Latin Te Deum (L)/Lakota native Indian text (E)
Choral level of difficulty: 2 (5 greatest)
A good example of MacMillan’s highly resourceful writing for young voices, this energetic and enterprising work gives the Latin Te Deum words to a choir of beginner singers and the Lakota chant to a three-part choir of treble/soprano voices. Flute and bells support the choirs without merely doubling, and the piano part colourfully echoes the vocal lines. MacMillan’s often-used vocal ornamentation is much in evidence here and the piece is challenging but not difficult. It is an ideal vehicle for young singers who will enjoy working through the rhythmic groupings and getting to grips with singing quick scales and tuning triadic passages. The beginners (who are also given simpler forms of the ornament) will also find the involvement with their more experienced counterparts exciting and motivating.
It is possible that a conductor of a youth choir might look at the score, see a lot of demi-semi-quavers and think it too difficult to contemplate. They should look further, however, and see that the opening material is re-used at the start of every section (at different pitches) and so that feeling of homecoming each time will help anchor the piece in the children’s minds. It is very cleverly conceived and wonderful to see a composer writing music for children which makes demands which can be met rather than writing down to an imaginary ‘children’s’ level.
There are very helpful notes by Doreen Rao (editor of the Choral Music Experience) in the front of the score which give hints about how to approach teaching this music to young singers in an imaginative and enjoyable way.
Repertoire Note by Paul Spicer