Star Harmony 2017 post-conference notes

Mary Alice, Mary Cay and I had such a wonderful weekend singing with all of you at Star Harmony 2017.  We hope you call come back in 2018 when we will have a whole new crop of songs.  The dates are September 14 – 16, 2018.

Here are more notes on the songs we sang (and didn’t sing) last weekend.

Agawa Bay – 1
purchase permission to make copies here:

Brendan Taaffe lives in Brattleboro Vermont.  He runs the Turtle Dove singing workshops. He is a member of the Waxwing Four

 All Night, All Day – 3
Dr. Ysaye Barnwell is an extraordinarily gifted singer, composer, arranger, and singing leader.  This transcription of Dr. Barnwell’s arrangement of “All Night, All Day”, done with her permission and assistance, is from Ysaye Barnwell’s teaching CDs and book: “Singing in the African American Tradition”

Be Thou My Vision – 4
Amidons Online Choral Store: 
Peter’s arrangement of this classic hymn was inspired by the harmonization found in, amongst others, the Pilgrim Hymnal.

Belo Lice – 6
public domain
Recording of the song can be heard on Mary Cay’s Balkan Bridges which you can purchase here:

Climbing High Mountains – 8
Amidons Online Choral Store

This is one of the hymns Lucy Simpson gleaned from her extensive collection of mostly 19th and early 20th century hymnals. Here she is singing it: on “Sharon Mountain Harmony”, an album she made with Mary Alice, Peter, and some other singing friends in 1980. Peter and Mary Alice’s son Sam Amidon is also a fan of Lucy Simpson’s songs:

Daniel in the Lion’s Den – 7
public domain, feel free to copy the arrangement.
Peter’s arrangement is inspired by this Bessie Jones performance of this spiritual:  Bessie Jones, who learned much of her repertoire of spirituals, work songs and playparty games from her grandfather who had been born into slavery, has had a profound effect on Mary Alice and Peter’s teaching and singing life.

Eli, Eli – 10
public domain, feel free to copy my arrangement.

This is one of several songs from the Jewish tradition Peter learned from his friend Jackie Gould that he taught to his Brattleboro Music Center Children’s Choir in the late 80’s, early 90’s.  Peter is working on extending the arrangement: solo Hebrew with the simple piano accompaniment that you sang to at Star, then a more rich piano accompaniment with the Hebrew in all four parts, then a sax solo to the richer piano accompaniment, and finally the English lyrics, in a cappella four part harmony.  Peter is organizing and co-directing a choral concert at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro on November 11th with 70 singers that will be premiering this arrangement.

Gift of Love – 11
Amidons Online Choral Store  & Twenty-five Anthems –
Mary Alice set Leonard Cohen’s lyrics “Dancing to the End of Love” to a different tune, but when she was denied permission to put it on her solo CD, she wrote these new words to the melody, reflecting on her relationship with her mother, then in the world of Alzheimers.

Give Me Birds at the Dawning – 14
Amidons Online Choral Store  & Twenty-five Anthems –

Twenty-Five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs

Poet Betsy Binstock writes jewels of songs that she sings while playing her own simple piano accompaniment.

Great Brook – 15
contact John Harrison
Composed for John’s wife Scottie.

I Still Have Joy – 18
Amidons Online Choral Store  & Twenty-five Anthems

Twenty-Five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs

You can get Peter Amidon’s full SATB a cappella arrangement of this both in the Amidons’ “Fifty-five Anthems for the Small Church Choir” and in their Online Choral Store.  In 1990 Pete Seeger had brought the Whiteville Apparel Gospel Choir, the choir for the union (Local 1077) – – of a men’s clothing factory in Whiteville, North Carolina, up to his Clearwater Music Festival where Mary Alice and Peter were running “The Circle of Song”, a participatory singing stage.  Saturday evening the Amidons were sitting around with the Whiteville singers exchanging songs, when one of them said to Mary Alice, “Here is a song you should sing”, and sang the the song, solo, into Mary Alice’s tape recorder.  Peter arranged the song for their Guilford Community Church (UCC) Choir.  It wasn’t until 2016 that Peter first heard the song in its natural setting:

Lylio Lelijo – 19
public domain
Here is a recording made by Village Harmony this summer.

Non Nobis Domine – 22
public domain
A favorite of the Amidons when they were touring with Larry Gordon (founder of Village Harmony Camps and Nothern Harmony Publishing) and his, then, Word of Mouth Chorus in the late 1970’s.

Parting Glass – 20
Amidons Online Choral Store  & Twenty-five Anthems –

Twenty-Five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs
See notes at the bottom of the song.  We did not get to this. The recording is a Starry Mountain Singers quartet including our son our Stefan (glasses) and his wife Zara (red hair).

Requiem – 23
Originally composed for the 2004 Tsunami, this song is dedicated to victims of natural disasters.

Ripple – 28
working on permission for the arrangement.

Try this also with instrumental accompaniment, piano, guitar, mandolin . . .

Sleep On Beloved – 32
public domain

This is the original old hymn from which sprang the Bahamas Spiritual “I Bid You Goodnight”.

There’s a Bright Side – 30
contact Val Mindel

Val is the mother of Emily Miller, soloist in the 2nd “Bid You Goodnight” Youtube video above. Val leads adult harmony singing workshops throughout the U.S. and the UK.

Thing Makes You Beautiful – 33
Amidons Online Choral Store  & Twenty-five Anthems –
By the great Jane Voss:

To the Holy Spirit – 34
Go to
Malcolm Dalglish, a rennaisance man; performer, singer, and prolific composer:

Ubi Caritas – 36
public domain
Here is my piano reduction which is both useful for accompanying a group that can’t quite handle doing it a cappella, and also a really beautiful piano or organ incidental music for a church service:

Under My Feet – 35
public domain

What’s In a Song – 46
The song is © Lucy Picco Simpson, but her family has said it is OK to pass this song around. Any questions, contact
Lucy was a great collector of songs, gleaning gems from old hymnals (like, most famously, “Angels Hovering Round”). She died of cancer about ten years ago in her 60’s.  Here is the performance from which I did my simple harmonization: Mary Alice and me singing with Emily Miller (of “Bid You Goodnight” fame above) and her husband Jesse Milnes at our Brattleboro “Last Night” concert last December:

Which Side Are You On – 40
Written in 1931 by Florence Reese whose husband was active in trying to create unions in Harlan County, KY.. Performed a lot by Pete Seeger.
Arrangement and used with permission from WIndborne.

 Your Lone Journey – 42
working on permission for the arrangement.
Sam’s version of the song below starts at 1:24
The original:

Zion – 44
public domain

Larry Gordon put together the Isaac Watts poetry with this music from the Sacred Harp.

*             *

Peter Amidon
Mary Alice Amidon
and Mary Cay Brass