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Howler Monkey

for solo presenter, SATB choir and hand drums

Year:  2021   ·  Duration:  4m

Year:  2021
Duration:  4m

Composer:   Robbie Ellis

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: pages 8, 9, 12 and 13 of score

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It was the first half of 2014 when I discovered the subject of this piece – the second-loudest animal on earth, after the blue whale. I was probably just browsing Wikipedia when I saw the genus name and amusing combination of syllables ‘Alouatta’, and identified that word as a rhythmically driving, almost primal bed for a choir piece.

With a commission for my old high school choir Voicemale on the horizon, I bumped into its conductor David Squire at the Auckland regionals of The Big Sing 2014 and pitched him my idea: “Five words: choral infotainment about howler monkeys”.

He grinned, and so did I. After all, we were going to have 60+ teenage boys sing about monkeys. Heeeehehehehee.

Influences include the music of Latin America (mariachi, cumbia, bossa nova and tango); John Psathas and his coterie of kickass percussion soloists (Pedro, Evelyn, Lenny, Jeremy etc); Demetrius Savelio (aka Savage); my own piece for violin/viola and shouty chorus called Ha!; Bruno Mars’ opening drum solo at the Super Bowl XLVIII Half Time Show; nearly every video of howler monkeys to be found on YouTube; my own head’s cliché of what death metal is; dubstep; bad puns; general primal-ness; and the Second City Training Center Writing Program.

Commissioned note

Originally commissioned by Westlake Boys High School for the choir Voicemale. SATB arrangement commissioned for the 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music which never happened..

Difficulty note

Intermediate – Advanced difficulty. This work is suitable for decent high school choirs and decent amateur choirs.

Text note

Text by Robbie Ellis