(Fraction Anthem) by Doug Starr. Unison choir, with optional parts for keyboard and guitar chords.
A newly formed contemporary ensemble of St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Harrods Creek, Ky., called me for ideas days before September 11, 2001, the day on which this piece was composed. I wrote this setting of the pascha nostrum in a fog, writing nothing else for months afterwards. The setting is suitable for use in Holy Eucharist. It may be accompanied by keyboard alone or with bass and guitars. The vocal part is in unison, with an optional divisi ending.
The original version of this setting was written in 1991 for Sam Batt Owens at a Louisville, Ky., diocesan choral festival. In 1999, I expanded the piece by adding the opening “Alleluia” choral phrases for John Walker’s Shadyside Presbyterian Choir in Pittsburgh, Pa. This setting may be sung as a concertato with congregation joining in singing the unison verse settings. The organ and brass parts range from robust to lyrical.
By Annette Tierney and Doug Starr. SATB with keyboard.
This piece was written summer of 2003. Annette sang the melody over and over in her head and had to ask Doug if the music had already been written, as it sounded so familiar. It’s based on a Pentatonic Scale, as are several other familiar hymns. The piece starts out with a solo voice. The melody is sung by various voice parts throughout, with the harmonization changing accordingly. The last verse, as the first, is sung by a solo voice.
A chaconne is a variation form based on a repeating chord progression and, often, a repeating bass line associated with that progression, or merely a repeating bass line. I have always liked a closing chord progression from David Hurd’s New Plainsong setting of the agnus dei found in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982. By adding four measures to the initial two-bar Hurd progression, the harmonic, chaconne theme was formed in the accompaniment, followed by five variations of equal length. A three-voice setting of the text “Dona nobis pacem” unfolds through those five variations. The accompaniment is particularly effective on piano, harpsichord, or with simple flute stops on the organ.
This piece was commissioned by John Walker for a recording of hymn arrangements recorded by the choir of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa. The Presbyterian Hymnal version of this hymn tune, “Foundation,” is an austere, disjunct outline of the pentatonic melody, whereas the Hymnal 1982 version is more conjunct and flowing. The choral parts here begin as Presbyterian, evolve to Episcopalian, and end with a Gospel setting of the final verse. The organ accompaniment is colorful, and the choral parts, except for a brief four-part divisi passage for men, are only moderately difficult.
(Psalm 8) from Mass for Men, Women, and Angels by Annette Tierney & Doug Starr. SATB with keyboard and flute obbligato.
This setting of Psalm 8 was written as the Psalm setting for “Mass for Men, Women, and Angels.” The uplifting refrain is followed by lyrical settings of three verses of the Psalm. The piece is especially appealing with piano or digital keyboard accompaniment. The flute part is only moderately difficult. The choral parts are easy, and soloists may be used in verse three or elsewhere.
By Doug Starr. Unison with organ and viola or alto saxophone obbligato.
This piece was conceived as the first movement of a short, multi-movement setting of the three-verse hymn “Like the murmur...,” based on the tune “Bridegroom.” At the request of John Walker, I arranged the viola instrumental obbligato for alto saxophone for a Shadyside Presbyterian Church (Pittsburgh, Pa.) recording. This piece for unison voices, organ, and solo instrumental obbligato has been featured at numerous hymn festivals lead by Dr. Walker.
When this delightful text appeared in the lectionary one year, I felt compelled to write a choral setting for my choir. The outer sections of the choral parts are relatively easy two- and four-part settings. The middle section has intriguing dissonance, but it is easy to perform. The organ accompaniment is lilting and weaves a lyrical, pentatonic melody that sounds lovely with a suitable organ solo stop.
For those of us raised in evangelical traditions, a genre of short, popular hymns emerged in the 1950s and ’60s. So called “choruses,” these single-stanza hymns resemble the “praise music” of today. “Spirit of the Living God” is a gem of this genre. When I discovered that my English choirmaster friend Andrew Fletcher knew and appreciated the hymn and made use of it in his Birmingham, England, Anglican parish, I made this a cappella, four-part arrangement for my own parish choir.
By Doug Starr. Two-part (ST-AB) arrangement with organ and brass.
This setting of Stanford’s hymn tune “Engelberg” is a concertato setting of the tune for choir, organ, and brass quintet. The choral parts are easy, amplified by treble descant. The modulation from G major to F major heightens the ending as brass, organ, and voices climax in their upper registers.
By Doug Starr. SATB with organ and violin or B-flat clarinet obbligato.
This setting based on the tune “Rockingham” is for SATB chorus with organ accompaniment and violin or B-flat clarinet. The text in verse 3, “love so amazing …” compelled me to insert quotations of the hymn “Amazing grace” in both the treble descant and in the closing phrases of the instrumental obbligato. John Walker requested this setting for a recording of hymn arrangements recorded by the choir of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa. This is Annette’s favorite hymn.
By Doug Starr. O Lord, Psalm 86 for SATB chorus, organ accompaniment and Tenor/Soprano Solo
This setting of Psalm 86 features a lyrical yet expressive solo line that was conceived for tenor solo but may be sung by soprano solo. The SATB choral parts are equally lyrical and expressive, opening with declamatory for part sections and ending in quiet two part and unison writing. The organ accompaniment features occasional use of solo stops and the harmonies, as in the choral parts, are quite modal. Dr. John Walker requested this setting for a recording of hymn arrangements recorded by the Shadyside Presbyterian Choir in Pittsburgh, PA. Peter Lee, then Shadyside’s tenor soloist, was featured soloist.