Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday AM at Central Division ACDA Conference

Well here it is- the first day of the ACDA Central Division Conference- which apparently is now a conference and not a convention- not sure I know the difference!

I'm a little conflicted about my blog name "Musical Mayhem"- it sounds cool but I am not sure I want to create mayhem- I'm pretty mellow these days. And the idea of blogging about convention (er.. I mean conference) concerts and that I could easily become the typical critic, sniping down on all sorts of stupid minor things really does not appeal to me right now. Do I really want to go there,stressing negatives over positives? I think not. I'd rather find the good things and tell my inner cynic to go play quietly in some other corner! And I think I can find ways to say interesting things without being negative.

So here is how the conference started- three college choirs in a row starting at 9:15 AM. Somehow they all seemed very awake-- good for them. Clayton Parr's group from DePaul started things off with some very strong singing- the choir consists of about 75% vocal performance majors, so Clayton can create some big sounds when he wants. The program began with Break Away by Dan Locklair, with a ton of notes for Paul Nicholson to play at the piano. A fun, very effective piece, but maybe longer than it needs to be. I felt the most effectively sung piece on the program was Der Feuerreiter by Hugo Wolf.

The next choir was the Capital University Chapel Choir, directed by Linda Hasseler, a group I admit I have known nothing about until now. They sang a wide variety of music, probably the most effective was Otche Nash by Golovanov, which was full of rich dark chocolatey Russian sounds. Ta Tikee Thai by the underappreciated Sid Robinovitch was also excellent and the choir was able to create some hand and body motions to fit the music without becoming kitschy. A piece by Peter Klatzow, Cover me with the Night, was rich with beautiful harmonies and expressive phrasing from Hasseler and the choir. I would like to know more about this piece and this composer. I was able to talk to Linda Hasseler after the concert and told her how much I enjoyed the performance. She was very gracious and told me she studied with Charles Smith at Michigan State. It was pretty obvious that she had- I know some other folks who studied with Smith and they all have something special going on- an elegance and ease of control with their choirs. They invite their choirs to sing and collaborate with them beautifully. Bravo to Capital University!

The last choir on the first session was Paul Rardin's U of Michigan Men's Glee Club. This choir loves to sing- don't get in their way! Paul is a great fun guy who has amazing musical chops and the choir reflects all the good things about Paul (imagine that, a choir reflecting its directors personality!). They presented pieces you would never really expect out of a men's glee- a wonderful piece, Jonah's Song, by Peter Schikele, an oddball piece by William Bolcom and more. Paul also had a student conductor lead the Schikele- it's nice to see the podium being shared.

The repertoire for the morning was very heavy on new-ish music; I say that's a good thing-- having young people sing young music! The new-ish composer lists included (in addition to those already mentioned above)Samuel Barber, Aaron Kernis, Eric Whitacre, and Craig Courtney.

Final random thoughts for now-

PLUS I see lots of young conference attendees- not just HS and college choir members, but attendees. This is a good thing to see ACDA becoming younger.

MINUS The number of conference exhibitors is way down, I'm sure we all know why. But it's a little depressing that there aren't more exhibitors here. Especially missing are the music publishers-- virtually no one is here with a booth. Not a good thing. Come on big publishers, don't blow off Central Division.

1 comment:

  1. Good report Paul, Heading to Cincinnati tomorrow for meetings about ACDA and ChoralNet. Maybe we'll run into each other.