Noone was expecting this: an avalanche of random food-related choral music posts*. Featured here are the lesser known (well, as far as I can tell) and less performed pieces that somehow caught my attention. I acknowledge this is a frivolous subject for serious choral music [and let's face it, not my typical reader] ... but Covid. So I'm writing about what I want to.
We'll start with an odd one, called Cooking School, written by Glenn Meade and rescored for Chicago A Cappella. It is unique, period - a piece devoted entirely to the craft of cooking - but very jazzy and a lot of fun, splitting into 8 parts at the end. Next, listen to a song about Creole cooking, which gets the spotlight in Stephan Chatman's What's Cookin'?(SATB) (Text by Tara Wohlberg), from his set Due South. A slow and sultry swung song, it speaks of every southern dish on the planet, savoring every dish as it is named. For those seeking dishes from other cultures, check out Laylay Agulaylay, a Philippine folk song about the delicious foods served at a couple's wedding feast for all to enjoy.
Several tributes have been made to the song-worthy spud, but Little Potato, (arranged by Carol Barnett, text by Malcolm Dalglish) is the most adorable. He used to sing it to his first infant, and it grabs the heart while making you smile. Even the lack of potatoes gets a song in the Irish Famine Lament (SA) set by David Mooney, a mournful lament over potato blight. Also lamentably (I mourned), Garrison Keillor does not print his music (4:27 time mark): if he did, Hymn to Potatoes (arranged by Paul Brandvik) would be made available to all.
Corn isn't really a sexy vegetable**, but still has a major place in several cultures' culinary traditions. Native American Zuni women often sang while grinding corn, which brings us to Excier Rodriquez's arrangement, Ockaya (SATB)***. Also called a 'rain song', it features an ear of corn that notices the clouds nearing and invites a flood. From Venezuela we have Canto de Pilon(SSA), a corn-grinding song set by Cristian Grases. The singers convey grinding throughout the piece by using percussive sounds and motions. Charles Davidson's choral setting (SATB) of Israeli folk song Shibolet Basadeh is a joyful celebration of a gorgeous crop of corn and its coming harvest. Another work song about grinding grains is Wendy Stuart's setting of a Japanese folk song song, Toshima Mochi Tsuko Bushi. It is a celebratory song, and may be sung as a work song while pounding rice into rice balls (aka mochi).
*Clearly, I need to start practicing more. And I'm a geek when I come to research and music.
*** JWPepper has two listed spellings for this song (Okaya and Ockaya). The internet seems to favor 'Ockaya'.
****Except for these Honorable Mentions: