Amidon Choral Music

New arrangements – Gathering indoors

You are invited to join Mary Alice and me tomorrow (Sunday September 19), at 12:00 noon ET at the online Daily Antitode of Song. Mary Alice and I (and maybe our grandson Desmond) will be leading Scottish harper Wendy Stewart’s “Waltzing Through Time“.
Waltzing Through Time” is one of the new offerings on our online library/store of our choral arrangements.  I also recently put up my arrangement of the African American spiritual “Give Me Jesus“, and my arrangement of Peter Mayer’s “Blue Boat Home“.
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I am on the “Relaunch Committee” of the Guilford (VT) Community Church UCC, where we are figuring out a safe way to return to having indoor services in our church sanctuary.

The Story of Eli, Eli

Eli, Eli

The Short Story

The Hebrew poem “Eli, Eli” was written by Hannah Szenes in 1942, and was set to music by David Zehavi in 1945.  I sang it with the Brattleboro Music Center Children’s Choir in 1991, and arranged it for piano/SATB in 2010.

The Longer Story

When I was a local public school music teacher in the 1980’s it struck me that there were always one or two or three children in each class who stood out with their beautiful in-tune singing. How wonderful, I thought, if I could gather them all into one singing group.  Also, I was interested in creating an enriching singing experience for Mary Alice’s and my two young boys Sam and Stefan.

The Story of “Bright Morning Stars”

August 26, 2021

Bright Morning Stars

The Short Story

I arranged this traditional Appalachian spiritual for the Guilford (VT) Community Church UCC Choir in 2006.

More

I met Mary Alice at the weekly Tuesday evening contra dance held at the YWCA in Cambridge Massachusetts’ Central Square in September 1975.  I had been a viola da gambist, studying with the Boston early music group Quadrivium Collegium when I was introduced to the rich Cambridge folk music and dance scene just the year before in 1974 and I was hooked.

the story of “The Silver Rain”

August 18, 2021
Short Story
“The Silver Rain”, words by Alice Henderson, music by Marianne Zimmerman. I wrote an a cappella SATB harmonization of this after Mary Alice and I learned it from Harry and Edith Barron who had learned it while living in the Bruderhof Community.

More

The Bruderhof was a pacifist spiritual community founded in Germany in 1920. The rise of the Nazis forced the Bruderhof community to flee Germany to the Cotswolds of England where they were joined by English concientious objectors. By 1936 there were over 350 members of the Bruderhof, speaking and singing in German and English.  This is when our English friends Harry and Edith Barron joined the Bruderhof.

the story behind “I Still Have Joy”

August 3, 2021
Dear Singing Friends,
This is the first of a series on the songs in our Amidon Online Sheet Music Download Library/Store:
 Short Story
“I Still Have Joy”, by Danny Mccrimmon and Joseph Calvin Jackson, is a classic African American gospel song that I arranged for a cappella SATB, though it is more typically performed with a full gospel choir, organ, piano, drums, etc.   “After all the things I’ve been through, I still have joy…
(more…)

Making our Choral Website useful to you

June 23, 2021
Dear Singing Friends,
I am pondering what would be most useful for folks who use Mary Alice’s and my online choral website.  Of course it is helpful to us to have folks purchase our choral arrangements and compositions.  I would also like the website to be a library-like resource of useful, beautiful and accessible choral pieces, often off the beaten track of mainstream choral repertoire.  If you want to let me know what would be most useful to you that will help me know where best to put my time and energy on the website:

Free Downloads

Here is an alphabetical list of Free Downloads, with links to the free pdf files.

Unless otherwise noted, all of these are SATB a cappella, arranged by Peter Amidon.

  • All Through the Night – simple harmonization of this beautiful Welsh hymn (“Ar Hyd y Nos”).
  • Amazing Grace hymn – Peter is fussy about hymn harmonizations, so he came up with his own for “Amazing Grace”.
  • Angel Band – The Amidons first learned this in folk singing circles. Mary Alice remembers Arkansas’s Almeda Riddle singing this at a Washington D.C. Folk Music Festival in 1976.
  • Angels Hovering Round – simple harmonization of this extraordinarily beautiful and simple song often sung by the Amidons at Christmas Eve services and hospice sings.
  • Balm in Gilead – Peter based his harmonization on versions from several different hymnals.
  • Blessed Quietness – The Amidons always enjoyed singing this with Lucy Picco Simpson (see “What’s in a Song”). They often sing it in their hospice sings.
  • Brotherhood & Sisterhood – Peter’s song about celebrating our differences. It includes a couple of anti-bullying verses.  Unison/guitar chords.
  • Children’s Miracle – Peter’s ballad that tells the story of the extraordinary “Children’s March” in Birmingham Alabama in 1962 that brought national attention to the Civil Rights Movement.  It can be sung simply with guitar or banjo, there is also a through-composed arrangement for piano/SATB.
  • Christ Was Born in Bethlehem – Arrangement of this Appalachian ballad that is great for Lent, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
  • Come O Thou Traveler – piano/unison or solo arrangement of this hymn/ballad with Isaac Watts lyrics about wrestling with the angel; great for Lent/Good Friday.
  • Fear Not the Pain – Arrangement of Rachel Pollak Kroh’s simple setting of a Rilke poem.
  • Flower Carol – Simple arrangement of an ancient eloquent carol for spring. “Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, day is fast reviving…
  • Free at Last – Simple arrangement of the African American spiritual Dr. King referenced at the end of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • Gate of Sweet Nectar – Arrangement of Krishna Das’ setting of a Buddhist invocation. “Your joy and your sorrow I make it mine.
  • Hard Times – Two a cappella arrangements of this Stephen Foster classic: one a simple hymn-like harmonization, the second through-composed over three verses.
  • How Can I Keep From Singing – Simple harmonization of this 19th century hymn that Pete Seeger & others turned into one of the anthems of the folk revival.
  • Let the Life I’ve Lived – old American spiritual beautifully harmonized by Andy Davis.
  • Noah Heist the Window – “…and let the dove come in.” Joyful African American spiritual from Bessie Jones. Solo and SATB choir.
  • O Mary – piano/SATB through-composed arrangement of this exuberant Christmas spiritual from Louisiana. Check out Ron Kelley’s great improvised saxophone work on the recording.
  • O, the Comfort – Peter’s setting of this 19th century poem by Dinah Mulock Craik that speaks of friends who take your words and “…sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
  • Precious Memories – Sweet old American hymn about, well, precious memories.
  • Shout for Joy – A joyful Christmas spiritual that is a wonderful and accessible anthem for a Christmas Eve service.
  • Sonnet 18 – Yes, Shakespeare’s. Peter’s setting of “Shall I compare thee to a summers day…” Piano/solo or unison.
  • Sonnet 30 – Yes, Shakespeare’s. Peter’s bawdy pub-sing style ode to the bard. “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought…”
  • Sweet Hour of Prayer – Simple harmonization of William Walford’s sweet 1845 hymn.
  • This Little Light of Mine – This Harry Dixon Loes gospel classic can bear a wide range of interpretations. Try slowing it down and feeling the back beat.
  • Through All the World Below (“…God is seen all around…”) – an eloquent and moving anthem for the earth from the Southern Harmony, published in 1835 under the title “Captain Kidd”.  Peter has added an alto line. It can be done a cappella, or with the piano accompaniment, which is basically a doubling of the vocal harmony parts.
  • What’s in a Song – Lucy Picco Simpson’s perfect song about why we sing. The Amidons learned much of their early repertoire of gospel songs from their singing with Lucy.
  • Wild Mountain Thyme – Wonderful for group singing, this song has Scots/Irish roots.
  • World Wide Peace – Composed at the start of World War I by Arkansas’s Will Ramsey, and sung by the great Arkansas ballad singer Almeda Riddle. The Amidons learned it from the singing of Mike Seeger.