Voices Heard at ACDA

MSU Choral Program commands resounding presence at national conference.

Sandra Snow, MSU professor of choral conducting and music education. Photo by Sundeep Dhanjal, The State News.
The national conference of the American Choral Directors Association was held in Minneapolis, Minn., March 8-11, 2017.

The voice of MSU's Choral Program was prominently represented as dozens of alumni, students and faculty attended the 2017 national conference of the American Choral Directors Association in Minneapolis, Minn., March 8-11.

Professor of Choral Conducting and Music Education Sandra Snow was among the featured conductors invited to lead concert sessions at the four-day conference themed “A Life of Song.” Snow conducted two esteemed children’s choirs in Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, with the performance that opened to the estimated 5,000 or more conference attendees.

“The conference theme this year explored what it means to sing at all stages of life from childhood into adulthood,” explains Snow. “The Britten project is a way to feature the artistic work of children, and is one of Britten’s most beloved works. It meant a great deal to have had the honor of working with these fine singers at ACDA—the choral community’s most prestigious juried performance event.”

Founded in 1959, the ACDA is a nonprofit music-education organization dedicated to the advancement of choral music. Association members consist of more than 20,000 choral directors who represent more than one million singers across the U.S. Members teach choral music in public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and in churches and communities.

Hundreds of exhibitors, presenters, conductors and performers took the stage at the pre-eminent conference, including seven alumni of the College’s choral and music education programs. Among those were:

  • Anton Armstrong, conductor, St. Olaf Choir (DMA ’87) – Christmas with St. Olaf College
  • Ryan Kelly, co-presenter (DMA '12) – Beyond “Getting Ready to Sing”: Creating Symbiosis between Warm-ups and Repertoire
  • Kristina MacMullen (BM Music ’02, MM ‘09) – A Voice of Reason: Social Justice, the Greater Good, and Why We Sing 
  • Bridget Sweet (PhD ’08) – The Adolescent Female Changing Voice: Supporting Singers for a Life of Song
  • Joshua Palkki (PhD ’16) – Creating Safe People: Honoring LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom 
  • Tom Fitzstephens, (MM ’10) – singer, Atlanta Master Chorale 
  • Meredith Y. Bowen (DMA ’16) – Sacred Music from the Convents of Seventeenth-Century Italy: Restoration Practices for Contemporary Women’s Choruses

The College’s student chapter of ACDA was nominated for chapter of the year, with 12 undergraduates attending the conference’s student-focused track.

“We are proud that current and former students attend the ACDA in high numbers,” says Snow. “It is great to connect with Spartans and the sessions and concerts always invigorate my practice as a teacher and conductor. It also opens up the ears of our undergraduates, many of whom will hear professional and international choirs ‘live’ for the first time.”

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