Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NW ACDA Convention (Vancouver) 2008

This past week I spent Thursday at the NW ACDA Convention in Vancouver BC, which is a beautiful city. For being an ACDA student member it was my first time going to a divisional convention, and it was amazing. Before this convention I had only been to the 2007 Summer Institute in Tacoma WA which was held at the University of Puget Sound. Going to the convention in Vancouver was beneficial not only myself, but my friends and fellow students that attended the convention learned alot.

As the WWU-ACDA student chapter president, I was excitedly-happy for all the students that got to attend the Convention, since some of them couldn't afford it without the club. Through the club I applied and obtained a grant through the Associated Students of Western for $1500 to pay for all of the hotel costs to all 10 WWU-ACDA members and 2 alumni that wanted to attend the convention. I had told them all year that this convention was something that they could not miss, for they would learn alot about the choral education/performance field, and they did. All of the WWU-ACDA members that went had a great time, attended workshops, received music packets, and some even performed at the convention.

One of my friends that attended was Matt Bell, who is a music major at WWU with me, but doesn't quit know yet what he wants to do, whether it is composition, vocal performance or music education. I think he has a great talent in leading a group, especially his accapella group that sings mainly barbershop music. I took Matt to a conducting workshop with Dr. Hilary Aplestadt from Ohio State University, and Matt really liked what he learned while there. We also attended a concert session that featured a middle school choir called "Mad Jazz" (no they didn't sing jazz, its just a name), and after their amazing performance, they got a standing ovation for over 5 minutes. All the choirs that followed did not get such an enthusiastic applause. After seeing Matt this week, he is now thinking about being a music education major (choral of course), so he could teach middle school students.

I on the other hand only got to be at the convention for Thursday only, but it went from Thursday Feb 21 thru Saturday Feb 23. I had to leave to go back to Seattle for some Family stuff. But, I would have to say the whole highlight of my convention experience was being within 5 feet of a conducting LEGEND, Rodney Eichenberger.( He has taught doctoral students at the University of Washington, University of Southern California, and Florida State University. His past students include great conductors like; Dale Warland, Dr. Richard Sparks, Dr. Gregory Vancil, Dr. Lawrence Kaptein, Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Dr. Jerry Blackstone, Dr. David Dickau, and many more. Knowing who Eichenberger was, I wanted to introduce myself, but he was surrounded by dozens of people, and by the time the crowd left he was leaving with his colleagues. So I never got to meet Eichenberger and tell him about all the stories or choral lessons I had learned from his former student Dr. Greg Vancil. I do hope I get the chance to meet him again at another convention.
Another experience I had during the convention was when Matt and I were in the Conducting Workshop with Dr. Aplestadt. The piece we worked on during the workshop was If Ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis. Now other than Matt and myself, there were 25 other college students (all undergrads) and about 5 teachers (these ones were sitting in to sing). Much to my surprise when Dr. Aplestadt asked "how many of you have sung this piece or know this piece?", I was the only person in the room to raise my hand (other than the teachers), not one of the other undergrads had sung it, and some did not know anything about this choral standard. At that point I was thinking, why aren't these students learning about the standards of choral literature, from Renaissance to 20th century. I mean I know that I study choral literature in my spare time (which makes me a choral geek), but these students were 1-2 years ahead of me in school and finished with music history, but some didn't know that Thomas Tallis was a Renaissance composer. So I thought to myself, why don't public colleges sing more sacred pieces. A great example of a few schools that sing more sacred pieces would be; University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University. At WWU I believe the program focuses more on 20th century and 21st century choral music, since you will hear classical and baroque pieces only in 1 quarter per year. But, then again not all choral students grew up singing in church choirs like I did. I just wish that more choral students are exposed to the standards of choral music like I have, because they are great pieces and they are the backbone of Choral Literature.

Other than that, I loved the convention and all the choirs that performed were great! I cannot wait for next years 2009 Oklahoma City ACDA National Convention.


John Brough said...

I hope you enjoyed your brief stay in Canada.

I agree with you. Most of my early knowledge of choral music, in particular Church music repertoire comes from singing in a Cathedral choir. To have this benefit from such a young age helps in every respect - knowledge of the music - sight reading skills - the list goes on.

Perhaps "If ye Love Me" isn't Tallis' greatest hit - but I am also surprised that more people didn't know of the little motet - or if what you say is correct and they had never heard of Tallis - that is shocking.


Alan D said...

Some of them heard of Tallis, but I know of atleast 3 that I was talking to afterwards that said they didnt know of Thomas Tallis. At that moment I was hoping that is what just because they had not taken a music history course or a choral literature course.

Thank you for your comment, I agree with everything you said about the benefits of singing in church choirs. My favorite is the vast amounts of different repertoire you can sing over the course of a year (since you probably wouldnt repeat the same songs all that often).

Philip L. Copeland said...

Just found your blog (searched on the term ACDA). Do you follow the ChoralNet blog?

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan, if you go to Oklahoma City and you see Rodney Eichenberger, don't hesitate to walk up and say "hello." He is very friendly and will welcome talking with you. I've known him since the time he began teaching at the U of W. He actually began his teaching in a small high school just south of Yakima...Wapato, I believe. You'll find him encouraging and helpful.
Howard Meharg, Web/Editor NW ACDA

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good fight. As a Choir of the West alum, even though the literature was mostly fantastic at PLU, I'd have to say many of my BME student friends were amazing at getting the best grades in their music classes but lacked the individual scholarship that you obviously posess to make it relevant.
I myself fell in love with Tallis' work as a sophomore in High School and would research him in the school library, leading of course to Byrd and eventually an overall intimate knowledge of Renaissance interpretation. Friends still call me for advice from time to time on programming and interpretation, even though I didn't get the A+ in the classes that they did. Just remember that your individual scholarship isn't just for now and doesn't end after your M.M. or D.M.A., it is a part of essential growth in life. To stagnate is to die artistically. Your personal scholarship will keep you interesting and an asset to your peers and to the world of Choral music. Just remember Abraham Lincoln was self taught in many disciplines and continued challenging himself with new things until his death studying materials such as the Euclidean Algorhthm...why? Because it piqued his interest.

Why schools like Western avoid the fundamental building blocks of Choral music is beyond me. I guess you are to be a beacon of hope.

Cheers Alan, and all the best.

Benjamin Harris