Men’s Choirs 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: Men’s Choirs at the Conference

I’ve been directing men’s choirs almost exclusively for twelve years; here are the concert sessions and presentations that I think will be of particular interest to men’s choir aficionados.

Wednesday, 9:45am Sing For Fun – Without Scores (Robert Sund, presenter) Sund is an internationally recognized conductor from Stockholm, Sweden who conducted one of the most storied large men’s ensembles in the world, Orphei Drängar from 1991-2008.

Wednesday, 5pm-7pm Barbershop Harmony Society Reception. Love it or hate it, Barbershop singing has done as much to get men singing as any other 20th Century singing tradition.

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. 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.

Wednesday, 5pm-7pm Gay & Lesbian Chorus Reception. Gay Men’s Choruses are the other tradition responsible for much of the great men’s choruses in America.

Thursday, 9:45am Building a Beautiful Sound with Tenors (Stephen Sieck, presenter). This promises to be a fabulous session, focused specifically on voice-building activities to help 12-22 year-old tenors sing repertoire written for adult voices.

Thursday, 10am (Gold) & 1pm (Blue). Saint Mary’s International School Varsity Men’s Ensemble (Randy Stenson, Conductor). Randy’s choral series with SBMP recently published the “Cindy” I commissioned, and his series is full of gems for men’s voices. This ensemble apparently rehearses only 20 minutes per day during lunch; I wish I could hear this choir, since it’s the most similar in makeup to my own Rockford Aces.

Thursday, 11am (Blue) & 2:30 (Gold). University of Kentucky Men’s Chorus (Jefferson Johnson, Conductor). Jeff Johnson’s choirs are consistently excellent and his program is wide-ranging and compelling.

Thursday, 11am Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom (Paul Caldwell & Joshua Palkki, presenters). Affirming and creating safe space for these students is of increasing concern, particularly for directors of all-male choirs.

Thursday, 3:45pm (Gold) & Friday 2pm (Blue) Maryland State Boychoir (Stephen Holmes, Conductor) Boychoirs and men’s choirs are just shades on the same spectrum, aren’t they?

Thursday, 4:15pm (Gold) & Friday 2:30pm (Blue) University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club (Eugene Rogers, Conductor). Eugene has been doing marvelous things with this storied ensemble, including commissioning new works for men’s chorus. The set will include “Harriet Tubman,” part of a large work they commissioned from Rollo Dilworth as well as classics from the male chorus repertoire.

Friday, 8:30am Boychoirs Reading Session

Friday, 9:45am Boychoirs Roundtable: “Forward! Understanding and Constructing the Boychoir in Our Time.”

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

Friday, 11am Swagger, Gentlemanliness, and Brotherhood: Explorations of Lived Experiences in a High School Men’s Chorus (Andrea Ramsey, presenter). Andrea wrote a powerful and important dissertation on the men’s chorus at Michigan State University and I am certain her session will be compelling.

Friday, 4:30pm (Gold) & Saturday, 10:30am (Blue) Middle School/Junior High Boys Honor Choir. Bob Chilcott, Conductor.

Saturday, 8:30am Male Choirs Reading Session. First tenors had better get up early to be ready for this one!

Saturday, 9:45am Men’s Choir Roundtable. Conducting Men’s Choirs: Strategies for Success. Here’s a description from moderator Jonathan Palant. “The session will feature a panel of conductor-authors who have contributed their thoughts to the newly published book: Brothers, Sing On! Conducting the Tenor-Bass Choir. Discussion will focus on: strategies for building tone, categorization of the adolescent male voice, sight-singing resources, recruiting, repertoire selection, and building community within your men’s choir. Attendees will be given time to ask questions of the panel.” Panelists include Jerry Blackstone, Ethan Sperry, Jefferson Johnson, Andrea Ramsey, & Chris Kiver. Sounds FABULOUS!

There is clearly much of interest to the Men’s Choir conductor. In addition to the events I have highlighted, many more will be of cross interest to many R&S areas.

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

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