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GUEST BLOG: "Conference Reflections: Los Angeles" by Paul Carey

Dallas is Calling You!
The Dallas ACDA National Conference is coming soon but it's not too late to register and attend. I’m writing to encourage everyone in the choral field to attend the Dallas conference. There will be so much music to hear by so many choirs, all the way from children's groups to international touring professional choirs. There will be a performance of the Britten War Requiem which should be astounding. There are interest sessions on every imaginable topic, led by experts in the field (most of whom are very personable and fun, by the way). There are reading sessions and roundtables, and for those who may want to be on the move in regard to their career, opportunities every day to meet people from around the country and create some positive networking.
Each of us may have a different motivation for attending, but all are served by the wide range of events at a national conference. For the next few Saturdays I am going to give a personal view of amazing things that I experienced at the last four national conferences. These are personal and somewhat anecdotal, which I think can be a good thing. Sometimes the personal story garners more interest than a simple “Go to the conference” directive.
My first national conference was in Los Angeles in 2005. The weather was great and I was able to stay at my brother's house just north of LA.  This was already an improvement over things like the weather in Chicago, my hometown. At this conference there was the first performance of a piece of mine on the national ACDA level, and an amazing amount of camaraderie with my fellow composer friends, especially a small group of us who had just recently been picked up by Oxford University Press. I also got to meet Kirke Mechem and many other great people.
There were many great performances and I will share two of them with you; the first was the final Saturday night concert which held the choirs from the University of North Texas under Jerry McCoy, St. Olaf under Anton Armstrong, and LSU under Kenneth Fulton. I happened to wind up with a side balcony seat so that I could easily see the face and hands of each of these masterful conductors as they directed their choirs. Jerry McCoy especially was great fun to watch. All three choirs were amazing and I especially will remember Anton's choir holding hands and swaying as they joyously sang and danced their way through a Bach motet. After the concert I went out onto an outdoor balcony area of the Disney Concert Hall and just let all the sound that I had just heard wash over me again in my head- what a gift from those choirs to all of us in the hall that evening.
The second concert experience I am sharing was from a program by the Finnish female choir Akademiska Damkören Lyran directed by Kari Turunen. At a certain point in the concert these amazing young singers (mostly in their 20s's) started creating subtle bell overtones with their voices - it seemed like an ethereal glockenspiel was embedded into the sound and it was nothing like the very obvious overtone singing we hear today in some pieces like Sarah Hopkins' Past-Life Melodies. To hear amazing international choirs with different ideas about choral sound than we have here in the US is  another great reason to attend the upcoming conference.
So please, if you are on the fence about going to Dallas, make the decision to go and get your logistical ducks in a row- it’s not too late to make the plans. And if you are a young director who has never attended, do the same (there is even a special reception this year for younger attendees). I am sure you will have an amazing, highly rewarding experience there!
Next Saturday I will share moments from the great conference in Miami on 2007.
See you in Dallas,
Paul Carey
on February 16, 2013 9:13am
Hi Paul, Thanks for this encouragement toward what will be a stellar choral event in Dallas next month. I am in Dallas this weekend walking the venues and adding two more hotels to our block of excellent places to stay. The exciting news is that while we are at capacity with our hotel reservations, I have been able to add more hotels to our list and at our low rate. I went to the Meyerson last night to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra present Prokoviev's "Romeo and Juliet" along with the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto. I sat in the choir seats to get that wonderful perspective, and was once again blown away by the acoustic clarity and beauty of the Meyerson. Tonight I will go to "Anything Goes" in the Winspear Opera House. These two world-class performance halls are next door to each other. It is mid-February and all I needed last night during my walk around the Dallas Arts District was a light jacket. By mid-March it will be delightful at night, and even more pleasant during the day. I also celebrated Chinese New Year at the Crowe Museum of Asian Art, which is right next to the Cathedral, and on the same block as all our performance venues. I spent the afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Museum, viewing an exhibition of the works of Ken Price, which will still be on display during our National Conference. The Dallas Museum of Art, right next to the Nasher, will be the home for our very first Choral Film Festival during our event. Rather than eating at one of the incredible restaurants in the neighborhood (such as Stephen Pyles!), I chose to graze for my meals at the food trucks that line the streets in the area. I haven't paid more than $8 for any meal. The March Choral Journal is over 220 pages, and contains the entire program. Everyone will receive the March edition, and everyone will be able to learn from the programming listed in it.