I have been active at the division level for eight years, chairing Auditioned Choirs for the Hartford (’08) and Philadelphia (’10) conferences, and chairing Interest Sessions for the Providence (’12) and Baltimore conferences. Wonderful choral performances and fascinating sessions by choral experts have been centerpieces for each of these conferences, and Baltimore certainly did not disappoint.
On Thursday and Friday, thirty-one Interest Sessions were given by leading choral musicians from throughout the Eastern Division and beyond. Thursday’s highlights included sessions focusing on:
- achieving choral blend by Jay White of Chanticleer
- developing life-long musical skills by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, with the American Boychoir serving as a demonstration choir
- movement in the choral rehearsal by Ithaca’s Janet Galván
- a discussion of William Levi Dawson’s spirituals by Vernon Huff from SUNY Fredonia
- developing choral sound and resonance by Westminster’s Amanda Quist, with Kantorei serving as a demonstration choir
- life-long vocal pedagogy presented by a trio of New Jersey experts, Judith Nicosia, Deborah Mello and Marily Berrie
- working with choirs with aging voices, with the Encore Ensemble serving as a demonstration choir
Friday provided an equally interesting and diverse array of sessions. Highlights included sessions focusing on:
- special considerations when working with women’s choirs, presented by UD’s Duane Cottrell
- developing intonation skills in children’s choirs, by Judith DuBose with the Frederick Children’s Chorus serving as a demonstration choir
- unlocking artistry in choral performance, by Frank Eychaner from Colorado Christian University
- developing choral skills and vocal health and technique in children’s choirs, featuring Dianne Berkun-Menaker, with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus serving as a demonstration choir
- how to select quality repertoire by Christopher Kiver from Penn State
There were sixteen other fascinating interest sessions, and though it’s impossible to attend them all, many posted their materials on the conference app for free download.
Almost all sessions were very well attended and both participants and presenters seemed to really value the experience. Presenter Amy Beresik, who presented a session on teaching sight-singing to middle school singers said, “I can say this was one of the most enriching experiences of my career to date!” Presenter Steven Russell, who lead participants in an early-morning yoga session said, “I thought the variety of interest session topics was great!”
Choral performances included concerts presented by auditioned choirs, invited choirs, and honor choirs. Approximately thirty concerts were given during the four conference days. Among them:
- Conductor Patrick Quigley’s Seraphic Fire sang a flawless and inspired performance of the Monteverdi Vespers in a glorious Baltimore basilica, with inventive use of space and accompanied by period instruments.
- Westminster’s Andrew McGill conducted a fascinating Bach program with Tenet and the Sebastians performing five Bach motets (one voice per part!) interspersed with some of Bach’s instrumental music.
- Performances were given by choirs diversified by age and voice, including the American and Maryland State Boychoirs, Penn State and Rutgers Glee Clubs, Rhode Island and Nittany Children’s choirs, Delaware’s University Singers, Roxbury (NJ) High School Choir, plus many more!
One of the delights of attending a conference, whether it is a state, division or national event, is making connections with our colleagues. In many cases, this includes reconnecting with college classmates and past co-workers. In other cases, meeting new friends and developing relationships, perhaps sowing the seeds for future musical collaboration or professional opportunities.
I feel that most attendees emerged from this 4-day choral immersion feeling refreshed, recharged, motivated, and full of new concepts, skills, knowledge and ideas to try with your choirs. I sure enjoyed it! --Dave Lockart, President-Elect, DE ACDA