Centre for Continuing Education

Exploring Music Course: Choral Music

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

From Handel’s Messiah to Orff’s Carmina Burana, choral music has always thrilled and inspired us. We use choirs for important occasions, for celebrations and mourning, and when we want to speak together with one voice.

This course provides a guide to understanding and enjoying Western choral music, with a look at the history of choral music in its most common forms including the Mass, the Requiem, the oratorio and the cantata.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • list some of the main periods of choral music and briefly describe them
  • list some of the main choral music composers
  • list some major choral works and describe their place in the history of choral music.



  • An introduction to choral music
  • Soprano, alto, tenor and bass
  • How the voice types work together in four-part harmony
  • Texture in choral music
  • Gregorian chant and the Medieval Modes
  • Choral music in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
  • Choral music in the Baroque Period
  • Choral music in the Classical and Romantic Periods
  • Choral music in the twentieth century
  • The Oratorio
  • Masses and Requiems
  • The Cantata


We will listen to many pieces. These include:

  • Bach: Mass in B minor, Matthew Passion
  • Mozart: Requiem, Coronation Mass
  • Handel: Messiah
  • Part: Berliner Messe
  • Orff: Carmina Burana
  • Vivaldi: Gloria
  • Haydn: The Creation
  • The music of Palestrina
  • Beethoven: Choral Symphony, Ode to Joy
  • Brahms: The German Requiem
  • Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius
  • Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand
  • Walton: Belshazzar’s Feast
  • The choral music of Benjamin Britten
  • Faure: Requiem
  • Verdi: Requiem
  • Mendelssohn: Elijah

Intended audience

Designed for fans of classical music, beginners and experienced listeners alike.



Delivery style

This course is richly illustrated with musical examples, illustrations and video clips. Susan Deas uses the piano to demonstrate musical concepts to the everyday listener. Questions are encouraged, and there will be room for discussion throughout the course.


Handouts are provided in class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

Exploring Music Course: Choral Music

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