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2014)

2014)

The arrangement of "Shenandoah" by James Erb was one of the first pieces commissioned by Virginia Glee Club conductor John Liepold in 1991. The arrangement, for TTBB including high falsetto, is a rearrangement of Erb's earlier eight part SATB version of the work. The men's voice arrangement became a staple of the Glee Club's repertoire from the early 1990s, appearing on multiple recordings, including A Dove in the Hall, Music for a Noble Acoustic, Notes from the Path, Brothers, Sing On!, Tour de France, Virginia Glee Club Live!, and In Harmony, Love, and Brotherhood.

The work sets four verses of the classic American song. The first verse is sung in unison; the second features the melody in the tenors over the baritones and basses singing "Shenandoah" in a ground. The third verse opens the arrangement to full four part harmony, before the final verse which features a three part canon above the basses and an extended finale that once again resolves all voices in unison.

In the Fall Alumni Newsletter (1992), then-Vice President Tim Jarrett wrote:

Virginia composer James Erb has rewritten his masterful mixed-voice arrangement of Shenandoah for men's voices to provide the Virginia Glee Club with the second piece in its series of works for men's voices.

The Erb mixed-voice arrangement of Shenandoah has been a favorite of choruses and audiences alike since its writing some twenty years ago. For this reason, Glee Club conductor John Liepold's convincing Erb to rescore his arrangement for men's voices must count as one of the major triumphs of the 1991-92 Glee Club season.

Erb uses both melody and repetition to build a complex image of the river in relation to the speaker. The piece begins with the tenors singing the first verse in unison, followed by melody supported by a baritone ground repeating the word "Shenandoah." This repetition and the contemplative slow section in the middle verse lull the listener into a visionary reverie. Erb then explores repetition further, this time by making a round of the melody so that the overlapping words establish a river-like assonance. The piece ends with the river fading away from the speaker, with the countertenors echoing a final "Shenandoah" in the high portion of their range. The effect is evocative and stirring.

The arrangement was originally to be performed by the superstar English a cappella group, the King's Singers. When they failed to follow up their initial negotiations with Erb, Liepold jumped at the chance to add the piece to the Glee Club's repertoire.

Erb's Shenandoah received its world premiere on the Glee Club's herculean Tour of the South, and its Charlottesville premiere in the 1992 Spring Concert with Smith College Women's Glee Club. It proved hugely popular with both audiences.

The piece, which continues to move its listeners concert after concert, is a worthy addition to the Glee Club's repertoire. It establishes a standard of excellence for the Series for Men's Voices and ensures that other exciting and important new works will follow.

Lyrics[]

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
And hear your rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
way, we're bound away
Across the wide Missouri.

I long to see your smiling valley
And hear your rolling river
I long to see your smiling valley
way, we're bound away
Across the wide Missouri.

'Tis seven long years since last I've seen you
And hear your rolling river
'Tis seven long years since last I've seen you
way, we're bound away
Across the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
And hear your rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
way, we're bound away
Across the wide Missouri.

Virginia Glee Club performances[]

Virginia Glee Club recordings[]

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