Choral Excerpt Supplement to the Elements of Expressive Conducting

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Need for Conducting I (MUCP 209) and Choral Focus Sections

Description by By Carole Ott Coelho

This supplement provides choral conducting students with carefully chosen choral score excerpts aligned with The Elements of Expressive Conducting beginning with Chapter 14. These selections offer opportunities to focus on refining skills in shaping sound, explore extended and mixed meters, subdividing, syncopation, cueing, and fermatas. Each chapter includes at least one excerpt in English as well as opportunities to explore French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish. In choosing these excerpts, we intentionally selected the highest quality musical examples by an inclusive list of composers. The set of excerpts aligned with each progressive chapter provides scaffolded musical challenges and music ranging from Mozart to Afro-Brazilian composer José Mauricio Nunes Garcia. Genres include traditional folk songs, part-songs, motets, a spiritual setting by H.T. Burleigh, and selections from larger choral-orchestral works. These works can be found in their entirety in public domain resources such as IMSLP and CPDL. Piano accompaniments range from simple reinforcement of vocal lines to orchestral reductions.

During the semester before publication of this supplement, I was able to explore many of the excerpts with my conducting students in detail. Some of the students tended toward music with which they were familiar, while others branched out into new sounds. By allowing students choice of repertoire, I found a heightened commitment in them to study, internalize, and step into the vulnerability necessary to truly express the music. A brief glance through the table of contents will reveal the depth and diversity of material available for exploration.

Chapter 14 begins with traditional folk songs and a sacred anthem composed by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor which introduces some simple expressive gestures. While working through Chapter 15, students can choose Mozart’s familiar Ave Verum Corpus, or explore the less familiar Rest Hath Come by Florence Ashton Marshall.  Students can experience the lush and expressive My Lord What a Morning set by H.T. Burleigh in Chapter 16 or expand their expressive skills with the sweet Spanish lullaby Pajarito que cantas. Gustav Holst’s Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda underpins Chapter 17 as an exploration of extended meters. Excerpts from Mozart’s Missa Brevis in F Major can be found in both Chapter 18 and Chapter 19 to develop skills in various types of subdivision. The lovely Gondoliera by Clara Schumann, in addition to selections from Handel and Haydn, helps students focus on preparations and syncopations Chapter 20. In Chapter 21, Nathaniel Dett’s Listen to the Lambs offers a fantastic opportunity to introduce cueing in a fairly straightforward and sectional manner, while the Beata Virgo by Luís Álvarez Pinto scaffolds this skill by requiring cues in imitative stretto. Finally, Mendelssohn’s Cast thy burden upon the Lord from Elijah is an excellent opportunity to work through fermatas at a fairly slow tempo in Chapter 22, while the Vivaldi Suscepit Israel involves both fermatas and tempo changes.

Many teachers of conducting spend considerable time and effort searching for pedagogically appropriate examples for conducting students from public domain resources and choral libraries. The 54 score excerpts presented here, along with the numerous excerpts found in The Elements of Expressive Conducting, provide teachers and students with a thorough pedagogical and philosophical understanding of conducting and the diverse materials necessary to hone their craft. I feel certain that the transformational nature of the material presented in both sources will allow students at any level to experience compelling musical leadership and the very nature of expressive conducting, transforming their gesture into the most authentic representation of the music and themselves.