South China Normal University Female Choir / China © Jonas Persson

5 Incredible Songs Written by Women For Your Repertoire

Celebrating choral music by the women composers of our time


Anyone involved in choral music knows that we are all better when our voices come together. In recent years, that’s meant making sure that the women who make up this wonderful art get fair access to opportunities, especially as composers and in leadership positions. This step toward women’s empowerment is the right thing to do, and it gives the world of choral music greater depth.

While many choir directors would love to increase the representation of women in their repertoire, they don’t always know where to start.

In this post, we spread the word on songs written by women composers that are awesome additions to any repertoire.

“Fire” by Katerina Gimon

Katerina Gimon is a Canadian composer whose work is notorious for its raw power and level of detail.

“Fire” is a piece taken from Elements — Gimon’s work on the four classical elements (also including “Earth,” “Air,” and “Water”). Each of these is a masterpiece, from the haunting drone of “Earth” to the breathy stirrings of “Air” to the flowing vocal lines of “Water.” But the body percussion and layering in “Fire” really stands out during any performance.

Gimon has established herself as a choral composer to keep an eye on as she continues to create fascinating work that builds on the interesting ideas established in works like Elements.

2. “Sing My Child” by Sarah Quartel

The optimism in this song by composer Sarah Quartel highlights the strength of hope in the face of all the problems in the world. By connecting that fierce optimism to the concept of singing, this piece fully embodies its own metaphor.

Sarah Quartel is a composer who relishes the kinds of uplifting textures we see on full display with “Sing My Child.” The introductory lines arrive with a single voice delicately opening us to the song, a piece that blossoms out into a rich tapestry of voices.

“Sing My Child” adds a brightness to any performance, and it works as a great manifesto for the joy of singing.

3. “Gaanam” by Shruthi Rajasekar

Shruthi Rajasekar is a composer and extremely talented vocalist who, at only 27 years of age, has already established herself as a force in choral music. Her compositions layer in influences with a global perspective, bringing new and interesting developments to the audience.

In “Gaanam,” the plaintiff lead is at times supported and at times responded to by the chorus. The effect is a piece that transitions from moments of tension and disharmony to moments of transcendent beauty.

The mixture of Indian and Western musical approaches adds to the conflict, just as it enriches the moments of unity.

“Spring Dreams” by Chen Yi

Chen Yi has been delighting audiences for decades, with a career that has seen many firsts. It all began with her becoming the first Chinese woman to earn a Master of Arts from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Since then, she has composed pieces that sparkle with effervescent energy.

While there are so many excellent options to choose from, “Spring Dreams” is one of the most daring. Mimicking bird song and storms, as well as the sheer energy and chaos of springtime, this piece seems special made to be the talk of any performance.

It’s hard to think of anything you could add to your repertoire that is quite so unique — and it’s just about perfect for a choir competition in spring.

5. “who we are” by Kerry Andrew

Kerry Andrew is a composer from England, known for the way she can layer sections to produce churning textures and moving expressions of the lyrics. “who we are” is no exception. And if you have a large enough choir, you can really take this piece to the next level.

Another work on this list that explores body percussion, “who we are” uses the pulsing beat to provide support for the exploratory vocal lines. This gives the piece a feeling of firm structure while also allowing it to drift into strange new territory at times.

It takes a certain kind of choir to pull this off, but if you can do it, you’ll have your audience in rapture.

Empowering Women Through Choral Music

Choral music is a field that thrives when women are celebrated. The music they write and the voices they contribute make this artform the best that it can be.

When we make sure that women composers of our time are being celebrated, we ensure that the full range of choral music can grow and flourish. That makes the world of singing better for everyone!

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