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The 2016 ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program deadline is approaching. ACDA is pleased to announce the 2016 International Conductors Exchange Program (ICEP) with South Korea. ICEP is providing opportunities for the next generation of choral leaders to represent the United States as ambassadors to the world in the exchange of music, ideas, and cultures. In 2016, ACDA will host fourteen choral conductors from South Korea who will travel to the United States to be official guests in each of the seven divisions and at the Division Conferences. In turn, South Korea will host fourteen U.S. conductors to be official guests during the summer of 2016. ICEP Application Deadline: July 10, 2015.
To apply online, please follow this link. For more information, please contact T. J. Harper. 
(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.)
Invictus  by Matt Wetmore for SATB a cappella (Click here for PDF and here for AUDIO)
Level: Advanced High School or Higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Fate, Overcoming Adversity
This Piece Would Program Well With: Psalm 90 by Charles Ives from JWPepper and MusicNotes
Matt Wetmore used extremes in dynamics and a rich harmonic palate to show the struggles of life.  As the poet leaves us triumphant Matt’s treatment of the final stanza sounds the trumpets of confidence surrounded by harsh reality.  Give it a listen!
Invictus is available from the composer’s website:
For many of us, the summer season is a time to step back and plan the next year's programs, explore new literature, techniques or ideas, or just catch up on the reading we didn't do during the rest of the year. We also may not see our ensembles much (if at all) for the next couple of months. Do you ever stumble upon a great recording or article in your summer work that you know you want to share with your groups in the fall? How do you save those finds so that you know you can access them down the road when your groups reconvene? Browser bookmarks are great for common websites or services to visit (like ChoralNet!), but break down once you start grabbing too many individual articles. Saving notes in a document like a Word file can be time-consuming, and breaks down if you use mobile devices or a home computer rather than work during the summer. Rather than clogging up that bookmarks menu or cutting-and-pasting, here are three different ways you might hold on to those great ideas or resources until you meet your groups again.
Diigo (Bookmarking Writ Large)
Diigo bills itself as "Social Bookmarking," but really it's your Internet index card file-- a way to save individual webpages, videos or articles for later use. There are lots of features that lend themselves to true in-depth research (such as annotation or highlighting), but the quickest use of it is to save pages into lists called "Outlines" (previously "Lists," but now renamed). Signing up for a Diigo account is quick and free, but going to the website every time you want to save an article is a hassle. Download and install the Bookmarklet to add a small toolbar to your browser which allows to you save articles directly from the website itself.
Evernote (Scrapbook and Notepad Together)
You may want to do more than just save websites-- you may want to save some notes for yourself from those mid-summer inspirations. Evernote is a comprehensive note and organization system that lets you both clip and save your findings online as well as create your own notes. Create notebooks for different types of resources, or different ensembles, and you can write down your brainstorms and save materials like websites and videos for future use. It's cloud-based, so you can use it on multiple devices. For best results, install the Web Clipper into your browser so that you can save webpages directly into your notebooks, like with Diigo, and the mobile app so that you can save articles from your phone or tablet.
Twitter (Share with the World, Save for Yourself)
Never mind the vast bulk of noise on Twitter-- if you've got a professional Twitter presence, you know that it's a great way to share resources that you find, as well as pick up on what your colleagues are reading. If you find something useful, tweet it. This way you've sent it out in case others may be interested, and you can open up your "sent tweets" to see everything you've shared recently. In the fall, looking back at your sent history will show all the bits you collected over the summer that you thought were interesting or worth sharing.
In-Depth: Put a note to yourself as a hashtag at the end, or put the name of your choir as a hashtag to make it easier to search in the fall ("#saveforfall" or "#UHSChamber"). More-In-Depth: Create an IFTTT ("If This, Then That") recipe to save your tweets automatically in Evernote.
Hopefully this helps you with some ideas of how to capture all those great findings from the summer season so that you can share them with your singers when you reconvene in the fall. Are there any others that you'd recommend? Join in, and have a healthy and happy summer. Until Fall!
Numerous articles abound on the internet, news magazines and broadcasts, Facebook and beyond, regarding summer vacation. A topic within these articles that really hits home is regarding technology and how it permeates our lives. It even invades our time away from work. Who doesn’t work 24/7 in the 21st century?
Not long ago, cell phones were the size of military two-way radios. If you owned one, it was in your car. Now, there isn’t a belt loop or purse that does not hold one of these marvels of modern technology. I have even seen female parent sponsors, on tour no less, pull them out of their shirts as they attach flip phones to their unmentionables. I wonder if there has been a study on the effects of cell phones stored near other parts of the body, other than holding it to the ear. To avoid this dreaded disease, Bluetooth is the way to go. Well, enough with the medical discussion on cell phones. I will leave that to the experts. 
Soon, if not already, many of us will be packing the minivans and SUVs to head off to the beach, the mountains or a hotel with a pool to escape house cleaning, cooking and the pets. Yes, some will not go anywhere, either by choice or for economic reasons, yet either way, the cell phone is with you.
Can one leave the phone behind…probably not by choice, as we would be lost without it. Shut it off…not if it is your only mode of communication. You name I, the scenarios on less cell phone usage are endless. Then to complicate matters, there are smart phones. Smart phones can link to your two dozen or so email accounts. Most importantly, your work email account.
Let’s not forget text messaging, Facetime and Skype. How many times, while out of the office has a colleague or boss sent you a quick text message to ask a quick tiny, brief question? A question that must be answered right then and now. The convenience of technology has become a major inconvenience. Many thought the American way of life was stressful. How does everyone feel now?
Technology was endeared to us with a tag line of “saving time, energy and money”. In my experience, it has done none of those things. Maybe your experience has been different. If it has, then maybe you should write an article to help the rest of us.
Saving time and energy – instead of sending a memo, or making a quick call on a landline, we now have the…”just one more thing”. Then to top it all off, there are the upgrades and learning curves for each upgrade. Upgrades seem to be never ending, as we all deal with more than one technology, i.e., Apple, Microsoft, Finale, Sibelius, Blackboard, etc., are all time consuming. The list is endless. Remember the line we all used as children, when traveling – “are we there yet”?
Saving money - that’s an easy one. I print much more than I ever did before. Sure, we can do all our prep work on individual devices. However, when the actual meeting occurs, hard copies are printed by the dozens. Devices such as the iPad, SurfacePro, laptops (still heavy and bulky), and so on, could be used. I own all of these items, as I am sure you do as well. However, coordinating formats is a nightmare.     
Yes, we are…one-step removed from total automation. Until that day actually arrives, we should consider when and when not to keep technology a thumb click away.
Just this week, I was at the movie theater with my wife and daughter. My phone vibrated. Yes, I should have just shut it off, but let’s be honest, how many people really shut them off? Then it vibrated a second time. I do not look, and/or listen in settings such as theaters and concert halls (turned off, but immediately turned on during intermission). Then it vibrated again. My mind raced with who in the world would need me that badly. I ignored it.
As soon as the show was over, I pulled the phone from my belt. Was it anything of importance? Not at all, yet, I let it take my mind from the cute movie I was watching with my family. Are there any other guilty parties out there? Now, let’s not get into a tirade of replies on the evils of not turning off our cell phones. Let me say – my phone is always on vibrate, and never rings. I never want to be that person they all say,” What is the matter with that person?”  
How many of us allow students, singers, to use cell phones in class and rehearsals? None of us would allow such a practice…yet, as mature adults, leaders, we think we are different. We are exceptional, and need that constant “good  vibration” to know we are part of humankind. Are we that needy? I don't think so.
Vacation, in the classic sense, is for R&R. However, when one returns from a vacation, they seemingly need a vacation. In Europe it is called holiday. It wouldn’t hurt those living in America to call it a holiday. Holiday, classically, has been a time when family and friends gather. A time when stores are/were closed. Business was on a break. This is not so today. Could vacation be called a holiday? “By George”, it could be called a holiday!
Because of this need for holiday, I have devised a 5-step program to get off the grid to allow myself a personal holiday. Getting off the grid for a personal holiday time is a very worthwhile endeavor. My hope is that you will consider joining me in freeing yourself from the bondage of technology, starting with the following 5-steps (please reply with additional ideas):
  1. Turn off cell/smart phone at night. The old adage once was-no calls after 9:00 PM. That is my goal; I have yet to achieve that goal. I do not respond to calls after 9:00 PM, however, I do return text messages…I do turn it off when I lay my head on the pillow.
  2. Leave the phone in the office during rehearsals. I have achieved this, at least 99.9% of the time. There is still that occasional time I think I need to check on something. This should never occur.
  3. Do not talk and drive (never text message). There once was a thing called Drive Time when I was younger in Boston. Music was played, no commercials, no talk, just relaxing classical music. It was a time to get your head wrapped around your day. I am maybe at 50% on this. My current vehicle can read text messages aloud, if you use an Android product. I now use an iPhone, which is not supported by this system, so texting is not an issue for me. Additionally, I don’t know about you but I think people that text and drive are dangerous, and slow traffic down. As a somewhat reformed horn blowing Bostonian, I would prefer to use my horn less often.
  4. Never set it next to you in a restaurant and/or meeting. That is easier said than done - what if your calendar is on your smart phone. I think you get the idea. People are still more important than things. I am trying to use an old fashion calendar. These calendars give a visual Image of what is ahead. When relying on a smart phone calendar, one waits to be reminded of an event, making sure to set up early reminders, and remember that you just received a reminder of said event.
  5. 99.9% of the time it isn’t as important as we think. As the hottest song among elementary students states, “let it go”. Don’t answer that call and/or text message. Don’t be enslaved by technology. We control the on/off switch. Technology does not control us, at least not yet.
In summary, “let it go”. Enjoy your summer. Use this time to foster good technology habits. You can only have holiday, if you give it to yourself! 
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 a piece of useful repertoire from the ChoralNet Community Composition Showcase.  A variety of voicings and levels of difficulty will be presented.  Enjoy!)
Harmony In Gold by Dale Trumbore SATB and orchestra (click for PDF and AUDIO)
Level: High School or higher
Uses: General Concert Use, Building Community Relationships, Choral Masterworks
Program Themes: Summer, Flowers, Beauty of the Earth
This Piece Would Program Well With: The Heavens are Telling from The Creation by Joseph Haydn available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus
Harmony in Gold was commissioned by the Milburn High School Choir from Milburn NJ.  A quick search on the school showed a 100% graduation rate.  Could the music program and talented directors have something to do with that?  Dale Trumbore very skillfully  wove young voices into an orchestral tapestry.  The choir is easily heard through the texture and the text painting by choir and brass is astounding!  Harmony in Gold really got me thinking about the value of collaboration with our instrumental colleagues.
For my graduate conducting recital, I collaborated with the orchestra director at the high school I taught at.  It was one of the most fulfilling musical events of my life and the lives of my choir members.   Is there an orchestra at your school or in your community?  In Racine, WI where I live, there is an excellent community orchestra that regularly collaborates with our high school choirs.  I challenge high school and community choir directors to step up their programs through collaborations such as this.  I am forwarding Harmony In Gold to our city orchestra.  Won’t you do the same?
If you are a high school director choose a couple pieces so you and your instrumental counterpart can share in the conducting duties.  Make it clear from the beginning that you would like to conduct at least one piece and that you will make your choirs available for him/her to conduct.  At the community level you may have to accept that you are the guests of the orchestra director. 
Why collaborate? It will expand the musical experiences of your choir members, make your program more valued by your community, build a larger audience for you and make valuable connections to the musical movers and shakers in your community. 
Why would a community orchestra want to collaborate with you? Ticket sales! If they accept, be sure to sell the performance to your families.  Our collaborations are sold out events.
How do you collaborate?  Ask!  It never hurts to ask.  Be a regular audience member of the program you want to collaborate with.  Get to know the members of the board of directors.  Offer the orchestra free advertising in your concert programs.  In a high school, offer to run sound, house lights or take tickets at the instrumental director’s concerts.  Building relationships is essential.  
Get on it!
Harmony in Gold is available from the composer.
(Original publication: March 17, 2015)
This is just one of the 74 choral conductors on the ACDA Wall of Honor. LEARN MORE about the Wall of Honor and MEET ALL of the award recipients.
Thanks to a number of you who have already volunteered to become ChoralNet Resource Curators. We'd love a few if you're thinking about becoming a Resource Curator, it's not too late: you can still help us out.
What's a Resource Curator? Glad you asked. Resource Curators are responsible for managing parts of the ChoralNet Resource sections (click the off-green 'Resources' button and explore, if you haven't already). The Resources sections are a well-loved and well-used part of ChoralNet, but they're getting a bit shopworn. There's a lot there that could be updated, and a lot of new things that probably aren't there but should be--and if you're current in a particular area, we'd love you to share your expertise. If you're a recent/soon-to-be grad, curating a ChoralNet Resources section is a great thing to put on your well as giving you a great opportunity to discover lots of interesting and useful material.
You'll likely be responsible (along with a few other people) for a single Resource category. You'll get to go through everything that's currently there, find dead links, update new links, and find interesting and helpful discussions on ChoralNet and in ACDA resources to link people to. Once that's all done, you'll be responsible for vetting submissions and generally keeping your section informative and vital. There's a bunch of work to do at the start, and then after that, there's a small amount of maintenance work you'll need to do periodically to keep everything in good shape.
Not an ACDA member? Not to worry...we'll bestow a complimentary ACDA Associate Membership on the first 5 of you who sign up and are not already ACDA members.
Interested? Fill this in and let us know!
Thanks to all of you for reading for the last three years!
And thanks to ACDA and Scott Dorsey for sheparding this process, which has been as informative for me (or more) than it has for any of you.
And thanks to all those who took the time to comment or write private notes to me about my posts. And those who allowed me to use their writing for guest posts.
I thank my parents, who are still going strong at age 88—you have been endlessly supportive of all my choices—of course I owe you my life, but much more as well!
As always, thanks are owed to my teachers: Neil Lieurance, who we lost last year to pancreatic cancer, to Rod Eichenberger, my undergraduate teacher and early influence (who's still going strong at age 85), and to Eric Ericson, mentor and inspiration. To my grad school teachers, John Leman, Elmer Thomas and Earl Rivers. To orchestral conducting teachers Sam Krachmalnick and Teri Murai. And, of course, to other teachers of other subjects who inspired in so many ways.
To the many singers and instrumentalists I've been privileged to work with and learn from—you've taught me much more than I ever did you—from members of my church choirs, Seattle Pro Musica, Mt. Holyoke College, Pacific Lutheran University, the Choral Union, the Seattle Symphony Chorale, Choral Arts, Pro Coro Canada, and the University of North Texas. And to my many conducting students over the years--the same goes for all of you!
And to my many colleagues and friends, fellow conductors on the path to understanding and expressing this great musical art, I've learned so much from you, too.
And finally, to my wife Kathryn—you make it all so much more fun!
See you all at the next ACDA or NCCO conference.
“Life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.” Nadia Boulanger
How detail oriented are you? There are plenty of details, having nothing to do with the actual music which must be handled by SOMEONE for any music organization to run smoothly. And if you are the one ultimately responsible for those details, do you feel stressed? Could you ever be satisfied with someone else handling the minutiae for you for a change?
My friend, Jerome*, was having a bad year.  He was crabby with his choirs, short with his accompanists and snarky with his friends, me included. Those of us who were his friends or occasionally worked with him wondered what had caused such an abrupt change in personality.  Jerome was normally an even-tempered, sweetheart of a guy and this nasty stranger inhabiting his body was tough to be around. The first time he was nasty around me, I thought he was kidding.  Vi*, another friend, told me she thought he hadn’t been acting like himself for months.  He was so unpleasant to be around; many of his friends began to avoid him.  When he called me for a Christmas gig; I agreed to do it and wished I hadn’t. I began to avoid him as well.
I saw Jerome again the following summer. He seemed to be his old self, telling jokes, asking me about my choirs and my family.  I acted as if nothing was wrong, and asked after his choirs and his family as well. He told me he was sorry about the December gig, hoped he hadn’t been too big of a jerk but there had been a reason for his behavior.  He then told me what had happened to him.
Jerome had been overwhelmed.  Every small task it seemed in his big, well-paying church job and his community chorale gig fell to him. Since he was organist as well as choir director for the church, it was difficult for him to take a Sunday off. Normally, all the things he had to do, coupled with being a nice guy who cooperated with those he worked with, were not a source of stress but a source of energy for him.
It all changed when his youngest child was diagnosed with leukemia. He didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat properly, he ran around constantly trying to keep all his obligations as well as support his wife who did all the physician and hospital appointments and took care of their other children.  Jerome told no one about the stress he was under since he always considered himself to be a trooper and didn’t want anyone’s pity. He didn’t realize it was help he should be asking for, not pity.
The day after Easter, Pastor asked him what was wrong and it came flooding out. The Pastor gave him “permission” to do what seems so simple; take care of himself and his family and ask his colleagues to pick up the slack for a bit. Jerome felt like a weight had been lifted from him. He explained the situation to the good folks he worked with, both at church and the chorale, and they rallied ‘round him and his family.  He could focus on tasks at hand and not worry he was missing something important by letting them slip through he cracks.
As his son got better, Jerome did too. But Jerome made a discovery about himself; he could delegate and not feel less of a musician or director. His attention to detail could be used to delegate tasks to competent people and then, let them do those tasks. And he continues to operate that way, delegating non-musical details. Being forced into looking at the minutiae differently helped him be a better conductor, musician and person then he was before his son’s illness.
Perhaps we should all think about “giving up” some of those lovely little tasks that overwhelm us at times in our own work. Maybe by doing so, we will become better choral directors and conductors or at least, we might be more pleasant to the people around us. We don’t have to be the one to handle all the details, just the one who make sure they get done. By someone. Something to think about as the choral year winds down.
*Name Withheld by request
The Choral Ethics series will continue in the 2015-16 academic year.  READ the entire series on choral ethics by Marie Grass Amenta.
       Choral Ethics is Not an Oxymoron
       Choral Ethics (Part 1): Songs My Mother Taught Me
       Choral Ethics (Part 2): Amateur Versus Professional
       Choral Ethics (Part 3): Kindness is NOT for Wimps
       Choral Ethics (Part 4): Reaping What We Sow
       Choral Ethics (Part 5): “Maestra Manners” Explains All
       Choral Ethics (Part 6): Judging Our Colleagues
       Choral Ethics (Part 7): Our Choral Culture
       Choral Ethics (Part 8): Don’t Shoot the Piano Player
       Choral Ethics (Part 9): Preaching to the Choir
       Choral Ethics (Part 10): Audition Time is Here
       Choral Ethics (Part 11): Rock Star
       Choral Ethics (Part 12): Truth to Tell
(Each week we look at a piece of useful repertoire from the ChoralNet Community Composition Showcase.  A variety of voicings and levels of difficulty will be presented.  Enjoy!)
Dreaming in Darkness by Robinson McClelland SATB divisi a cappella (click for PDF and AUDIO)
Level: High School or higher
Uses: General Concert Use, Expanding Harmonic Pallet
Program Themes: The Stuff of Dreams, Raising Children
This Piece Would Program Well With: It Takes a Village by Joan Szymko available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus and will be performed by Arlington Martin High School Chamber Singers at the ACDA convention in Dallas.
Short and sweet.  Robinson McClelland’s Dreaming in Darkness is an excellent introduction to upper sonority harmony.   Use this as a teaching piece to move your singers’ harmonic pallet out of the 19th century. 
I really like McClelland’s use of perusal videos to share his works (click here).  Combining this with a timed close caption track would be even better.   Anything that saves a conductor time ranks high on my list, and having the score move along with the music so I can multitask and not be lost is a real plus.   Check out Robinson McClelland’s ChoralNet profile for links to his interesting Facebook page and website. 
Dreaming in Darkness is available from from the composer.
(Original publication: March 3, 2013)
For those of you in school and church choirs, another year is coming to a close. You might well be thinking to yourself "Hey, I'm going to be missing everyone during summer break...maybe I should go find something to do to continue to be part of the choral community!". We have a fine opportunity for you: become a ChoralNet Resources curator. The Resources sections are a well-loved and well-used part of ChoralNet, but they're getting a bit shopworn. There's a lot there that could be updated, and a lot of new things that probably aren't there but should be--and if you're current in a particular area, we'd love you to share your expertise. (Since a lot of the work on the Resources sections happened prior to ChoralNet becoming part of the ACDA, there are also a lot of ACDA resources that ought to be linked up). If you're a recent grad, curating a ChoralNet Resources section is a great thing to put on your well as giving you a great opportunity to discover lots of interesting and useful material.
You'll likely be responsible (along with a few other people) for a single Resource category. You'll get to go through everything that's currently there, find dead links, update new links, and find interesting and helpful discussions on ChoralNet and in ACDA resources to link people to. Once that's all done, you'll be responsible for vetting submissions and generally keeping your section informative and vital. There's a bunch of work to do at the start, and then after that, there's a small amount of maintenance work you'll need to do about quarterly to keep everything in good shape.
Interested? Fill this in and let us know!
This is just one of the 74 choral conductors on the ACDA Wall of Honor. LEARN MORE about the Wall of Honor and MEET ALL of the award recipients.
As I mentioned, I'm leaving ChoralNet blog posting in another week. Next year will be interesting, to say the least.
l'll be taking over Jerry McCoy's Director of Choral Studies duties in an interim year at UNT, so conducting the A Cappella Choir, being the primary teacher of conducting for our graduate choral conducting students, being primary in creating their comprehensive exams and advising on dissertations (and four to six will be doing them this year!), and administering the choral program. I'll still be conducting the Collegium Singers (who will sing at the Boston Early Music Festival in June and at the NCCO conference in Portland, OR in November), and will remain chair of the Division of Conducting & Ensembles at the College of Music.
For A Cappella, I'm still planning much of the repertoire, but know I'll do Stravinsky's Les Noces in the spring. And I'll conduct the Grand Chorus (the three UNT mixed choirs) and Symphony Orchestra in Haydn's The Creation at the end of the year. This is part of the score study work to be done this summer. But that's one of the processes I really enjoy.
I've conducted Les Noces before, but one of the nice things is there's a very good new edition out. Any time I do this kind of work again, I usually want to completely re-study, but the new edition makes it even more important.
And with The Creation there are lots of things to decide. We'll do it in English and the libretto by Van Swieten has "issues," to say the least! There are other versions, including the Shaw/Parker translation, one by Nicholas Temperley and another by Neil Jenkins, who has several wonderful articles (1, 2, and 3), plus his own translation. This is the kind of research I love doing and I'll ultimately make individual decisions (collaborating with my soloists) on choices, but probably staying closely with the original text.
Peter Brown's book about the early performances of The Creation is wonderful and leads to all sorts of questions to answer, particularly about the size and disposition of the orchestra. In most of Haydn's performances with large forces, he had three sets of woodwinds (Harmonie), 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassons, and two horns. In addition his trumpets (2) were doubled, as well as the 2 trombones (he usually also had two sets of timpani). And he scored for contrabassoon and bass trombone (not doubled). The set of parts that Haydn used (and which have markings in his hand) also had extra parts for the contrabassoon and bass trombone, which I'll certainly use. All three of the Harmonie were not used all the time, but surviving evidence shows that it was likely that Harmonie 1 played everything (meaning some solos in the arias), Harmonie 2 on most big tuttis (even in arias), and Harmonie 3 in choruses and at other special places ("Let there be LIGHT").
If I can manage to use the triple Harmonie, it changes the balances and color . . . and in some moments, such as the "roar" of the lion, it will mean that the low Ab will be played by all cellos and basses, six bassoons and contrabassoons, plus bass trombone. A mighty roar, indeed!
It's these kinds of things that come from research that I enjoy doing. And hopefully it all comes together in an interpretation that is not just about being "historically correct," but gets to what Haydn wanted to express and how he expressed it. For me, that's part of all performance practice—figuring out how better to express the emotion and ideas of the composer.
Wish me luck!
CHORAL ETHICS (Part 12): TRUTH TO TELL by Marie Grass Amenta
“Truth is always strange, stranger than fiction.” Lord Byron
Since writing about Choral Ethics here on ChoralNet, I have received a number of emails.  Folks who contact me either want to thank me or to tell me their stories. And their stories are amazing.  Some seem outlandish at the outset, but then I follow up by asking the emailer a few more questions. Then I “get it,” deciding it has to be true.
Martha* spent nine months co-founding a non-auditioned community choir, consisting of mostly people over 50.  Their goal was to get together, enjoy singing and perhaps perform a little something for family and friends. Period. The community center found a young choral conductor who did an excellent job of choosing music and directing.  He required this choir, made up of folks over 50, to memorize a couple of pieces for a fifteen minute community performance attended by friends and family. That doesn’t seem like too much for simple folk songs but then he required they memorize an Italian aria, in Italian. Some singers balked at the idea of memorizing a language unfamiliar to them and complained it was too difficult. Several suggested to him it pretty common for choirs to use music in performance, but he wouldn’t budge. Martha, who is a therapist and works primarily with midlife and older adults, wrote a very respectful letter discussing the problems of word retrieval at this age.  He responded, saying he would likely not require memorization again. Then changed his mind and required they memorize another aria in a foreign language. Then told the choir as long as they worked with him, they would be required to memorize. Several lovely people dropped out as a result. After working so hard to “birth” this choir, Martha decided she had no choice but to leave. It was a very difficult decision but when she realized her R and R had become more stressful than her work; she felt she had no choice. 
It seemed a bit odd to me for a choral director not to take into account or to understand his singers’ age would make it difficult in their ability to memorize a new foreign language. Perhaps he didn’t understand this would be a chorus of older adults but Martha assures me he did understand.  She believes he had a vision of this choir being a showcase for him and not a community chorus for senior citizens as was intended.
Dougie* started his first college teaching job in as strange a way as I have ever heard.  He interviewed one spring with a nice, four year liberal arts college in the Midwest with a strong choral program. He was charmed by the music faculty, including Monty*, the gentleman he would be replacing due to early retirement. The college owned a wonderful, large choral library and Monty was quite proud of it.
Dougie was hired for the position and excited to get this “dream job.” He, his wife and young child moved into a quaint house in late July, getting settled so he could begin to work on repertoire from that lovely choral library the first week of August.  This was in the days before music libraries were put on spread sheets so everything was organized in a card catalogue. Dougie decided to go in the last day of July, pick up the card catalogue and start browsing.
When he opened the door to the choir room, he had a sick feeling.  He found the card catalogue, opened the box and found……..nothing. Well, nothing but a note from Monty.  Monty’s note described how he was being forced into early retirement and would be punishing Dougie for it. How? By taking that lovely music library and hiding envelopes of music ALL OVER CAMPUS! Dougie contacted the department chair immediately. Together that day they found a few envelopes of the thousand pieces of music the college owned.  Dougie wanted the college to press charges against Monty, but since he had hidden the music and didn’t steal it, they couldn’t. Eventually they had the music work/study students help look, but it took until the end of the fall semester to find most of the music.  Even a few years later, they occasionally found an envelope. At first, Dougie thought it a sad way to end Monty’s tenure. Then he was too busy trying to find the music to care. What a legacy!
*Name Withheld by request 
READ the entire series on choral ethics by Marie Grass Amenta.
       Choral Ethics is Not an Oxymoron
       Choral Ethics (Part 1): Songs My Mother Taught Me
       Choral Ethics (Part 2): Amateur Versus Professional
       Choral Ethics (Part 3): Kindness is NOT for Wimps
       Choral Ethics (Part 4): Reaping What We Sow
       Choral Ethics (Part 5): “Maestra Manners” Explains All
       Choral Ethics (Part 6): Judging Our Colleagues
       Choral Ethics (Part 7): Our Choral Culture
       Choral Ethics (Part 8): Don’t Shoot the Piano Player
       Choral Ethics (Part 9): Preaching to the Choir
       Choral Ethics (Part 10): Audition Time is Here
       Choral Ethics (Part 11): Rock Star
(Each week we look at a piece of useful repertoire from the ChoralNet Community Composition Showcase.  A variety of voicings and levels of difficulty will be presented.  Enjoy!)
Soon One Day by Michael Sandvik SATB a cappella (click for PDF and AUDIO)
Level: High School or higher
Uses: Sacred, General Concert Use, Finale
Program Themes: Get up Out of Your Seats and Clap!
This Piece Would Program Well WithAin'-A That Good News arr. by Willaim Dawson available from JWPepper and Sheet Music Plus.
The reason I am a choir director is that my High School Choir Director got me excited about choral music.  He shared some advice he had received from a mentor of his. He said "Always end each concert with a spiritual." This practice was once shared by the bulk of choral directors. It has died off a bit and I think that is a mistake.  Listen to the building excitement and energy in this new spiritual by Michael Sandvik.  Soon One Day  reminds me of many of the old time classics that were the mainstay of so many programs a few years back.  Put this on the end of your concert and make sure you have one more for an encore.  You are going to need it.
This work is available from the composer through e-mail:
(Original publication: February 24, 2013)
This is just one of the 74 choral conductors on the ACDA Wall of Honor. LEARN MORE about the Wall of Honor and MEET ALL of the award recipients.
 (Maestoso: Handwriting-based music theory software. Screengrab from "Maestoso Prototype," Laura Barreto, 1:15)
It seems like the last 12 months have seen great growth in the field of pen and touch computing, both for the computing industry in general and music technology in specific. The release of the first iPad in 2010 promised to launch widespread access to digital ink and handwriting for mainstream computer users, but the first few years of the iPad era demonstrated that finding a niche for handwriting apps was a slow process. Fast-forward five years, and a variety of software and hardware developments have seemingly re-energized the concept of digital handwriting, but I believe that the biggest development in the digital ink field is not a technical one, but rather a shift in the industry's thinking that could lead to some very interesting developments for us in music. I met recently with a colleague in a large software company who has been watching the field of digital ink for many generations, and he said that the software and hardware industries hadn't really fully committed to digital ink in the past because it wasn't something in which they thought users were particularly interested. As a musician, educator and technologist, this point floored me-- how many times have we looked at a file on the screen and wished we could just write directly on it rather than fumble for a way to comment, edit or annotate using the keyboard? I had taken for granted that the desire to write directly on an electronic document was universal, but my colleague's observation was that the business world (still a major driver of the IT industry) preferred to edit documents by type. His suggestion was that type is "clean" (i.e., professional) and efficient for people to use and share. What his company was starting to realize, though, was that creative fields such as art, design, music, and education, wanted to write freely into a computer precisely because it was messy: the process of designing, creating, annotating and editing is much more about a fluid process than a final product. Where businesses are often more concerned with the professionalism of a final document, a musician is more concerned with personalizing a document to serve an internal purpose: creating a public purpose. This software company's realization that education and creative/design fields had fundamentally different priorities in working with digital files was leading them to re-commit to designing software that let people use digital ink to collaborate, edit, communicate about and design digital work. Recently I've written about two examples of digital ink and handwriting already in the field: StaffPad and NotateMe. These two programs are each very exciting for what they demonstrate about the utility of touchscreen and digital ink for music composition and editing. If this shift in thinking is indicative of a larger industry trend (and I believe that it is), we will continue to see many more promising developments in the coming couple of years that will accelerate the development of software and hardware for digital inking. A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology in Education, a symposium of educators, researchers, technology industry and computer scientists hosted by Microsoft. Viewing the research projects from around the world and across all computing platforms, I saw two major trends which I think have great promise for us as musicians.
The first headline was that document markup continues to be the largest use of digital ink. The idea of marking up a .PDF file on an iPad or iPhone is pretty unsurprising to us at this point, but the immediate future of document markup is in shifting from single-person to collaboration. Again, thinking about the arts, design and education fields, these users all share a high priority on collaboration, and having multiple people work on the same document simultaneously creates a tremendous capacity for rapid creation. In short, think of Google Docs with handwriting support (which, yes, can be done now with plugins, but is a bit limited). While highly speculative and far from release, a team from Cornell University demonstrated a system called RichReview which allows you to upload a .PDF document and share it with a group or team in order to mark it up. Their system also includes the ability to record audio annotations. Perhaps most surprisingly, the system inserts the marked-up comments into the document themselves by respacing all of the text to make room rather than just as a layer on top. It's worth the two minutes to watch their demo video for a sense of how the system works. Using a system such as this, an ensemble could be sharing a common copy of a score, and everyone could edit or mark it up together-- imagine the composition studio or rehearsal where the director can re-write the score on the fly and have it synced to all the musicians instantly.
The second headline to me was that handwriting recognition technology is extending beyond handwriting into symbols, drawings and non-standard languages such as music notation. The workshop featured multiple demonstrations of systems that decoded a user's drawings or doodles and translated them into machine action. This is the process which currently powers handwriting-based notation systems such as StaffPad and NotateMe, but it seems obvious that we'll see many more entrants into this space soon, and not just for notation software. I was particularly interested in a project from Texas A&M's Sketch Recognition Lab called Maestoso. The research team of Paul Taele and Laura Barreto have built a music theory instruction program around handwritten notation recognition, noting that while notation programs are most useful for people who are already familiar with reading and writing music, beginning students will learn music theory and notation best by writing it. Akin to our beginning theory workbooks, this software automatically recognizes and evaluates the students' written input and gives them the result of their work.
Neither of these headlines are "new" developments, but to my mind they show a renewed interest from industry and research in the use of digital ink for creative processes. We have seen great developments in this field recently, but they've been slow to push into the mainstream of computer users, even in a dedicated field such as music technology. For a handful of reasons, that seems to be changing quickly. Part of this is also simple market competition-- where Apple dominated the touchscreen device world with iOS for the first three or four years, Microsoft's entries with Windows 8 and the Surface and Google's announcement that ChromeOS and touchscreen Chromebooks can run Android apps natively means that the software and hardware powering pen and touch will continue to build up steam. With software developers starting to look at the ways in which handwriting and digital ink serve the way that education, the arts, and creative fields use technology, that could mean big things for us in the next few months ahead.

Ward Swingle died this past January and, after reading his Facebook post about Ward, I asked Bruce Sellers if he was willing to allow me to copy his post about his experiences with him. Here's a bit about Bruce:

Bruce Sellers is an American tenor and conductor with a rather extraordinary background as an ensemble singer. After studying at the University of Georgia he went to Indiana University where he studied with the American Heldentenor James King. He also studied with Marcia Baldwin and Margaret Harshaw. At the same time he became involved in the Early Music Institute there. From 1985 to 1988 he sang with the wonderful all-male ensemble, Chanticleer. In 1988 he went to Amsterdam to study with Dutch baritone Max van Egmont (I was lucky enough to work with Max for 6 years at the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, WA from 1979-1985 when I was conductor, and again in 2009 leading a Messiah performance when my colleagues from Allegro Baroque got some of us back together, along with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra led by Stanley Ritchie, to celebrate their anniversary with the first complete performance of Messiah with period instruments in Spokane. Max, in his late 70's, still sang fantastically!). Bruce worked regularly as a soloist and free-lance singer, beginning to sing with the Netherlands Chamber Choir as a freelancer immediately. He then became a full-time member of the Chamber Choir in 1990, singing with them until 2005, when he returned to the US.

This choir, much like a number of other professional European choirs, worked more as an orchestra would do in the US, meaning an extraordinary number of concerts each year, some with the current music director, but many with guest conductors, meaning that Bruce sang with many (all?) of the outstanding conductors in Europe during this period (for example, Eric Ericson was long a regular guest conductor with this choir). Singers also had to be flexible and be able to adapt to many different styles, from early music to the latest avant-garde music. Frankly, I'm jealous of this incredible experience! Here's Bruce:

I sometimes have to pinch myself to realize how blessed I've been in my life! Ward could be demanding and wasn't always diplomatic, in fact at times he was downright unpleasant, but it was always in pursuit of making things as good as they could be.

For us the challenges were that of the 8 singers he had to work with, 4 of us were native English-speakers who were also a bit familiar with the style he wanted. The others were Dutch and maybe not quite as at home in the style, but they were quick studies. We had to learn to sing with mikes, which is an art unto itself, especially mikes of the hand-held variety, plus the program had to be done totally off book, something else we weren't as familiar with doing (though in Chanticleer I had to memorize TONS of music!). Our rehearsal periods per project tended to be only about 2 weeks tops (about 10 3-hour rehearsals), but I think for this program we had maybe 3 weeks since it had to be from memory. At the same time, Ward was rehearsing 8 other singers from the choir for the other half of the program, which featured Berio's A-Ronne, which Berio had written for the Swingle Singers (it's a crazy piece and VERY hard).

It seemed to me that part of the reason that Ward was rather bitter at this time was that this was not long after the big court battle he had waged for the rights to his name. The New Swingle Singers wanted to disassociate themselves from him, but wanted to keep the name. He sued in order to retain control. From what little he said about it at the time one could tell it was a VERY sore point with him. What he particularly resented was that people would use his editions of his arrangements and then decide to arbitrarily to just change things here and there as they wanted. It really cheesed him off. Everything was to be done essentially "come scritto", as far as he was concerned, no exceptions!

A colleague in Holland just mentioned to me that she saw the Swingle Singers recently over there and that it appeared Ward had reconciled with the group, which is wonderful news. I remember his contention at the time was that the group (based in England, and calling itself "The New Swingle Singers"--Chanticleer performed with them in a festival in Holland in 1988) were using his name and doing his arrangements, but were changing the arrangements here and there at their whim, which greatly aggravated him. 

I can't remember exactly what was on our part of the program, but I remember Ward wrote a Cole Porter Medley specially for us that was quite difficult, but really lovely. We also did stuff like the Bach G minor Fugue, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Agincourt Song, When I'm 64, Ward's setting of "Roadside Fire", "All the Things You Are", and a thing called "Music History 101" that featured "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as done in various periods of music history (Mediaeval, Renaissance, Baroque, etc.), right down to a "rap" version, which featured yours truly. I was the only one who dared to do it (or who was stupid enough, take your pick!), but I had fun with it--yep, I came out in reversed ball-cap, sunglasses, and lots of bling necklaces--it WAS the mid-90s, y'know. Anyway, Ward loved it and relished telling me that I really was nothing but a "big ol' slice of pure Georgia ham", which is just what was needed!! Somewhere I actually have a cassette tape (remember those?!?) of one of those concerts, and I think on one of our compilation CDs of various choir performances Ward's version of "Roadside Fire" shows up (it's a lovely piece).

Pardon me for being so long-winded.....the memories tend to come flooding back all of a sudden!! Long & short of it: he was a brilliant man.
You find a great position. It might even be a position you have dreamed of being offered. Because you are overwhelmed with excitement, as soon as you are offered the position, you say yes without regard to the salary and benefit package. How many have taken a job because of the adrenalin rush of being offered a position. If you say never, you are not being honest with yourself.
If you are a Facebook user, you have read numerous disparaging posts by colleagues and friends regarding their position, their supervisor, their budgets, or lack thereof, difficulty with parents, and more.
Although this piece is not about Facebook and public postings, it does deserve a quick recommendation by this author: Do not post anything “ever” that would damage your present position, current relationship, and/or future positions. Follow the adage, if you do not have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all – what you say now, may come back to bite you later.
Now, back to the topic at hand…this piece is only focused on salary and benefits. It should be noted that the position description is also vital. However, much of that is not negotiable.  
When entering into an employment agreement, not including union and/or professional employment policies and recommendations, both salary and benefits, take time before you sign the contract. This isn’t Shark Tank, although it may feel that way. Ask, if offered the position you applied for, for a day or two to consider the position, read over the employment policies, benefits, etc. When you have your follow-up conversation to talk final numbers and benefits, it is important to know all you can about the employment policies. These policies, including but are not limited to, guidelines on vacation time, sick days, personal days, continuing education, prep periods, retirement, etc.
In terms of making the position, aside from artistic reward (which is why you applied for the position in the first place), financially beneficial the following common steps will serve as a guide to negotiate your salary and benefits :
  1. Do not discuss salary until the employer offers you the position -Refrain from mentioning your salary desires in your resume, including past and present. Obviously, if asked for in the ad you are responding to, you will need to supply a salary expectation.
  2. “Those who speak first, lose.” Allow the interviewer to make the offer. Remember, the first figure given by the employer is a starting place. The employer has a range in which they can negotiate.
  3. Do as much research as you can – Negotiate through knowledge. Research the employer, and the salary range for your position and experience. A useful starting point can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics website.
  4. Let negotiations begin – Know your worth, because of your experience and education. You should strive for the highest salary possible. Yet, be fair, as the employer has a bottom line. You can however, negotiate a salary review date in your contract.
  5. There’s more than pay? – Salary, is only one component of the negotiating process. You can also negotiate vacation time, sick days, personal days, continuing education, prep periods, retirement, etc.
Know your field, and your prospective employer. With this knowledge the “world is your oyster”. So, negotiate.