Sarah Riskind, Composer

Sarah Riskind’s Jewish choral music has been performed by ensembles such as the Seattle Jewish Chorale, Las Kantaderas del Noroeste, and the Esoterics. While her compositions include both accompanied and unaccompanied works, her background as a string player also allows her to create idiomatic violin parts to showcase a variety of colors in a choral program. Among her secular works are the four-movement Oz Cantata for chorus, soloists, and strings and Little Wonders for treble choirs, piano, and double bass or cello.

Compositions, Recordings, Scores, and Purchase Links

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TitleTitle TranslationLanguageText Source/AuthorThemesHoliday/PurposeVoicingInstrumentationDurationDifficultyRecordingScoreMost RecommendedPurchaseDescriptionNotes
Hanerot HalaluWe light these lightsHebrewliturgical poem based on Mishnah tractate Sofrim 20:6 (from the Talmud)Light, miracles, prayer, faithHanukkahSATBA cappella or optional instruments ad lib: piano, guitar, violin, or and/or others3’Medium EasyRecordingPublication in progress through PavaneThis prayerful Hanukkah canon is in the Ahavah Rabbah mode, which includes the same pitches from harmonic minor with the fifth as the tonic. Included in the 2022 edition are an assortment of new formats and arrangements: the canon in two different keys with chord symbols, Solfège teaching materials, and arrangements for SSA, TBB, and SAB that incorporate an optional improvisation section.
Hanerot HalaluWe light these lightsHebrewliturgical poem based on Mishnah tractate Sofrim 20:6 (from the Talmud)Light, miracles, prayer, faithHanukkahSSAA cappella or optional instruments ad lib: piano, guitar, violin, or and/or others3’Medium EasyRecordingPublication in progress through PavaneThis prayerful Hanukkah canon is in the Ahavah Rabbah mode, which includes the same pitches from harmonic minor with the fifth as the tonic. Included in the 2022 edition are an assortment of new formats and arrangements: the canon in two different keys with chord symbols, Solfège teaching materials, and arrangements for SSA, TBB, and SAB that incorporate an optional improvisation section.
Hanerot HalaluWe light these lightsHebrewliturgical poem based on Mishnah tractate Sofrim 20:6 (from the Talmud)Light, miracles, prayer, faithHanukkahTBB3’Medium EasyRecordingPublication in progress through PavaneThis prayerful Hanukkah canon is in the Ahavah Rabbah mode, which includes the same pitches from harmonic minor with the fifth as the tonic. Included in the 2022 edition are an assortment of new formats and arrangements: the canon in two different keys with chord symbols, Solfège teaching materials, and arrangements for SSA, TBB, and SAB that incorporate an optional improvisation section.
Oseh ShalomMay the One who makes peace in the heavensHebrewbased on Job 25:2Peace, prayer, faithGeneral sacredSATBPiano, violin (optional)3’MediumRecordingSwirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
A Jewish prayer for peace in a tango style, accessible for school, church, and synagogue choirs. SATB, piano, and violin.
Oseh ShalomMay the One who makes peace in the heavensHebrewbased on Job 25:2Peace, prayer, faithGeneral sacredTBBPiano, violin (optional)3’MediumRecording J. W. PepperYesJ. W. PepperA Jewish prayer for peace in a tango style, accessible for school, church, and synagogue choirs. SATB, piano, and violin.
HariyuShout for joyHebrewPsalm 100Praise, thanksgiving, celebrationGeneral sacredSATBPiano3’Medium AdvancedRecording Swirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
An exuberant Hebrew setting of Psalm 100 with homophony in changing meters. SATB and piano.
Sim ShalomGrant us peaceHebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, peace, charity, blessing, faithGeneral sacredSATB, S or T soloistPiano or organ4’Medium EasyRecordingSwirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
A solemn Hebrew prayer with a choral refrain and solo verses. Accessible piece for SATB, soprano or tenor soloist, and piano or organ.
DayeinuIt would have been enoughHebrewHebrew LiturgyThanksgiving, faith, hope, celebrationPassover (usually March or April)SATBPiano2’Medium EasyScore Preview
Simple arrangement of one of the most popular songs sung at Passover seders. “Dayeinu” can be translated as “it would have been enough.” SATB and piano.
Eliyahu HanaviElijah the prophetHebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, faith, hopePassover (usually March or April)SATBPiano1’Medium EasyScore Preview
Simple arrangement of the haunting Passover melody “Eiliyahu Hanavi” about the prophet Elijah, for SATB and piano.
Mi Chamocha (SATB setting)Who is like you, O God?HebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, praise, faith, aweGeneral sacredSATBPiano1.5’MediumScore Preview
“Who is like You, O God?” A bright, upbeat homophonic setting of moderate difficulty.
Mi Chamocha (SA setting)Who is like you, O God?HebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, praise, faith, aweGeneral sacredSAPiano2’Medium EasyScore Preview“Who is like You, O God?” This rhythmic setting for SA and piano is accessible to young singers.
ShiruSing to the Lord a new songHebrewPsalms 96:1Prayer, music, praise, celebration, faithGeneral sacredSATBPiano1.5’MediumScore Preview
A triumphant and melodic Hebrew setting of Psalm 96:1, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” SATB and piano, moderate difficulty.
Adonai S’fataiEternal God, open my lipsHebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, meditation, supplication, humility, praiseGeneral sacredSSATBA cappella1.5’Medium EasyRecordingScore Preview
A Hebrew call to prayer in three-part canon. SSATB a cappella, but adaptable to any voicing.
Adonai S’fataiEternal God, open my lipsHebrewHebrew LiturgyPrayer, meditation, supplication, humility, praiseGeneral sacredSSAA cappella1.5’Medium EasyRecordingScore Preview
A Hebrew call to prayer in three-part canon. SSA a cappella, but adaptable to any voicing.
Mixolydian AlleluiaEnglish (really just the word Alleluia)Celebration, joy, triumph, hopeGeneral sacred, EasterSATB and soloistOptional percussion2’MediumScore Preview
A call-and-response anthem in Mixolydian mode with mixed meters; the mixed choir is often in unison. For a cappella choir, soloist(s), and percussion ad lib.
Other CommencementEnglishAriel KimTriumph, struggles, hope, learning, growing, changeGraduationTrTBarB, soloistsPiano4.5’MediumRecordingScore Preview

J. W. Pepper
This piece for Treble/Tenor/Baritone/Bass chorus and piano was commissioned by Stephen O’Bent and the DigiPen Institute of Technology Dragon Chorus. In the text of Other Commencement, DigiPen 2021 graduate Ariel Kim reflects on the countless hardships that graduates have endured during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside this sincere acknowledgement of struggles, though, is a hopeful message about recognizing their hard- won accomplishments; their strength will carry them into the next chapters of their lives.
Psalm of the SkyEnglish, HebrewRachel BarenblatComfort, faith, prayer, trustGeneral sacredSABPiano, violin5’Medium AdvancedRecordingSwirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
A setting of Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s modern reimagination of Psalm 23, commissioned in 2019 for TBB voices as part of CCM’s Creative Commissions Project, sponsored by the Harmony Fund. This version is for SAB voices with optional tenor part, piano, and violin.
Psalm of the SkyEnglish, HebrewRachel BarenblatComfort, faith, prayer, trustGeneral sacredSSAPiano, violin5’Medium AdvancedRecordingSwirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
A setting of Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s modern reimagination of Psalm 23, commissioned in 2019 for TBB voices as part of CCM’s Creative Commissions Project, sponsored by the Harmony Fund. This version is for SAB voices with optional tenor part, piano, and violin.
Psalm of the SkyEnglish, HebrewRachel BarenblatComfort, faith, prayer, trustGeneral sacredTBBPiano, violin5’Medium AdvancedRecordingSwirly MusicYesJ. W. Pepper
Swirly Music
A setting of Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s modern reimagination of Psalm 23, commissioned in 2019 for TBB voices as part of CCM’s Creative Commissions Project, sponsored by the Harmony Fund. This version is for SAB voices with optional tenor part, piano, and violin.
Mi Y’malelWho can tell?HebrewTraditional Hanukkah text (new melody for traditional song)Triumph, victory, heroismHanukkahSATBPiano, violin (optional)3’MediumRecordingAn energetic Klezmer-inspired piece for SATB, piano, and optional violin.
Mi Y’malelWho can tell?HebrewTraditional Hanukkah text (new melody for traditional song)Triumph, victory, heroismHanukkahSSAPiano, violin (optional)3’MediumRecordingAn energetic Klezmer-inspired piece for SATB, piano, and optional violin.
Mi Y’malelWho can tell?HebrewTraditional Hanukkah text (new melody for traditional song)Triumph, victory, heroismHanukkahTBBPiano, violin (optional)3’MediumRecordingAn energetic Klezmer-inspired piece for SATB, piano, and optional violin.
Ahavat OlamEternal loveHebrewHebrew Liturgy (Evening Liturgy for Ashkenazim)Love, learning, thanksgiving, praise, prayer, faithGeneral sacredSATBOrgan or piano1.5’EasyScore Preview
A brief homophonic setting of a common prayer of gratitude for the Torah. SATB with piano or organ.
Change the WorldEnglishSarah RiskindJustice, activismGeneral secularSATBOpen instrumentation (part written for one instrument). Keeps rhythm/drone in octaves. Ideal for piano, mallet percussion, etc.5’Medium AdvancedScore Preview
A guided improvisation in which section leaders choose pitches to fit notated rhythms. SATB and pitched instrument(s).
Las Kazas de la BodaThe wedding housesLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicLove, weddings, celebration, dancingWeddings, general secularSATBOptional pitched and unpitched instruments4’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
Arrangement of a Bulgarian Sephardic wedding song in 2+2+2+3. SATB with pitched and unpitched instruments, suggestions included in the performance notes, moderate to moderately advanced. Has detailed performance notes, with links to source recordings and a Judeo-Spanish pronunciation guide.
Las Kazas de la BodaThe wedding housesLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicLove, weddings, celebration, dancingWeddings, general secularSSAAOptional pitched and unpitched instruments4’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
Arrangement of a Bulgarian Sephardic wedding song in 2+2+2+3. SATB with pitched and unpitched instruments, suggestions included in the performance notes, moderate to moderately advanced. Has detailed performance notes, with links to source recordings and a Judeo-Spanish pronunciation guide.
Resuenen los clarinesSound the trumpetsSpanishPraise, celebration, music, instruments, St. CeciliaGeneral sacredSATB/SATB double choirOrgan (optional), can double and/or cover vocal parts with any desired instruments6’MediumScore PreviewScholarly performing edition of a sacred Spanish motet by the Mexican Baroque composer Manuel Zumaya. It is for SATB+SATB choirs and organ, but it also works well with instrumental doublings, or with instruments covering some of the parts. Verses can be performed by a small group.
When I Consider Your HeavensEnglishPsalms 8: 4-6Creation, heavens, praise, awe, mystery, prayerGeneral sacredSABPiano2’MediumRecordingScore PreviewYes
Warm, light setting of Psalm 8 for SAB and piano
Esta Noche de PurimThis Purim NightLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicCelebration, food, triumphPurim (usually around March)SSAA cappella2’MediumRecordingScore Preview
Arrangement of an upbeat Moroccan Sephardic copla about celebrating Purim, a Jewish holiday that usually falls in March. SATB a cappella, moderate difficulty. Has detailed performance notes, with links to source recordings and a Judeo-Spanish pronunciation guide.
Esta Noche de PurimThis Purim NightLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicCelebration, food, triumphPurim (usually around March)SATBA cappella2’MediumRecordingScore Preview
Arrangement of an upbeat Moroccan Sephardic copla about celebrating Purim, a Jewish holiday that usually falls in March. SATB a cappella, moderate difficulty. Has detailed performance notes, with links to source recordings and a Judeo-Spanish pronunciation guide.
Rock of AgesEnglishTraditional 13th centuryVictory, triumphHanukkahSATBA cappella1’EasyScore PreviewHomophonic arrangement of one English verse of the Hanukkah song Rock of Ages (Maoz Tsur)
Oz Cantata, I. Tik-TokEnglishL. Frank BaumChildren, imagination, exploration, humanity, artificial intelligence, animals, magic, fantasy, humorGeneral secularSATB, optional solo quartet, narrator, and actorsString quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)7.5’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore PreviewFull Score:
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A 21-minute four-movement work showcasing excerpts from L. Frank Baum’s whimsical and imaginative Oz books. Movements I and IV include significant choral parts, while II and III are for soloists only. Written for SATB chorus and soloists (with speaking roles) and string quartet.
Oz Cantata, II. Jack PumpkinheadEnglishL. Frank BaumChildren, imagination, exploration, humanity, magic, intelligence, fantasy, witch, humorGeneral secularBaritone soloist, narratorString quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)3.5’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore PreviewFull Score:
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A 21-minute four-movement work showcasing excerpts from L. Frank Baum’s whimsical and imaginative Oz books. Movements I and IV include significant choral parts, while II and III are for soloists only. Written for SATB chorus and soloists (with speaking roles) and string quartet.
Oz Cantata, III. Patchwork GirlEnglishL. Frank BaumChildren, imagination, exploration, humanity, magic, intelligence, fantasy, humor, individuality, self-expressionGeneral secularSoprano soloist, other soloists, narrator, actorsString quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)3’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore PreviewFull Score:
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A 21-minute four-movement work showcasing excerpts from L. Frank Baum’s whimsical and imaginative Oz books. Movements I and IV include significant choral parts, while II and III are for soloists only. Written for SATB chorus and soloists (with speaking roles) and string quartet.
Oz Cantata, IV. OzmaEnglishL. Frank BaumChildren, imagination, exploration, magic, intelligence, fantasy, humor, individuality, self-expression, gender, identity, transformation, beauty, princessGeneral secularSATB, narrator, other soloists, actorsString quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)7’MediumRecordingScore PreviewFull Score:
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A 21-minute four-movement work showcasing excerpts from L. Frank Baum’s whimsical and imaginative Oz books. Movements I and IV include significant choral parts, while II and III are for soloists only. Written for SATB chorus and soloists (with speaking roles) and string quartet.Influenced by traditional Irish vocal style; strophic
We Were Once StrangersEnglish, HebrewLeviticus and IsaiahWelcome, immigration, justice, charityGeneral sacred, general secularSATBA cappella5.5’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
This piece was inspired by those who struggle to find welcome in new places. The optimistic textual changes transform a command into a personal commitment. For advanced a cappella SATB choir with some divisi and a brief soprano solo. Premiered by The Esoterics in Seattle, directed by Eric Banks.Aleatoric section
By the Waters of BabylonEnglishPsalm 137Diaspora, sorrow, homeland, water, memory, weeping, tragedyGeneral sacredSATBPiano, cello9’Medium AdvancedRecordingScore PreviewYes
A lyrical psalm setting for moderately advanced choirs. SATB, piano, and cello.
Esa EinaiI will lift up my eyesHebrewPsalm 121Creation, heavens, faith, prayerGeneral sacredSATBPiano4’MediumRecordingScore Preview
Hebrew setting of Psalm 121, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains.” SATB with piano, lyrical and mostly diatonic.
For the Beauty of the EarthEnglishFolliot S. Pierpont Earth, Creation, nature, beauty, praise, thanksgivingGeneral sacredSATBPiano or organ, violin4’MediumRecordingScore PreviewYes
A lilting melody with primarily homophonic accompaniment, suitable for many church choirs. SATB, piano, and optional violin.
May the Words of My MouthEnglishPsalms 19:15Prayer, meditation, supplication, humilityGeneral sacredSATBPiano or organ2’MediumScore Preview
Lyrical Dorian/minor piece for baritone, mixed choir, and piano that works well before or during worship.
Shout Unto the LordEnglishPsalm 100Praise, thanksgivingGeneral sacredSATBOrgan or piano2’MediumScore Preview
Exuberant Lydian setting of Psalm 100 for SATB and organ with some syncopation.
Heart’s EaseEnglishBroadside Ballads, 1628Shakespeare, love, Renaissance, theatreGeneral secularSATBA cappella2’MediumScore PreviewOriginal unaccompanied Renaissance-style harmonizations of the tune “Heart’s Ease” from Playford’s 1651 Dancing Master, which is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The first is fairly straightforward, while the second is more chromatic. Both are included in three keys to suit individual ensembles.
The Silver SwanEnglishAnonymous/Orlando GibbonsBirds, endings, death, changeGeneral secularSATBA cappella1.5’Medium AdvancedScore Preview
Original chromatic setting that pairs well with the Gibbons.Premiere opportunity available!
Little WondersEnglishDanielle ColesFireflies, summer, insects, light, awe, beauty, childrenGeneral secular, summerSADouble bass or cello, piano4’MediumRecordingScore Preview
(SA, piano, and double bass)
A whimsical but mysterious setting of a firefly poem by Danielle Coles.
Y’hi Ch’vodMay Your Glory EndureHebrewHebrew LiturgyPraiseGeneral sacredSAPiano2’MediumRecordingScore Preview
“May the Glory of God endure forever.” This joyous piece for SA and piano is accessible to young singers.
Looking for a Sunset Bird in WinterEnglishRobert FrostWinter, birds, nature, trees, hope memory, beautyGeneral secular, winterSAViolin, piano3.5’Medium EasyRecordingScore PreviewYes

J. W. Pepper
In this Robert Frost setting for SA choir, piano, and violin, a modal melody expresses the presence of beauty in a seemingly desolate environment. Premiered by an intermediate-level elementary/middle school choir, it is accessible to ensembles strengthening their part-singing skills.
Adio, KeridaGoodbye, BelovedLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicLost love, rejected loveGeneral secularSSAAA cappella5’MediumRecordingScore Preview
Unaccompanied SSAA arrangement of the popular Sephardic melody that was most likely inspired by a Verdi aria.Recording includes an improvised oboe introduction
HashamayimThe heavensHebrewPsalms 19:1-5Creation, heavens, praise, awe, mysteryGeneral sacredSAPiano2.5’Medium EasyRecordingScore Preview
Lyrical setting of Psalm 19:1-5, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” for SA and piano. Accessible to young singers.
Lavaba la Blanka NinyaThe fair woman was washingLadino (Judeo-Spanish)Traditional SephardicNarrative ballad, love, warGeneral secularSSA div.A cappella6’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
Arrangement of a haunting Greek Sephardic ballad about a woman who does not initially recognize her husband returning from war. SSA a cappella with div., melismatic, in a mode with one microtone. Advanced. Has detailed performance notes, with links to source recordings and a Judeo-Spanish pronunciation guide.Detailed performance notes, historical context, and pronunciation resources. Created as part of a D.M.A. dissertation.
Skatutakee Gap North Pack MonadnockMountains, early music, solfege, New England, natureGeneral secularViolin, cello (singing cellist)6’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
Recorded in Dublin, New Hampshire, at the world premiere performance as Recorded in Dublin, New Hampshire, at the world premiere performance as part of the 2021 Walden School Faculty Commissioning Concert in July 2021, featuring a performance by Hub New Music. In this duet for violin and singing cellist, the names of The Walden School Young Musicians Program mountain hikes are mapped onto Solfége syllables (inspired by Josquin Desprez). An original fiddle tune fleshes out the New England setting.
Imposter SyndromeGeneral secular
I Went in the WaterWater, courageGeneral secularViolin, alto saxophone, piano4.5’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
Recorded in Dublin, New Hampshire, at the world premiere performance as part of the 2018 Walden School Faculty Commissioning Concert in July 2018, featuring a performance by the International Contemporary Ensemble. This trio for violin, saxophone, and piano grew out of a modal theme that resembles both the octatonic scale and the Phrygian dominant scale (common in Jewish music). It begins cautiously and ends in a lively dance with frequent metrical shifts that culminate in a wild ascent.Includes improvisation sections for all players and “chop” string technique for the violinist
ConfrontationTension, resolutionGeneral secularString quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)Score Preview
This string quartet features quartal harmonies with an opening chorale and a mixed-meter B section.
Austen Observes: I. NovelsEnglishJane AustenReading, books, humorGeneral secularSoprano or mezzo-soprano soloistPiano1.5’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
A cycle of three short songs for soprano or mezzo-soprano with humorous Jane Austen quotes. The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.
― Northanger Abbey
Austen Observes: II. NeighborsEnglishJane AustenReading, books, gossip, humorGeneral secularSoprano or mezzo-soprano soloistPiano1.5’AdvancedRecordingScore Preview
A cycle of three short songs for soprano or mezzo-soprano with humorous Jane Austen quotes. Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies.
― Northanger Abbey
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?
― Emma
Austen Observes: III. TimeEnglishJane AustenReading, books, time, humorGeneral secularSoprano or mezzo-soprano soloistPiano4’AdvancedScore Preview
A cycle of three short songs for soprano or mezzo-soprano with humorous Jane Austen quotes. Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.
― Mansfield Park
Premiere opportunity available!
Threefold BlessingHebrewNumbers 6:24-26Blessing, protect, peace, benedictionGeneral sacred (traditions vary)Soprano or mezzo-soprano soloist, Tenor soloistOrgan4’Advanced
”May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord deal kindly and graciously with you. May the Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace.” Ancient benediction, also called the Priestly Blessing.Composed for an interfaith baccalaureate service at Williams College. I sang soprano, Cantor Robert Scherr sang tenor, and student Scott Smedinghoff played organ.
Tarde del trópicoTropical AfternoonSpanishRubén DaríoSea, water, music, instruments, storm, weatherGeneral secularSoprano soloistViolin, piano10’AdvancedRecordingScore PreviewYes
A Spanish art song for soprano, violin, and piano. The text is a poem by Rubén Darío, depicting a sea storm in musical metaphors.Composed for and in consultation with native Spanish speaker Dr. Adriana Martínez. I am also conversant in Spanish.

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