and the beautiful and happy sounds that the harp used to produce. She contrasts this sharply with how the harp only seems able to elicit disillusionment, and “sounds of sorrow” now.

The piano in my setting is used to suggest the harp and it helps to provide support for the divergent colourings of each of her stanzas. With its insistent repetition of small figures the piano suggests the ‘stubbornness’ of the recurring memories that the writer experiences throughout the poem. The conflict between 3/4 and 6/8 in the choral parts describes the unsettled feeling of the narration and the duality of bittersweet emotion that the poem exhibits. The 6/8 meter and the nature of the opening choral melody with its repetition of the melodic third is another important element in conveying the writer’s intense nostalgia for the untroubled times of the past.

Hodie Christus Natus Est

by Kelly-Marie Murphy

SSA with piano – –    CP 1660   – 3:30   
SSA with harp – –    CP 1665
This exuberant Christmas proclamation is a stunner: great fun for the singer and stirring for the listener. This quality recording features a fine harp player.  The harp part is provided via PDF if you order the harp version.

How the Blossoms are Falling

by Ramona Luengen

SSAA and piano    –    CP 1314   – 5:15
Ramona has given a exquisite setting to Joy Kogawa’s poem and dedicated it to the late Diane Loomer. Listen to the quality recording by the Elektra Women’s Choir. 

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.
poetry by Robert Burns

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

by Jeff Enns

SSAA a cappella  –   CP 1380   – 2:45   
A new setting of the timeless lyrics. Listen to an exquisite rendition of this piece by the Elektra Women’s Choir while you study the score.

Instrument of Peace

by Kelly-Marie Murphy

SSA with piano – –    CP 1389   – 4:05
The famous text of St. Francis of Assisi comes through with heartfelt clarity in this beautiful setting for treble voices.

String Quartet accompaniment – (optional – for an accomplished players – and not available through retailers) 
$20 for the set (sent via PDF files).


by Kathleen Allan

SSAA with piano – CP 1403  – 4:00
I am wild, I will sing to the trees, I will sing to the stars in the sky – – Sara Teasdale

Log Driver's Waltz, The

by Wade Hemsworth    arr. Ron Smail

SATB a cappella    –    CP 1029   – 2:30   
SSAA a cappella    –      CP 1030
SAB with piano   –    CP 1522
TTBB with piano    –    CP 1523
A show-stopper of a piece! Imagine waltzing around a log boom on the rushing river! This work is a piece of Canadiana – funny and exciting. You’ll need a very accomplished coloratura soprano soloist for the a cappella versions.

LOST WORDS: A SPELL BOOK - one poet, ten composers, twenty choral works

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.

The music is available as separate octavos or as a complete collection


by James Rolfe – poem by Amanda Jernigan

SSAA with marimba or piano    –   CP 1430    – 4:35
Newfoundland’s Lady Cove Women’s Choir commissioned and premiered this serenely beautiful and haunting work. Piano can be used in place of the stunning original marimba accompaniment.

Maid on the Shore, The

traditional folk song, arr. Kathleen Allan

SSAA (div) a cappella (optional percussion) – CP 1404 – 3:55
In this folk song, a young woman is taken on board a ship against her will, but tricks the sailors by singing them to sleep and then robs them blind! This arrangement is suitable for very advanced choirs that are up for rhythmic challenges. Listen to this quality recording by Lady Cove Women’s Choir.

Percussion parts: free upon request – sent via PDF files.

Pity Me Not

by Stephen Smith  

SSAA with piano    –    CP 1585   – 4:45
Commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir from their pianist, Stephen Smith, on the occasion of his 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! 

Salve Regina

by Ramona Luengen

SSAA    –    CP 1010   – 4:30
One of the Catholic Church’s four Marian antiphons is set for unaccompanied women’s choir and solo flute or solo soprano. With thick, luscious harmonies, this is a challenging piece of music, at times requiring 8-part divisi. The work requires a good sense of flow, attention to word stress and a convincing understanding of the piece’s structure.

Star Song

by Edward Henderson

SSAA   piano –  –    CP 1287A (for the singers)   – 5:55  
SSAA   classical guitar, piano and double bass –  –    CP 1287B (for the director)
This exquisite composition for women was commissioned by the very fine Elektra Women’s Choir (heard on the recording) Luci Shaw wrote the poem.   “We have been having epiphanies, like suns, all this year long. And now, at its close,when the planets are shining through frost, radiance runs like music in the bones,and the heart keeps rising at the sound of any song.”

Instrumental parts: (classical guitar, piano and double bass – not available through retailers) – $10 (sent via PDF files):

Teachings of the Water - Snewíyalh tl’a Stakw (five movements)

by T. Patrick Carrebré

SSAA a cappella – CP 2325  
SSAA a cappella – CP 1805
This project is a musical exploration of water teachings in British Columbia First Nations cultures. It was created with the idea in mind that a choir could work with its own local Indigenous people and change the text to that nation’s language. The movements are available individually or as a complete set:




by Marie-Claire Saindon

SATB a cappella – CP 1808   – duration 2:30
SSAA a cappella – CP 1805
Shrieks of sun, colours of the ocean, rock, crackling ice, shivering snow and wind; Terre-Neuve is a love-letter to the powerful geology and ancient mysteries found on the east coast of Canada.
SSAA version – commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir
SATB version – commissioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada



There is No Rose

by Don Macdonald

SSAA a cappella    –    CP 1106  –     – 4:30
SATB a cappella    –    CP 1222
Don captures the glory and mystery of the Virgin birth with this exquisite composition.

To Morning

by Allan Bevan

SSA with piano  –   CP 1076   – 3:45
Allan has set William Blake’s description of an unfolding morning to a wonderful tapestry of rich and lush harmonies. Piano accompaniment is romantic and challenging – a delight to play.

To Timarion

by Sheldon Rose

SSAA with piano  –  CP 1866 – duration 2:54

 To Timarion, by Canadian poet Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922), is an exquisitely lyrical expression of unconsummated ardour. It is heartache – desire – unworthiness – and hope – hope that one day a concealed and forbidden love may be illuminated from the shadows of remembrance. It is meant to be sung not with despair, but with a rapturous unrealized intimacy. 

The Valley

by Jane Siberry, arr. Beth Hanson

SSAA with piano    –    CP 1611   – 3:45
This heart-touching song, by popular singer Jane Siberry, is one of k.d. lang’s favorites. Beth really hits the mark with this lovely setting of a meaningful lyric. A great feature of your alto section.