The May 2023 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Representation in Choral Music: An Examination of Choral Literature Performed by All-State Mixed Choirs 2000-2020″ by William McLean. Following is a portion from the article.
Choral conductors are constantly searching for and evaluating repertoire to program with their ensembles. This ongoing practice occurs regardless of their years of conducting experience, the demographics of their singer and audience population, or the missions of the ensembles they lead. Common resources utilized for repertoire selection have traditionally included the following: publications from music organizations such as the American Choral Directors Association; recordings available on the internet and for purchase; periodicals and websites that are organized by music vendors and publishers; available past concert programs; and recommendations from fellow conductors.
Access to such resources is present at professional conferences that have a mission to serve the needs of their constituents. At conferences, directors have opportunities to attend sessions that present quality music vetted by presenting conductors, officers, or a steering committee. Often, members evaluate the benefit of their conference attendance by the acquisition of this literature. Additionally, when conferences offer an honor choir experience, choir directors can learn more repertoire from master teachers who are selected to lead honor choirs.
These honor choir ensembles feature many of the most outstanding choral students in each state or region. Invitations for guest conductors are very deliberate due to the lasting influence these experiences will have on their organization’s members and the singers in these groups. At the state level, the All-State Choir experience is often considered the pinnacle annual event for exemplary students. Consequently, some conductors distinguish themselves in this setting and are invited to lead All-State choirs in other states. Indeed, an invitation to conduct such an event is considered a prestigious honor. Independent of the unique musical contexts of every All-State choir, certain repertoire and composers gain widespread appeal as a result of conference performances.
The endorsement and likelihood of repeat performance of these works often leads to changes in programming trends and their addition to the choral music canon. The canon is broadly understood to be a body of works within a particular discipline that defines its foundational core. These works set a standard against which new and existing works are measured. To effectively evaluate new works for acceptance, the canon must be known by the people operating in that field.
Read the full article in the May 2023 issue of Choral Journal at acda.org/choraljournal
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