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R&S: High School Choirs

Octavo of the Month (December 2005)
Mike Walag, ICDA High School R&S Chair

Draw Up the Water from the Well

James E. Clemens
Alliance AMP-0587
SATB, a cappella
Difficult, 3:55

This piece was commissioned for the Mennonite Arts Weekend in Kidron, Ohio last year.  The texture is a polyphonic call and response style throughout with some very interesting and contrasting rhythms playing back and forth amongst the four voice parts.  The piece opens with a simple and quiet alto melody that is soon joined by a soprano counter-subject.  Basses enter in m.17 with a syncopated bass motif that is used frequently throughout the piece.  Tenors enter 8 measures later with a response to the bass motif and the men carry on a call and response pattern for 8 bars.  The texture continues to build and thicken as parts enter and exit and rhythmic patterns become more diverse and complex. 

This piece offers great educational opportunities for teaching choral articulations (staccato, legato, accents, etc.) as well as rhythmic independence, phrasing and dynamics.  The tempo is half note=66 with swing eighths.  The text is based on John 4:1–26. 

I think you will find this piece intriguing, challenging and a unique mixture of various choral elements.
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