Song Cycles/Collections

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Florals for Medium High/High Voice and Piano

Soprano: Elizabeth McDonald
Pianist: Kathryn Tremills
Florals was written for Soprano Elizabeth McDonald in the fall of 2009 while I was away with my husband in Cambridge, UK. Thanks to a keyboard donation from a London astronomer and Elizabeth's e-mail comments, encouragements and careful warnings, I was off and running. Flowering, a tango of betrayal by my friend, poet and pianist Carla Hartsfield, Fire-Flowers, grief and joyous rebirth, Wild Asters,  finished in Edinburgh - so an interesting mix of Canadian and Scottish landscape!, the crazy antics of a jealous gardener in Double-Red Daisies, poetry by Rennell Rodd and a miniature - The Daisy by poet Marjorie Pickthall. M.H. Duncan, 2014

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Double Red Daisies (HighVoice)


Fire-Flowers (High Voice)


The Daisy (Med.High Voice) and Piano from Florals


Wild Asters (HighVoice)


Flowering for (Med.HighVoice)


Saskatchewan Songs for Low Voice and Piano

Poet and Contralto : Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber
Pianist: Arlene Shrut
What a thrill to write a concert set for a singer who also happens to be the poet!  I hope that my music has fully showcased contralto Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber's evocative, imaginative and nostalgic story of growing up in Saskatchewan. As a transplanted Texan living in Canada, I certainly relate to the big sky, vast landscape and friendly people of this beautiful prairie province. 1. Outside to Play On a Winter's Day, 2. Bike Ride In The Country, 3. I Am A Farmer's Daughter (with triangle), 4. Prairie Lily, 5. Saskatchewan Lessons M.H. Duncan, 2014

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1. Outside To Play On A Winter's Day


2. Bike Ride In the Country


3. I Am A Farmer's Daughter


4. Prairie Lily


5. Saskatchwan Lessons


Vocal Selections from Searching the Painted Sky, The Opera

Story and Libretto: Janet Windeler Ryan
Music: Martha Hill Duncan
Searching the Painted Sky is the story of two sisters, Leda, an older teenager, and Lulu, a young girl, who have lost their mother to illness and are now living in poverty with their father.  Although their laidback and gambling dad loves his kids, he is not always the greatest at providing them necessities. After a run-in with an exotic fortune teller, Leda's life takes a turn into fantasy, complete with strange, funny and fantastical characters.  The opera is in two acts and runs almost 1 1/2 hours long. There are approximately ten named characters with room for a small to larger ensemble of "friends and neighbors".  Searching the Painted Sky was written for and premiered by The Youth Opera of El Paso at the 2014 National Opera Association Convention in New York City with music director Kimberley Wolfenbarger-Nakamoto and stage director Dr. Christopher Meerdinck. Eleven songs from the opera appear in the vocal selections publication you see here, as well as three others in the opera inspiring art song collection by the same title.  Please contact M.H. Duncan directly regarding any interest in staging the opera. M.H. Duncan, 2014

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1. As Morning Opens


Youth Opera of El Paso Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

3. Beans and Mustard


Soloist: David Austin Nakamoto Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

5. Under the Painted Sky


Soloist: Bryan Bennett Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

6. Working Hard


Soloist: David Austin Nakamoto Piano: Dr. Hector Landa

7. For My Mother


Soloist: Carolyn Owen Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

8. Crab Tango


Soloist: Bryan Bennett Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

9. Ellegée


Soloist: Carrie Armendariz Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

10. Sunset Song


Soloist: Pablo Aun Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

11. Lullaby


Soloists: Hayden Aurora Hunt, Carrie Armendariz Pianist: Dr. Hector Landa

Searching the Painted Sky

Art Songs for Medium High Voice
Poetry by Janet Windeler Ryan
Soprano: Claire Duncan

Conservatory Canada Gr. 6 Contemporary Idioms

Poet Janet Windeler Ryan's expressive and contemporary texts have moved me into unexplored stylistic territory: "impressionistic pop" in Petal Waltz, "Broadway soundscape" in Searching the Painted Sky,  'lounge singer meets art song" in Deep Winter Snowfall, "cinema" in If I Made A Wish for A Moment and "a touch of jazz" in Still.  Three of these five songs were the basis for our youth opera Searching the Painted Sky written and premiered by The Youth Opera of El Paso in NYC in January, 2014.  M.H. Duncan, 2014

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Deep Winter Snowfall


Searching the Painted Sky


Petal Waltz





Art Songs for Medium High Voice
Poetry: Linda Jacques
Soprano: Claire Duncan
Soprano: Elizabeth McDonald
Inspired by poet Linda Jacque's childhood spent on Georgian Bay. Sandfleas "Until your toes dig underneath and those nasty sand fleas are ready to eat!", The Swimmer: "Something in the water is following me, but I don't need to know...", Cloud Dreams: "Do you see the tiger? He's looking down at me.  Oh, no, off he goes to become a tree."  Queen of the North: "She waves her colourful silk draped robe across the sky",  My Cedar Canoe "As the bow slices through the glassy surface, straight as an arrow and silent as the breeze."

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My Cedar Canoe
Soprano: Claire Duncan

Sand Fleas


Queen of the North
Soprano: Elizabeth McDonald


Singing in the Northland Vol. 1

Art songs for Voice and Piano
Soprano: Elizabeth McDonald
Alto: Marion Newman
Pianist: Kathryn Tremills
Six solo songs and one duet for voice and piano dedicated to my daughter Claire.  The Brook in February: A little song of "spring thaw" hints at contemporary dissonance, A Child's Prayer at Evening: a starlit mood with opening Latin line , Daisy Time: Gr. 7 RCM Voice Syllabus, explores varied metre,  Life: A melodramatic miniature, Quiet: with a gentle Celtic flavour, The Star: A little song with big sentiment, The Dustman: A haunting call and response duet, for the more advanced version heard here, please contact me directly.

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The Brook in February


A Child's Prayer at Evening


Daisy Time






The Star


1 Vocal Duet:The Dustman


Singing in the Northland Vol. 2

Art songs for Medium High to High Voice. Singers: Elizabeth McDonald & Marion Newman, Pianist: Kathryn Tremills Singing in the Northland CD's now available
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5 Solos:Grey Rocks and Greyer Seas


Lady Icicle






Where Leaps the Ste. Marie


2 Vocal Duets:Be Quiet, Wind


Roadside Flowers


If Dogs Could Talk, 13 Playful Piano Pieces

Beginner/Prep - Level 2
These 13 playful piano pieces with accompanying melodic poetry are designed to develop rhythm, reading and pitch matching skills for eager beginners up to Level 2. They are short but are filled with expressive details, two handed dialogue and contrasting legato and staccato touches to help bring the musical stories to life.  They were previously published in two volumes entitled IF DOGS COULD TALK and FLYING HORSES, TALKING FISH. In this 2018 version, the 2 volumes have been combined into one and the poetry has been removed from scores and printed separately for clearer notation and more freedom to use as teachers and students see fit. M.H. Duncan, 2018

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