Here is a recap ('twill be in two parts) of the many interest sessions at the 2011 NCCO conference in Ft. Collins, CO. There was a wide variety of events and many featured brilliant, famous folks like Alice Parker and Kirke Mechem, both octogenarians with lots of zip and lots to share!
At 5:15 there was a panel discussion on conducting- specifically how do the panel members teach choral conducting to their students. The panelists were mostly from big schools with MM and DMA programs-- David Rayl (Michigan State), Kevin Fenton (Florida State), Jill Burleson (Northern Colorado)-- but also Joshua Bronfman, who has a much smaller program at the University of North Dakota. Actually, Josh was really fun to listen to- he intimated what his goals were at a small school and how he went about achieving them- all delivered with great humor. Meeting him later and getting to chat was great fun for me. All the panelists had great ideas to share- Jill stressed student responsibility and reminded us that having singers work in quartets is a great idea. She also had other great insights on how to keep students progressing well.
There were also a great quote from David Rayl when he was asked by moderator Charlene Archibeuque what he wished students would bring with them when they (as grad students at MSU) start working closely with him on their advanced degrees:
"I wish students had more vivid imaginations and bolder ideas and had the ability to make more choices-- and feel free enough to make those decisions." Bronfman added "I wish they would listen more."
The panelists all agreed that they loved teaching choral conducting and also stressed the importance of one on one lessons in addition to choral conducting class. Overall this session was filled with interesting personal insights and plenty of humor as well.
There were early morning sessions by the following people (contact them for more info):
Andrew Crow: Music and Architecture and a Bruckner Case Study
Seth Houstion: The Shape-Note Tradition: New Resources
Nicole Lamartine: Choral Resonance: A Singer's Constructive Resonance through Standing Arrangement or Active Listening
(hmm, there's that "listening" thing again!)
James Niblock: Spectral Analysis in Collegiate Choral Training
Albert Pinsonneault: Choral Intonation Exercises
Andrea Solya: Thymiaterium Musical by Andreas Rauch
10 AM brought us an open rehearsal of James Kim's Colorado State Chamber Choir led by guest Helmuth Rilling as they worked in very dedicated manner on their all-Bach program. Mr. Rilling was miked so that he could alternate between speaking to the musicians and speaking more directly to us about his ideas and rehearsal techniques. I mentioned most of this in an earlier post.
11:15 AM brought another session with the very talented Nicole Lamartine-she presented recordings and her own University of Wyoming Chorale in a sampler of choral music by Jennifer Higdon- an interesting subject. Known as an award-winning orchestral composer, Higdon's choral music is far less sophisticated and at times somewhat odd, which even Nicole admitted. Higdon's choral writing still needs work in the craftsmanship area (tessitura and knowledge of passagio issues, text underlay issues, etc) and perhaps even could use better texts- but one has to respect that, with encouragement from people like Nicole, a person with such a high profile in the orchestral composing world has ventured into a totally new area. This issue came up later, on Saturday- the idea of conductors encouraging fine composers who might not have a lot of choral crafting experience (plus also young, generally inexperienced composers) to still go ahead and start writing for voices. Most of those in the audience were in favor of this.
4 PM brought an interest session on current Israel Choral Music from Eric Johnson and Orna Arania from Northern Illinois University . Eric has been doing good work in finding interesting ethnic music to explore. He has some other upcoming things worthy of our attention.
NEXT BLOG: Saturday interest sessions
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