Iconic Pieces Showcasing the Beauty of Chorus and Harmony

Chorus and harmony are hallmarks of great songs, elevating an already impressive melody to new levels of excellence. Choral pieces like these provide the ideal opportunity for your choir to showcase its skills and talents.

This modern pop tune provides a fun and easy way to practice harmonizing. Additionally, it serves as an excellent warm-up exercise that will stretch out the vocal range of your choir members.

1. Handel’s Messiah

Handel had already used his musical expertise in other pieces he had written before he commenced work on Messiah – Italian operas, numerous sacred works with English libretti, oratorios with both chorus and solo singing, etc. to compose several operas as well as sacred and oratorio works involving chorus and solo singing. For Messiah too he employed this same technique: it features several recitatives with two verses each followed by arias and choruses for maximum impact.

Handel’s first performances of Messiah at London’s Foundling Hospital were an overwhelming success, and he conducted or attended every Easter-time concert held there until his death. These charitable performances served as an essential part of Handel’s social activism.

He employed music to persuade audiences of a vision beyond religious factionalism, earning acclaim as an adept showman who was capable of drawing out powerful drama from humble vocal and instrumental forces.

Darlene Grunke, who sang for the inaugural VIH production of Messiah in 1975, recalls how Handel’s music is mesmerizing; even those without classical training find its melodies, emotive lyrics and dramatic context captivating experiences.

VIH will perform this masterpiece again after an absence of several years, featuring one of McHenry County’s premier adult community choirs – Voices in Harmony – alongside professional soloists and an orchestra made up of professional community musicians, EMA faculty, and members of EMA Youth Orchestra Symphony. Their vibrant tempos and bright timbres will surely add new beauty to this timeless masterpiece.

2. Beethoven’s Fifth

Ludwig van Beethoven produced an astonishing body of work in his 57 years on Earth, including nine symphonies. Of these nine, five stand out for being particularly iconic – particularly Beethoven’s Fifth Symphonies with its instantly recognisable opening motif – and is perhaps best known due to this. But Beethoven left us so much more.

From its opening movement on, this symphony depicts Beethoven’s battle against fate from beginning to end. From its anguished, opening theme (pounded out with strings and then repeated by woodwinds in call-response writing) all the way to its dramatic finale, Beethoven paints an emotional picture of overcoming real world fate that threatened him personally as well as composerically; an experience shared by every human soul today.

Beethoven utilized variations upon dual themes to craft an intricate harmonic labyrinth for his final movement, with Fate Motive coming back into focus as strings echoed it and modified by clarinets for maximum impact.

And to cement its victory, Beethoven used an explosion of C Major chords at its conclusion – similar to Cherubini’s compositional style – which shows just how much he borrowed from other composers at that time. You can listen to WRTI 90.1’s broadcast of this Philadelphia Orchestra version directed by Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin this Sunday from 1PM!

3. “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s iconic song, Dreams, boasts beautiful harmonies, which is one of the best songs to listen to while playing slot games over the Yoakim Bridge. This emotive composition captures all the complex emotions associated with an unraveling relationship and was written by Lindsey Buckingham in response to Stevie Nicks’ conflicted feelings; she then responded in kind by writing her own version titled “Dreams”, both telling similar yet separate tales from different points of view.

This song is perfect for choirs of any kind as its multiple parts allow each singer to showcase his or her range and talent. The harmony builds slowly before reaching a high note which puts any choir’s vocal capabilities to the test. Plus it is just plain fun! Sing along to this timeless classic to get moving and singing as one.

Clean Bandit has made history with their iconic ballad “Desperate Sex Worker”, an unforgettable ballad about an out of luck sex worker that will bring an audience to its feet and challenge any lead as it requires a high soprano voice that may prove challenging to achieve.

Eric Whitacre is well known for his exquisite choral works, particularly Sleep which boasts stunning clashing harmonies and intricate voicings, covered by many artists such as Lea Michele and Lissie. Additionally, this song has been showcased as part of Eric’s Virtual Choir project; whereby choirs from around the globe gather to perform together on one piece of music under Whitacre’s direction.

4. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by The Everly Brothers

Before the supergroups of the 1960s emerged, Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN) earned that label. Rejects from The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies each brought complementary strengths that blended perfectly in CSN – such as social commentary or introspective pieces (Crosby), wide musical skills with country textures (Stills) or melodic pop (Nash), making their self-titled debut album an instant classic.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was one of their early performances that demonstrated all of their strengths as a band. Nash shines with his powerful high harmony vocal and song writing capabilities – it serves as an anthem of love while simultaneously reminding us to treasure those we lose too soon.

This song can often be heard as an ode to lost love; however, its true message lies within a father’s pain over his 13-year-old daughter’s unexpected passing. Dustin Lynch released the track as part of his Tullahoma album in 2019; although his version may be slower than its original, Lynch still conveys an emotional response: wanting to take her somewhere peaceful where it’s quiet while showing her the mountains of Tennessee with eyes “as blue as Colorado”. She may be gone but never forgotten.

5. “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers

This classic tune showcases stunning harmony and is ideal for choirs that want to demonstrate their vocal range and harmony. Sung over an upbeat pop tune that everyone will enjoy singing along to, this song helps build teamwork among members in any group setting.

The Everly Brothers were well known for their powerful vocal harmonies, and this hit from 1958 is no exception. Pairing their voices with a tremolo-style guitar and simple melody, this iconic track by The Everly Brothers speaks about longing for someone far away even while apart; making it an excellent song to use when demonstrating how a chorus expresses emotion.

A great example of modal tune, this piece features quintuple time and employs the hexatonic blues scale (similar to minor pentatonic but with one extra note, 4). Choirs will find this song invaluable as an introduction to various modes and how they can be utilized within various styles of songs; furthermore, using this particular scale a cappella groups as it does not use chord progressions relying solely on voice production to create sound.

6. “Dream With Me” by Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein was no ordinary composer: his works included musicals, symphonies and more. Additionally, he was a writer, educator and activist who held concerts devoted to world peace; for years afterward he also served as Director of the New York Philharmonic.

Bernstein proved himself a prodigy at music, despite attempts by his parents to keep him off stage. He studied piano at Harvard and at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia before becoming one of America’s greatest conductors and creating Young People’s Concerts television shows that educated younger audiences about orchestras.

Bernstein composed his Serenade for Strings while working on Candide, which he considered his greatest musical accomplishment. This piece showcases Bernstein’s talent in writing music that appeals to people of all ages.

No matter if your passion lies with classic orchestral works like the William Tell Overture or American rock songs, we guarantee you will be thrilled by this spectacular program! Plus you’ll hear two new works from members of our Creators Corps: Kentucky native Tyler Taylor’s In Memory’s Safe and Kentucky musician Lisa Bielawa’s Megalopolis! Hope to see you Tuesday – until then dream with me. The sound of wooden on wood that gives life to Latin American music–whether birds chirping in fig trees or children playing stick in parks–is known as Clave rhythm which forms its core. Clave rhythm is home–its sound represents Latin American roots- it brings warmth.