STANTON’S SPOTLIGHT on High School Choir

Each year, the knowledgeable staff at Stanton’s chooses select titles to promote to you, our valued customers. We listen to thousands of new issues from scores of publishers and composers to present you with the very best in new music for your ensembles. In our new Stanton’s Spotlight feature, we will put a special focus on one piece that we particularly enjoy, and tell you how it can serve you and your group.

L’ultimo di di maggio

Ottorino Respighi/arr. Robert Sieving

recommended by Jen Sper, School Choral Specialist

L ultimo di di maggio-page-001This arrangement has had a rather convoluted journey to the final product – beginning as a balletto for lute written by Simone Molinaro in 1599, it was transcribed and arranged by Ottorino Respighi in his three suites for orchestra (Ancient Airs and Dances for Lute – 1917) before being paired with an anonymous 16th century poem in this setting by Robert Sieving. The charming Italian text tells of a lovely maid “on the last day of May” – “O happy day, joyful, fair and bright!”

Plenty of characteristic traits of a Renaissance madrigal are featured, including nonsense syllables – but, rather than another boring old “fa la la,” you get “tantandaridondela!” Fun!

Vocal ranges require all parts to stretch just a bit – sopranos up to high A, altos down to low A, and tenors up to F#. The bass part dips down to a low E very briefly, but remains within the staff most of the time. Divisi is straight-forward and diatonic, but will require good listening skills and tuning across the entire ensemble. Encourage light, healthy vocal production by keeping the tempo sprightly and the dynamics moderate.

Is it challenging? Yes! But is it achievable? YES! Use it as a teaching piece throughout the year – perhaps teach just the A section in the fall, then start the remainder of the piece in January when your ensemble has a few more skills under their belts.

This might be a great piece for your group because it…

  • provides an example of not only Renaissance madrigal style, but also introduces the instrumental music Respighi.
  • can be broken down and presented over a period of time – perfect for groups ready to transition to more difficult literature.
  • features straight-forward divisi that encourages tuning and listening skills.
  • encourages light, healthy vocal production.
  • is appropriate for concert performances, as well as festivals and adjudicated events.

For more great suggestions, please contact our Choral Department at 1.800.42.MUSIC or email us at


Categories: Behind the Scenes, New Publications, School Choral, Staff Picks, Stanton's Spotlight

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