Sunday, March 1, 2015

Male Choir Reading Session Rep from ACDA 2015 in Salt Lake City

Hi friends- if you weren't in Salt Lake City here is the reading session rep for male choirs:

Aya Ngena   (Alfred)

arr. by Ruth Morris Gray

The Vagabond  (BriLee)

by Mark Patterson

Goodbye, Then  (

by Timothy Takach

Yonder Come Day  (Birnamwood)

by Craig Carnahan

Beati Quorum Via  (Alfred)

by Charles Stanford, arr. Russell Robinson

Wedding Qawwali  (earthsongs)

by A.R. Rahmann, arr. Ethan Sperry

I Want Jesus to Walk with Me  (Hinshaw)

Bryan Greer

The Wild Rover  (Boosey and Hawkes)

arr. Mark Sirrett

When Music Sounds  (Arete Music Imprints)

by Joseph Gregorio

Gao Shan Qing   (SBMP)

arr. Reed Riddle

Draw on, Sweet Night  (

Casey Rule

Dulaman  (Hal Leonard)

arr. Desmond Earley

In the Bleak Mindwinter  (Colla Voce)

by Michael Joh Trotta

Go, Lovely Rose  (JEHMS)

Z. Randall Stroope

I'm Gonna Sing 'til the Spirit Moves in My Heart  (Hal Leonard)

Moses Hogan, arr. Peter Eklund

University Reading Session Rep from the 2015 ACDA Conference

Hi friends- if you weren't in Salt Lake City here is the reading session rep for college/university choirs:

Alleluia  (

by Jake Runestad

Burst Forth, My Tears  (Boosey and Hawkes)

by Michael Gilbertson

Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God  (Colla Voce)

by Richard Nance

Voices of Broken Hearts  (EC Schirmer)

by Steven Sametz

Juravit Dominus  (JEHMS)

by Michael Haydn, arr. Martin banner

Elegy for Matthew  (EC Schirmer)

by David Conte

Four Songs of Love, #1 and #3  (GE)

Sven David Sandstrom

Sven David Sandstrom

Ego Sum  (Walton)

by Sydney Guillaume

I Am  (G Schirmer)

by Dominick DiOrio

Psalm of Life  (G Schirmer)

by Craig Hella Johnson

Again  (Red Poppy/G Schirmer)

by David Lang

Fly Away I  (Caroline Shaw Editions)

by Caroline Shaw

The Troparion of Kassiani (Vanderbeek and Imrie)

by Ivan Moody

Beati Quoru Remissae  (JEHMS)

by Zachary Wadsworth

O Love Divine  (Thorpe)

by Georgie-Porgie Handel

Oh, Jerusalem in the Morning  (Hinshaw)

arr. Joseph Jennings

High School Reading Session repertoire at 2015 ACDA National Conference

Hi folks-- for those of you not attending the national conference in Salt Lake City here is the rep list from the High School Reading session here:

Moonlight and Rain (published by Pavane)

by Kevin Memley

Cantate Canticum Novum  (Hinshaw)

by Dan Forrest

O Vos Omnes  (Walton)

by David Dickau

The Human Heart  (Walton)

by Eric Barnum

Brainstorm  (Boosey and Hawkes)

by David Brunner

Kde Su Kravy Moje  (Associated/Hal Leonard)
(Where are my Cows?)

I am disappointed that this Slovak folk song never answers the question--where are my darned cows? This reminds me of being with my first son and driving up a winding road to the summit of the tallest mountain in the state of Arkansas (all of about 3,000 feet) and coming across a lone cow hiking up the mountain as well. This was a very strange sight. I suppose perhaps the cow's owner may have been singing this song that day, but maybe in English and accompanied by a banjo?

by H.A. Schimmerling

Peace  (Highgate)

by Stephen Chatman

Esta Tierra Pas   (Walton)
(This Land/Passage)

by Javier Busto

Javier Busto- I love this guys music- so lyrical

One May Morning  (Hal Leonard)

arr. Charlene Archibeque

You are the Fearless Rose  (Colla Voce)

by Z. Randall Stroope

You Better Mind  (Gentry)

ar. by Stacey Gibbs

I Sing Because I'm Happy  (Hal Leonard)

by Rolllo Doworth

Of Crows and Clusters  (Marks/Hal Leonard)

by Norman Dello Joio

Sing Joyfully Unto God  (Novello)

by William Byrd

Summertime  (Alfred)

arr. by Mark Hayes

Friday, February 27, 2015

ACDA 2015 Music In Worship Reading Session

Hey friends! Here is the Music In Worship reading session material we sang though this morning. It was a great session. Bravo to Terre Johnson. national R and S for Music in Worship.

Composers present who conducted their own piece: Terre Johnson, Philp Stopford, Mark Hayes, Howard Helvey, and Eric Nelson. Also Dan Forrest played the piano on his piece.

Noteworthy composers who blew us off because they were maybe eating crepes Suzette or drinking German beer: Johannes Brahms, Nathaniel Dett, Heinrich Schutz.

EVEN HERE (pub. Hinshaw)

by Mark Miller, lyrics by Laurie Zelman

MAGDALENA (G Schirmer, Robt Shaw Series)

by Johnny Brahms

CREATE IN ME (MorningStar)

by Terre Johnson


by Ekaie Reitan and Michael Burkhardt


by Paul Carey


by Nathaniel Dett (nice job of conducting by Tony Leach!)


by Philip Stopford


by Ryan Murphy


by M. Roger Holland II

CLEFT FOR ME  (Soundforth/Lorenz)

by Mark Hayes


by Hank Schutz


by Howard Helvey

ARISE, MY SOUL, ARISE  (Beckenhorst)

by Dan Forrest


by Eric Nelson

Eric's piece was my favotire of the session, but really, everything was pretty great stuff!

So, now dear blog readers- would you consider taking a look at my music as a tiny payback for all the blogging I bring to you? If so, please visit   And I am now working with the new kids on the block MusicSpoke, a really cool new company! Visit them  here

From ACDA 2015- Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom

 Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom

An interest session at the 2105 ACDA National Conference

This was a Wednesday interest session by Paul Caldwell and Josh Palkki. It was heavily attended even though there were two concerts going on at the same time! In addition to presenting their research, Josh and Paul commented succinctly on various aspects of this subject and took some very thoughtful audience comments and questions at the end. This is ground-breaking for ACDA- to my knowledge no one has ever done an interest session on this important topic. Bravo to ACDA decision-makers on choosing to include this session at the conference.

Paul Caldwell

At the end of the session Josh and Paul handed out 1,000 Safe Space stickers for teachers to place on their choir room and/or office doors. Bravo!

Josh Palkki

Also, Josh and Paul never professed to know how to address/solve every nuance of this issue. But just getting it out there and talked about (and research very well by them) is an important first step.

Here is a link to their very fine handout:

Tim Sharp's State of ACDA speech at the 2015 national conference

Hey blog followers! Here is the address to Wednesday night's Kings Singers/Real Group audiences at ACDA in Salt Lake by ACDA executive director Tim Sharp. I am so honored to call him a good friend, and we ALL owe him a big debt of gratitude for what he has done to truly bring ACDA into the 21st century and grow our membership, especially among our younger people. I sometimes wonder if this man sleeps- he is so busy accomplishing so much!

Tim has allowed me to share this with you now- it will also appear in the April Choral Journal.

State of the American Choral Directors Association
Delivered to the 2015 ACDA National Conference, Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Sharp, Executive Director

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2015 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. Like prophets and pilgrims of former times, we have come to the mountains to renew our commitment to our collective mission of inspiring excellence in choral music education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our team of outstanding conference leaders have scaled this biennial mountain, and are architects of a magnificent conference design we will experience together. Here in Salt Lake City this includes 5,000 of us that are here as choral directors and members of the choral profession, 5,000 additional singers and supporters, and on Saturday evening, 21,000 of us will participate in the largest singing celebration in ACDA’s history.
Our ACDA Executive Leadership offers me this opportunity to give a brief survey of the state of our association. As a result of the success of our “Sing UP!” membership campaign and the hard work of our ACDA state chapters, ACDA currently has the largest membership in its 55 year history at over 21,000. If your state experienced the growth that contributed to our current robust health, we have our state leaders to particularly thank for their dedication to our mission. More members in ACDA simply translates to more choral leaders inspiring excellence in our artistic field.
This past November, ACDA launched a program that is the first of its kind for an association such as ours, which is the ACDA National Mentoring Program. This was the number-one outcome from our strategic planning work over the last four years, and I am pleased to say that as of today we have 125 mentors registered in the program, and 100 plus mentees registered, with 35 mentor/protégé matches.  This National Mentoring program will grow in size and importance as more of you discover this resource, and as you register for the benefits of this program. 10 percent of those attending our National Conference are retired choral directors. This program was built for you, so that you can contribute your expertise to a mentee who wants to learn from your experience. 25 percent of those attending our National Conference are registered as students in the choral profession. This program was also built for you, so that you don’t have to go it alone as you begin your work in this incredibly rewarding field. For the rest of us, including those in the first years of teaching or choral professional work, we too are both mentors and protégés in our work. This is the ongoing reason we attend this conference, the ongoing reason we read ACDA’s publications, and the reason we remain active in our beloved association; it is also why the ACDA National Mentoring program was built--for you.
The analysis of our needs as an association brings new energy to the specific work by which we engage in the choral profession. This conference is iconic in demonstrating ACDA’s attention to excellence in education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our attention to choral composition has created not only great buzz at this Conference, but it has resulted in ongoing attention to the choral composer and to choral composition. Coupled with our dedication to choral research, ACDA will host three additional national events this year, speaking specifically to the topics of composition in the USA and composition in Latin America.
As you see in evidence throughout the 2015 Salt Lake City National Conference, our international outreach for ACDA is at an historic high level, with ACDA members from over forty countries here with us. We welcome over 200 registrants and many ensembles and singers from outside the US with a particular welcome to our International Conductor Exchange program conductors from Sweden that are here with us, along with former exchange conductors from China and Cuba, and future hosts that are with us from South Korea and South America.
While I am pleased and inspired by all of this progress, I am also restless as I think of the work that still needs to be done and the areas of need we have identified through our strategic planning process. We are committed to moving forward as we address the following challenges in an innovative manner. Innovation will be in evidence this year as ACDA reaps the hard work of innovative leaders and members who will address additional areas of our strategic plan.

In the coming year, we will look to innovation to address the following tasks:

*ACDA will redefine the organizational structure to better accomplish our mission.
To this end, after three years of study and membership interaction, we have had richly productive leadership retreats that will now lead to concrete recommendations to our Board at this summer’s ACDA National Board Meeting. You can expect to hear about these structural recommendations early this fall.

*ACDA will encourage and expand grassroots events, inspiring excellence.
This deliverable will come from a restructuring of how we view, and how we do, our choral work at the grassroots level. It will come as we encourage ACDA members to be micro entrepreneurs and innovators in their choral leadership in our state, student, division, and international ACDA chapters.

*ACDA will develop a successful urban outreach initiative.
In order to do this, we need resources, and ACDA is in the process of gathering those resources through our newly established “Fund for Tomorrow”. By the end of this year, we will have over $100,000 in this fund that is designated for new choral work and new initiatives aimed at growing new choral singers and developing new choral directors. This fund is already at work with scholarships provided to students to attend this Conference, and here in Salt Lake City as we work with the United Way and local school district.

*ACDA will balance its efforts between choral education process and choral performance.
You are seeing those efforts working out before your eyes in our National and Regional conferences. You have seen the structure for this established as we expand our publications to include the International Journal for Research in Choral Singing, ChorTeach, ChoralNet, Choral Journal, and a soon to be announced publication for those working in faith communities.

*ACDA will embrace cultural diversity in membership, and will be welcoming and relevant to all races and ethnicities.
As we advance our relationship with our choral colleagues in Canada, Central, and South America, and with other colleagues in the United States, you will see this diversity continue to take place in our membership. New collaborations, proactive attention to this strategic imperative, and the growing presence of African-American, Latin American, and Asian American choral leaders within ACDA will help us make this a reality. As we look forward to hosting America Cantat VIII in 2016 with our partners in the Bahamas, Canada, and Central and South America, we also look forward to the possibility of our first ACDA chapter outside of the United States.

Along with ACDA’s leadership and all of you, I look forward to leading our efforts at accomplishing, through innovation, these strategic goals that are in front of us. I would like to call on all ACDA members to become micro entrepreneurs in each of these areas as we establish ways to address these strategic imperatives. Our membership efforts are never ceasing, and I call on all of you to identify and encourage ACDA membership in your area, as we becoming increasingly relevant to everyone working with singers. We have asked the right questions, discerned the right direction for our future efforts, and now it is time to go to work as we seek to make choral music making the uncommon core for our society.

The 2015 ACDA Conference--Wednesday

Hello, kiddies. It's Wednesday- the very first day of ACDA in Salt Lick City. The weather is gorgeous- about 50 degrees and that strong sun you get at elevations like this. We Midwesterners and Easterners who have been hit hard by snow and/or epic frigidness are already enjoying being  here.

Caveat- I'm blogging while crazy busy here- if my grammar and syntax isn't perfect, please forgive! Also, as attendees, including myself, become more and more sleep-deprived we sometimes say idiotic things- so you might see this here as well.

So let me say this right out- the Salt Lake Convention Center is HUGE. You have no idea! And thankfully the whole city is on a total grid- so it's hard to get lost.

I started the day off visiting the booths here. Plenty of 'em, also giving away lots of swag. Everybody seems super-energized but-hey, it's Wednesday! And honestly, I have NEVER seen this many people already on site for an ACDA on Wednesday. Tim Sharp, our fearless leader, says that  pre-registration is at a record-setting level. I believe him. I'm also seeing a TON of attendees between 20-30 years old. Yay!

After just milling around and seeing plenty of friends in the booth area I went to the MusicSpoke reading session at noon. MusicSpoke is a new venture by Kurt Knecht and Jennifer Rosenblatt. Pete Eklund from U of Nebraska led the reading session which held works by Andrea Ramsey, Kurt Knecht, myself, and some young up-and-coming composers like Josh Rist and Connor Koppin. The session went very well--and honestly, it was some of the best sightreading I have ever been around at a conference!

After that, I attended the first blue track concert. Here are the groups that sang and their repertoire:

Univ. of South Cali Thornton School of Music Chamber Singers, directed by my friend Mike Scheibe,

Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God, by Richard Nance

The Heart's Reflection, by Daniel Elder

De Circuito Aeterno, by Petr Eben (1929-2007)

Trois Chansons Bettones, by Henk Badings (1907-1987)

Alleluia, by Jake Runestad

Micro-review (the opinions expressed on this blog are mine only, and if you want to disagree, do so, but don't hassle me about my right to express my opinions--thank you very much)
MIRANDA sez "no haters"

A beautiful, deep, rich sound from the USC Chamber Choir, especially on the first two selections. A warm, velvety sound you just want to collapse into, like sinking into a brand-new five thousand dollar leather sofa which has been lubed up with cocoa butter. Bravo, USC.

I was really thrilled to hear the Eben and the Badings (I actually know Badings' music fairly well). We just don't hear this kind of mid-twentieth century repertoire at ACDA conferences, which is unfortunate. So bravo, Mike, for sharing these very rich, full-dimensional pieces with us, and they were pieces which really showed off this choir's strong points. I can't overstate how happy I was to hear some music that has been sort of forgotten about featured in front of a large audience.

BYU Womens Chorus, directed by Jean Applonie

Psalm 100, Rene Clausen

Wie Lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, Joey Flat-Nose Rheinberger

Reflections from Yad Vashem, Daniel Hall

Amazing Grace, arr. Michael Hanawalt

Adon Olam, by Eliezer Gerovitsch, arr. David Zabriskie

Micro-review: Jean pulled an amazing variety of dynamics from a choir which, I am guessing, numbered 120 or maybe way more. A gorgeous sound all around- bravo. The harpist on the Rheinberger, Anamae Anderson, was fantastic. This is a very notey harp part, which can be a real challenge (I used to play harp, btw), but Miss Anderson was spot-on throughout. And let me add, Rheinberger has had a resurgence in performances lately, which is a good thing. I love his harmonies and the fact that they exist within a (modest) contrapuntal framework- best of both worlds.

The Metropolitan Chorus of Tokyo, directed by Ko Matsushita

Sacred music in Latin composed by Ko Matshutshita

Japanese folk songs arrgned by Ko Matsushita


You either loved or hated this performance.

Pluses-- the music by Matsushito isn't shy-- it's bold and full of tons of divisi. There was no safety net. Dynamics were extreme, especially on the high end. Kind of like a double IPA or beyond, if ya know your beer talk. Or a big Cab at 14.5%.

Minuses (where I pretty much weigh in- though some people totally disagreed with me and I punched them in the larynx)-- I felt they never tuned any of this often quite dissonant music due to their method of sound production -- all way back in the throat. The murky, turgid hyper-divisi issues just made it even harder to hear intonation and also scope the arc of the pieces. The lack of tuning, to me and a few other friends I polled, was extremely distracting. I also felt that the Latin on the first few pieces was simply bizarre to the ear. It could have been Yiddish and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

What was very good is that this choir and its composer/conductor challenged us and provoked a bit of discussion. You have to ask- do we want pretty all the time and nothing to argue about? Or something else at times? And do we really always have to agree?

The Evening Program

Kings' Singers and the Real Group

Heavily attended, especially by the young folk, those precious and endearing cute and cuddly millenials (sorry, I'm being very silly)! ACDA is no longer so heavily populated by old folks. We needed this youth movement and in the last 3-4 years it has really happened!

Fearless ACDA leader Tim Sharp gave a state of the organization speech. It was pretty great and I hope to share it with you soon, thanks to Tim. You will like what he had to say abut where we are and where we are going!

Micro-reviews: Hmmm, do I want to diss "institutions"? Nah, not right now.  But I do wish Kings' Singers would add something new to their gig. Something, anything?! I feel Swingle Singers has evolved over the years, so it proves evolution is possible, ja?

Real Group- I am a HUGE fan, especially of the true vocal jazz they become famous for back aways. This night was more about new tunes with a rock beat, I guess you could call it. Many of these songs had great, social  issues lyrics which were not cheesy. So I dug that as did most of the audience.  I just wish that they would have done more of the stuff that absolutely kills me- fer instance something like this:

And this was amusing- they launched into Chili con Carne and every 15 to 30 year old went crazy- and then they only sang 8 bars and morphed into a different one of their hits over the years. It was pretty funny to see them fake out the audience! All in all they were great fun and their love of music and performing shone through.

NEXT: Thursday at ACDA, including an absolutely stunning performance by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Four

Hi all,

I'm sitting in the Phoenix Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Salt Lake City. When I left Chicago at  #%*#* 4:45 A.M. it was about 5 degrees out- here it's 70 and I see palm trees outside!

I thought I would share a few of my blogs again from the 2013 conference in Dallas. I hope you may want to read them. I will also try to blog during and/or after the conference in Salt Lick City. I do expect this conference to be amazing. However, it won't be able to rival Miami 2007 in a few areas:

1) mojitos and Cuban food
2) clothing optional beaches
3) almost naked guy parading around South Beach with his thirty-foot long albino boa constrictor wrapped around his body
4) spring break kids really drunk, then passed out all over our hotel lobby (amateurs!)

Oh, and I made a miscalculation on my FB post just before leaving Chicago this morning. I posted that I was sitting there in my seat on Frontier Airlines (Frontier, the other F-word) and a slender man took the seat next to me, thinking that was a plus. It turned out he was as wiggly as a three-year-old. Oh well, better a wiggly, slender, man than this guy:

Anyway, here are some of the posts from 2103 in Dallas, an awesome conference in so many ways. Of course one of the highlights was the Britten War Requiem.

Here are some performance reviews, especially choirs from the Pacific Northwest:

And here is info from my interest session on new trends in e-publishing by swaggy composers. Lot of resources in here, if you are interested.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Three

Another post in anticipation of the 2015 ACDA national conference in Salt Lake City.

I'm going to gab about my carol book here, since my arrangement of "What Child is This" from the book is in the women's choir reading session next Thursday morning. The session is chaired by Iris Levine and I am sure there will be some awesome music for all to hear and read through. I am especially in awe of Iris's choice in literature.

My book, "Carols, distinctive arrangements for women's voices" has been a pretty big hit. I'm proud that I did all the work myself--I wrote all the music (traditional carols, plus some new compositions on trad. texts), worked with a cover designer and printer so that I would have complete control of the product, as well as not give away my copyrights or sales income. It was a daunting task, but I survived it! I think I spent about nine months straight living and creating Christmas carols! Ho ho ho!

 The carol book is available at this link

It is also available through Musical Resources of Toledo, OH. They will have a booth at the conference and copies of the book on hand.

Here is a soundcloud track of the piece on the reading session. The artists are the Seattle Girls' Choir directed by Jacob Winkler

Here are some more tracks from Jacob. This is a new melody for In Dulci Jubilo

The Wexford Carol- a lovely Irish tune

A fun one- "We Wish you a Merry Christmas". Performed here by the Young Women's Choral Project, directed by Susan McMane.

And finally, here is a youtube of  Mandala directed by Sean Ivory singing four of the carols. The soloist on "There is No Rose of Such Virtue" (a new composition on the old text) has an absolutely amazing voice, especially for a high school singer.

So there you have it- my carols book which will be featured a bit at next Thursday morning's women's choir reading session. I will start that hour at the children's choir session and then try to get to the women's session about halfway through. And if you'd like to meet up with me, I will be at booth 8014 (the great new company MusicSpoke) Thursday afternoon from 3 to about 5. You can also sign up to talk to me during the meet the composers session later that same day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Two

Continuing today with post number two leading up to the ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City which starts next Wednesday.

On Thursday morning next week  I will have pieces on two reading sessions. I'll start off at the children's choir reading session (chaired by Cheryl DuPont) where my arrangement of  "Clap Your Hands" (SA/piano/opt glockenspiel) is on the session. I will be conducting this piece, which I found in Ruth Crawford Seeger's American folk song collection from around 1940 (Seeger was a gifted modern composer and the mother of Pete Seeger). The tune is "Old Joe Clark" but the words are about clapping your hands, tapping your feet, and other such fun stuff. After I finish this piece I will have to run off to the women's choir session where I also have a piece represented. Dear children's choir directors- I'm not being rude when I run off- just trying to be in two places at once, basically.

There is a sweet little glockenspiel part (optional) which gives the piece some added sparkle. And you know, sparkliness is important!

Series: Henry Leck Creating Artistry
Publisher: Hal Leonard
2-Part w piano (tambourne, optional glockenspiel)
Arranger: Paul Carey

Clap, stomp, shake and sing this lively variant of the American folk tune! With rhythmic twists, percussion and movement suggestions, this is a fun treble chorus showstopper that will be a fantastic closer for elementary, middle school and children's choirs.

This was my first piece in Henry Leck's Creating Artistry series. Henry is such a great guy and such an influential conductor over the past thirty or so years. I'm honored that he has included some of my music in his series.

Here is a youtube video of the piece, recorded by Courtney Connelly and her wonderful choir At the time, the piece was still in manuscript. There are some slight differences from the final published version. s far as learning moments - this piece is highly syncopated, yet feels very natural. I think the piece also gives kids a chance to do some handclapping and so on and learn to not rush these percussive elements. I am always shocked at how much rushing happens during pieces like this. In fact, I usually shy away form writing in claps and so on-- but I went ahead and gave it a shot on this piece.

If you are in Salt Lake City I hope you can come to this reading session next Friday morning!