Friday, April 8, 2011

Final thoughts on the ACDA 2011 National Conference

Here are some final thoughts on what was, to me, an extremely well-organized, highly ambitious, and well-received national conference.

Attendance was high- I believe final attendance topped ACDA's hopes by 400 or more.

There seemed to be a great positive energy all around. People were having a great time and you didn't hear anyone complaining about things.

The exhibitors seemed to have large amounts of merchandise stocked for the conference, especially compared to the very conservative approach they seemed to have at last year's division conferences. I think the exhibitors are feeling that we are coming out of this painful recession.

By far my favorite trend was the high number of younger people attending and their amazing enthusiasm. This is what I have been hoping to see- a youth movement blossoming within ACDA and a very bright, innovative future ahead for us all. I also have noticed how many university ACDA chapters seem to be really growing by leaps and bounds and how many students from these chapters were attending.

There were amazing performances by many choirs. I suppose I would single out, in no particular order; Anima, Brethren, Kamer, North Central High School from Indianapolis, University of St. Thomas, Millikin University, University of Kentucky men, Lawrence Conservatory Cantala-- with many other choirs being wonderful as well.

Interest sessions were hugely valuable and the session rooms were packed. ACDA R and S reading sessions were really well-organized and offered a lot of great material-- I didn't see any of the ho-hum deadwood that somehow happens to wind up on some reading session lists.

Th final Saturday was festive in the most interesting (and to some extent bizarre) way. ACDA folks were surrounded by Chicagoans clad in crazy Irish getups for the St. Paddy's Day parade and the Hilton lobbies were full of these folks. There was this festive fun in the streets sort of attached to our great ACDA music during the day, and then the electric performance of Elijah that evening. The CSO chorus and Markus Eiche as Elijah were spectacular.

Things that clicked for me personally:

I was greeted by many folks who said- Hey,I read your blog!". Some of them were "famous" choral directors and I was a bit shocked that folks of their stature paid any attention to these scribbles of mine. It felt weird and good at the same time.

I was also so happy to finally meet face to face a lot of conductors who have performed my music but with whom I have only had an email or FaceBook relationship with up until this conference. Getting to meet these people the old-fashioned way was really rewarding and fun.

Congratulations to Tim Sharp, Jo-Michael Scheibe, and all the fine people who helped them make this happen. We are in your debt for all the wonderful work you did. Bravo!

Coming Up: Meet Jerome the orange, and a discussion of the power of humor

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