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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.


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(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
All the Whiskey in Heaven by Rich Campbell TTBB a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  St. Patrick’s Day, Everlasting Love, Devotion,
This Piece Would Program Well With: Danny Boy arr. Robert Bradley available from JWPepper.
Sometimes a title can really catch your attention.  When I saw this one sitting in my inbox, I hoped it would be for TTBB or SSAA and it is.  I think it was because of celebrating St. Patrick’s day in a particular way in my undergrad years that brought me initially to this piece.   Turns out it is a love poem.    Enjoy!
The collection of poems the text is from is available on Amazon.

2017 International Conductors Exchange Program



ACDA is pleased to announce the 2017 International Conductors Exchange Program (ICEP) with countries representing North, Central and South America. The 2017 ICEP of the AMERICAS is the most robust international exchange program offered by ACDA since its inception almost 60 years ago. In 2017, ACDA will partner with Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Each partner country will select a pre-determined number of participants to travel to the US and in turn, each partner country will then host the same number of US participants in their country. Applicants are asked to indicate their top three preferences below. ICEP is providing opportunities for the next generation of choral leaders to represent the United States as ambassadors to the world in the exchange of music, ideas, and cultures. In 2017, ACDA will host visiting international conductors representing all of the Americas. These Visiting International Conductors (VICs) will travel to the United States as choral music ambassadors to engage in official residencies with institutions and ACDA chapters throughout the country. These US residencies will include attendance at the 2017 ACDA national conference in Minneapolis, MN. In turn, our partner countries will host U.S. conductors to be official guests of their respective countries in 2017.


ICEP Application Deadline: July 1, 2016.


To apply online, follow this Link.


ICEP Objectives

• To create connections between potential leaders of the U.S. choral community with counterparts across the globe.

• To forge stronger relationships between ACDA and choral associations around the world

• To raise the visibility and leadership role of the American Choral Directors Association in the global choral community.


Selection Criteria - Emerging Conductor

The ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program Review Committee is charged with the selection of emerging leaders of the choral profession, who 1) have not previously had international conducting experience, and 2) reflect a high level of excellence as well as a wide diversity of interests. The ICEP Review Committee has developed the following list of criteria.

  1. Is a current member of ACDA;

  2. Is an active choral conductor in a professional (remunerative) position;

  3. Has completed at least a master’s degree;

  4. Has served in a volunteer or an elected position at the State, Regional, or National level of ACDA;

  5. Their choirs have demonstrated a level of choral excellence at least approaching the standard of choirs customarily heard at a State or Division ACDA conferences;

  6. Exhibits a high level of human understanding, tact, and cross-cultural sensitivity;

  7. Minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years as full time in the profession.

  8. The candidates should reflect a wide diversity of interests and accomplishments (church, high school, community, elementary, et al.). The ICEP Review Committee will consider a diversity of conductors (e.g. not all from one setting, such as Higher Education).

  9. Supporting Documents: Statement of Purpose, Curriculum Vitae, Two Letters of Recommendation, and a YouTube video submission.

“The world's a mean place. It's unfair, then it's fair. It's hateful, then it's loving. It's a very peculiar place on philosophical and metaphysical and religious levels.” Tim Allen
Letters (emails), I get letters (emails). Many tell me about a problem and then expect me to take their side. Some crab, some tattle, some complain, some tell me their story and some “inform” me this whole Choral Ethics thing is silly. Maybe it is, but since I’ve been collecting stories, I have heard things which both horrify and amaze me, sometimes at the same time!
Tara* teaches at a small private university and directs one of their choruses. She tells me she is probably one of those people I get unflattering emails about. She says she may appear to be mean but assures me, she is never mean for meanness sake. She says she is mean because she has no choice. The only way she seems to gets done what is needed is to be consistent and firm and that is interpreted as being mean.
Tara conducts the non-auditioned university chorus which consists of all underclassmen music majors, singers and non-singers alike, and members of the university community. It’s a large sometimes unwieldy ensemble but she loves working with all those different types of singers in one group. In order to work with that many people, she has a few rules she on which she will not budge. That has gotten her the reputation for being mean. Most of the community members have been singing with her for years and Tara trusts them. But with over half the group consisting of music majors who have never sung in a chorus, she needs to have every one of them at every rehearsal. Because of the vast differences in abilities, especially with the music majors, the music department decided long before Tara arrived that the university chorus grades would use absences and tardys for guidelines.
Tara’s chorus meets once a week, with rehearsal in the evening. The music majors are expected to come to all rehearsals, with none excused except illness (with a note from Student Health Services) or the occasional evening religious service. It goes without saying they are expected to be on time. With a group of over 100 singers, Tara keeps track of tardys and absences for the music majors. One of her music major singers recently complained to the Dean of Students about her grade being lowered by a whole grade. The joke was on the student; the Dean of Students has been singing in that chorus for ten years and knows perfectly well what Tara’s requirements are. The student was not pleased to learn she would not have her grade changed. She called Tara mean and a few names not to be repeated here.
There is resentment for having to attend every rehearsal and she hears regularly how unreasonable she is. She used to be nice about it, saying she understood how difficult it must be getting to an evening rehearsal right after dinner or interrupting practicing or needing to relax or having time to catch up with friends and family or having a bad cold. Now, she has had years of complaints, of being called names, of being accused of ruining GPAs and is immune to the sob stories. She tells them to get to rehearsal. She tells them to be on time. She tells them to get a note from the nurse if they are truly ill. She tells them she doesn’t care what their deal is; this is part of the curriculum. She has been known to tell them to complain to the Dean or their private teacher, but has yet to hear back from these august personages.
*Name Withheld
(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
All My Father Left Me by Josh Belperio SATB and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  Love, Gifts, Moon, Fathers
This Piece Would Program Well With: Their Hearts Were Full of Spring arr. Kirby Shaw available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus.
Though today’s piece is clearly intended to bring to mind the loss of a loved one, for me it is all about being a high school choir director.  We dedicate our lives to our students, investing so much of who we are into who we hope they will be.   Then they leave.  It is a sad but rewarding job to usher them on their way in life.  Use this piece to touch the hearts of your seniors one more time before they go.
All My Father Left Me is available from the composer’s website:
“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.” Hippocratic Oath
Last week, I mentioned speaking with nine people at the ACDA Central Conference about Choral Ethics. I spoke with all sorts of choral folk; Choir Moms, college professors, singers, students and conductors in all sorts of situations. Most of the people I talked with had opinions about what Choral Ethics means. Blogs about those will follow in the next few weeks. There were several running themes amongst the students I talked to. Today I will tackle what I believe was the most important.
I had a lovely coffee with two students from the same university; an undergrad singer/newbie conductor and a grad student instrumentalist who tagged along with her to this conference. Both loved their university, its music school and loved the programs they were now in. And both had had a similar, awful experience at their former universities.
Tessa*, the undergrad, transferred from another school because she felt it was toxic to her as a person. Tad*, the grad student instrumentalist, graduated from a music school (whose name was never mentioned and I don’t want to know!) which was “soul sucking” and said he stuck it out and graduated to spite his teacher. I asked why they felt the ways they did. Both were forth coming with their stories.
Tessa told me she had been courted by her former university, beginning her junior year of high school.  She had been in All-State and ACDA Honors Choirs as soon as she was eligible and had studied voice at the local university, studying with a fairly famous pedagogue. When she got to university, her voice teacher, a new hire and low on the hierarchy, was wonderful. But other professors and conductors were far from it. They told her she would never amount to anything and berated her on a daily basis. Her talent, her weight and her intellect were called into question. She cried several hours every day. In the middle of her sophomore year, she dropped out when her voice teacher was fired. Her self-esteem was in shreds and went back home to lick her wounds and saw a therapist to recover. Tessa decided to take some time off and worked for a day care provider. She loved working with the little ones and decided to go back to school to become a children’s choir specialist.
Tad is a string player, beginning lessons at the age of four. He was in a nurturing environment as a child and adolescent, played in the requisite youth symphonies and was accepted into a fine music school. So it was a shock to suddenly be in a place where belittling and demeaning was an everyday occurrence. He was not corrected; he was bullied when he made a mistake. His teacher told him he didn’t have the talent to play in a real orchestra. It was funny because every summer of his undergrad career, he played in festival orchestras around the country. And if he didn’t do what his teacher thought he should be doing, was threatened with the revocation of his scholarships. It happened so frequently during his undergrad years, the threat lost its power to frighten him. He was told not to bother apply to grad school because he would never get in. Of course, he applied to five schools!
Tessa and Tad said they never realized how their former universities had changed them until recently. After always being told they were lacking, being encouraged was unnerving. But they soon realized they could relax and be themselves and concentrate on music, not being abused. They wonder why their former universities had such hateful atmospheres.
I didn’t have answers for them. In my own experience, some performing art instructors think it toughens students to berate and demean them. I also believe many teach the way they were taught in their own training, right or wrong. I don’t think being tough should mean being mean and nasty. Correcting a note or technique and not belittling a person corrects the problem at hand, it doesn’t cause more problems. Something to think about.
*Name Withheld
The American Choral Directors has changed the way it will do its work as we move forward. By an approval rate of 97%, the membership of ACDA has determined we will do our work of "inspiring excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy" through seven new or restructured Standing Committees. These Standing Committees replace the former Constitutionally established Standing Committees, and signal a new grassroots approach to accomplishing our mission and the purposes of the Association.
These new Standing Committees are the following:
International Activities--This Standing Committee oversees international programs (e.g., ICEP, National Youth Choir, communication with ACDA International Chapters to be developed in the future, and present and future international collaborations), and develops international programs and collaborations that advance ACDA's mission.
Research and Publications--This Standing Committee oversees all research and publication activities (e.g. Choral Journal, ChorTeach, IJRCS, Monographs, Herford Award, Publications Awards), and develops research projects and publications that advance ACDA's mission.
Composition Initiatives--This Standing Committee oversees activities dealing with ACDA choral composition commissions and awards (e.g. Brock Commissions, Honor Choir Commissions, Consortium Commissions), and develops choral composition criteria, educational programs, and projects that advance ACDA's mission.
Advocacy and Collaboration--This Standing Committee oversees programs and activities related to collaborations with other organizations, and programs and activities related to choral music advocacy.
Education and Communication--This Standing Committee oversees ACDA's professional and social networking site to advance the educational programs and offerings of the association (e.g. ChoralNet and, and oversees and develops programs that assist in the education of the membership and the communication of these resources (e.g. ACDA Mentoring Program, Musica Database).
Diversity Initiatives--This Standing Committee oversees programs and activities that serve a greater population of choral singers and conductors than those served through the other Standing Committees (e.g. Outreach and collaborative projects directed toward under-served populations, programs developed for under-served urban and rural settings, programs directed toward inclusion offerings, programs that speak to the diversity found in society in general).          
Repertoire and Resources  (This Chair is a Nationally elected position)--This Standing Committee provides support, vision and resources for every major area of choral work. Committee members (National R&R Chairs) play an important role in serving their respective choral genres and promote excellence in literature and performance standards.
As we move forward, we now seek leaders for these Standing Committees. This is a call for leadership, and a call for innovation. If you are interested in being considered for one of the above committee chairs, the following application process has been established. All Standing Committee Chairs will be appointed in the coming months, and Standing Committee Chairs will assist in the staffing of each committee (with the exception of the Repertoire and Resources Committee, which will follow a different staffing process during this transitional period.)
National Standing Committee Chair Application
1.  Letter of application including a vision statement and resume submitted to Mary Hopper, ACDA President (by March 15)
2.  Review of applicants by the Executive Committee (March 15-April 1)
3.  Appointments made (April 1)
4.  Chairs will attend the National Leadership Conference June 3-4, 2016
National Chairs of Standing Committees are appointed for a four-year term by the ACDA Executive Committee. A National Committee Chair may be reappointed once, for a maximum of eight years. The National President or National Standing Committee Chair may recommend removal of a National Standing Committee member from office to the Executive Committee for action.
Criteria For National Standing Committee Chair And Committee Members
The National Standing Committee Chair should have extensive experience and expertise in the focus area along with a vision for advancing the goals of the focus area.  The applicant should have successful leadership and strong communication skills. The applicant must be willing to work to fulfill the mission of ACDA in a positive and professional manner.
Each National Standing Committee shall consist of three to five members, including the Chair. Each National Standing Committee will liaison with the ACDA Executive Director, a National Staff Member, and a member of the ACDA Executive Committee, who will serve in an ex-officio capacity. 
Committee members shall be recommended to the Executive Committee and Executive Director by the National Chair to serve as project managers in each focus area.  These individuals should have experience and expertise in the Standing Committee focus area and must be willing to work to fulfill the mission of ACDA in a positive and professional manner.  Standing Committee member recommendations shall be approved and appointed by majority vote of the Executive Committee. Standing Committee Chairs may appoint sub-committees to execute more complex projects. Committee members serve four-year appointed terms that may be reappointed once for a total of eight years or until the project is completed.
I hope many of our members will consider joining the leadership team as we renew our efforts of inspiring choral excellence and innovation through this new approach to our work.
(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
Agnus Dei from Mass for Choir and Orchestra SATB and orchestra (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  Mass Settings, Latin, Tradition
This Piece Would Program Well With:  He Watching Over Israel by Felix Mendelssohn available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus.
This is a new and brilliant mass setting.   Only the very moving Agnus Dei is presented here in print but the entire mass is given in the video.   It is filled with the variety and contrast inherent in the text and flows smoothly from movement to movement.  I love this piece!
Mass for Choir and Orchestra is available from MusicNeo
Today was my last day as Manager of ChoralNet. After a dozen years, I'm passing on the baton. The ACDA has some exciting changes to ChoralNet ahead, so as they used to say on the radio, "don't touch that dial!"
It's been a wild but good ride. Back when I started in 2003 as a recently minted university Computing Science graduate, after some long phone chats with Jim Feiszli, Michael Shasberger, Allen Simon, David Topping, and others; with a rough job description for a position with a tiny nonprofit that really amounted to "figure out, and do, all the bits required to keep the site going, and find good ways to evolve the site," ChoralNet--and the entire internet--was a very different place. The website was still largely an archive for the venerable CHORALIST-L, CHORALTALK-L, and CHORALACADEME-L listservs, and we had consistent challenges in keeping all that straight across at least three servers in various institutions across the US...while working around the strange bugs in the then-new "4.0 browsers". And you could throw a backup of the whole thing on an Iomega Zip disk (remember those?) with a bit of room to spare, rather than the several gigs it takes now. How things change.
Through a decade plus of writing (and sometimes ripping out and writing again) thousands of lines of back-end source and database code, performing regular e-mail technical support, doing technology upgrades, leading an often-changing mix of paid and volunteer personnel, and becoming part of the ACDA, one thing has been very consistent: the quality of the people in the global choral community that come onto ChoralNet to post, moderate, run communities, do behind-the-scenes work, and bring to all that a fine attitude that maintains a level of civility and professionalism on the site that's becoming increasingly rare on today's social media outlets. You are ChoralNet, and you're all the ones who make this a wonderful community to be a part of. While I certainly won't miss having to poke at a sometimes cranky server and fix bugs in the wee hours of the night (on this site, at least!), I will most certainly miss working with and for all of you who make this place one that helps so many people, myself included, make beautiful music together.
Signing out and singing on,
         “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” Dr. Seuss
I had fun at the ACDA Central Division’s conference last week. I saw old friends and colleagues, met some wonderful people, was introduced to a new technique or two as well as music I can use now and heard some outstanding choirs. I met Tim Sharp…the nicest guy !…in person and chatted with him. I interviewed, formally and informally, nine people for my Choral Ethics project. I will be sharing more Choral Ethics stories in my Choral Potpourri ChoralBlog as March and April and May (and perhaps in June) goes on, but not every week. I need a bit of time to digest and process everything I heard and talked about with people in Chicago, so don’t expect YOUR story to show up too soon. I want to honor your trust in me by being careful what I write about and how I write it. I will change as many details as makes sense to keep the gist of the Choral Ethics problem but not reveal your identity. It was a fun time in Chicago, and fruitful, but it’s back to reality for me here in the Midwest.
I am sure the organizers of the ACDA Central Division’s Conference (and all the Division Conferences organizers) had fun but they must have worked and worked so hard to make their conference a success. All of us who attended had fun and looked forward to this conference while the organizers toiled away, deciding oh so many details. I am so grateful for all of your hard work…thank you! Conference organizers are sure to be gearing up for next year’s National Conference while the folks for the Division Conferences begin to plan their events for two years from now. It’s never ending, isn’t it?
I’ve been thinking about the concept of *fun* and choral conducting since last fall when I attended a dinner for a local performing arts organization. My spouse and I were seated at a table with three other couples for this formal dinner. He is a member of the board of directors of this particular organization, as were three of the others at our table. One of the spouses, who doesn’t know me, asked me what I do. When I told her, “I am a choral conductor,” she said that “oh, that must be so much fun.” While I thought about how to answer her, I had to agree, it IS fun being a choral conductor. I finally replied by saying, “yes it IS fun”…but I did not continue with my further thoughts of “yes, it is fun but also a LOT of work.”
I could hear you gasp a bit when I related the “oh, that must be so much fun” comment. I didn’t speak aloud the second part of my thoughts only because my Hubby was pinching my leg under the table so I wouldn’t! People only see the fun part, the concert part, the performing part, the happy part of being a choral professional. They don’t see the hard work in rehearsals. They don’t see the collating of music and folders and ordering music in time so it will be ready when rehearsals begin. They don’t see the phone calls and emails about singers and accompanists and venues. They don’t see the stress of trying to make deadlines or having rehearsals canceled because of the weather and hoping you won’t need that rehearsal. They only see the finished product, with our choirs wearing the same shade of black (after arguing about new concert dresses for two years) and the programs with the insightful program notes with no one’s name being inadvertently left off. They don’t realize being a choral conductor is a lot like any other job, with all sorts of steps leading up to a finished product. We do have fun, in the end, and that’s what makes all the hard work worth it.
I did have fun in Chicago and appreciate all the hard work that went into this conference so I COULD have fun. Thank you, ACDA Central!
(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
A Thousand Winds by Josh Belperio TTBB a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  Wind, Death, Friendship Compare and Contrast
This Piece Would Program Well With:  Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Janet Lanier available in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.
I hate to be that annoying friend that keeps running to you every time he hears a new piece of music he likes saying “You’ve got to hear this”, but…well… you’ve got to hear this!  I already love a couple other pieces in the Composition Showcase that use the Mary Elizabeth Frye text “Do Not Stand at Your Grave and Weep.”  Josh Belperio has added some vocal effects that make his piece really stand out.   The wind adds an eeriness that is a little unnerving.  Check it out! Josh also includes the story behind the poem in the PDF. It is very much worth reading.
A Thousand Winds is available from the composer’s website:
Greetings, all.
I asked a former student of mine to do a short video for my Choral Conducting class on the importance of score study.  She really delivered on the request and came up with this video.  I wasn't expecting to be inspired, but I was.  I hope that you will enjoy this as much as I did:

Sharon Mays is a graduate student working on the MMus in Choral Studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge University, where she sings with Selwyn College Chapel Choir and the Cambridge University Chamber Choir. In Cambridge, she conducts the Wilmington Consort and is a Volunteer Teacher with King’s Junior Voices. She earned a BM in Sacred Music at Samford University (Birmingham, AL), where she sang in the A Cappella Choir with Philip Copeland, directed the women’s chorus of Delta Omicron, and was president of the university’s chapter of ACDA. In Birmingham, Sharon worked at Cathedral Church of the Advent (Episcopal) with Frederick Teardo.

"The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." Niles Bohr
In January, I wrote a ChoralBlog Choral Ethics piece called “Scorched Earth,” about choral directors leaving a disaster for their replacements. Leo* contacted me soon after wanting to share his story. It isn’t the kind of story you think it will be; he was the one who left.
Leo directed a choral program at a high school district for twenty-five years. Located in a suburb in the Upper Midwest where winters are harsh, Leo and his wife raised their family there. About five years before he retired, his wife began to have health issues. After many tests and various diagnoses, they were finally told a change in climate would help. It was easy to decide where to move; Arizona, where two of their three children had moved. His wife’s health and being close to their children and grandchildren were the main factors in his decision to retire a bit early.
He gave the district two years notice and agreed to help screen and interview candidates for his position. During the first year, the school’s principal and school board president began to formulate a job description with input from Leo. Leo and his wife readied their home to be put on the market and looked at condos in Arizona. As per his agreement with the district, it was not announced until after his last concert of that year he would be retiring. There was a bit of an uproar but everyone understood. At least, they seemed to understand. During the summer, Leo and his wife found a condo near their children, put down earnest money to hold it and began to downsize their possessions. Their third child decided to move to Arizona as well.
Everything went smoothly until school began. Leo’s wife wasn’t doing well, so the family decided she should move to Arizona ahead of schedule. Leo would stay until their home sold, then rent an apartment until the end of the school year. As soon as he wife left, he began to slowly clean out his office every day after school. He wanted to be able to leave as soon as possible after the school year was over and thought going through all of the miscellaneous *stuff* collected over the course of his 25 year career at that school would help. Cleaning out his office was wrong, according to a member of the Music Boosters, and showed disloyalty. Nasty comments were made about it; Leo felt sad but continued cleaning.
The search for his replacement went well. They had lots of applicants, since the choral program he built from almost nothing was respected. The person they finally chose was Janice*, a former student teacher of his, who taught in a neighboring elementary district. Janice was excited and dropped in occasionally after her school day to talk. Leo invited her to Music Booster meetings, helped her choose repertoire for the coming school year, explained traditions and how the music library was organized and introduced her to the helpful custodians. In other words, he did EVERYTHING possible to help ease the transition. The problem was the Music Boosters, led by several of his former students, who just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) move on. They poisoned the minds of parents and inferred if they signed a petition, he would stay.
At the end of the school year, Leo moved to Arizona and left Janice with a mess not of his making. He felt terrible. He would get an occasional email from Janice, detailing the demise of his choral program and regular emails from students, former students and colleagues tattling on each other.
Leo wants you to know, he never, never gave the impression to anyone he was the only choral director in the world. He never told any of his singers to disregard others opinions on music or vocal technique or to drop out of choir when he left. He never said anything to undermine Janice since Janice, as one of his former student teachers, was part of his legacy too. Others lit the fire to scorch the earth.
*Name withheld

The American Choral Directors Association’s new structure is opening the gates to innovation and inclusivity for our choral mission. Specifically, our membership in all our state chapters have the opportunity now to grow choirs in all of the areas that have activity or promise at the grassroots levels of practice and performance. To be sure, this activity is already taking place throughout the country, but now, ACDA wants this activity represented and resourced at the highest level of our collective concentration.
The following is how one of our Repertoire and Resources (former Repertoire and Standards) leaders in North Carolina has immediately grasped the potential of our recent reforms. In the North Carolina state ACDA newsletter Carolina Caroler, R&R Chair for Community Choirs and lifetime ACDA member, Rev. Tony Spencer, offers us his journey to the place we find ourselves now as we embrace choral expression of every shape and kind:
In January the ACDA membership redefined the Repertoire and Standards areas as we have known them. One of the changes is to more aptly name ourselves ‘Repertoire and Resources.’ Community Choirs and Music in Worship will be included in the ‘Life Long’ theme. The ‘Life Long’ rubric has resonated with me in especially meaningful ways recently.
Spencer continues:
In 2011, I wandered into an interest session at our national conference in Chicago entitled ‘Melodies that Sing: ‘We Love to Sing’ with Joyful Noise.’ Allison Fromm and Alice Parker were the presenters and Joyful Noise was the demonstration choir. That Saturday morning, however, my idea about community singing changed forever.
Joyful Noise is a chorus of forty-five adults, ages 17-70, with physical and neurological challenges and acquired brain injuries. They sang and touched the hearts of everyone in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton. They were eager, joyful singers and the presenters were no longer the attraction.
I direct a small community chorus in Rutherford County, NC. We sing a Holiday Concert Messiah, every other year, and sing with the local university orchestra on occasion. But after hearing Joyful Noise, I contacted their director, Allison Fromm, and she told me what was needed to start and maintain a special needs choir. So….as an outreach of the Rutherford Community Chorus, Cheerful Voices was born.
Cheerful Voices has been in existence for one year now. They have sung the National Anthem for sporting events, at civic clubs, luncheons and they were featured in an interest session at our NC ACDA Conference. They sing at our Holiday Concert and people who had NEVER attended a choral concert came and experienced the power of artistic expression as we all sang the Willcocks carols with brass and organ accompaniment. We were a good community chorus before, but now, our community has grown to include more than the one-percent!
And here is Tony’s concluding statement:
Every person deserves an opportunity to sing in a choir. Yes, ‘Life Long’ describes it very well.
Tony gets it. I think many of you get it. Now, it is time to put “it” into action throughout our chapters, on every level of ACDA’s work—State, Division, and National. For some state chapters this will mean an R&R area for addressing the needs of choirs focused on Social Justice. For other state chapters this may mean an R&R area for addressing the needs of choirs that are part of senior centers and assisted living communities. For many state chapters this will mean R&R areas for addressing long-overlooked choir groups such as gospel choirs, barbershop choirs, recreational choirs, or choirs related to the US military branches.
In January of this year, our ACDA membership voted a 98% approval of our new structure. The vote was overwhelmingly affirmative and exciting. Now it is time for us to take action by grasping the purpose of this structure and putting it to work throughout our state chapters. As Tony Spencer concludes, “Every person deserves an opportunity to sing in a choir.” And I would add, every serious effort at ongoing choral expression deserves the attention and representation of ACDA.
(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
Luna: Song to the Goddess by Joseph Gentry Stephens SSA and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: Middle School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  Heavenly Bodies, Satellites, Moon
This Piece Would Program Well With:  Moon arr. Eugene Butler from Three Spanish Ballads available from JWPepper and SheetMusicPlus
Free Music!  I used to shy away from the claim of something being free.  TANSTAFL after all!  But then I met some extremely dedicated artists who choose to offer their compositions for free on the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  (Please check carefully for the “Cost and Method” field as most of our works are not for free.  )  Joseph Gentry Stephens has chosen to offer you this gem for your women’s choir simply to get good music into your hands and hearts.  If you and your girls like it, I would suggest contacting him and letting him know!
Luna: Song to the Goddess is available from the composer Joseph Stephens.
  I want to give a big shout out for INNOVATION to the Ithaca College ACDA Student Chapter for their innovative work in advancing the mission of ACDA, while advanciing the resources for their own Student Chapter. The student ACDA members created a "favorite warmup" book, with choral warmups submitted by experienced choral conductors and voice teachers across the country. Contributors include Carol McAmis, Barbara Baker, Jason Bishop, Cheryl Dupont, Derrick Fox, Lynne Gackle, Janet Galván, Deborah Mello, Jim Papoulis, Sophia Papoulis, Amanda Quist, Paul Rardin, Jennifer Sengin Tim Sharp, Z. Randall Stroope, William Weinert, Raymond Wise, Kristin Zaryski, and others.
The book is designed to provide a nice variety and selection of warmups with specific goals that will supplement any choral director's instruction tool kit. The sales from this booklet will be used for the ongoing activities of this student chapter of ACDA. What a FANTASTIC and INNOVATIVE idea! For more information about this booklet and information about getting a copy, and more information about the Ithaca College ACDA Student Chapter go to
The Ithaca College Student Chapter Executive Board for 2015-2016 is Sunhwa Reiner, President: Laura White, President-Elect; Caitlin Walton, Secretary; Juliana Child, Treasurer; Annie Brady, Special Events Coordinator; Matthew Coveney, Webmaster & Public Relations; and Laura Stedge, Board Member at Large. Dr. Janet Galván is the Chapter Adviser.



“……..Bet your bottom dollar you lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago, The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down…..,” Fred Fisher, 1922
I am very excited to be attending the ACDA Central Division Conference “,Lift Every Voice," in Chicago next week. And yes, Chicago IS my hometown though I do reside in a suburb. Like many of you, I am looking forward to seeing old friends, hearing wonderful choruses, attending interest sessions and getting repertoire ideas from the reading sessions. I also hope to meet some of you.
In Chicago, I will be taking the occasional *coffee break* and will set up a “Choral Ethics Café” sign when I do. It might be in an actual coffee shop or restaurant in the Palmer House or I’ll bring a cup to a lobby.  I will Tweet--@MidwestMotet---and let you know when I’m taking a break and where I am. Please bring your favorite beverage and join me! I’d love to hear your Choral Ethics stories or questions. And rest assured, I will only use your story or question in a future ChoralBlog if you give me permission and ALWAYS change the name and any telling details.
My Choral Ethics project began a few years ago after an unpleasant experience in public with a choral colleague in my community. She was unpleasant to me (and loudly so) for no reason other than she was unhappy about something having nothing to do with me. Her behavior startled and embarrassed me and got me thinking about behavior, our behavior as choral professionals. Why do some of us feel it’s our right to take things out on our choirs? And then our choirs put up with that behavior because they think they should? Why do we make auditions so grueling when we actually want singers to join our ensemble? Why is it fine to chastise a choral colleague in public for no reason? Why do we treat our accompanists like second-class citizens and then expect them to go above and beyond? Why is it accepted to undermine and speak ill of other choral organizations? Why do we criticize other choral groups’ performances often while they are still performing? Why is it okay to leave a hot mess for our successors to clean up? And then poison the program we are leaving? All of these behaviors have been discussed in one or more of my Choral Ethics ChoralBlogs here on ChoralNet. I hope to collect these Choral Ethics stories, their discussions and possible solutions into a book in the near future.
In the meantime, I hope to see you in Chicago next week. I will explain my connection to Billy Sunday if you ask (and no, I am NOT related!) because Chicago is my hometown!
(The Composition Showcase is a unique resource for conductors.   Choral composers are allowed to share only a few of their best works.  Each week we offer you the best of the best on a silver platter.   The Silver Platter Award winners are works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear)
Silver Platter Award Winner:
Song for the Prairie Sky arranged by Braeden Ayres SATB and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: Beginning High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert
Program Themes:  Spring, Loneliness, Longing, Love, Valentine’s Day
This Piece Would Program Well With:  O Danny Boy by R. Paul Thompson available from JWPepper and SheetMusicPlus
Oh so that’s who she’s talking about in the folk song “He’s Gone Away.”  It’s the sailor from Shenandoah!  Braeden  Ayres has really done something clever and enjoyable by combining these two American folk songs into one story.   There are so many versions of each of these separately.  Putting them together really made me smile. 
Song for the Prairie Sky is available through the composer’s website:
In this series of seven posts highlighting 2016 ICEP introductions, I am pleased to introduce Dr. Zebulon Highben, Assistant Professor of Music at Muskingem University and Mr. Jihoon Park, conductor of the Gunsan Civic Choir from South Korea. Please join me in congratulating these individuals on their selection as 2016 ICEP Conducting Fellows.
Dr. Zebulon Highben
Dr. Zebulon M. Highben is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Muskingum University, a liberal arts college of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in New Concord, Ohio. He conducts three of Muskingum’s six vocal ensembles and teaches conducting, choral methods, choral literature, and applied voice and composition. Choirs under Zebulon's direction have been featured at numerous conferences and festivals, including ACDA of Minnesota, the St. Olaf College Choral Festival, and the Ohio Choral Directors Association. He has served as a guest conductor, clinician, and lecturer throughout the United States. A native of Ohio, Zebulon studied music education at Ohio State University, graduating magna cum laude and with departmental distinction. He earned the Master of Sacred Music from Luther Seminary with St. Olaf College, and the Doctor of Musical Arts from Michigan State University, where he was a recipient of both the Charles K. Smith Fellowship in Choral Conducting and the Robert A. Harris Award for Excellence in Choral Performance. He serves on the board of the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Advisory Council for the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University.
Mr. Jihoon Park
Mr. Jihoon Park is currently the conductor of the Gunsan Civic Choir and the Director of Music at the Hansomang Presbyterian Church. His past engagements include conductor of the University Singers and Kantorei Choir at the University of Arizona, assistant conductor of the Colorado State University, Fort Collins Chamber Choir and the conductor of the First Korean Church in Fort Collins. His teaching appointments include Hansei University, Chung-ang University, Baekseok Graduate School and the Seoul Popular Music Academy. Jihoon Park is known as the most active choral composer and conductor in South Korea as well as choral music seminars in foreign countries. His songs have performed at the Carnegie Hall, the Grand National Concert Hall in China, the Seoul Arts Center, and the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Most recently, the Ansan civic choir performed “The Fisher man’s song” at ACDA (Salt lake City) in 2015. Mr. Park received his Bachelors degree in Composition and his Masters degree in Choral Conducting from Chung-Ang University. He received a second Masters degree in Choral Conducting at Colorado State University, Fort Collins and he is currently ABD in Choral Conducting at the University of Arizona. During his time with the ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program, Mr. Park will be a guest of the Southern Division from March 5 to March 16, 2016. For more information, please contact Southern Division ICEP Liaison, Emily Williams Burch at:
Good morning, Colleagues,
It is almost time for the spring annual Adjudication/Assessment/Festival. Here in Virginia we are headed that way next month, perhaps some of you are even headed there in late February. As someone who lived for many years as the conductor on the stage I empathize with you from that perspective. As a young teacher I was often nervous about what the judges would think but more importantly the impact it would have on my day to day life in the classroom.
As a professor who now teaches future educators and sits behind the clipboard (or recording device or iPad in this generation) I would like to share some things to consider as you prepare for this event for your ensembles. This is only from my perspective and perhaps this is a good place to start a forum of support for those of you who are doing this for the first time. 
This is one day in the life of your ensembles. Perhaps this sounds trite but it is true. You are the true judge of what you want to achieve in your classroom. You know the strengths of your choir and what challenges them. Depending on considerations such as weather, testing dates and other distractions from the day to day of your world the level of preparation may be varied.
Here are five tips I can share with you from an adjudicators perspective that may help you with your overall presentation. 
1. Choose repertoire that suits your ensemble.
This may sound simple to the reader, but it really does make a difference. We have levels of music for a reason. There is often pressure to do a level five piece but if your group is not singing it well, the result is obvious. We are educators first. We are trained to know what good  literature is but I know there can be pressured to do what is popular. Not all school choirs are ready for advanced languages or complex metrical pieces. Use something to teach line, phrasing and beauty of tone. The purpose of this day is to reinforce comments that you make every day in rehearsal. Check your pronunciation of languages; there are many sources online for the best way to teach German, Latin, French and others. Musica Russica has recordings avaialble for the majority of their catalog.
2. Consult your colleagues and R&S Chairs for repertoire ideas. If you are unsure about where to start go to your state lists. I know that in our area we can use Virginia and a few other state lists (New York, Texas for example). Our choral friends are our best assets for repertoire and going to to your state, regional and national conferences is a way to learn about new composers and works. Pair repertoire to your ensembles that match their size and potential for divisi.
3. Mark your scores for your adjudicators. Please, please put measure numbers on your scores so if we want to talk about a particular section in the work we are not trying to do so in the moment. If you make artistic changes to the repertoire (changing a tempo marking, dynamic or part changes due to voice needs) please mark them. Pack an extra set of scores with a chaperone or accompanist, just in case!
4. Be sure to rehearse with your accompanist prior to performance. This may sound obvious but I know there are extraordinary circumstances that preclude this from happening in some school systems. It is worth the investment of time. If you use a student accompanist be sure the student has done a performance in public of some kind, even if it is simply inviting your prinicipal in to your classroom.
5. Talk with your choir before your assessment day about what is important to you as a teacher, and have them set goals as a choir. We have varied philosophies about what a "I" at festival means, and in some places in the country I know your position as a music teacher can be on the line. We are educators for the long haul.
I welcome your comments and questions. I will share more hints next week for the sight-reading portion of your assessment.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Billingham
      “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 
Today—Ash Wednesday—begins another season. If we are church musicians, Lent begins today….ready or not….even if we have not recovered from the Christmas Season. If we are not church musicians but in academia, we are probably preparing for contest season (junior high and high school) or tours (college, university and some high schools) or getting ready to go to our ACDA division conference. If we are in the professional or community sectors, it might be one or some or all of the above!
All of us are in some sort of transition during the month of February. I begin another rehearsal cycle the beginning of March and am holding auditions until then. I don’t always do well during transitions, feeling stressed with uncertainty and lack of completeness. I want things to get going, rehearsals to begin, and the snow to melt so it’s easier for my singers to get to rehearsal and get to rehearsal on time. I want all of the music folders to magically get put together and handouts collated and concert details finalized. If only it was so! Sometimes, I feel like Sisyphus, never completely finishing anything before I am forced to begin the process all over again. This year, I’ve vowed to take a moment to be aware of the small joys of doing those things I need to do during the transition period.
It wasn’t always this way for me during transitional times. When I had my church positions, I loved Lent.  I loved the minor mode music and the grayish skies leading up to the promise of Easter and spring. I knew I had to get through Lent and Holy Week to arrive at Easter and I looked forward to my Lenten journey every year. My choirs would occasionally complain we never sang anything “cheerful” during Lent. One of my tenors (it’s always a tenor, isn’t it?) would ask what the “dirge of the week” was as he walked into our weekly rehearsal. I would reply, “Its ‘Sacred Head,’ now get over it!” and we would laugh. And eventually Easter would come and we would all sing Alleluias and have Easter lilies and chocolate eggs and all would get back to normal.
In order to get to Easter (or whatever your end point), we must get through our own Lent. We must get through the snow and ice for us to appreciate the sun. We need to rehearse our students for the contests, prepare for the tours, and make arrangements for those ACDA conferences. We need to hold auditions for the upcoming concert cycles or the next academia year before we can begin the next round of rehearsals. We need to begin another repertoire search, do some in depth score study and get music ordered before those rehearsals can start. We don’t often think about the joy in that process, the joy in the transitions, the joy in getting there from here because it’s always about the destination and not the journey, isn’t it?