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

Directors’ Vote 2022 Results

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Directors’ Vote: The Results Are In! The Most Popular 2022–2023 Editors’ Choice Selections

Each year, our editors help directors find repertoire faster by reviewing thousands of new titles from all publishers and designating only the very best as Editors’ Choice. For the second year running, we asked you—our directors—to help guide your peers by sharing feedback on the newest selections.

In addition to listing your favorite titles, we asked for a short statement explaining why each is receiving your vote: what excites you about the music, how you intend to use it with your ensemble, which musical concepts the title explores, what you like about the composer, or any other relevant comments.

In 2021, we received nearly 400 votes. This year, we received over 2,100 votes from directors in 42 states! While the winners and honorable mentions are based solely on the number of submissions received—a true “popular vote”—we hope this list helps inform your search for new repertoire this fall and for years to come.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in this year’s campaign! Without further ado, here are this year’s most popular selections:

Choral 

Winner: Singing, Bring Me—Ryan Main

“Delightful syncopation, quasi-contemporary style with fun percussion accompaniment.”—Jeffrey, OK

“The message speaks, and it’s written well for the intended ensemble.”—Dustin, MO

“This piece is so much fun!!! You can just feel the energy explode off the page.”—Bethany, KS

Honorable Mentions:

We Don’t Talk About Bruno—Lin-Manuel Miranda/arr. Mark Brymer

“This piece has everything. A wide variety in both articulation and dynamics. A good training piece for diction and a cappella singing! Not to mention great solo opportunities. Musically challenging AND fun for audience and singers.”Beverly, CA

Carry the Light—Andy Beck

“Beautiful and totally accessible. The violin part really pops as well, though I’m not sure student violinists would be too keen on playing E flat…but definitely doable!”—Rachel, CA

I Want It That Way—Artist: Backstreet Boys, arr. Nathan Howe

“I am always wanting to imitate the fun that Jimmy Fallon has with these songs and classroom instruments. So glad someone is putting the arrangements on paper!”—Angela, SD

Concert Band

Winner: Gayle Force—Quincy Hilliard

“I like the driving tempo; effective use of ostinato in low brass.”—Marcus, CA

“I love how the meters change, challenging students to count. Great piece for teaching rhythm and ensemble precision.”—Matthew, PA

“An exciting and dramatic work that students will be proud of and the audience will really enjoy as they listen on the edge of their seats!”—Matt, MN

Honorable Mentions:

Jingle Wish March—James Pierpont/arr. Andrew Guarrine

“Love the arrangement’s contrasting sections and great instrument balance. Well-written grade two band arrangement!”—Jeff, FL

Floating Clouds—David Bobrowitz

“This is an excellent piece to develop beautiful tone qualities. It is beautifully written and will make a perfect middle piece for contests. Definitely worth listening to. Highly recommended.”—Andy, LA

Sunrise on South Padre—Aaron McMichael

“This piece is excellent for a freshman band and above! Explore the harmonies and melodies that make this piece unique!”

String Orchestra

Winner: Renegade Showdown—Caryn Wiegand Neidhold

“It teaches students low second finger and extended first fingers in an engaging way. I love the harmonies in it…very creatively orchestrated!”—Kari, NV

“Contemporary sound and nice use of staccato and legato.”—Kim, NM

“High energy and fantastic way to work on low finger patterns and explore different tonal centers!”—Joshua, NV

Honorable Mentions:

Thundersnow!—Katie O’Hara LaBrie

“Perfect for a winter concert, while still filling the student’s love for intensity.”—Janei, AZ

Jingle Bells for Multi-Level Orchestra—James Pierpont/arr. Caryn Wiegand Neidhold

“Excellent for recruitment and engaging the entire string community, from beginners to more advanced musicians. Sure to be a hit with families!”

Rockin’ Ol’ St. Nick—James Murray/arr. Caryn Wiegand Neidhold

“Excellent rhythm that is motivating for students.”—Kim, NM

Jazz Ensemble

We had a tie in our jazz ensemble category!

Winner: Abacus—Ryan Fraley

“I adore the vibe on this chart. Definitely programming this year—a jazz waltz that’s pretty easy to play AND has a great melody? Exciting!!!”—Jacob, WI

Winner: No Harm/No Fowl—Kris Berg

“Kris Berg is a no-brainer!”—Jacob, WI

Sacred Choral

Winner: Glorious Impossible (The Miracle of Christmas)—Lee Black and Sue C. Smith/arr. Russell Mauldin (cantata)

“Best musical!”—Jimmy, AL

Honorable Mentions:

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms—arr. Marianne Kim

“Love Marianne Kim’s jazziness! The traditional folks love this style!”—Traci, MS

To Sing Once More—Craig Courtney

“Absolutely lovely piece! Great text and I think my choir would really enjoy this selection!”—Steven, IA

Home by Another Road—Mark A. Miller

“Good range for my aging church choir and relatively easy to put together.”—Steven, IA

Handbell

Winner: What a Friend We Have in Jesus—arr. John A. Behnke

“It’s a favorite hymn for so many and works well any time in the church calendar year. Plus, handbell ringing is just reemerging post-Covid, and new settings such as this add freshness to the service.”—Cheryl, MO

“Great arrangement—unique!”—John, FL

Honorable Mentions:

A Christmas Mix(olydian)—arr. Barbara Scheffter

“Key changes provide interest. Good use of chimes and mallets for contrast.”—Jeanette, WY

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town—arr. Ron Mallory

“A jazzy rendition of the traditional song. Just fun to listen to!”

All the World Rings for Joy—arr. Linda Scholes

“Nice combination of tunes in a non-traditional way. Varied techniques used.”

Bonus: Older Editors’ Choice Selections that Received Votes

Storm—James M. DesJardins

“Fast paced. Exciting and dramatic melodies, mimicking the sounds of rain and thunder. Parts are easy to learn. Many options for instruments, which can build confidence and full participation from the choir.”

Starfire Fanfare—Randall D. Standridge

“Gotta include Standridge! This tune is the ultimate blast for beginners. A FANTASTIC way to teach 6/8 time. Spot ON!”

Medieval Kings—Soon Hee Newbold

“Very accessible to intermediate-level string orchestras. My students love playing this piece.”

Moten Swing—Buster Moten & Bennie Moten/arr. Rick Stitzel

“Great arrangement! Representative of the Basie style to help teach young jazz players how to swing and emphasize dynamic contrast. Also, it’s a great standard to add to your library that works well for lots of performances.”

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God—arr. Kyle Pederson

“Unexpected rendition and a hauntingly beautiful arrangement. Not too difficult and can be done with just the piano.”

In Time of Silver Rain—Sarah Quartel

“The warm, gentle melody of this piece is first sung in unison before being expanded upon with beautiful harmonies. The exploration of the melody allows the choir to work on section and ensemble blend.”

Hawkeye Overture—Robert Sheldon

“Grade two on the harder side, great use of key changes without any overcomplications. Love the chords in the low brass.”

Dies Irae: Fantasia—Deborah Baker Monday

“There are so many reasons why I loved this piece. This is a very classic motif that gets woven into a beautiful fantasy piece. It allows kids to talk about the “older” music and music history while still making it interesting, and it gave them more to understand in their playing. This was my students’ favorite piece of the entire year (even over the Avengers!), and we took it to contest.”

Christmas Sanctus—Lee Dengler & Susan Naus Dengler

“Excellent soft, worshipful song for Christmas Eve.”

Looking for even more inspiration? Browse the complete list of titles that received votes this year!

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Pepper has served musicians since 1876. We hope you find our blog posts informative and a wonderful gateway to news in the world of music.

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