EBORACUM CHORAL SERIES from BANKS MUSIC, YORK:
Some recent publications
Banks continue to publish new choral music in their Eboracum (incidentally
the Roman word name for York) range. Their print is clear and their policy
ideal for choirs of all standards. These are works by living composers who
are reinterpreting discoveries of the past for our own times.
Here is the list of seven recent publications, which have come my way:-
Three Irish Folk Songs arranged for male voices by Edgar M.Deale
ECS 361 £2.15
Early One Morning an Irish folksong arranged for S.A.T.B by John
Powell ECS 376 £1.30p
Oliver Cromwell A Suffolk nursery rhyme arranged for S.A.T.B by John
Powell ECS 377 £1.30p
My Lagan Love Irish Traditional arranged for S.A.T.B and soprano solo
by John Powell ECS 403 £1.10p
Carrickfergus Irish Folksong arranged for S.S.A by Gwyn Arch ECS
Gloucestershire Wassail Traditional Carol Melody arranged for S.S.A
by Vernon Hoyle ECS 415 £.1.10p
St. Paul's Cathedral Descant Book by John Scott organist of
St.Pauls. ECS283 £3.95
Its certainly good to see that the century old (at least) traditional of
taking traditional melodies and rearranging, or as some might say disarranging
them for various voices is continuing to flower, and that composers continue
to feel that they have something to say in this area. It is also good to
note that publishers are happy to continue to publish these works. There
is something here for all sorts of choirs and none of the music is beyond
able amateurs and good school choirs.
To look in a little more detail:-
Having sung with a group of all male voices for many years I know from personal
experience how difficult it can be to find interesting material. Inevitably
one makes one's own arrangements. Publishers have told me on numerous occasions
that such and such an arrangement or anthem, although good, would simply
not sell. The set of three arrangements of Irish folktunes are well crafted
and no doubt very satisfactory to sing. 'Down by the Sally Gardens' and 'The
Palatine's Daughter' arranged by Deale have piano accompaniments, the middle
one 'The Wild Hills of Clare' does not. It is in four parts; the accompanied
one is in three.
I wonder how many people have arranged 'Early One Morning'? Powell's 4-part
reworking includes a solo baritone and is partially divisi for the
alto and tenor; the very voices which can be weakest in many amateur choirs.
The basses divide in the last verse. However the harmony is never too demanding.
In 'My Lagan Love' (a lovely melody this) the solo soprano needs to have
a flexible voice. The tuning will also be vital. The harmony and rhythm is
more complex and all parts are divisi at times.
You will know 'Oliver Cromwell' from Britten's arrangement. Powell here gives
the lower voices an attractive syncopated rhythm. But there is also some
close and dissonant harmony i.e. Eb against D in the soprano whilst the altos
sing C and Db. There is also some glissando marked in and there are regular
key changes. It is unaccompanied. Great fun for a good university choir wanting
an unusual challenge.
'Carrickfergus' arranged by Arch would work beautifully for a choir of
schoolgirls. It has a rolling piano accompaniment, which also would not tax
anyone too much. The 'Gloucestershire Wassail' also for girls (or indeed
trebles) will work for a more secular carol service. It is unaccompanied
and not too difficult.
As to the descants. There is much competition in this field. These should
sell as they have John Scott's name attached to them. The beauty of these
26 descants is that some have been transposed for the organist, and for the
choir who is more reliant say on older singers. This is a very good idea
and should be considered in Hymn books. In my view the accompanying harmonies
are too banal. But this is a practical publication, which I am sure will
be found most useful at church and in school.