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Publication Date

Spring 2010

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music and Dance


Diana Hollinger


Choral Transcriptions, Cloudburst, Eric Whitacre, Lux Aurumque, Sleep, Symphonic Winds

Subject Areas

Music;Performing Art; Performing Arts education


This study presents three works by American composer Eric Whitacre (b. 1970), Cloudburst (1996), Lux Aurumque (2001), and Sleep (2002), originally choral compositions transcribed for symphonic winds (2001, 2005, 2003). By examining the assignment of vocal parts to instrument parts, I will clarify Whitacre's compositional practice as it relates to his own instrumental adaptation of three vocal works. Elements considered in the three transcriptions include orchestration choices, melodic reorganization (distributing vocal material to instrument parts), and overall integrity of the wind works compared to their choral settings. Using score examples and the author's constructed tables, this analysis examines Whitacre's transcription process and timbre qualities inherent to each ensemble (choral and winds). The unifying factor in all three transcriptions is their relationship to the poetry (program music) of the original work, and how that relates to Whitacre's instrumental restructuring. Prior scholarly endeavors have focused on either Whitacre's choral or wind works. This research fills an important gap in that none have examined Whitacre's popular transcriptions. Finally, this study will discuss Whitacre's motivation for transcribing his own music and practical suggestions for performance of these works.