Edgar Allan Poe in the Choral Classroom

recommended by Rachel Steele and Jen Sper, School Choral Specialists

When we think of Edgar Allan Poe, poems like “The Raven” and stories like “The Tell-Tale Heart” come to mind. Sometimes we forget that this American master wrote not only of the supernatural, but more traditional subjects as well. Here are two new chorals that we love with completely different moods by this master of the macabre!

evening starEvening Star by Victor C. Johnson

Poe’s ode to the beauty of the moon is the complete opposite of what we expect from a Poe text. “O evening star, gently glowing star, fill our souls with peace tonight. Play for us the gentle strains of your symphony of light.” This beautiful piece is precisely what we love to see from Victor Johnson: a beautiful masterwork text, a soaring melody, interesting (but not difficult) harmonies and a well-crafted piano part make this a perfect piece for your fall/holiday program or concert/festival performances later in the year. Available in SATBThree-Part Mixed, and SSA.


lakeThe Lake by Jay Althouse

This piece, on the other hand, will make sure you never enjoy a vacation by the water again! “My infant spirit would awake; To the terror of the lone lake.” Dissonant harmonies and staccato singing make this a fun challenge for your group. The slower middle section is packed with fermate and caesurae, making it a wonderful opportunity for less experienced groups to work on expression and interpretation of conducting gestures. Available in SATB.

Extension activities abound when you program both of these pieces on the same concert. Consider slide shows or artwork with each piece, or partner with your language arts department for an entire Poe week right around Halloween. The possibilities are endless!

For more recommendations give us a call at 1-800-42-MUSIC ext. 1 or check out the “Favorite Texts/Poets” section of our Listening Lab.

About the Authors:

Rachel Steele has been at Stanton’s since 2013. She previously taught middle school and high school band and choir for 13 years, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music education from The Ohio State University. Currently a member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble and a musician at Epiphany Lutheran Church (Pickerington OH), Rachel also enjoys reading, sewing, baking and the Pittsburgh Steelers!

A former middle school and high school choral director, Jen Sper holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. An active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys good food, running (to counteract the good food…) and the Muppets.


Categories: Music Education, New Publications, School Choral, Staff Picks, Teacher Materials

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