Composers & Arrangers at ACDA 2015

The ACDA 2015 National Conference starts in just two days in Salt Lake City. While I won’t be attending this year’s conference, I have many colleagues who are and want to share some previews.

Today: Composers & Arrangers at the Conference

As a composer/arranger and avid commissioner of new works, I’m especially interested in the offerings available at the Conference this year. Happily, you won’t be disappointed – there is a cornucopia of chances to hear from and interact with many of the best American choral arrangers and composers, as well as the conductors who value new choral writing.

Wednesday, 11am New American Voices: Building the Future of the Choral Art (Dale Warland and Jale Runestad, presenters) Has any American conductor commissioned more works than Dale Warland (270) save perhaps Robert Shaw? His insight will be invaluable.

Wednesday, 11am Circle-Singing: Incorporating Group Improvisation in Your Own Rehearsals (Jeremy Fox, Presenter). While Jeremy isn’t talking about an arranging or composing topic, there is no doubt that his Grammy-nominated expertise in composing and arranging will come through in this session. Say “hi” from me!

Wednesday, 1pm A Conversation with Jake Heggie, 2015 Raymond Brock Commission Composer. Hear him talk about his composition which will be premiered later that night.

Wednesday, 4pm Thirty-Something: New Choral Music by Today’s Hottest Young Composers (Dominick DiOrio, presenter). Scores by Caroline Shaw, Jocelyn Hagen, and more.

Wednesday 6:45pm (Gold)/8:45pm (Blue) Evening Concert Session. The King’s Singers open this concert with a set that covers the gamut from Renaissance to jazz/pop arrangements. They will premiere the 2015 Brock Commission, “Stop This Day and Night With Me” by Jake Heggie. And following them will be The Real Group, performing their distinctive style of music that in the end covers much of the same ground. Both are unparalleled singing ensembles. DO NOT LEAVE after The King’s Singers, I don’t care how tired you are. If you love their music as much as I do, they have a panel session on Thursday which will have time for questions about their arranging/composing approach.

Thursday, 9am Eriks Ešenvalds Discusses Whispers on the Prairie Wind. This piece will be premiered later on Thursday by The Utah Symphony and the 2015 Festival Choir.

Thursday, 9:45am Show Choirs Roundtable. “Copyright in the Pop World: A Discussion of Legal Issues Regarding Arranging Music for Show Choir and A Cappella Groups.” All arrangers need to have a better handle on the copyright issues surrounding their art.

Friday, 9:45am The Music of Michael McGlynn and Anúna. Michael has written several of my students’ favorite pieces to sing.

Friday, 9:45am Conductors Who Compose, Composers Who Conduct: A Panel Discussion with Steven Sametz, Eric Banks, Karen Thomas, and Fahad Siadat. This looks very promising, but it’s a pity that it was placed against Michael McGlynn, who could easily be a member of this panel.

Friday, 11am Composers Speak Out. A panel on the compositional process from Alice Parker, Libby Larsen, Ko Matsushita, and Ola Gjeilo.

Friday, 4pm Tapping the Source: American Folk-Song Collections. Dirk Johnson, presenter. A session on the incredibly rich musical source of American folk songs.

Saturday, 9:45am A Revolutionary Approach to Teaching Music Theory. Alice Parker, presenter. You know I’d be at this one if I could. The way Alice thinks about music is remarkable, compelling, and desperately needed.

Saturday, 9:45am The Cutting Edge. Mark Shapiro, Donald Nally, Robert Geary, and Craig Hella Johnson, presenters. These four top conductors will talk about the up-and-coming composers they enjoy.

Saturday, 11am Composers Have To Eat. John Muehleisen, Mark Lawson, and Jocelyn Hagen, presenters. These three composers and publishers will discuss the business side of composing.

In addition to the sessions above, there are reading sessions for every R&S Area, many featuring composers/arrangers on site, and literally dozens of reading sessions conducted by publishing companies or individual composers. I urge you to highlight one or two that might be of particular interest. I’m a big fan of what Graphite Publishing is doing: be sure to visit their booth and check out the reading session Friday at 9am.

Many composers will also have booths where you can visit and meet them, not to mention the face-to-face opportunities available all day in Exhibit Hall C. You can sign up for those today. This conference is arguably the best chance choral composers and arrangers have to connect and interact until 2017.

Enjoy, take notes, and don’t forget to share what you learn!

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