Twelve Of The Best: Songs Of Robert Burns

From the earliest days of my composing career I have always been drawn to the poems and songs of Robert Burns, and have set many of his works to music. In recent times, I’ve also arranged many of the tunes he himself used for choirs and other ensembles. Here are twelve of the best of these, but there are many more than twelve and they’re all pretty good and have been received well by those performing or listening to them. For more information and fuller recordings, click the links in the list below the video catalogue, and below that are links others not on this “best of” list.

Twelve of the Best by Cheryl Camm: Songs of Robert Burns

1. Red, Red Rose. It’s a flowing setting of possibly Burns’ most famous poem, originally composed for a girls’ high school choir in New Zealand and since performed several times around the world, in both SSA version and TTB version.

2. Scroggam. A folky setting. In its original version for soprano, clarinet and cello it is part of “Three Burns Songs” which won the Philip Neill Memorial Prize in 1996 and has been performed by members of the Karlheinz Company at Auckland University. It has now been arranged for 3-part choir as well.

3. Ca’ The Yowes. An atmospheric arrangement with misty harmonies of the most popular melody used with this text. The original arrangement was made for a recorder consort, but it has since been adapted for SATB choir.

4. Songs from Tam O’Shanter. For my Doctor of Music portfolio I did set the entirety of Tam O’Shanter and have now extracted five sections of the work as a short suite of songs.

5. Ae Fond Kiss. An arrangement for SATB choir using two of the traditional melodies that are associated with this most emotional of texts.

6. To A Mouse. Another of the prize-winning Three Burns Songs. You can hear the full set here: Cheryl Camm: Three Burns Songs

7. She’s Fair And Fause. One of my favourites, I must admit, it’s a very emotional arrangement of this song for SATB choir. It’s the rich harmonies and yearning suspensions that I’m particularly fond of, I think!

8. Wandering Willie. Another emotional arrangement that flows along smoothly for SATB choir.

9. O My Luve Is Like A Red, Rose. An arrangement of the most well-known tune associated with this poem for SATB choir.

10. Loud Blaw The Frosty Breezes. A soaring melody is one of the principal features of this original setting. Here you hear it with a droning accompaniment on strings and bells, but it has also been performed as a solo song accompanied with acoustic guitar.

11. Now Westlin Winds. Such a very beautiful melody arranged with very straightforward harmonies for SAT choir or TBB choir – it’s always incredibly popular with the audience when it’s performed.

12. Rattlin Roarin Willie. A rollicking arrangement for recorder consort – requires fast fingers!

There are several more arrangements of Burns songs to be enjoyed. Have a look at this blog which I put together after The Bridge Singers Burns Night Celebration in 2018: Robert Burns Choral Arrangements


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