THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

THE J. W. PEPPER BLOG | DELIVERING MUSIC SINCE 1876

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Choral / Vocal

The Results Are In… The Most Popular New Editors’ Choice Selections as Voted by Directors

For years music directors and performers have relied on Editors’ Choice – our list of the best-of-the-best new selections for the season – to...

New Sounds Podcast: Check Out New Music… from Your Couch

Welcome to our new podcast: New Sounds of J.W. Pepper! Each episode features a different publisher or composer who will introduce some of their...

Top 5 Summer Music Conferences 2021 – Online or In Person

Summer is the perfect time to refresh and rejuvenate while you prepare for the fall. And what better way to do that than in...

DIY Virtual Choir: It’s Easier Than You Think!

Virtual choirs have become more popular than ever due to our current need to stay socially distanced from fellow musicians. The publishers Pepper works...

Celebrating Conductor Anton Armstrong’s 30 Years with the St. Olaf Choir

The renowned St. Olaf Choir in Minnesota had to be creative when it was looking for ways to mark its conductor’s 30th year of...

An Inside Look at Choral Music with Composer Elizabeth Alexander

When composer Elizabeth Alexander first experienced choral music, what she heard on stage was predominantly classical. Over the past few decades she has thrived...

16 New & Powerful Choral Songs to Help Students During Hard Times

Choral Music has always had the ability to inspire and heal wounds, and now many songs are taking on a new meaning as teachers...

How Are You? Silver Linings for Music Directors

Ian is one of my 13-year-old concert choir candidates. He and a group of nine other boys were promoted this semester to become full-fledged...

John Rutter: A Lifetime of Surprises and Choral Magic (New Interview)

World-renowned English composer John Rutter says it can be lovely when a conductor surprises him with a different take on one of his pieces....

20+ Surefire Ways to Warm Up Your Choir

What types of warm-up exercises do you use for your choir rehearsals? The answer to this question can take on myriad forms depending on...

Choral Legend Alice Parker: Sharing Her Works, Teaching Tips & More

Many choir directors today have fond memories of the times they have worked on arrangements by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw. Who could help but admire...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Bob Chilcott

Arranger, composer, conductor, and performer – Bob Chilcott has played every part of the musical process. His choir music is sung around the world...

From Wacky to Serious: The Many Sides of Composer Mark Burrows

Duct tape, angry piñatas, healing, determination – all of these diverse topics and more are covered by choral composer Mark Burrows in his pieces....

My Top 10 Reasons for Having a Children’s Choir

I will never forget to this day that special night my father drove me to our church in my hometown of Shelby, North Carolina...

An Interview with Composer Sarah Quartel

Choral composer Sarah Quartel grew up in a household filled with music. Whether it was her mother singing Italian arias in the kitchen or...

Community Choir Spotlight: Virginia Beach Chorale

The Virginia Beach Chorale is one of southeastern Virginia’s longest-tenured performing arts ensembles and has been a foundational member of the Hampton Roads arts community since...

Vocal Belting 101: How to Help Your Students Use Their Full Voice

When I was an undergrad, I was told that belting would ruin my voice. I shunned the music I loved and focused solely on...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Mac Huff

Mac Huff is one of the most prolific pop music arrangers for publisher Hal Leonard, and his work is performed by hundreds of ensembles...

Patrick Hawes: Creating Works for Radio and Royalty

The grandeur of Carnegie Hall is a far cry from where composer Patrick Hawes began his musical education. In a small English coastal town,...

Community Choir Spotlight: The Wilmington Children’s Chorus

The Wilmington Children's Chorus is an exceptional and diverse children's choir that serves the greater Wilmington community of Delaware. The Chorus was founded in 2002...

Composer Rollo Dilworth: Remembering Moses Hogan

March 13th marked the 62nd birthday of late composer and musical pioneer Moses Hogan. He is considered a pioneer of the modern spiritual, bringing...

Recruiting Members for Your Church Choir

Most choir directors spend time thinking about how to keep their group vital and thriving. This usually involves the recruitment of new members from...

Community Choir Spotlight: The Sycamore Community Singers

The Sycamore Community Singers is an auditioned adult volunteer community choir based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 2016 by choral director Linda Gartner, the...

Creating Virtual Choir 5 for “Deep Field”

July 2020 Update: Eric Whitacre's latest project - Virtual Choir 6  - is now available online and you can view the sheet music for...

Community Choir Spotlight: Allegro Choirs of Kansas City

Since its creation in 1999, Allegro Choirs of Kansas City has grown from one youth choir of 38 singers to over 250 singers in...

An Interview with Composer Ola Gjeilo

Ola Gjeilo began composing before he could even read music. When he was a child in Skui, Norway, just outside of Oslo, he taught...

Community Choir Spotlight: Turtle Creek Chorale

In 1980, 30 men stood on stage and sang at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Now known as Turtle Creek Chorale, that group has grown...

Preparing Students for Auditions

It never failed. Late November into December, when my performing groups were approaching the final stages of concert preparation, one or more students would...

Community Choir Spotlight: The Central Dakota Children’s Choir

The Central Dakota Children's Choir was born from a dream but became a reality through a true community effort. Karen Traeholt envisioned the creation...

An Interview with Choreographer John Jacobson

Music, for many, is about joy before anything else. Spend a few short minutes with conductor, composer, and choreographer John Jacobson, and it will...

Community Choir Spotlight: The Women’s Chorus of Dallas

The Women's Chorus of Dallas is recognized as one of the nation’s finest women's choruses. Founded in 1989 with an initial membership of 35,...

Vocal Health Tips: How Choral Directors Can Help Students

One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With...

An Interview with a Cappella Guru Deke Sharon

It was at a television station in San Francisco, California, where Deke Sharon realized how far his work in a cappella music had reached....

Community Choir Spotlight: The Mankato Children’s Chorus

Founded in 1994, the Mankato Children's Chorus, a nonprofit, non-auditioned choral program, is celebrating 25 years of "building a musical community one voice at...

Pepper Spotlight: The David Johnson Chorus

The David Johnson Chorus, celebrating their 20th anniversary, is an auditioned community chorus that performs a range of musical programs nationwide appealing to every...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Cristi Miller

Teaching middle school tends to be “the road less traveled” for many new music educators. Sometimes this can be due to a lack of...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Roger Emerson

When browsing the choral sheet music collections of any music educator, one might be struck by the wide range of styles and themes present...

The Inside Voice: Collaborating on a Special Choral Recording

In an age where it seems easy to make an amateur recording with electronic devices, the process of collaborating on a professionally produced choral album...

Music In Our Schools Month: American Young Voices

Over a period of two years, the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has strengthened its partnership with an exciting program that is building...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Michael John Trotta

Clinician, conductor, and composer Michael John Trotta is one of the bright young minds of modern choral music. His work has been performed at...

Pepper Spotlight: The OLLI Chorus – Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Delaware

Community choirs come in many shapes and sizes – from professional and semiprofessional groups to organizations for people who love to sing and make music...

Pepper Spotlight: New Mexico Peace Choir

The New Mexico Peace Choir was founded in December 2015, springing from a vision from the founder and director, Christy Conduff to form an...

The Youth Chorus of Kansas City: Inspiring Life-Long Music Makers

The Youth Chorus of Kansas City was founded in the summer of 2017 to provide ambitious young student singers throughout the Kansas City area...

The Inside Voice: A Composer Roundtable from ‘The Joy of Singing’

This past summer, Pepper had the pleasure of hosting four of the nation’s top clinicians for a recent Joy of Singing workshop. While they...

Pepper Community Choir Spotlight: Reprise

Reprise is a focused, creative, and collegial choir community ensemble made up of high caliber musicians with a passion to develop songs at the...

The Community Choir Spotlight Shines on the Circle City Community Choir

In 2010 Corona, California had been without a community choir for several years; Angela Rosser decided it was time to end that drought, and...

The Community Choir Spotlight Shines on the Austin Children’s Choir

The Austin Children's Choir strives to provide the children of Austin and surrounding communities with a rewarding music program that gives them the opportunity...

Pepper Community Choir Spotlight: East End Women’s Choir

East End Women's Choir is an intergenerational group of musicians dedicated to excellence in the performance of women's choral literature. The choir performs two...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Amanda Jane Cooper

It is hard to match the magic of musical theater, and when the show in question happens to be the smash hit Wicked, magic...

Pepper Spotlight: The Susquehanna Chorale

The Susquehanna Chorale, founded in 1981 by Artistic Director Linda Tedford, has emerged as one of the outstanding choral ensembles in the United States. ...

Pepper Spotlight: The Detroit Children’s Choir

The Detroit Children's Choir is made up of over 300 children, grades 3-12, who have a passion and love for singing. Choir members come...

A Band Director’s Guide to Teaching Chorus, Part 2

Are you a band director yet you find yourself teaching chorus? In Part 1: Preparing Your Singers I discussed setting up and managing the choral...

A Band Director’s Guide to Teaching Chorus, Part 1

Part 1: Preparing Your Singers During my teaching career, I noticed that there were many music teachers who would have liked to have known more...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Greg Gilpin

Music education is a pivotal part of keeping our culture alive, and the teachers who carry out this mission need the support of other...

Church Musician or Magician? A Choral Planning Guide

It’s that time of year! Whether you started planning two years ago or you will wait until the first week of rehearsals (don’t worry,...

Pepper Spotlight – The Jacksonville Children’s Choir

This month the Pepper spotlight is shining on the Jacksonville Children's Choir, their repertoire, their leadership, the wonderful and artistic work they are doing,...

Pepper Spotlight: The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

Founded in 1874 by William Wallace Gilchrist, Mendelssohn Club has been a major force in choral music in Philadelphia and beyond. One of this...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Craig Courtney

For composer Craig Courtney, music has been a lifelong pursuit. He began picking up melodies on the piano at the age of three, and...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Rollo Dilworth

Rollo Dilworth is a master of the modern spiritual. Growing up in St. Louis and singing in both school and church choirs, Dilworth learned...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Andy Beck

A prolific composer of choral music, Andy Beck has written hundreds of works, vocal resource books, and children’s musicals. Among his most famous works...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Eric Whitacre

The name Eric Whitacre is sure to turn heads anywhere musicians gather. While he is a composer of choral music first, his wide range of...

Mark Cabaniss’ Top 10 Reasons for Performing a Musical

Night of Miracles… Joy Comes in the Morning… Friends… It’s Cool in the Furnace… Celebrate Life… and the list could go on. Hopefully, you’re...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Mary Lynn Lightfoot

Mary Lynn Lightfoot’s musical life started in the town of Canton, Missouri, where she began taking piano lessons at the age of four. As...

Pepper’s Top Tips for Concert Season

Concert season is right around the corner and, chances are, you have been preparing for it since your last concert ended. You spent the...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Lloyd Larson

Standing in the St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Hanover, Pennsylvania, it is not difficult to see how the beauty of religious devotion can inspire...

Meeting the Minds Behind the Music

Listening to a master speak about their craft is one of the most enlightening experiences one can have. That was the thinking behind Pepper’s...

Thespis: In Print for the First Time

Among the many great names in musical theater, English operetta masters William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were two of the earliest to gain...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Joel Raney

No discussion of sacred and church choral music is complete without including the works of composer Joel Raney. Raney’s contribution to sacred music is...

Make Pepper Part of Your Summer with Pepper Live

As graduation days approach, we know what’s really on everyone’s minds: summer vacation. And while days at the beach or camping in the woods...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest is a man who believes “all good things, including any beauty that we encounter, are from God, through God, and ultimately to...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Paul Mealor

On the cusp of 40, Paul Mealor has already built a legacy of musical excellence. His journey started at the young age of 10...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Kim André Arnesen

Kim André Arnesen is one of today’s most promising young choral composers. As a child growing up in Norway, Arnesen developed a love for...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Mark Hayes

Known to be one of the most versatile composers and arrangers of our time, Mark Hayes is popular with both worship and secular choirs....

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Joseph Martin

Joseph Martin is one of the most influential composers in sacred music today. His music has graced countless congregations and led many to consider with...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with Heather Sorenson

As part of our ongoing series of interviews, Pepper had the opportunity to sit down with arranger and composer Heather Sorenson. A church pianist...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with James Jordan

Look at any extensive library of musical literature and you will see not one, but many books by James Jordan. No writer is more...

John Rutter: The Importance of Choir

Listen as composer John Rutter delves deeply into the importance of choir in all aspects of life.  He shares his own love of music...

John Rutter on Christmas

When you hear the name John Rutter, your mind automatically jumps to the thought of Christmas music.  What makes Rutter's name so synonymous with Christmas?  We...

The Inside Voice: An Interview with John Rutter

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with John Rutter and discuss his forthcoming Anniversary Editions series, published by Oxford University Press and...

The Eric Whitacre Virtual Youth Choir

It is almost time for the long-awaited reveal of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Youth Choir.  The wildly popular Virtual Choir project has a new flavor...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Conclusion

Now that you have found some potential pieces and they fit the “who, what, when, where and why” of your practical considerations, what now? ...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 2

In Part 1 we discussed practical considerations in choosing repertoire, such as the makeup of your performing group and the expectations of your intended...

Repertoire – Choosing Quality Choral Music, Part 1

Of the responsibilities that music teachers have, perhaps one of the most challenging is that of finding and choosing quality repertoire.  With the amount...

An Interview with Daniel Elder

On April 25, 2013 we welcomed Alec Harris from GIA Publications to our Pennsylvania office.  Alec presented GIA’s new choral releases, which included two...

The Celebration of Christ the King Sunday

With the end of the liturgical year approaching, so too is the oft misunderstood Feast of Christ the King.  Many Christian faiths celebrate this...

The Changing Role of the Choir in Worship

In 1968, sacred music changed forever.  The “Jesus Movement” in Southern California gave birth to what would eventually become known as Contemporary Christian Music...

The Benefits of Attending a Live Reading Session

On July 23, 2012, J.W. Pepper hosted Summer Sing, a choral music reading session in the company’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania.  While reading sessions...

Virtual Choir 3: Eric Whitacre’s Water Night

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3 has proven yet again choral singing's unique ability to form a bond between people the world over.  Singers from 72 countries...

Harmony Singing

Everyone seems to enjoy good harmony singing.  From the Andrew Sisters during World War II, the McGuire Sisters, the Four Lads, the Mills Brothers,...

National Choir Appreciation Sunday! How Will You Celebrate?

Mark January 8, 2012 on your calendar! It's time to show our appreciation to church musicians everywhere!  Join people nationwide in thanking the good folks in...

Choral Conversations — Greg Gilpin

Have you ever wanted to learn more about your favorite composers? We did too, and we are sharing what we found out!

Raise Your Hands – A Conversation with Heather Sorenson

Heather Sorenson was born in Illinois and lived in a number of places throughout her childhood, finally settling in the beautiful city of Dallas,...

Choral Conversations: Dan Forrest

Are you familiar with Good Night, Dear Heart or perhaps You Are the Music? If you are interested in choral music, you should be!...

Rejoice in the Small Choir

It has been long-standing tradition that if you are a church choir member, you sing SATB music.  I don't know when this became the...

Choral Conversations: Mary McDonald

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Mary McDonald, a multi-talented musician from Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to her work as a composer, arranger, producer,...

Goodbye, My Friend

As a faithful attendee of Pepper new music reading sessions, "Goodbye, My Friend” was presented at one this summer.  Call it premonition or just...

Choral Conversations: Joel Raney

Have you ever wanted to learn more about your favorite composers? We did too, and we are sharing what we have learned!

Choral Conversations — Sally Albrecht

Have you ever wanted to learn more about your favorite composers? We did too! And we are sharing what we have learned.

Stringing Along

Stringing Choral Folders: "First, take the metal tip of the string and loop it under the claw..." If you have to string choral folders to securely hold...

Choral Conversations: Mary Lynn Lightfoot

Mary Lynn Lightfoot is the Choral Editor for Heritage Music Press, a composer, an educator and an extremely funny woman. She has over 230 published...