Percy SnowdonPercy Snowdon (21 Feb 1930 - 26 May 1983)

Percy was a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University), with a keen interest in his subject paralleled by a strong musical talent and a deep love of his native Northumberland. In 1966 he founded the Sheffield Motet Singers, conducting them until his death of a heart attack in 1983. This choir continued under other leadership until 2001, with many of the original singers still in it..

He first penned music in 1975, with his unaccompanied setting of Mendlessohn's "Denn er hat seinen Engeln" from Elijah, which always remained a favourite with the Motet Singers. Four of his five folk song arrangements were complete and first performed in November 1982, after their conception inspired by a Northumbrian holiday. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response of singers and audience, he went on to complete the set (with what is now no.3), and to compose the Ave Maria and the very different Betelgeuse, before his sudden and unexpected death.

John Kilpatrick, from notes by Margaret Snowdon.


Percy Snowdon's Music (free choral music in the public domain)

Denn er hat seinen Engeln (Mendelssohn)     SSAATTBB
Percy Snowdon's 1975 arrangement for unaccompanied singers of the motet from Elijah. Words in German.
     PDF (85KB)             Midi            latest print with typographical corrections: 21/10/08
True to Mendelssohn's original, except for small alterations and supplementations to make up for the missing accompaniment. 
Northumbrian Folk Songs      
Excellent unaccompanied settings. Inspired by a holiday, though Percy was himself of Northumbrian origin.
Complete Set with cover sheets - 24 pages  PDF  (258KB)
for individual folk-songs print the page range shown from the above PDF 
no 1 - Wrap up, roll up           pp 2-3         Midi     MP3  A short Strathspey, 4-part SATB
no 2 - Dance to your daddy   pp 4-9         Midi     MP3  SSAATB (could be SSATB or even SATB - very few divisions)       
no 3 - Sair fyeld, hinny           pp 10-12     Midi              4-part SATB (about 2 tenor notes divide) "Sore failed, honey"
no 4 - Bonny at morn             pp 13-16     Midi     MP3  SATB (some div. T & B) + Sop. solo
no 5 - Adam Buckham O       pp 17-23     Midi     MP3  SATB (div.)  A first rate arrangement, and amusing words!

The above MP3s were recorded before Percy's death by the Sheffield Motet Singers. The pronunciation is not authentic.
(Recorded in live performance, with very basic equipment; converted from Cassette Tape.) 

How to pronounce the words
The Words spoken or sung through in a Northumbrian accent by Alex Swailes MBE. In MP3 format.

   Wrap up, roll up
   Dance to your daddy
   Sair fyeld, hinny
   Bonny at morn
   Adam Buckham O

Click HERE for a link to some real folk-style renderings of Northumbrian songs by Keith & Alex Swailes.

Betelgeuse     SATB div. unaccompanied.
     PDF              Midi
A beautiful and haunting piece, set to words by H Wolfe.
Ave Maria      SATB div. unaccompanied.
     PDF              Midi
A slightly astringent rendering, with some bright passages; worth a look.

Link to John Kilpatrick's Music Page    Link to John Earwaker's Music Page    Link to John Kilpatrick's Home Page