Click to enlargeAmen (SSATBB a cappella)

This is a more or less straight transcription of Beethoven's famous piano solo "Moonlight Sonata" for unaccompanied choir. The piece has been raised from C# minor to G minor to accommodate the range of human voices. Even still, there is a need for sopranos with a high Bb and basses with a low E. The most difficult part by far is given to the the second sopranos.

The major difficulty of this piece lies with the arpeggio part. Through most of the piece the second sopranos carry the arpeggio, but they will get help in one section from altos, first sopranos, and baritones, owing to the large range of even the "reduced range version" of the original piano score. The other parts are not nearly as difficult, but it will be hard to execute this piece with even a very good small ensemble because of the need for stagger breathing almost completely throughout.

There is only one word in the lyrics: "Amen." The second sopranos only make the full word twice, while the baritones go for a world record by repeating the word 45 times, about once every seven seconds through the entire piece. The word is sung slowly, quickly, loudly, softly, and everything in between. At the end, the meaning "so be it" is well expressed.

With a larger choir of good singers, and particularly some excellent second sopranos, this piece will have amazing effect. It is, however, well above the capabilities of the average casual church choir.

MP3 sound sample: Entire piece (synthesizer/midi).



AMEN by Ludwig von Beethoven, arranged by Tom Kirkland for unaccompanied SAATBB choir, comes in a pdf file of 346K, with a twelve-page score and a license page, thirteen pages in all. Performance time should be about 5:30.


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Last update: 5 June 2017