Oklahoma City, OK – Dr. Amanda Kate Weber has been named winner of ACDA’s Julius Herford Dissertation Prize for her 2018 dissertation “Choral Singing and Communal Mindset: A Program Evaluation of the Voices of Hope Women’s Prison Choir” (University of Minnesota).
In making the award, the evaluation committee noted that Weber’s research is “a highly important study on a worthy topic, beautifully executed.” Another evaluator commented, “Certainly one of the finest dissertations I have read in a long time. Not only is the subject matter original and fascinating, the narrative the author weaves is breathtaking in its scope. The work chronicled . . . is not only groundbreaking, restorative, and life-changing, it is a window into the power of music to heal, uplift, and inspire.”
The dissertation, according to the author, “presents a program evaluation of Voices of Hope, a women’s prison choir. . . . By examining the experience of the incarcerated singers and their collaborators, the author suggests choral singing to be a powerful tool in creating a communal mindset – developing skills of listening, empathy, and igniting a fire to advocate for one another.”
Dr. Weber will receive her honor at ACDA’s upcoming Central/North Central Region Conference in Milwaukee, WI (March 4-7), including a cash prize and a commemorative plaque.
Dr. Weber is Minister of Music and the Arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, and the founder and artistic director of Voices of Hope (women’s prison choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee). She was formerly adjunct professor at Concordia University (St. Paul, MN) and at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. She was a speaker at the TEDx Minneapolis Salon (2016) and has contributed to Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayerbook, published by Augsburg Fortress (2019). She received her D.M.A. in conducting from the University of Minnesota, where she worked under Prof. Kathy Saltzman Romey, Dr. Matthew Mehaffey, Dr. Kelley Harness, and Dr. Keitha Hamann. She holds an M.M. in choral conducting from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, and a B.A. in music and art from Luther College.
ACDA’s Julius Herford Dissertation Prize is awarded annually for an outstanding doctoral terminal research project in choral music. Projects submitted should be the principal research component of the degree requirements, whether the institution defines the project as a “dissertation,” “document,” “thesis,” or “treatise,” etc. Eligibility is limited to doctoral recipients whose degrees were confirmed during the calendar year prior to the year of nomination.
American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is made up of approximately 18,000 members who represent more than 1 million singers across the country. ACDA members conduct and teach a range of choirs, including school and university-based choirs, community choral groups, professional ensembles, and music in worship. ACDA’s mission is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.