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Whether you work with elementary singers or graduate students, conduct community voices or professional, ChorTeach has something of value for YOU.  
The latest issue of ACDA's on-line magazine, ChorTeach, is now available.  The Summer 2014 issue of ChorTeach includes:
Except for a very few holdouts, the academic year is over.  Time for a little rest and rejuvenation.  A change of scenery is in order, as is some time for reflection.  Here, then, is a little something to ponder from your hammock.  The following is by Kevin Peter Hand, a planetary scientist/astrobiologist in Pasadena, California and a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer:
The drumbeat of human civilization is the pursuit of new knowledge. We explore, we discover, and we advance. From fundamental research on cancer to revolutionizing our understanding of the universe, it is not an either/or: we must do it all. Anything less is a sign that our priorities as a race have been hijacked by agendas beneath our potential. As has become a refrain in my community, the drumbeat continues and we echo the wise words of Teddy Roosevelt: Dare mighty things.
What will YOU dare to advance the choral art next season?
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Les Cloches by David Solomons for SSATBB, Tenor solo a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Spring, Bells, Mortality, Memory
This Piece Would Program Well With: Full Fathom Five by Brad Burrill see the Composition Showcase
A new work in the Showcase made me smile this week.  Bell-like vocables herald the joyful passing hours of our mortal lives in this arrangement of Debussy’s “Les Cloches.”   The text speaks of springtime and relates the ringing of the bells to the pure white flowers on a church altar.  This piece speaks volumes to anyone old enough or “country” enough to remember being called home by the ringing of a dinner bell or being called to prayer from the steeple of a distant church.   
The academic and performing calendars are winding down, and jealous friends and family may be starting in with the inevitable "So what will you do this summer?" As a colleague phrased it last week, those of us following the academic calendar tend to fall into two types: "put the work away, give it time and distance, and return in the fall refreshed," or "zoom out and spend the summer doing the big-picture things that you don't have the time to do during the year." I'm squarely in the latter, and (as many of you do) I look forward to the summer as the more unstructured time when I can dedicate large chunks of time to tinkering or experimenting with new ideas or materials, exploring new literature, learning new tools that have come out in the last few months, or making large changes to my practice that are harder to execute "in the moment." With that in mind, I thought I'd share my summer to-do list: the big ideas, tools, and projects that I'll be looking at over the 6 weeks (where do people get this three-month garbage from?) that I'm out of the school. No fear-- most of these can be done in the coffee shop or sweatpants of your choice!
  • Take a Class. This will be the summer that I finally complete a MOOC-- a free, online course. Even if I don't fully complete a course such as Gary Burton's Jazz Improvisation or Introduction to Acoustics, just having access to high-quality lectures and discussions in courses that I either want to explore or that I am interested in a different take or teaching style seems like a good way to sit down for that morning cup of coffee. Take a look at: Coursera, EdX, iTunes U.
  • Read an (e)Book. I'm finally going to get comfortable with my Kindle. As with most technology tools, moving from "substitution" (doing the same thing as before with a different /new tool) to "transformation" (doing something that I couldn't do before) takes a little bit of exploration time, and a commitment to getting over the comfort hump with some new habits. The advantage that I'm interested in over a physical book is the sharing and note taking capacities of the Kindle (and Kindle app). Have you ever been reading something and thought, "I would love for xyz to read that"? It could be your musicians, your colleagues, or just friends or family, but the ability to quickly and easily send ideas, excerpts and quotes from the book itself seems like a great capacity that I'm not yet taking advantage of. Again, it will just take a little practice over the summer, when I can afford to stumble a bit, to get fluent by the fall. I'll also be tinkering with: Building a virtual scale demonstration in Scratch, Rethinking how I teach Audacity.
  • Network. All those great reading sessions and conferences are wonderful opportunities to meet our colleagues and share resources. But they can also be very overwhelming, and many of the great resources and connections that we meet might need to be saved and organized for a later time. Summer's when I can get on top of some new organization systems so that I can find and share things easily in the fall. I'll be cleaning up: Scanning and tagging my new incoming sheet music (using Mac OS or Evernote), Finishing my contact page to make it easier to share all my contact info, Redesigning and cleaning up some blog posts, and Saving useful articles and resources in an online social bookmarking site such as Diigo to share with my students and colleagues. 
  • Take Time. One of the great gifts of summer is the ability to work on the things with a little more autonomy-- with that comes the time to work a bit slower and try new things. Listen to great new music (and tweet about it to share your discoveries). Revisit your favorite or most inspirational recordings (and build a playlist in Spotify to share with your ensembles in the fall). Take a deep dive into blogs of your favorite conductors, composers or thinkers (and consider sharing your thoughts on your own). However you spend it, may it treat you well and may you rejoin us in the fall primed for another great year of music making.
Thanks to all who have contributed articles, ideas, questions or comments during the year. If "writing an article for ChoralTech" seems like a good summer goal for you, we're always looking for submissions on any level from beginner to advanced. Click my name up top to message me your ideas!
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Peter Bird for SATB, SAT solos and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Longing, Nature, Isolation, Stress Relief, Simple Life
This Piece Would Program Well With:  The Monk and His Cat by Samuel Barber available from JWPEPPER® and sheet music plus
Peter Bird is new to the Composers of Choral Music Community.  His first entry to the Composition Showcase is worth an in-depth look.   This mostly up-tempo work drives forward with changing meter of 3/4, 2/2 and 5/4 a stirring soprano and alto duet, a tenor solo and contrasting accompanied and a cappella sections.
This piece is available for free from the composer:
(Microsoft Surface Pro 2,
This week Microsoft announced the third generation of their Surface Tablet PC, and the attention it garnered shows that the market is starting to mature for these hybrid devices, which combine the processing power of a laptop with the touchscreen interface of a tablet or smartphone. To some degree, these devices (called Hybrids, Tablet PC's, or Touchscreen Laptops) are hard for consumers to wrap our brains around: is it a tablet (albeit a more expensive and heavier one)? Is it a computer? Why would I need this when I already have 'x'? These devices can offer some interesting possibilities in the music technology field, but I suggest that properly understanding what these devices are meant to do will help us understand where they can best be utilized.

The Players

While Samsung and others have made Android-powered tablets that tout their increased power and productivity over devices such as the iPad, the Tablet PC's run on the new Windows 8 platform. Windows 8 attempts to merge both a touchscreen interface and apps with the familiar Windows desktop that we're used to from the history of that operating system. While Windows 8 got some decidedly heated feedback, the subsequent update to 8.1 has been much better received (8.1 is a free update to 8). Complicating things a bit, and driving some of the misunderstanding about the power of the Tablet PC's, has been the release of a stripped-down version of Windows 8 (called RT) designed for mobile devices such as phones and lighter tablets. RT is the version which is meant to compete with the Android- and iOS-powered tablets, but it is limited in terms of what it can run. Developers have been much slower to embrace Windows RT and move their apps already developed for iPads and Android tablets into a third operating system. This has led to a collective impression that the Windows Tablet PC's "don't have many apps to run."
If you can discard mobile-purposed Windows RT devices for the moment, devices running the full version of Windows 8 suffer from no such limitations on the programs available-- since it's a full-version of Windows, it runs everything that your Windows laptop or desktop runs on these devices as well. Rather than thinking of devices like the Surface Pro, or the Lenovo Helix or Yoga as tablets, think of them as laptops that you can write directly on. And therein lies the potential for the music field-- the combination of touch interface and the computing power of a full operating system.

Audio Recording

One of the most recurring statements that I hear about working with audio recording on the iPad is that it's much easier to do the fine controls of music editing with the touchscreen devices than with a mouse and keyboard. Being able to physically manipulate the software sliders as you would a board, drawing envelopes and filters, or manipulating the playback head for fine editing and splicing are all controls which lend themselves well to the fine finger control available in the touchscreen (or with a stylus) rather than the large and more clumsy mouse control. On a Tablet PC, we gain the ability to use this style of interface, but can apply it to fully-powered Windows software. Again, while mobile-oriented RT devices have to wait for programs to be designed specifially for that space, chances are that all of the software currently running on your Windows device will translate to the Windows 8 hybrids-- your full Cubase setup, for example.
The processing power and storage capacity of these machines is significantly higher than a mobile tablet as well, and that combined with built-in USB ports means that you can use them in combination with external audio interfaces to a much greater degree than is possible with mobile tablets. While still being smaller and lighter than your traditional laptop, and thus easier to deploy in a field recording setup, it can be the computer hub for your recording needs.

Notation and Composition

As with the recording, the ability to use your full Windows programs in combination with the touchscreen interface is an intriguing combination for composition. Whatever your preference of notation program, running it one a hybrid device will allow you to "ink" and edit your manuscripts by hand using the stylus. In comparison to iOS or Android, I find the Windows 8 stylus capacity to be much smoother and higher-quality. Writing on an iPad, for example, always feels like the pen tip is a bit too thick for my tastes, and my script usually ends up being a bit "fat" and sloppy because of it. Writing on my Surface Pro 2, by comparison, feels very realistic. This review of the upcoming Surface 3 from WIRED describes writing within one row of graph paper. That level of detail makes writing within a notation program very smooth and satisfying. With a little practice, I was able to use the keyboard number pad to switch note values while writing with the stylus in the other hand for a pretty efficient workflow. And of course, with the USB interface, things like keyboard input and external sound synthesis devices are still available as well.

One More Toy?

Some people are the natural gadget-collectors, and the idea of adding another device to the quiver isn't intimidating at all. For the rest of us, using a Tablet PC involves thinking a bit about what place in the toolbox it best occupies: does it replace an existing device? Does it make something else redundant? Thinking of these devices as tablets with more power, I initially held it up against my iPad and found it unsatisfying. It was once I decided to use my Surface Pro 2 as my full-time work machine that I understood its value-- it is truly a laptop with extra capacities. As such, I added some extra work considerations (extra monitors, external keyboard) that make it indistinguishable from my previous desktops or laptops. When coming to something in graphics or audio which is best served by the touchscreen capacity, I can pick up the stylus and work directly on the screen. It's a great combination of modes, and of course I still have the mobile flexibility. There are times when I use it in a traditional "tablet" capacity as well, although there is a lack of the apps that we're used to from the iOS and Android space.
In the end, ironically, it did end up largely making my iPad redundant, but because most of the things that I used to do with that device have now either been scaled up to the Tablet PC or down to my smartphone. As more devices appear in the market with this model, including the (much larger) Surface 3 from Microsoft and what now feels like a steady rollout of devices from other manufacturers, a wider range of power and size will be available letting people choose whether they want a true powerhouse machine or something closer to the traditional tablets. Regardless, the combination of the full operating system and the touchscreen interface gives us huge possibilities in speciality or niche computing needs such as music and audio, where a wider range of software, diverse input/output capacity and higher processing power are all necessities. 

How About You?

Have you experimented with a hybrid or Tablet PC running the full version of Windows 8/8.1? What are your thoughts or experiences? Do you have questions about these devices? Join in the comments below!

Eric Ericson is one of the giants of our field and his work has been a model for many others: in his enthusiasm for performing and commissioning new music, in raising standards in a cappella singing, as a teacher, and as a conductor. His ensembles (Chamber Choir, Swedish Radio Choir, and Orphei Drängar) became models of their type and their recordings are likely to live on.

For me personally, it's been fun to look back at my own experiences with Eric and talk to Swedish friends who've worked with him closely. Looking back at these interviews, the following are significant aspects of his work and success:

  • curiosity - about music of all kinds and periods, for new music, for better ways of achieving excellence - this is something we can all emulate - it's a huge reason for his success - he did an enormous amount of new music and constantly encouraged composers to write for the medium of a cappella choir
  • his concern for getting it right (and being willing to work--and work the choir!--until he did)
  • his superb piano skills and his way of communicating through the keyboard to his ensembles - this is not something all of us can do, but for those who have great skill as a pianist, his use of the keyboard can provide a model for a way to work . . . and all of us can learn to play and give pitches in a way that supports beautiful choral sound, rather than call forth harsh and un-vocal ones
  • his conducting technique - while one may not want or be able to copy Eric's exact technique, his concern with mastering technical elements of conducting and (more importantly) making sure the body reflects what a singer needs to sing well should concern all of us -- as Stefan Parkman said, "He wanted to wave his arms and hands in such a way that it allows the singers to produce the sound."
  • the choral sound he developed came out of working for clarity, balance, and beautiful intonation - that he did this with big, well-trained voices helped define a new standard
  • his joy and love for music - as Arne Lundmark said, "In the concert itself I often had the feeling that all his love to music suddenly was shown and we were willing to give him all he asked for." 
Here's a summary of the series in one place:
IV - Eric on conducting technique I (notes from several sessions I observed)
V - Eric on conducting technique II (notes from continued sessions)
This is my last post of the academic year -- see  you again in the fall!
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Abound in You by Rick Bartlett for SATB some divisi a cappella, (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use, Sacred or Secular
Program Themes: Love, Trust, End of the Year
This Piece Would Program Well With:  Precious Lord, Take My Hand by Roy Ringwald available from JWPEPPER® and sheet music plus
This is a very special work.  If you direct a choir that looses a large percentage of your singers each year to graduation, listen to the recording of Abound in You.  I feel it encapsulates the feelings of love and shared experience that directors have with their members along with a sense of loss as the experience comes to an end.  As singers, we hand over control to our conductors and in so doing open a channel of trust.  This may be true for instrumentalists as well, but for singers, lyrics help to strengthen that bond.  As your seniors go on to graduate in the coming weeks, listen to this piece and smile at the lives you have touched and shared.  Share with us your experience of love and trust you have encountered with your choir or your director in the comments below.
This piece is available from the composer: crickb88(a)
Stefan Parkman has had a long association with Eric. Born in 1952, he first studied medicine, but began singing with Eric in Orphei Drängar in the early '70s. Just a few years later he began his studies in the Royal College of Music. Stefan's an exceptionally fine tenor (listen here or buy the album here to hear his solo in "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"--conducted by Robert Sund, by the way) who's regularly sung the Evangelist role in Bach's St. John Passion--often while conducting the performance! Consequently, he began at that time to sing as an extra (but ended up singing most projects) for both the Chamber Choir and Radio Choir, and that continued until probably the late '80s. For example, he sang in the Radio Choir for their big US tour in 1983, when they sang for the National ACDA Conference in Nashville. In 1989 he became conductor of the Danish Radio Choir and that ended most of his singing with Eric. Some of his recordings can be found here.
In a conversation on March 29 he talked about characteristics of Eric and his ways of working:
  • His curiosity was insatiable and he was always eager to find new ways of solving problems, loved to explore new music, and always wondered, "how can we make this better?"
  • He always worked up until the last second until either the concert or broadcast, not giving up on making it better. "We could all hear that something was out of tune, but he had the curiosity to find keys and tools to solve the problem."
  • With his Chamber Choir he could work longer than with the Radio Choir, which was state-run and had to follow strict rules. With the Chamber Choir he would just go on working as long as he felt he needed. Today, people wouldn't accept that, but he was in the right time to be able to do that.
  • About his piano playing: "I don't think that any singer or choir can sound as beautiful as when Eric played the piano."
  • About his conducting and teaching of conducting: "He always tried to find ways to conduct that are comfortable and good for singers. In this his gestures (and playing) were very vocal. He wanted to wave his arms and hands in such a way that it allows the singers to produce the sound."
  • "He never talked much about text or its interpretation, but I later realized he'd thought about it and it was addressed by his hands or way of rehearsing."
  • "His choral sound was orchestral and homogeneous, a combination of beauty of sound and intonation."
  • New music: "This is a large part of his curiosity, of course. It's not unique, but during his time was unusual."
  • What he learned from Eric: "Gesture that gives both singers and instrumentalists time to breathe, to get their instruments going. In concerts, a vocally wonderful way of conducting. The never-ending eagerness to find solutions. And I can't conduct a piece such as Friede auf Erden, for example, without thinking of Eric, having sung it so many times with him. That doesn't mean my interpretation will be the same--he always expected us to do it in our own way--but learning it and so many other great works with him made a huge impact."
While I'm sure there could be more to say, I'll finish up next week with a summary about Eric and his work. After that, a summer hiatus!
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Dream Within a Dream by Michał Ziółkowski
for SATB. Soprano Solo a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: Advanced High School or Higher
Uses: Masterworks Concert
Program Themes: Dreams, Edgar Alan Poe, Sadness, Loss, Philosophy
This Piece Would Program Well With:  La Bella Dame Sans Merci by Charles Villiers Stanford available from sheet music plus
What a text!  It maybe should come with the warning label “Caution: Reading this may make you contemplate life, the universe and everything!”  Ziolkowski complements Poe’s words with this dreamlike setting.  It is beautiful from first note to last.  This could be the centerpiece of a concert of Choral Masterworks!
This piece is available from Michał Ziółkowski and is listed as “Free.”
Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a very powerful tool for sharing files and information amongst large groups or multiple devices. Whether through your own Google account or through a Google Apps for Education (or Business) system, using Google Drive lets you create entire folder/file structures that can be shared with anyone you choose (as with any other cloud storage system), with much more storage available than many other competitors. A couple of new features just released help Google Drive be even stronger in a music rehearsal space or ensemble.
Baby, You Can Drive My WAV
Now that Google Drive has finally caught-up by offering a robust mobile app, it can be a direct pipeline to your musicians for sharing recordings in rehearsal for them to take home and practice. By using either the app (for mobile devices) or client (for desktops/laptops), depending on what you're recording on, you can transfer large files very quickly. Consider this possible scenario:
  1. While rehearsing a tricky technical section, you record it for the group to be able to consult for practice at home. You do this using any range of recordfing devices connected to a computer or mobile device.
  2. Save the file into a Google Drive folder which you have previously shared with your musicians. On a laptop with the Google Drive client installed, you'd have a folder on your computer to drag the file into. On a mobile device, you'd send the file from your recording app to your Google Drive app, which would then let you place it in the shared folder.
  3. The file would then appear for all of your musicians to access on their devices -- syncing is automatic, so once you've started the process by putting it in your Google Drive, there's no need for any other steps. They can now listen to the file later on for their own review.
This model works with any kind of file-- where Google Drive started as Google Docs, and was limited to those types of files, it now allows you to host any kind of file you like and share it. This means that videos, rehearsal notes, scanned score corrections or pictures are all fair game as well. If you'd tried Google Drive in the past and found it too limited for your purpose, I suggest you take another look-- the additions made to Google Drive in the last 6 months have really improved the experience and potential of the software. In addition, their mobile apps are much more stable and reliable than they were even a few months ago. Where as of last summer, I was reluctant to recommend Google Drive as a full-time storage and sharing solution, it's now become my go-to solution for these scenarios.
Class is in Session
In addition to increasing the reliability and stability of the service, Google added a major set of tools to Google Drive this week for Google Apps for Education users. Classroom by Google is their attempt to make an official "Learning Management System" toolkit for Google Drive in order to address a major educational technology market. An LMS is an evolution of the class website, where students and teachers can share files, communicate on assignments and have an online class workspace. Teachers have used third-party scripts and services to boost Google Drive towards these functions, but now Google is making them available within Drive itself. Classroom by Google is only a part of the Google Apps for Education package, though, so it is only available to schools who use that system.
One of the Classroom features which will have a big benefit to supplementing rehearsals is the ability to automatically make copies of a document/assignment for each student. In the choral classroom, this makes reflective writing and practice logs very easy to accomplish. In our scenario above, we took a brief recording from a rehearsal as a model for students to use in their own practice. Using the "make a copy for all" feature in Classroom, you could then open up a Google Doc for each student to write a couple of sentences of observation about the recording, or make notes on how they used it to practice during the week. Since students can also share files back to you or with their choirmates, sectional rehearsals could work the same way-- have a section record themselves and submit the recording and "practice plan" or log amongst themselves for reference.
Much of this functionality already exists within Drive, so if you are not a teacher and want to use Google Drive without having access to Google Apps for Education, you can still accomplish these steps. Use of Classroom will streamline the process for teachers, but the core power of Google Drive to quickly share files across users and devices applies to everybody. With your recorder in hand, it's a very easy process now to make rehearsal exerpts available to everyone in your group for practice and reference.
Arne Lundmark is the manager for the Swedish Radio Choir, a fine singer, and voice teacher. He's the baritone soloist on a recording of Sven-David Sandström's Etyd, som e-moll (if you get a chance, listen to it--gorgeous!). I was able to write Arne and ask about his experiences with Eric when a member of Eric's chamber choir and after. Here it is:
When did you first work with Eric? I studied at the Piteå College of Music so didn't work with Eric earlier in my career. I joined the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir in 1982 after moving to Stockholm. I was a regular member of EECC from 1982 -1992, and did some projects as an extra with both the Swedish Radio Choir and EECC during the years when I started working at the Radio, from 1992-2005.
What is characteristic of Eric and his work as conductor: What I was most fascinated by was his very clever way of expressing himself, both with his words and with his hands. And also the way he gave us a picture of the musical character and the harmonic context by sitting at the piano and letting his magic fingers point out the important notes and passages. He had an outstanding way of describing things that was his very own. And as a world class story teller, he obviously used that as a very efficient tool to have break in the rehearsal and get everybody on track and in the mood again.

It was quite frankly "messy" at rehearsals sometimes, and I have to admit that sometimes he spent so much time of tuning the choir so that learning the notes was a bit neglected! His conducting was very much about phrasing the musical line with the most undescribable gestures that everyone for some reason understood. In the concert itself I often had the feeling that all his love to music suddenly was shown and we were willing to give him all he asked for.

And I also have to say that Eric's way of using brilliant metaphors to get the right character is one thing I wish that our conductors would learn from.
What’s special about his sound? Is it part of a “Swedish” or “Scandinavian” sound? It's hard to tell. I think the combination of well trained, partly soloistic voices and the idea of all coming together in a transparent and well tuned way for the a cappella was the recipe for a good sound. Whether it was Scandinavian or not I can´t say, but Eric was anyway a pioneer.

What was most remarkable about him? The way he made choir singing go from a social phenomenon into a respected art form. And also how he succeded in attracting good voices to choir singing. That was a unique thing and maybe the first reason why the EECC had such a reputation.
Special memories of Eric? There are hundreds of stories, but one other thing that I will not forget is a moment when we invited him at the age of 92 to conduct the Radio Choir in a workshop. He made a fantastic work with some songs of Peterson- Berger. And on the stage he gave us all his blessings with some very touching words.
       I haven’t sung in a choir in over 20 years. Between a full-time job and parenting two young sons, regular rehearsal just isn’t in the cards. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss singing in a group, yearn for my days working to hold a difficult harmony or figure out a tricky rhythmic pattern, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes from the heady mixture of shared purpose and joyous delight that is collective musicianship.
       While I studied music in high school and college, I ended up a patent lawyer, and now I work in a law school. It may seem counterintuitive to say that the most valuable training I received for being a lawyer was my musical training, but it is absolutely true. Lawyers are, at their very core, analytical thinkers, and the work lawyers do is mostly done in teams. A lawyer and a client, a lawyer and her colleagues, a lawyer and a judge are all working together to try to bring order to chaos, to try to separate wheat from chaff. The best training I ever got for that sort of work was singing with other people.
       From group singing I learned how to concentrate completely on my own body and mind, while still staying connected enough with a team to work together seamlessly. I learned to take turns taking the lead, to let each member of the group shine at the right time, for the betterment of the whole. I learned how to find joy in really hard work, and to take great pleasure in the small successes as well as the big ones. I learned how to find layers of meaning in small changes, how to analyze a work of creativity, and how not to analyze it so much as to make it lose its context. Every one of these skills are ones I have taken with me through my entire professional life.
       I didn’t just get teamwork skills and analytical training from my choir experiences—I also learned how to learn and how to teach. There’s a reason that among my very few teachers with whom I still keep in touch are my junior high choir director and my voice teacher. Watching them work with me one-on-one and as part of a group of rowdy kids gave me example to follow when dealing with students of every age and in every subject. My time as their student made me a better student overall, and definitely made me a better teacher.
       The only place I sing anymore is in my synagogue, and I am so grateful to have that experience. But I am looking forward to someday getting back to one of the most formative experiences of my life, and once again finding a group of people with whom I can make music.
(Marsha Nagorsky is Associate Dean for Communications at the University of Chicago Law School.  Read her companion column, “The 26-Year-Old Recordings and the 42-Year-Old Lawyer”)
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
The Future of Life by Pamela J. Marshall for SATB, trombone and piano (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Spring, Life, End of the World, Bees
This is a major work lasting about 30 minutes.  It would program well Rejoice in the Lamb by Benjamin Britten available from JWPEPPER® and sheet music plus
As I searched the Composition Showcase for a piece appropriate for May Day, I found this frighteningly prophetic work. It made me ask myself how many springs our planet has left before our changing climate prevents the renewal of life we seek each year.  The Future of Life is drawn in part from a book by Edward O. Wilson with the same name.  Texts speak to the need to pay now or pay more later to help save the biodiversity of planet Earth.  The most chilling text speaks to the difficulty humans will have in bioengineering life to fill the missing void of natural creatures.  The speaker bequeaths to the generation that will inherit the wounded world of our creation an audio visual library of the many beautiful things that once lived.  
The trombone adds a delightfully affective earthiness to the composition that I found to be quite captivating.       
This piece is available from the composer’s website:
The year is finally winding down. Haydn Creation last week. Opera Gala this week. Now it's just juries and tour (Cuba this year).
I really love this time. The pressure is finally starting to dissipate. It's not that I'm less busy; There are still plenty of juries, recitals, meetings, and projects to complete. It's just that the pressure of planning an event, while at the same time thinking about the event after that one and the event after that and the event after that, has lifted. Some folks can do that all year long. For me, it can be draining, and I really look forwad to summer to recharge.
My summer will be spent in a number of ways. Mornings will be exercise, and then a little work. Score study, finding repertoire, a few small research or long range planning projects. Afternoons will be spent advising incoming music majors and non-majors interested in participating in music. Evenings will be spent with deep family time: grilling (I'm pretty good, I must brag), playing with kids, and just easy friends and family time. Maybe sometime we'll grill a whole pig, Cuban-style. Then the family will spend a few weeks on the road, seeing my family and my wife's, on opposite coasts. I can't wait.
So I wish you all the best as your year (hopefully) winds down. I hope you have a chance to spend more time with family. Get to the gym more, or just walk to the park. Maybe do a little easy intellectual exploration, like reading composer biographies or playing through scores for next year. Eat some good food. I hope you get to travel, and see old friend and family far away. And then, we'll do it all again. Because that is what we do.
ChoralNet member CJ Redden-Liotta proposed and generously provided this article on one of his favorite research tools. Do you have a topic that you'd like to offer as a ChoralTech guest post? Contact Jeff Tillinghast if you're interested in sharing a resource with the ChoralNet community as a guest Tech post!
As a church music minister, I always strive to ensure that the hymns and songs that I program each Sunday are appropriate and topical. Being at a mostly liturgical church, we generally follow the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), however, being a mostly liturgical church, our Pastor often departs from the lectionary to illustrate his sermon point. This often presents a challenge in hymn selection. Our congregation also enjoys using a great variety of hymnody, texts, and other songs during worship services, which presents unique challenges as well.
In order to provide variety, I would often find myself surrounded by several hymnals of various denominations and styles and armed with even more worship planning guides and worship planning websites of various denominations and sources. This process was simplified when I found the website. is a joint project between the Hymn Society of the US and Canada, the Christian Classics Etherial Library, Calvin College, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. In this partnership, the Hymn Society moved their ongoing project to create a comprehensive index of Hymnody in the United states to a common, searchable website.
What makes such a powerful tool for worship planning and preparation is the myriad of resources available on this one, single site. From the homepage, several options are immediately available. On the left side, you can do a quick search for the text name, tune name, composer/author, hymnal and number (what is Chalice Hymnal, 16?), topics by keyword, and scripture. You can add additional fields and search by however many fields you need. Adding search fields allows you to search by meter, key, incipit, year of publication, and many others helpful for planning. The main search field also does a keyword search across the entire site, including hymn texts.
You can also easily browse by using the variety of tools available. Hymnary editors have chosen lectionary based hymns for each week and special day in the RCL. On the lectionary page, you can also easily click on each reading to find additional hymns with that scripture reference. This tool has proved incredibly valuable to me over the years that I have used this resource because it offers additional references to those that are traditionally listed in hymnal indices.
Additionally, you can browse by scripture reference, by element of worship (need a new offering hymn?), by denominational affiliation, or by browsing a series of topic keywords. By logging into the site and creating a profile, you can add hymnals to your own personal collection. As you search and browse the various areas of the site, the website will place a marker next to the hymns that are already in the hymnal(s) that you use in your everyday worship planning.
Finally, contains hundreds of hymns engraved in a variety of formats for both public domain hymns as well as hymns made available by partner publishers. All of the public domain hymns are available to use for hymn reprints in bulletins, and  those provided by partner publishers are available for use with the appropriate reprint licenses (CCLI, OneLicence, LicenSing, etc…). This has proved to me an incredible resource as a church that prints hymns in the bulletin. It also allows me to choose hymns and texts that are not available in our hymnal. I am able to easily provide the hymn to the choir, organist, and congregation. Moving forward, is working to provide even more resources, including scores and parts for flexible instrumentations (some of which are currently available for the new Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God) and other immediately purchasable resources. has replaced most of the other online resources that I used to consult each week in my worship planning process. I hope that this resource will prove valuable to support your worship planning.
CJ Redden-Liotta is the Music Minister at Vienna Baptist Church in Vienna, VA. He is also a DMA student at George Mason University in Choral Conducting, where he serves as assistant conductor to the choral ensembles. 
There aren't many examples of Eric conducting on the net, but here's one with him recording with the Real Group (all the original singers sang as students with him--when he came to Pacific Lutheran University in the mid-80s with his Conservatory Chamber Choir they'd been working together for a while and all were members of that choir).
       I’m not sure when it was that my perspective shifted from concern mainly about my own career to realizing the hopes I have for, and the responsibilities I hold toward, the next generation. But it happened, and I know that shift happens within most of us. We begin wondering what are we are setting up for those who come after us, and how we are contributing to the future of an art we so passionately love.
       Indeed, it was our own members who came to ACDA’s national office wanting to develop initiatives that would create new children’s choirs and support young people in choral singing and conducting. Members wanted their professional association to invest in the future of choral singing and choirs in an even bigger way that it had previously. ACDA’s new Fund for Tomorrow is a response to those calls.
       The Fund for Tomorrow is our first organized initiative to raise the money that will allow us to expand and deepen our work with children and students. One hundred percent of donations made to this fund will support our work in mentoring, scholarships for Honor Choirs and student registrations at conferences, expanding student chapters, starting new children’s choirs, and attracting young people who wouldn’t otherwise experience choral music to choirs.
       We would like to particularly thank Hilary Apfelstadt, William Hatcher, Tom Merrill, and Tim Sharp for their lead gifts to this new fund. Would you consider joining them and making a contribution? If you do so by June 30, 2014, you will be among the founding donors. We gratefully accept donations by check or online.
       To learn more, including how we’ll thank and recognize your support, visit, or contact me in the national office to receive a brochure and additional information about how you can help.
A CHORAL CHALLENGE by Amanda Bumgarner
       Once a month, the Choral Journal appears in your mailbox or inbox. I am not so unrealistic as to think that you eagerly devour every word from cover to cover, down to the last book review. Perhaps that is the case for some (and if so, I would love to hear from you!), but I suspect that the majority of you flip or scroll through the pages, stopping only when a title or photo catches your eye.
       As the editor, however, my job is to read every single word within these pages. While that may sound like an unfortunate task, I have, in fact, found the opposite to be true. I continue to be fascinated by the breadth of the choral art, and I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my own knowledge while working to bring that knowledge to the wider body of ACDA. Truthfully, had I come across many of these articles on my own, I likely would have passed them by; so I understand why not every feature article may appeal to you. I offer a challenge to you this month: Consider taking the time to read just one column or feature article outside your personal area of interest. You may be surprised.
       Over the past months, I have learned about the history of performance practice, details of specific composers, and read in-depth analysis of both beloved and lesser-known choral works, to name just a few. As you look back on the first half of 2014, I hope you can also say you have learned something new. If not, what are you waiting for?
       For those interested in submitting an article for publication consideration in the Choral Journal, email me at:
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet.  This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Where Go the Boats  by Dale Trumbore for SATB a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO) Organ accompaniment edition available.
Level: Advanced High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Loss and Gain, Boats, Rivers, Childhood, Trees
This Piece Would Program Well With: Deep River arr. Karen P. Thomas available from JWPepper and SheetMusicPlus
This is yet another stellar work by Dale Trumbore.  If you haven’t programmed her works this would be a great place to start.  The harmonies are rich with dissonances approached largely by step.  The text by Robert Louis Stevenson lends itself to a wide variety of themes. The goose bump ending has a child longing for his toy boats that were lost in the river, yet hoping that some other child downstream will find them and bring them ashore.   This setting addresses the surface theme of the loss of a child’s toys but is a deeper allegory of the loss of a lover that will be loved by someone else.  Brilliant!
This piece is available from the composer’s website: