Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guest Blog by Sean Burton- North Central ACDA in Minneapolis

My very talented friend Dr. Sean Burton reports in on the NC ACDA conference that was held in Minneapolis. It sure sounds like a lot of great things happened up there!

Sean is a busy guy- besides being the absolute authority on the beautiful music of Pierre Villette, he is Director of Choral Activities at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa where he is also the founding artistic director of the Siouxland Choral Artists. He also directs the Children's Chorus Bel Canto of the Nebraska Choral Arts Society based in Omaha.

Here are Sean's impressions of the NC ACDA conference:

North Central ACDA: "Without a Doubt -- Outstanding" by Sean Burton

In a nutshell, the performance content of ACDA's North Central Division Convention in Minneapolis rivaled the programs of every National Convention I have attended in the last ten years. For this blogger, concerts had the strongest impact during the four-day celebration of the choral arts. There were simply too many triumphs to list in the context of a guest blog, though a few highlights follow:

The Girls' Choir of the Old Town Music House (Tallinn, Estonia): led by the uniquely talented Maarja Soone, fantastic renditions of intriguing music from the Estonian choral tradition complete with a complement of low altos to die for.

The Waukee High School A Cappella Choir (Waukee, IA): under the skilled direction of Ryan Beeken, from Janequin and Rossini to Dickau and Wilberg, a stunning program celebrating age-appropriate mature vocalism.

The Manitou Singers of St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN): directed by the incomparable Sigrid Johnson, incredible intonation and superb selections includingAbbie Betinis' riveting "Chant for Great Compassion" and a revelatory performance of Katie Moran Bart's classic "Blessing."

The Appleton North High School Varsity Men's Choir (Appleton, WI): a seamless performance masterfully coordinated by Craig Aamot, these men sang with genuine passion, conviction, and mission.

The Iowa State Singers (Ames, IA): anyone who has heard this group under the baton of Dr. James Rodde has experienced choral excellence of the highest echelon, yet again Rodde rocked.

University of Minnesota Singers (Minneapolis, MN): Kathy Romey's expert rendition of Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms" (accompanied by members of the university's symphony orchestra) was as refreshing as it was exhilarating, the choir was perfectly prepared and thank you so much for programming and beautifully executing this masterpiece.

Bemidji High School A Cappella Choir (Bemidji, MN): With repertoire running the gamut from Clausen and Gjeilo to Debussy's "Trois Chansons", Christopher Fettig's program models the very best of possibilities for public school music-making.

Luther College Norsemen (Decorah, IA): Immediately following the conclusion of their program, this massive group of first-year men brought the audience to its feet without pause. During their performance Tim Peter almost brought the house down, literally, when the guys broke into a virtual hoe down on the stage of Orchestra Hall!

The St. Olaf Choir (Northfield, MN): The benchmarks for outstanding choral performance continue to be set and exceeded by Dr. Anton Armstrong and The St. Olaf Choir. The engaging program -- from Schumann's exquisite "Talismane" and Abbie Betinis' compelling "Bar xizam" (Upward I rise) to Moses Hogan's brilliant "Ride On, King Jesus" --combined with Armstrong's commitment to the ultimate heights of vocal artistry united for an event of exquisite choral mastery and pure beauty.

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