Music for the soul: 5 lesser known choral​ pieces you must have on your playlist

  • Seal Lullaby: Eric Whitacre- If there is any such thing as magic, I can guarantee you that a small slice of it lives in this composition. Modern , hauntingly beautiful and serene but powerful, like waves lapping against a shore; that is how this prayer to nature’s ageless music must be described. Subtle harmonies, gentle and crystalline soprano melody, underscored by the rich, but never harsh singing of the men’s chorus, is what makes the Seal Lullaby so special. A one in a million song, this will evoke everything human in you, but in an eco-centric way. And you will come back again and again to this. Not just for the beautifully arranged music, but for every single thing this song will come to mean to you. Whether you’re having a bad day at work, or remembering someone you love, this song will fit your emotions, no matter what the occasion.  Listen to it here: The Seal Lullaby
  • In Noctem: Nicholas Hooper- Purists, please pardon me for inserting this piece in the list, but I just had to. To Potterheads, welcome to classical music. To chorale lovers, meet Harry Potter. In Noctem is a modern day masterpiece in choral music. With lyrics in English and Latin, this song sets the stage for the climax of the sixth installment in the Harry Potter story. It is unfortunate that this song was finally not included in the film, but at least it was released as a deleted scene. If you aren’t into it for the music, watch it for the way it adds to the story, but I can assure you, you will get hooked to the song as well. The highest part of the soprano line goes right up to a Bb5 (that’s also the topmost note in ‘O Fortuna’, the opening piece of Carmina Burana). The significance of this is that while in most choral singing, this note would be somewhat harsh, very powerful and imposing, in In Noctem, it adds to the intrigue and mystique of the story. Think mermaids singing but through shells made out of the finest crystals ever made in Venice. Now, you know you just have to listen to this. Here it is: In Noctem

Read More:Classical Music for the Season: 5 arias for Fall 2016

  • Wayfaring Stranger: As arranged by Earlene Rentz- This is one of those songs that we’ve all heard a lot. In church, at funerals, in someone’s car at the traffic signal, as someone’s ringtone, on the radio; and there are as many versions of this song  as there ways to listen to it in 2016. But something needs to be said when a piece as famous as this is re-arranged for chorale in such a way that the intensity of the words gets imbued with life, purpose and an aggression born out of longing for home, wherever it may be. From being a worship song metaphorizing deliverance, this particular arrangement makes Wayfaring Stranger a collective war cry of humanity, tired of displacement, discord, and destruction. Perhaps it is my imagination, but I see this piece as a call to you, to take action and find where your heart lies in solving the multitude of problems that plague our world. Here is a rendition by the Capital City Minstrels, an Indian choir: Wayfaring Stranger 10641154_10153235225753926_6692001528616445551_n
  • Miserere: Gregorio Allegri- Without a doubt, this piece is one of the most beautiful ones on this list. Complex melodies, just the right kind of dissonant flavor created by a string of harmonies, this little jewel is categorized as sacred music, but it is so much more than that. Imagine listening to this in an actual church in circa 1700. While this piece isn’t performed all that often and is not very well known, it has been famously appropriated by Mozart, who despite being a highly original composer, saw the immense beauty in Miserere. Listen to this here and while you’re at it, know that this version is by the Tallis Scholars, a choral ensemble par excellence, whose other works are equally worth checking out: Miserere
  • Light of Rome: OST of Dragon Blade- This piece is highly underrated, buried beneath the popularity of Jackie Chan in the movie ‘Dragon Blade’. In reality, this song is not historical in any way, but since the movie was  based on Roman politics during the times of the Parthian empire, it is easily understood that much of the stuff is fictional and takes considerable artistic liberty. That, however, doesn’t mean that the Roman song they came up with, is any less than other choral music. The unique thing about this piece though, is that it is sung entirely by a male ensemble and that allows us to hear the richness of bass voices complementing the brightness of the tenors; both of which tend to get overshadowed in mixed choirs. Listen to this brilliant piece here: Dragon Blade OST ‘Light of Rome’

Go ahead and download all of them NOW. Tell me what you like best about each piece and which one is your favorite. If you think there are other pieces that should have been on this list, don’t hesitate to share them with me in the comments section. Happy Listening !

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