The biannual ACDA 2017 National Conference starts tonight in Minneapolis. Although I won’t be attending this year, I have many colleagues who are and want to share some previews.
I’ve prepared a cheat sheet of conference offerings that appeal to my particular interests: vocal jazz, TTBB Choirs, and composing/arranging. I’ll offer separate posts with each area, as well as a general sit of don’t-miss sessions.
In this post: Can’t Miss – Top Sessions to Attend
Undoubtedly, I’d be attending many of the Interest Sessions I included in my other three posts; however, there are a number of truly excellent offerings that, while they don’t fall specifically into the categories I outlined, nonetheless would be incredibly compelling and worthwhile to my development. Below, I’m listing a few sessions that I’d want to be in the audience for.
Wednesday, 10:45 AM/11:55 AM The Creative Process of Programming: Giving Voice to Community. A pretty reliable rule: if Joe Miller is presenting at a conference, attend. Joe is a visionary leader, combined with a brilliant technician in every area of our craft. In the description: “Many of the ways that we have been taught to program no longer resonate with audiences that live their lives looking at a screen. This session will give participants new ideas about programming traditional and modern repertoire for creating concert experiences that promote a participatory atmosphere for the performers and the audience.”
Wednesday, 10:45 AM/11:55 AM Getting America Singing Again: Bringing Song into Community. Presenter Steven M. Zielke. “The purpose of this session is to present a historical context for how involving all people in singing should be a standard that we aspire to as a professional organization, and innovative and audacious ideas for how this ideal can be put into practice.”
Wednesday, 2:45 PM/Thursday 2:45 A Voice of Reason: Social Justice, the Greater Good, and Why We Sing. From the brilliant Kristina Caswell MacMullen, a former Michigan colleague now at The Ohio State University, “In recent years, choirs have begun to prioritize social justice as a mode of expression and focus. This session will explore several models of this practice.” Kristina is great and I would love to hear more about her research and passion.
Thursday, 10:00AM Teaching Musicianship through Repertoire: A Panel Discussion. Jo-Michael Scheibe shared this past summer about the work he was doing on Vol. 4 of Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir. This should be an excellent session on various approaches, featuring an all-star panel including Jeffrey Ames, Hilary Apfelstadt, Lynne Gackle, James Jordan, and Phillip Swan.
Thursday, 2:45 PM How A Conductor Things: Real-Time Decision Making in Rehearsal. Presenter Jerry Blackstone is a leading light in Michigan choral music, and his session will use a volunteer choir from the audience to “demonstrate and reflect on the conductor’s preparation and decision-making process as he leads a live rehearsal.”
Friday, 10:00 AM The Adolescent Female Changing Voice: Supporting Singers for a Life of Song. Presenter Bridget Sweet recently shared profound insights on this topic at the Michigan Music Conference; her research and message are both powerful and not-to-be-missed.
Friday, 2:45 PM/Saturday 10:45 AM Creating Safe People: Honoring LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom. Joshua Palkki is at the leading edge of teaching us all what it means to create a safe space – and safe people – inside our choral classroom. I continue to learn lots from him via Social Media, his scholarly writings, and our own conversations. If this is a topic you are thinking a lot about, Josh will help. If this is a topic you aren’t thinking a lot about, you need to be in this session.
Friday, 2:45 PM/Saturday 10:45 AM Leonard Bernstein at 100: Choral Insights from the Podium. Joseph Flummerfelt collaborated with Bernstein as conductor of the Westminster Choir and the New York Choral Artists; he will share stories and insights on one of America’s most important musical leaders.
The term “embarrassment of riches” really was coined to describe situations like an ACDA National Conference. Because beyond the triple-booked sessions I’ve outlined for you, there are amazing concert lineups, a huge exhibit hall with nearly 150 exhibitors encompassing every aspect of the choral art. That’s to say nothing of the friends and colleagues you haven’t seen in YEARS!