Shelter Song


Instrumentation: SA Choir & Piano

Duration: 4:00

Commissioned by: Commissioned by the Ramona Convent Secondary School Choir, directed by Ruth Ballener (2023)

Program Note

Shelter Song, commissioned by the Ramona Convent Secondary School Choirs, directed by Ruth Ballenger, sets the charming text by Libby Weber about the joy of adopting a rescue animal. The text playfully explores the different decisions required when adopting a pet, such as choosing which animal to adopt (the Sopranos want to adopt a Cat, while the Altos prefer a Dog) and what to name them! The poem also features a few moments of overlapping texts, which create funny new phrases between the Soprano and Alto lyrics (“I want them all” at mm. 34-35 and “OMG!” at mm. 39-45).

The music has historical influences reminiscent of J.S. Bach’s keyboard stylings, Baroque arias, and opera-like recitatives for dramatic and comedic effect. There is also a bit of G. Rossini’s famous Duetto Buffo di due Gatti (Comic Duet for Two Cats) and the music of comedian Peter Schickele’s fictional Baroque composer, P.D.Q Bach.

There is a customizable NAMES section (Rehearsal Letter E) where directors and choirs may choose to replace any of the names (except the last name of each line, in order to maintain the rhymes) with pet names meaningful to them or the community.

The hope of this piece is to foster awareness of the importance of adopting rescue pets and treating our furry friends with the love they deserve. It would be wonderful to encourage donations to a local animal shelter or animal-oriented charity at any concert or event featuring this piece.

This piece is suitable for any Treble Choir and would fit well on a concert about animals or nature.


It’s time for me to find, to get,
And then bring home the perfect pet!
I’ve researched how adoption varies—
Rescues, shelters, sanctuaries—
Charted chores, obtained supplies,
A list of names I must revise.
At last it’s time for me to get


A dog—


A cat—


—to be my perfect pet!


My dog will be my closest friend
Who curls up by my side
Who fetches, wags, and barks to send
Away each threat outside
I want [them all] to boop each furry snoot.
Oh [em] gee. These pets are all so cute!


How I long for a kitty! When it’s just ourselves
They will cuddle and knead with their paws,
And if I’m not careful with tables and shelves,
They will push my things off just because.
I will make [ I want] them all different
places to sit in,
Perhaps [oh] Em- [gee] pty boxes that
they’ll try to fit in.


Oh no! My list of names was made
Before my preference was swayed!
I’ve got to choose the perfect option
Finalize my pet adoption,
Say goodbye to those left here,
Maybe I can volunteer?
So now I’ve got to make a game
Of finding them the perfect name.


Boba, Brindle, Bernie, Beau
Milo, Maggie, Muncy, Mo
Buddy, Bingley, Bingo, Belle
Sharpie or Aziraphale
GioGio, Georgie, or Girard
Chester, Hugh, or Hildegard
Crowley, Cathy, Clara, Chunk
Princess, Penny, Pink or Punk


I have my pet and name, and now
I’ve learned to translate each meow,
I know their whines, I know their needs,
On walks I know their different speeds.
I photograph each blep and mlem
And tell them how I treasure them.
Each day with them is precious, true.
I’ll never know who rescued who.


*Directors and choirs may choose to replace any of the Pet names (except the last name of each line, shown in bold, in order to maintain the rhyme scheme) with pet names meaningful to them.

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