two part voices a cappella

2 min duration

text by Raymond Knister

Purchase from composer $2 per member in the choir, score sent as PDF

Commissioned by the Amabile Choirs of London, Canada

This work should be performed as fast as musically possible. The repetitive nature of the poem, and the poems subject matter informs the style and musical gestures of the composition.

Raymond Knister was a Canadian poet known for his work on themes of rural life, “Plowman’s Song” speaks to this theme. Dorothy Livesay wrote “Knister seemed to epitomize the struggle of a generation” and his work “showed the effects of the many forces which were changing Canadian society”

“Plowman’s Song” R. Knister {public domain}

Turn under, plow, My trouble; Turn under griefs And stubble.

Turn mouse’s nest, Gnawing years; Old roots up For love’s new tears.

Turn, plow, the clods For new thunder. Turn under, plow, Turn under.

The Crane Is My Neighbour

Unison Voices and Piano

Boosey and Hawkes 2019

Purchase/see score

The bird is a noble, he turns to the sky for a theme,
And the ripples are thoughts coming out to the edge of a dream.
How patient he is as he puts out his wings for the blue!
His eyes are as old as the twilight, and calm as the dew.
The bird is my neighbour, he leaves not a claim for a sigh,
He moves as the guest of the sunlight-he roams in the sky.
The bird is a noble, he turns to the sky for a theme,
And the ripples are thoughts coming out to the edge of a dream.
John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942)

Neilson’s poem speaks to something that is immortal, a companion to guide us through life. The unison voices are independent from the accompaniment and provide an important opportunity for your singers to develop strong musicianship.

Three Part Voices and Piano

Text by Atlantic Girls Choir, adapted by Matthew Emery

4 min duration

Hal Leonard / Andrea Ramsey Choral Series

Purchase Score Here


Commissioned by the Atlantic Girls Choir 


Where is our strength when the worlds gone wrong
How do we know our future is bright
Standing together we grow strong
Drown ignorance out of its light
and make a future for everyone
stand with your sisters, mothers and friends
brothers we need your help with this fight
Standing together
Hands together were
We Celebrate each other,
And make our world strong

Stand together
Unite our voices
Fight this injustice
With strong rejoices
Love each other for who they are
Love each person no matter their scars
Strength, and resilience smiling through
You are valued and we love you

SATB and piano

4.5-5 min duration

email for score

Text by Toronto Poet Michael Bennett

Commissioned by Singing Out choir (Toronto).

Video of the Premiere: HERE

The River Sings My Song
Michael Bennett

The river tells my story.
The river sings my song.
It sings of where I’m going.
It sings of where I’ve gone.
It sings of those who’ve sailed with me, of those I’ve yet to know
It sings of who I strive to be, and what I choose to show
The river sings my past, my present, a future yet to be
It changes time, not always in rhyme, and sometimes sings off key
Some verses I no longer sing, I’ve left them far behind
Some I sing for only me, to soothe a troubled mind
I am the river, I am the song
I am more than what you see
I sing out loud, I sing out strong
Sing my hopes, my thoughts, my dreams
My life is in the river,
my life is in the song.
I’ve travelled far from where I’ve been
To a place where I belong.
The water sometimes calm and pure, sometimes rough and wild
Its twists and turns have made me strong and filled my life with pride
But there are times that you may see the river seem to slow,
To change its course, to freeze, to dry, to dam, to cease to flow.
Don’t let the river’s stillness make you think I’ve lost my way
On my journey I may falter, but I’m stronger every day
And when my song is just a whisper,
And the doubts begin to grow,
My quiet strength will see me through…
Under a frozen river, water still flows
I am the river, I am the song
I am more than what you see

I sing out loud, I sing out strong
Sing my hopes, my thoughts, my dreams
My life is in the river,
my life is in the song.
I’ve travelled far from where I’ve been
To a place where I belong.
Like the river I will travel. I’ll sing, be heard, I’ll grow.
My quiet strength will see me through
I’ll be more than I can ever know…
Under a frozen river, water still flows

the river sings my song sample pages

SATB A Cappella

4 min

Paul Bourget

Cypress Choral Music 2020 CP1838

commissioned by Chorale De La Salle Ottawa, Canada. Conductor Robert Filion

Nuit d’été is an anthem for mixed chorus a cappella. The text by Paul Bourget (1852-1935) [in public domain] speaks to feelings we have on ‘sweet summer nights’. It follows a traditional AABACoda form. “Ô nuit, ô douce nuit d’été” acts as a reoccurring musical gesture, in the third stanza the SA voices take the melodic weight while the TB voices sustain on a drone. The music returns to the familiar “A” section in the fourth stanza, and there is an ending Coda section on the text “ô nuit aimante!”

Performance in ITALY : video

Nuit d’été
Paul Bourget
Ô nuit, ô douce nuit d’été, qui viens à nous
Parmi les foins coupés et sous la lune rose,
Tu dis aux amoureux de se mettre à genoux,
Et sur leurs fronts brûlants, un souffle frais se pose!

Ô nuit, ô douce nuit d’été, qui fais fleurir
Les fleurs dans les gazons et les fleurs sur les branches, Tu dis aux tendres cœurs des femmes de s’ouvrir,
Et sous les blonds tilleuls errent des formes blanches!

Ô nuit, ô douce nuit d’été, sur les mers
Alanguis le sanglot des houles convulsées,
Tu dis aux isolés de ne pas être amers,
Et la paix de ton ciel descend dans leurs pensées.

Ô nuit, ô douce nuit d’été, qui parles bas,
Tes pieds se font légers et ta voix endormante, Pour que les pauvres morts ne se réveillent pas, Eux qui ne peuvent plus aimer, ô nuit aimante!


Oh, night, oh, sweet summer night, that comes to us When the hay is cut; and, beneath the rosy moon, Tells the lovers to kneel,
Anointing their burning brows with its cooling breath.

Oh, night, oh, sweet summer night, persuading
The lawn and branches to blossom,
Telling the tender hearts of ladies to open
Beneath the fairness of limes, where pale shapes wander.

Oh, night, oh, sweet summer night, that upon the seas Calms the sobs of the furious swells,
You tell the lonely not to be bitter
And the peace of your sky will descend into their thoughts.

Oh, night, oh, sweet summer night, speak softly With lightened feet and soothing voice
So that the poor deceased, who can love no more, Will not be wakened, oh loving night!

nuit sample pages

SSA and Piano

Text by Marjorie Pickthall

4 min duration

email me to purchase copies of the score [$2.25 per copy]

Commissioned by the Oriana Choir of Toronto, Mitchell Pady.

audio excerpt:


“Snow Dreams” aims to capture the magic and peacefulness of snow; how it falls, how it silences the landscape, how it reflects light and how it encapsulates time and place. The work is almost bare, only a faint framework of pitches from the piano lay underneath long beautiful melodies from the singers as if a still frozen landscape unfolds. Defenseless trees stand waiting to bare the weight of tiny flakes; Pickthall equates each flake to white flowers ready to bloom, inspire and enwrap. The first two stanzas of the poem are musically set in a similar way using a “verse-chorus” form from popular music. The final stanza is set in a more delicate, floating style.


O, The white flowers,
How they float, how they follow
Down from the hillside and up from the hollow. When the wind calls them they answer in showers, So shining, so tender,
Rose-rounded and leaf-slender,
They ring me, they wreathe me wherever I go.
O, the white flowers,
The flowers of the snow.

O, the white stars,
They have dawned, they have drifted
Like dust the wind strawed and the Mary-moon sifted, Through the briar-berry bent to the cedar-wood bars.
So soft, so unbounded.
Flame-pointed, rose-rounded,
They have clung, they have swung where the branches are low. O, the white stars,
The stars of the snow.

O, the white dreams,
How they kiss, how they quiver,
The weft of the cloud and the woof of the river,
Where the elder-tree shadows the sleep of her streams.
They lead me, they linger,
Frost-foot and mist-finger,
Saying, Hands, would you hold us, and Heart, would you know All the white dreams,
The dreams of the snow?

snow dreams sample score pages

SATB A Cappella

3 min

Marjorie Pickthall text [public domain]

ECS Publishing No: 1.3574 (2019) PURCHASE

Commissioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada,

With thanks to the generosity of The Patrick Hodgson Family Foundation

Performance by the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the European Youth Orchestra

Audio from 2018 Migrations CD



Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922) in public domain, alt. by the composer.

O though the way be rough and long, And dangers lurk on every side,
Yet still we lift our constant song,— And music shall be our guide.

Though tempests fill the empty sky, And terrors vex the circling night, Yet still with one accord we cry,— And music shall be our light.

Though fear should follow all the way Along the path our feet must roam.
Yet still with heart and voice we say,— Music shall lead us home.

“Lead Us Home” speaks to the power music holds; its ability to comfort, to transport and heal. In moments of conflict, strife and grief, we turn to music to lead us home and make us whole.


Lead Us Home (brass version)
Lead us Home (National Youth Orchestra of Canada 2020) [instrumental]

I Sing

SATB and Oboe

Text by Melissa Lalonde

4 min duration

Hinshaw Music 2023

sample pages

Commissioned by the Exultate Chamber Singers.


“I Sing” was written to honour Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt as she retires from the Exultate Chamber Singers.

It speaks to the thousands of lives Dr. A has inspired and influenced throughout her musical career, how she shapes and moulds not only our voices, but our souls.

Poetry written by Melissa Lalonde, and written specifically for Dr. Apfelstadt.

Oboe – Clare Scholtz (Univ. of Toronto)

Recorded in rehearsal by the composer

“To a Conductor”
I push, I pull, I shape, I mold
the clay of voices, fresh and cold
pulled from the bottom of the lakes
of souls who fear, or long, or wait

to sing.

With care, I gently move the air
to dry the patterns I’ve prepared,
and in the hearth of each ignite
an inner pulse, a human right

to sing.

And when this work of art by flame
is set, I help to paint its strains
with inspiration, wit, and will,
until there is no need to fill,

I sing.

SATB a cappella

4 min

Bliss Carman

Boosey & Hawkes 2019



Commissioned by That Choir, Craig Pike.


Christmas Song

ABOVE the weary waiting world,
Asleep in chill despair,
There breaks a sound of joyous bells
Upon the frosted air.
And o’er the humblest rooftree, lo,
A star is dancing on the snow.What makes the yellow star to dance
Upon the brink of night?
What makes the breaking dawn to glow
So magically bright,—
And all the earth to be renewed
With infinite beatitude?
The singing bells, the throbbing star,
The sunbeams on the snow,
And the awakening heart that leaps
New ecstasy to know,—
They all are dancing in the morn
Because a little child is born.

SATB and Piano

2 min

“from the Age of Steam”



Commissioned by the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa, director Kurt Ala-Kantti



This piece takes influence from the pop tune “I’m a Train” with a light heartiness feel and fast, train-like speed at which the song explores. This new composition has a folk inspired melody in two parts. It combines folk and contemporary writing; the slower cadences exemplify a more contemporary use of harmony and voice leading while the piano texture and verse melodies of the choir speak to a more traditional folk aesthetic. The piece is somewhat of a theme and variation form. Each verse and refrain repeat ideas while adding something new, or changing subtly. At times the instrumentation changes (which voice part sings at a time) or the texture changes (number of voices singing, or accompaniment is left out [optional]). The piano part changes throughout the short composition adding interest while providing a stable foundation for the choir.

The lyrics are adapted from a poem from the ‘Songs From the Age of Steam” no. 473 ‘Western Railroad’ The author is unknown, but the words date back to 1863 and can be found in the British Library (Shelfmark HS.74/1570/59). I freely adapted the text to suit my needs, the original poem is longer and some of the lyrics are in a different order in the original poem.