The newest issue of Choral Journal is available online. On page 45 you will find one of the articles in the ACDA 60th Anniversary Series: Interviews through the Years: A Selection of Excerpts from Choral Journal Interview Articles.
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Following is an excerpt from that interview article, which you can read in the September 2019 issue of Choral Journal.
“Margaret Hillis and the Chicago Symphony Chorus: Perspective and Interview,” by Janel Jo Dennen (November 1982)
Do you think being a woman in what has been primarily a male-dominated career has an effect on the way you are viewed in the eyes of fellow professionals and the public?
These days not so much. Earlier I was looked on as a sort of monster with two heads. Now, there’s several women conductors, and good ones. Plus, I’ve done it. I’ve shown that it can be done, so it’s a different bag now from what it was when I started my career. If they (the public) are real music lovers, I don’t think it matters that I’m female. If they go to watch a conductor, maybe then it makes a difference, but if they go to listen to music, I don’t think so. As far as other conductors, all they care about is that the chorus is good. Every guest conductor who comes here wants that chorus. Not because it’s a woman conductor, but because that chorus is good. And the only thing that anyone can stand on, man or woman, is the quality of the work.
“Reflections on a Career: A Conversation with Howard Swan,” ed. Gordon Paine (March 1987)
What changes or developments have you seen in choral music in general in the last twenty years?
You are now speaking of concerns that will have some consideration in my address for the national convention of ACDA. There have been some changes in the choral world that I would characterize as negative. You were saying a few minutes ago that your music major enrollment here has dropped in numbers. This is true with nearly all campuses, and it is a reflection of the secondary schools cutting down and in some places abandoning their music programs. Another negative factor is the fact that in many places we perform nothing but popular music. Too many conductors have used this trend as a kind of a “cop out,” and because they don’t know better or don’t care, they choose poor music. There is much repertoire in the “popular” field that reveals an excellent artistry and imaginative musicianship on the part of the composer or arranger. Too much of this material is not used.
“An Interview with Sally Herman and Michael Nuss: Elements of Successful Junior High School Choirs,” by Dennis Shrock (April 1990)
What are the greatest challenges facing the junior high school choral director today?
Herman: The most major challenge deals with repertoire: music of quality that meets the special requirements of the junior high-aged voice. A choral director must search for music—in university libraries where you can find wonderfully appropriate repertoire in the collected works of major composers and in conferences, workshops, and reading sessions where many experienced junior high school directors will share what they have found has worked for them. Junior high school choral directors should also be prepared to arrange music-to adapt repertoire to suit the various range requirements of the students they have in their choirs.
Nuss: I agree. Choral directors have to be willing to look through a lot of music. It’s our job. Many directors think that choral music will just “come to them,” or that taking the time to search for music just isn’t worth the effort. Choice of repertoire is, perhaps, the most important decision choral directors make. A “match” must then be found between the ensemble and the repertoire. This match is critically important at the junior high level and is rarely, if ever, achieved by simply choosing materials from industry “samplers” or attending reading sessions.
Read the rest of this article (and more!) in the September 2019 issue of Choral Journal, available online at acda.org.