Sauntering Songs (2023)

Cantata for 2 sopranos, 2 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, baritone, bass-baritone, and SATB chamber choir, with flute, guitar (electric, acoustic, and classical), piano, and cello. 62 minutes.

Commissioned by Skylark Vocal Ensemble.

Album cover art for "Sauntering Songs," with title and credits. Photograph of a distant figure walking on a dirt path through grassy hills on a sunny day. Bird logo for "Skylark Live" in bottom corner.

Read the liner notes with essays and lyrics.

Skylark Vocal Ensemble’s World Premiere live recording of Sauntering Songs (paired with Transform the World with Beauty) is available NOW on all major streaming music platforms (including Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal). The physical CD is available for purchase from Skylark. Read the liner notes with essays and lyrics.

Watch the trailer:

A love letter to wanderlust, Sauntering Songs weaves together art songs, choral music, and literature into an expansive cantata on the theme of walking.

Influences from rock, folk, and musical theater shine in a lyrical and evocative score by composer/librettist Nell Shaw Cohen, marrying the voices of three-time GRAMMY®-nominee Skylark with an instrumental quartet comprised of guitarist James Moore and musicians from Juventas New Music Ensemble.

From Walt Whitman to the present day, Sauntering Songs celebrates diverse characters who search for freedom and fulfillment through subversive journeys on foot.

Perusal Score

Perusal score available on request. Performance score available for purchase. Please direct inquiries to Nell Shaw Cohen at nell@nellshawcohen.com.

Selections available for standalone performance (click titles for details and perusal scores):

Credits

Music & Libretto by Nell Shaw Cohen
With texts by John Clare, Megan Cohen, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, John Francis, John Muir, Nan Shepherd, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf

Dramaturg: Megan Cohen (Website)
Sensitivity Consultant for song “Best Friend”: Laura Elliott (Twitter)
Sensitivity Consultant for song “Rare Bird”: Dr. Kassandra Ford (Website)

Photograph of Skylark Vocal Ensemble, wearing black and dark plum concert dress, standing in a semicircle and smiling toward the camera in a grassy outdoor setting
Skylark Vocal Ensemble
Juventas New Music Ensemble in concert dress, standing under a tree and holding their instruments as they face the camera
Juventas New Music Ensemble
Black and white photograph of James Moore, looking towards the camera
James Moore, Guitar
Performance History

Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Matthew Guard, Artistic Director), Juventas New Music Ensemble, and James Moore, guitar; Falmouth Academy, Falmouth, MA, 4/20/23.

Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Matthew Guard, Artistic Director), Juventas New Music Ensemble, and James Moore, guitar; Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, MA, 4/21/23

Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Matthew Guard, Artistic Director), Juventas New Music Ensemble, and James Moore, guitar; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Newburyport, MA, 4/22/23.

Dear Mrs. Carr (2015)

Tenor and piano. 5 mins.


Written for American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice fellowship. While working and living in Yosemite National Park during the late 19th century, the preservationist and naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) wrote many letters to his mentor, Jeanne Carr. These letters form the basis of this song’s text. Continue reading “Dear Mrs. Carr (2015)”

Crescent Meadow (2014)

SATB choir. 4 ½ mins.


Rehearsal recording courtesy of SACRA/PROFANA.

A choral setting of text adapted from an essay by John Muir about Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park.

Perusal Score

View perusal score.

Performance score available for purchase. Please direct inquiries to Nell Shaw Cohen at nell@nellshawcohen.com.

NEW! Seeking repertoire for your choir or vocal ensemble? Check out my programming guide for choral directors.

Performance History
  • SACRA/PROFANA, Juan Carlos Acosta, conductor, Fallbrook Mission Theater, Fallbrook, CA, 3/27/22.
  • New Mexico Highlands University Concert Choir, André García-Nuthmann, conductor, New Mexico Highlands University, Ilfeld Auditorium, Las Vegas, NM, 4/23/17.

Explore John Muir’s Yosemite (2014)

Multimedia installation for web browser & iPad app with photography, video, and digitally synthesized score.

This installation illustrates the writings of naturalist and conservationist John Muir through interactive photography and music, offering an engaging new interpretation of Muir’s vision of nature. Explore ten sites in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks with Muir as your guide. View it for free: muirsyosemite.com Continue reading “Explore John Muir’s Yosemite (2014)”