Choral Directors’ Top 10: Nicholas Piper

Nicholas Piper

Nicholas Piper (M. Mus.) is a composer, singer and choral director in Ottawa, Ontario. Nicholas studied composition at the University of Victoria and Carleton University. His compositions have been performed across Canada in Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Ottawa, as well as New York and Oslo, Norway. An award-winning composer, his work has been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Ottawa and SSHRC. Nicholas is Director of Music at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Sandy Hill, and President of Ottawa New Music Creators.

Nicholas Piper Recommends Choral Collections for Church Choirs

Choral collections are a great value for church choirs that need to prepare lots of contrasting repertoire, week after week, season after season, with due regard to the daily liturgical readings, the choir’s ability, and the musical development of the parish. Today’s best choral collections feature complete liturgical indices with a wide assortment or material for the entire year or a thorough coverage of the repertoire for a particular season. The following collections are highly recommended for their up-to-date material and features and their suitability for choirs of varying levels.

New Oxford Easy Anthem Book

The New Oxford Easy Anthem Book

  • This is a great collection of classic anthems from different periods. It replaces the old Oxford Easy Anthems Book, which is now a bit dated theologically. The liturgical index is especially useful for finding music appropriate to a specific season or festival.

Augsburg Choirbook

The Augsburg Choirbook

  • A large and extensive collection of American anthems from the leading publisher of music for the Lutheran church. The difficulty of each selection varies, making the collection suitable for intermediate and advanced choirs. There is a wealth of material here in a diversity of styles. A good contrast from the English repertoire.

Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems

The Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems

  • This book is very useful for those Sundays when your bass section goes to the cottage leaving you without an unpredictable assortment of voices. Each piece can be adapted to a variety of forces and there are selections for all seasons of the year. The accompaniments are also suitable for organ or piano. The liturgical index is a great addition.

The Book of New Introits

The Book of New Introits

  • This is a new publication from Shorter House, an English publisher that specializes in music for Evensong. This book fills the need for approachable short anthems that can be used to fill a variety of spaces in the liturgy. All the music in here is modern and fresh, recently composed by living church musicians. You are sure to find many new pieces in this volume.

Novello Short Anthems Collection

The Novello Short Anthems Collection

  • This book provides short anthems for liturgical use suitable for both large and small choirs. Selections are chosen from many historical periods and the difficulty suits both beginner and advanced choirs. You will find many well-known favourites in here as well as the accompanying second volume.

Augsburg Motet Book

The Augsburg Motet Book

  • This is a good introductory book to a cappella part singing. There are selections from many periods and the repertoire is generally accessible to most SATB choirs. Augsburg Fortress is good at providing good seasonal coverage accompanied by a useful liturgical index. The book is handsome and the printing very clear.

High Praise

High Praise: A Book of Anthems for Upper-Voice Choirs

  • This is the collection to get if your church choir includes only children or women’s voices. The selection of material is wonderful and diverse, both simple and challenging. There is also a second volume that further expands the SSAA repertoire.

Advent for Choirs

Advent for Choirs

  • With four weeks to fill, Advent is a substantial season for which a wide variety of excellent music is now available. Oxford has kindly prepared this excellent collection that brings together a great assortment of music for the Advent season. With this book, you can mark the four weeks of Advent with a different style and energy from the Christmas season that follows.

The Novello Book of Music for Lent and Easter

The Novello Book of Music for Lent and Easter

  • The longest seasons outside Ordinary Time, Lent and Easter require a substantial amount of repertoire over a great diversity of themes. This collection from Novello is especially useful for its diverse repertoire. Put away your other books for 100 days and your choir will find enough material in here to fill every Sunday between Quinquagesima and Pentecost!

Choral Literature for Sundays and Seasons

Choral Literature for Sundays and Seasons

  • This last book is not a collection of music but a fabulous resource for the church choir director: organized according to the Revised Common Lectionary, this book suggests repertoire to match each reading for every Sunday and Feast Day of the year. Music from many publishers is listed, including titles from many of the books that follow. This one handy reference text is the best of its kind!
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