Choral Directors’ Top 10: Elise Letourneau

Elise Letourneau

Elise Letourneau is an accomplished performer, composer, arranger, and educator. She established and directs Vox Eclectica Women’s Chamber Choir. Elise is also the founding music director of Capital Vox Jazz Choir, which has been heralded as Canada’s first community jazz choir.

With her background in classical, jazz, and contemporary styles, Elise brings a varied palette of sound and experience to her music. The recipient of many composition awards, her publishers include Cypress Choral Music and Diamond in the Square Music.

Elise is a graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Humber College, and Lesley College in Cambridge MA. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Elise Letourneau Recommends Repertoire for Jazz Choirs

New York VoiceDance

New York VoiceDance

  • A wordless piece by Greg Jasperse, full of dynamics, rhythm, and joy! A cappella.

New Quiet as the Moon

Quiet as the Moon

  • By Dave Brubeck, this piece features wonderful textural and time play, and I really like Iola Brubeck’s poem.

Child with the Starry Crayon

Child with the Starry Crayon

  • I love the text and its imagery, as well as how Eleanor Daley served the text so well.

I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good

I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good

  • I always liked the angularity of this melody by Duke Ellington, and Paris Rutherford‘s arrangement more than does it justice.

Gate Gate

Gate Gate

  • A fantastic piece by Brian Tate! Love the energy, text, rhythm, time changes, and textures.

I Thank You God

I Thank You God

  • One of my favourite E.E. Cummings poems set by Gwyneth Walker. Beautiful piano accompaniment. A big dramatic ending that isn’t overblown.

Te Quiero (I Adore You)

Te Quiero (I Adore You)

  • Heartbreakingly gorgeous a cappella ballad by Alberto Favero. I think I hold my breath every time my women’s choir sings this. A love poem set against a backdrop of political turmoil, with lovely Latin-American tinged texture, harmony, and flow.

The Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis

  • The text, a sonnet, stopped me in my tracks when I encountered it, and I knew I (Elise Letourneau) would eventually be setting it, and I love how it turned out. It’s a piece for mezzo-soprano, women’s choir, and piano. Doreen Taylor-Claxton and Vox Eclectica Women’s Chamber Choir did a beautiful job when it was premiered last fall.

Dusk

Dusk

  • A beautiful setting by Dave Brubeck of a meaningful text by Langston Hughes. Some sophisticated jazz harmonic elements, but not outside the realm of familiarity for more traditional choirs.

No Mirrors In My Nana's House

No Mirrors In My Nana’s House

  • A very groovy and rhythmic a cappella piece by Ysaye Barnwell with a positive message of self-acceptance. Since it was originally done by a women’s a cappella group, some of the higher men’s parts are easily assignable to lower women’s voices if you don’t have enough men.
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