Thursday, April 11, 2013

Final Thoughts on the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas

Lately I have blogged about the ACDA National Conference in Dallas. Here are my final thoughts and some well-deserved kudos:

The weather in Dallas was perfect- warm and sunny every day. Congrats to the Man Up Above for this great bonus.

The venues were all close together in the Dallas Arts District. I absolutely loved what Dallas has created- many performing arts avenues and art museums all close together- brilliant! The two main concert venues had very different reviews from performers and listeners- people loved the Meyerson space and generally did not like the Winspeare space  - apparently many choirs just could not hear and tune in that space. This isn't ACDA's fault- it was just what it was.

The overall quality of singing was very high. I was rarely disappointed by the singing. You can of course read about my favorites in the earlier blog entries. The JFK events were an important element of the conference. Congrats to Karen Fulmer and Tin Sharp for creating these socially important events where choral singing intersected with history and the honoring of a fallen president.

ACDA continued to add new events and new ideas without diluting the overall quality of events. There were so many events available- I actually wished we could have somehow had a extra day or two to try to attend more offerings. One of my favorite new offerings was the series of "Into the Mind" informal sessions with the directors of choirs preforming at the conference. While a few folks presenting these sessions couldn't quite figure out what to present in a half-hour (yet their improv was actually great) I think this is a great idea and hope to see it repeated in 2016 when the conference will be held at Salt Lake City.

Another plus was the young director's reception (hmm, this was an idea I proposed a while back- glad to see it happen) and the generally embracing attitude ACDA has taken to energize the organization and bring in more young people. In general this has been going on since the 2011 conference in Chicago led by Mike Scheibe. I see more and more young faces on the scene- a very good thing.

Speaking of youthfulness- it was great fun to run into the ACDA youth contingent from Ithaca College, where I had just been in November for a commission premiere. Congrats to Ithaca's students on winning the ACDA student chapter reward!

There were plenty of exhibitors- I was glad to see that and they all seemed very positive and happy to be there. It looked like a lot of sales were happening. And it's great to see these people weathering the recession we have just emerged from.

Reading and interest sessions were abundant and on a high quality level. We have all been to lame reading sessions in the past- that wasn't a problem this time- great repertoire AND people could actually sighting through the offerings!

The headliner groups and the Britten War Requiem were great- wow!

All in all, you can see I am pretty effusive about the success of this conference. On a scale of 1-10 I would say it truly deserves a 10!And now I would like to give some folks just a fraction of the recognition they deserve by listing them here (those of us on the outside looking in can have no true idea of how much constant work goes into something like this). This list was prepared with the help of incoming ACDA president Karen Fulmer, who did a spectacular job in creating the conference. Major congrats to Karen and of course ACDA executive director Tim Sharp.

Karen Fulmer

Here is the list of awesome people and my apologies if I have left out some folks who should be mentoned here (I am sure there are dozens more who could be named):

Steering Committee:
Brian Galante
Stan McGill
Deanna Joseph
Tom Merrill
Amy Blosser
Terre Johnson

Twyla Brunson
Hilary Apfelstadt
Craig Jessop
Joshua Habermann
Steve Hodson
Kirk Marcy
Wendy McKee
Jo Ann Miller
Amanda Quist
Joey Martin
Mara Force
Robyn Lana
Julian Ackerley
Gretchen Harrison
Dan Bishop
Iris Levine
Ron Sayer
Sharon Gratto
Ethan Sperry
Robert Lawrence
Dianna Campbell
Patrice Madura Ward-Steinman
Ryan Holder
Alec Harris
John Rutter

ACDA Staff:
Katie Lewis
Ron Granger
Craig Gregory
Tim Sharp
Jose Tellez

COMING UP: Some other bloggers' views; mostly positive impressions of the conference

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