Premiered: May 1st, 2009 - Divas and Desserts 2009

On May 1st, 2009 the Twin Cities Women's Choir premiered “Thaw,” a new work commissioned for them, by three-time McKnight Composer Fellow and a two-time Bush Artist Fellow Edie Hill. Based on a poem of the same title by Lola Ridge, Hill brings the verse to life through both introspective and joyous text painting.

Composer: Edie Hill Lyrics: Lola Ridge

The Seeds Of Change

Premiered: February 2nd, 2008 - I Am Beautiful, America

The old testament verse, “And, what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) was the starting point for “The Seeds of Change.” TCWC members were invited to share what these words meant to them and how they lived out these words in their lives. These examples were given to Ann Reed, who wrote two poems, based on her own thoughts and these thoughts of the choir members. Composer Joan Griffith then chose one poem and set it to music. This SSA piece opens with soloists asking, “Listen. What is that sound? Murmuring, whispering? Calling out, what does it say?” Then later, with a driving rhythm in the piano accompaniment, the vocal lines soar above, passionately asking, “How can we learn to see beyond ourselves?”, followed with the confidence of, “By faith, by hope by trust...and love.” This project was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Ann Reed
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

A New Song

Premiered: February 2nd, 2008 - I Am Beautiful, America

Bruce Henry’s “Sing with me a new song, watch the wall of the city shake” really did shake the walls at it’s premiere, as the audience was inspired to stand and join in with the joyous singing of Bruce Henry and the TCWC, accompanied by Bruce Henry’s band. This uplifting visionary song encourages us to sing and dance and build together a new community, “praising all that is with every living breath we take.” This celebratory SSA with soloists song was commissioned by the TCWC, with support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council a St. Paul Cultural STAR grant.

Composer: Bruce Henry Arranger(s): Bruce Henry, Greg Lewis

On This Day Earth Shall Ring

Premiered: May 4th, 2007 - Divas and Desserts 2007: Celebrating 10 Years

“On This Day Earth Shall Ring” is an original text and music by composer Joan Griffith. This lively SSAA piece with guitar or piano accompaniment gives the feel of an Appalachian dance piece, with a fun fugue of vocal syllables in the middle section. Commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

I Shall Keep Singing

Premiered: May 5th, 2006 - Divas and Desserts 2006

Jazz musician and composer Joan Griffith’s skillful use of rhythm and jazz harmonies in this SSA setting highlights the subtle confidence and perseverance in this clever and satisfying text by Emily Dickinson. “I Shall Keep Singing” was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Emily Dickinson
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

The Penitent

Premiered: May 5th, 2005 - Divas and Desserts 2005

This very fun and sassy text by Edna St. Vincent Millay was originally composed by Joan Griffith for jazz singer, Prudence Johnson, as part of The Millay Project. Joan’s subtle, yet sultry, jazz lines bring to life this clever text and leaves no doubt as to the true degree of sincerity of The Penitent. Joan Griffith and Anita Ruth’s delightful arrangement for SSA choir and piano was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Edna St. Vincent Millay
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

Courage is the Key

Premiered: February 5th, 2005 - Stand Up & Sing

The text of “Courage is the Key” combines the poems of “How I found My Wisdom” by Olivia Hedstrom and “My Voice” by Rachel Loh, winners of the TCWC Teen Lyric Writing Contest. Jazz musician and composer Joan Griffith wove these inspiring texts into a song for women’s and children’s choirs. “Courage is the Key” premiered with the combined voices of the TCWC and two very fine youth choirs from the Twin Cities: CitySongs and the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource School Choir. These three choirs came together to celebrate our individual voices telling our own stories and singing our own songs for the Stand Up and Sing! Concert. This work was commissioned by the TCWC. 

Composer: Joan Griffith
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

I Want to Know My Name

Premiered: February 7th, 2004 - Stitching the Word, Weaving Our Song: A Patchwork of African American Voices

The TCWC engaged Joan Griffith to set to music the essence of one chapter of Carolyn Holbrook’s memoir. “I Want to Know My Name” recalls a vision of what the aftermath of Carolyn’s birth may have been like, when her parents learned that she was born with a “caul.” People born with a thin membrane covering their face, sometimes referred to as a veil or a caul, are said to have second sight. This powerful piece is scored for SSAA choir and narrator. “I Want to Know My Name” was commissioned by the TCWC with funding from the Renee Robbins Memorial Fund, The Willens Family Foundation, Julie Anderson and Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Janis Hardy
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

Set Me Like A Seal

Premiered: May 4th, 2002 - Sing! Perform! Affirm!

“Set Me Like a Seal” was the TCWC’s first commissioned piece from the Renee Robbins Memorial Fund. Composer Joan Griffith set this text from the Old Testament Song of Solomon, which was read at Renee and her husband Frank’s wedding. This setting for SSA chorus opens with a unison recitative of “Set me like a seal on your heart. Set me like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death...” and then builds with soaring lines proclaiming the strength of love. At the premiere, the TCWC was joined by the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra which performed Anita Ruth’s orchestral accompaniment.

Composer: Joan Griffith
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven

Premiered: February 3rd, 2002 - Divas and Desserts 2005

Composer Joan Griffith’s spirited setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Why Do They Shut Me Out of Heaven?” starts off with a funky, rhythmic alto line. A lovely interplay between the SSAA parts brings to life this astute text, which speaks about inclusion, and eventually ponders the question, “Could I forbid?” and shut others out? This piece was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Emily Dickinson
Published by: Pleasing Dog Music

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church

Premiered: December 8th, 2001 - Divas and Desserts 2005

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Some Keep the Sabbath”, is a witty, light-hearted statement of personal spirituality. Composer Joan Griffith set this nature inspired text with flowing lines that emphasize the poets musings on immortality and her non-traditional way of observing the Sabbath. This SSAA song was commissioned for the TCWC by Carol Rue.

Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Emily Dickinson Vocal Form: SSAA

Join The Circle Of The Dance

Premiered: February 6th, 2000 - Generations at the Millennium

Commissioned by the Twin Cities Women’s Choir, “Join the Circle of the Dance” explored the energy, mood, and aspirations of four generations of women entering the 21st century. Four choirs of women — representing the generations from elementary school age through seniors — joined together as one voice to give life to this selection.

The lyrics for “Join the Circle of the Dance” come from the words of the women and girls singing in the four choirs, who were asked questions such as: What’s the best age to be? What would you ask your mother if you could ask her anything? What’s the hardest age to be? What’s it like to grow old?

Janis Hardy assembled the answers into beautiful, touching, and often surprising lyrics. Joan Griffith’s composition not only captures the individual essence of each generation; it also weaves the common characteristics of womanhood throughout. Composer: Joan Griffith Lyrics: Janis Hardy Vocal Form: SSA



Title Form Premier Composer Arranger Publisher
Button Up Your Overcoat  SSAA Divas and Desserts 2005 B . G. DeSylva
Lee Brown
Ray Henderson
Mary A. Bussman  
Farther Along  SSA Divas and Desserts 2007 W. P. Joy Mary A. Bussman  
Heroes  SSAA Divas and Desserts 2004 Ann Reed Mary A. Bussman Turtlecub Productions
I Feel Lucky  SSA Divas and Desserts 2004 Mary Chapin Carpenter Anita Ruth  
I'll Fly Away  SSAA Divas and Desserts 2007   Mary A. Bussman  
Ichacho Lakho  Unison Stitching the Word... Sheasby Matiure Mary A. Bussman  
Oh, Had I a Golden Thread  SSAA   Pete Seeger Mary A. Bussman  
Peace Begins SSAA Let the Good Times Roll Tracy E. Tracy Mary A. Bussman Past the Moon Productions
The Road Home Treble   Stephen Paulus Stephen Paulus Paulus Publications
Senzenina  SA Stitching the Word...   Mary A. Bussman  
The Star Spangled Banner  SSSAA   John Stafford Smith
Francis Scott Key
Mary A. Bussman  
We Go On  SSAA Mother's Day Service Tracy E. Tracy Mary A. Bussman  
Yellow Ribbon  SSAA   Marie LeBaron
Francie Wolff
Mary A. Bussman