Pranks, Pictures, and Performances

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for the choir. Following our return from retreat, we dove right back into rehearsals, culminating in a surprise party at the end of the week for Dr. Miller’s annual 32nd birthday. Soprano sectional leader Nicola made a delicious cappuccino cake, which we feasted on in honor of our esteemed leader.


However, that was not the only surprise in store for Dr. Miller’s birthday. To show our love, members of the choir decorated copies of what has been dubbed “the mustache picture”: a ravishing photograph of Dr. Miller sporting an impressive mustache. Year after year, the picture resurfaces, surviving even his most ardent attempts to stamp it out of existence. While he was away in New York City listening to auditions for mainstage roles at the Spoleto Festival on his actual birthday, certain unnamed parties snuck into his office and decorated it with due festivity. Despite any photographic evidence to the contrary, I would like to state for the record that I spent the entire day busily engaged in saving kittens from trees and solving world hunger and therefore I had nothing to with these shenanigans.


The following Monday was our annual picture day at Princeton Battlefield. In a delightful twist of the weather report, it was lightly sprinkling the entire time, lending us all a dewy glow.


The next rehearsal was followed by a special reception for donors who contributed to the building of the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center. Westminster Choir had our official first performance at the event, regaling the guests with Clements’ Flower of Beauty and an arrangement of Alwood’s Unclouded Day. Although the performance was brief, it was incredibly exciting to perform together as a choir for the first time. It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been together for two months now—the beginning of the year is always so full of growth, time seems to be somewhat irrelevant.

We were able to further this growth by working with renowned guest artists Alberto Grau and Maria Guinand during their residency at Westminster. The dynamic duo worked with us on Monteverdi’s Si ch’io vorrei morire, Sisask’s Oremus, and Bach’s Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild. Working with Alberto on the Monteverdi was simultaneously hilarious and enlightening. His unexpected playfulness in terms of tempo and articulation allowed us to understand the work in an entirely different light. Maria’s work with us on the Sisask was similarly illuminating, as she empowered us to play with pitch alterations and overtone singing to evoke electrical energy currents.

This week has been less intense for Westminster Choir as Symphonic Choir has been occupied elsewhere, making its season debut performing Debussy’s Nocturnes and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the New Jersey Symphony. These works have been a joy to perform, allowing us to access our inner sirens and medieval drunkards within a rollicking orchestral soundscape. But alas, our weekend of performances is now over, and we are growing ever closer to our next goals—Mahler 2 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the first Westminster Choir concert!

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Retreat 2014

I recently read on NPR’s “The Salt” that the flavor vanilla is not a single flavor; rather, it is a compound consisting of a combination of over 250 flavors. Similarly, while Westminster Choir retains its name and some of its membership from year to year, due to its changing roster of approximately 40 people with their individual voices, musical skills, personalities, and histories (to name a few factors), each choir is an intricate community unto itself. While we begin to glimpse that community in our first rehearsals, retreat is always a pivotal moment in understanding the spirit of each year’s choir.

Last weekend, the choir trekked to Northern New Jersey after a full day of classes on Friday to spend a little over twenty-four hours rehearsing, getting to know each other, playing games, and (time permitting) sleep. We began by diving into our musical repertoire early Friday evening, and then headed into the first part of our nonmusical activities: the getting-to-know-you games. As this year’s Social Chair, I had the joy of planning these games and other fun activities with the help of the retreat committee. Friday night’s games ranged from silly (such as an improve game based on the concept of building a human machine and the Westminster Choir classic “Kissing Rugby”) to a more serious set of games centered on building connections within the choir. After this, the choir went off into the woods to feast on s’mores and continue bonding. That is, all except a small group who remained in the lodge to carry on another Westminster Choir tradition: a prank on Dr. Miller. In the spirit of Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, one of the pieces on our tour program, we strung together garlands of paper airplanes and then decorated Dr. Miller’s room with them.

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The next morning was dedicated to musical exploration as we rehearsed our tour repertoire and broke into smaller groups for group projects. These group projects are quite simple in premise: the choir receives a theme, and then is broken into six smaller groups, each of which is secretly given a musical genre. The groups are given about half an hour to create a musical work in their respective style based on the theme. This year’s topic? The dreaded process of choral hearings. The imagination and unexpected skill sets that emerge in this activity are always a surprise, and this year’s output was no exception. Performances ranged from a stirring Wagnerian operetta complete with highly accurate leitmotifs to a George Crumb-inspired performance that portrayed the candid internal monologues of all parties involved. However, in the end , the outstanding soloist award went to soprano section leader Nicola Bertoni for her performance in the Disney group, and the overall winners were the Medieval group with their brief, tragic Morality Play, in which their chanting ceased when the entire cast perished from the plague (with the exception of Symphonic Choir’s immortal accompanist, Eric Plutz).

After an intense musical rehearsal in the afternoon, we embarked on the main team-building event of the weekend: The Sectional Olympics. This tripartite competition pits the sections against each other in a thrilling battle of wits, brawn, endurance and originality. This year’s Olympics began with the lava game, in which each section must cross a field by only stepping on their allotted ten sheets of construction paper. While the tenors and basses certainly had original approaches (such as using the paper as pseudo-skis and carrying one another), the winners of this event were the altos.

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Altos demonstrating how they won!

Altos demonstrating how they won!

Following this were the section skits, in which each section had a chance to fight back against their respective stereotypes by wittily mocking those associated with another section. Our esteemed Graduate Assistant, Max Nolin, won best actor for his eerily accurate portrayal of a soprano, but the overall winners were the basses for their rendition of alto section dynamics.

The third and final part of the Olympics was a multipart relay involving sprinting, balloon popping, a three-legged race, recitation of memorized texts, speed eating, and solving riddles, culminating in a sectional pyramid and performance of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

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I will feign no impartiality in expressing my excitement that, for the first time in Westminster Choir’s history, the alto section won the Olympics! A final full choir game of Stork vs. T-Rex link tag rounded out the afternoon’s organized activities, after which the choir was free to socialize, relax, and play impromptu games before dinner and the final rehearsal.

The final rehearsal gave us a chance to become better acquainted with Bach’s Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild, Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine, and Sisask’s haunting Oremus. After this came my favorite part of every retreat: a time of reflection on our time together thus far and a poetry reading by Dr. Miller. Periodic poetry readings, particularly before concerts and at key times throughout the year are at the heart of my Westminster Choir memories. In his sage wisdom, Dr. Miller always seems to know the right words to bring us in times of transition, travel, joy, and sorrow. Saturday evening’s poems included Passengers by Billy Collins, and one of my personal favorites, Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. The nervous energy that inevitably comes at the beginning of a semester subsided as we all took a moment to revel in this time to grow closer to each other, musically and personally. We are only at the beginning of exploring the flavor of this year’s ensemble, but there is something so delightfully fresh and honest about this group of musicians, I cannot wait to learn more.

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An Introduction…and Choral Hearings & Callbacks

An Introduction
Christianna Barnard
To those of you who haven’t read my profile on the WCC website, I thought I would provide a brief introduction so you aren’t taken aback when Shane’s words are supplanted by an unfamiliar tone. I am Christianna Barnard, the 2014-2015 Westminster Choir blogger. I am a senior Sacred Music major, and this year marks my third with Westminster Choir. I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to take you into the inner mechanisms of life as a Westminster Choir member, as choral singing and writing are two of my greatest joys in life.

If you are a choir devotee, you might recognize me for my work at Spoleto as an inept barmaid and crazy-lady-in-hospital-gown #13 in the 2013 production of Le Villi, the person in a green cardigan who had to keep running into the center of huddles in El Niño because the color was distracting, or for my work as the distinguished Movie Mastress* on our tour of Texas and Oklahoma.

Le Villi Curtain Call.  I'm the second from the left!

Spoleto Festival USA 2013 curtain call for “Le Villi.” I’m the second from the left!

Getting made up for El Niño

Getting made up back stage at the 2014 Spoleto Festival USA production of John Adams’ El Niño

Getting ready to go onstage for El Niño

Ready to go on stage for El Niño

Choral Hearings & Callbacks
In addition to introducing myself, it seemed fitting to explain the process of how each year’s Westminster Choir is chosen. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Westminster tradition known as choral hearings, I will provide you with a seasoned-warrior’s perspective. Every student who sings in an academic choir partakes in a five minute long hearing before the school year begins. The highly caffeinated choral conducting faculty has the pleasure of braving up to 12-hour long stretches of these auditions, each of which consists of three parts: a song of the student’s choice, the sight-reading of a brief excerpt of music, and a test of tonal memory, in which the student repeats several sequences of notes played by the accompanist.

The results of choral hearings determine students’ eligibility for callbacks to the many auditioned ensembles at Westminster. Given the importance of ensembles in the lives of Westminster students, it would be feasible for the choral hearing and callback season to devolve into competition-fueled madness. However, the opposite is true. An air of mutual support and camaraderie is evident throughout campus during this hectic time. At our unique and wonderful institution, we are taught to invest equal care in our relationships with one another as we do our choral sound.

Callbacks for Westminster Choir always occur shortly after Fall Convocation. This year’s Convocation was a historic one, as it marked the first use of Hillman Hall in the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center—an incredible state-of-the-art performance and rehearsal space that has been decades in coming. The new hall is indeed beautiful, and it is made even more so when filled with the glorious sounds of the entire student body joined together in song.

The callback itself took place in The Playhouse, Westminster Choir’s traditional home. For me, callbacks are deceptively enjoyable. First, we are presented with a Renaissance anthem. After this, we are voiced within the choir, and then Dr. Miller splits us into quartets. These smaller groups rehearse for a brief period of time, and then return for the quartet test, during which each quartet performs a portion of the song for Dr. Miller and the other auditionees. Having been tested early on in the process, I was free to simply revel in the beauty of the music. An outside observer would never be able to tell that this piece had been given to the singers only about half an hour earlier. The level of musicianship, attention to detail, and quality of performance was astounding. I certainly did not envy the difficult decisions Dr. Miller would have to make to determine the makeup of this year’s choir.

And then, the waiting game. A few hours later, the list is posted on the top floor of Williamson Hall and is met with rejoicing by some, and disappointment by others. After some much deserved sleep, the new choir comes together for the first time as Westminster Choir on the first day of classes.

During our first rehearsal, we introduce ourselves and always include an interesting fact about ourselves. This year’s choir includes several members from as far away as Japan and Hong Kong, two former nationally ranked athletes, and an internationally ranked video game player (I, sadly, am none of the above). After this follows the long-anticipated revelation of this year’s calendar and tour program. The theme of this year’s tour program is “The Invention of Love,” and it features music about invention, astronomy, and all forms of love from passionate to the divine. As we explore this music and more as a choir, I will be bringing you my thoughts on this experience. It’s a joy to be heading into this year’s adventure, and I am honored to be able to share it with you.

*Mastress is antiquated term that functions as the female equivalent of master. Basically, it just means that I got to count votes when we were selecting a film for movie time on the tour bus.

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Spoleto Festival – First Westminster Choir Rehearsal/Second El Niño

Yesterday brought our first Westminster Choir rehearsal on tour music that we haven’t sung since January. Talk about exhilarating…

As a choir, we’ve put forth a lot of effort into memorizing and learning the Adams’ piece. We’ve developed a sound, stuck with it, and given of ourselves emotionally and physically to produce a wonderful operatic production. Now we have to switch gears and jump back into our sound world and re-create the music we originally rehearsed for our tour. It’s interesting watching our family sing music for the first time in months. It’s as if we never left it. Sure, some pieces were rocky, but the general performance quality and creative ideals each piece brought to existence suddenly danced from our voices as if it never left. How does this happen? I don’t know if I have an answer, but I think a large part of it has to do with trust. Trust that each choir member has given his or her utmost dedication to the ensemble; trust that our conductor still inspires wonder and creativity through every gesture and rehearsal technique; trust that we, as a creative body, are on a mission to shake this world through song.

At the end of our rehearsal, Dr. Miller alerted us to “second-show energy” for the El Niño performance that evening and told us we shouldn’t succumb to it. A light dinner break gave way to costume and make-up calls before our second performance. Some movements worked, others had shaky foundations, but the overall performance quality was just as striking as the first. We received a standing ovation within moments of the house lights going up. Afterward, many Westminster Choir College students who road-tripped to enjoy the Charleston performance and hospitality greeted and congratulated us on a job well done. Times like these remind me of the strength of the Westminster Choir College community.

El Nino

Photograph Jennifer Lynn Photography. Courtesy of The Spoleto Festival USA.

Today brings choral rehearsals on tour music and our choral-orchestral concerts with the Charleston Symphony Chorus.

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Spoleto Festival – Opening Night of Kát’a Kabanová and Social Sunday

Saturday night was the opening performance of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová in the Sottile Theatre. One of the composer’s gems of operatic literature, this opera actually contains minute chorus parts. We’ve had a fun time learning the repertoire – a brief scene with a men’s chorus at the beginning of Act III, choral interludes that create the tonal landscape of a stormy river, and a rousing finale where the main female character drowns herself in a river. All of the typical dramatic components found within operas appear in this beautifully tragic story. The chorus played its small role very well, and we felt accomplished. It was a great night for opera in Charleston!

Here’s a review of the Kát’a performance:

Sunday brought along a welcome day of rest. Many choristers, myself included, ventured out to Sullivan’s Island for much needed fun in the sand. A beach trip was all that was needed to rejuvenate the body and soul. Afterwards, choristers parted ways until this evening. Another group of us went to see “A Simple Space,” featuring the daredevil acrobatics of Australians. It was one of the most incredible shows I’ve ever seen. The human body is truly a canvas of expression; I couldn’t believe some of the moves these performers were doing with just the strength of their bodies. Here’s just a tiny glimpse of one of the many acts they were performing.


After the show, a few choristers sat around Caviar and Bananas and enjoyed the lovely evening. We were later joined by the countertenors from El Niño – Steven Rickards, Daniel Bubeck, and Brian Cummings. A night of joyful conversation and silly stories was enough to send us away with happy hearts. We later returned to our dorms, where card games, conversation, and fun iPhone games ensued.

Today brings our second performance of El Niño and our first collective Westminster Choir rehearsal. We’re moving quickly through the festival!

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Spoleto Festival – Opening Night of El Niño

Have you ever put every ounce of your being, your craft, and your dedication into a project? I can safely speak for every Westminster Choir member when I say that learning and memorizing John Adams’ El Niño has been one of the most difficult musical experiences I’ve ever participated in. When we were told about the production in January, Dr. Miller warned that this would be incredibly difficult. He wasn’t lying…every one of us has been pouring his or her soul into this production.

What makes this difficult? This minimalist work uses many repeated patterns with very little help from the orchestral texture. The majority of us are literally counting measures and rests before certain entrances. I’ve never been more mathematically driven when it comes to learning music. Several chorus members, during rehearsals of certain movements, counted the number of beats until the next entrance – comparable to memorizing mathematical equations for a test. It took a long time for our memory to “gel” into performance, but it came together for yesterday’s opening night performance.

The energy that brimmed from every member of the production – stage management, principal singer, even Dr. Miller – seethed throughout every aspect of the production. We’ve been waiting for this moment since rehearsals began two weeks ago. The fruit of our labors was to be presented to the Spoleto Festival USA audience. We gathered as an ensemble for a group warm-up and “sing-together” – something we haven’t done since we left for Charleston! Warm-ups were a part of every morning call, but, due to the intensity of the staging rehearsals, our musical contribution took the back burner to the staging process. When we sang together, our collective energies were finally focused into one performing ensemble. There couldn’t have been more excitement in the room!

After our warm-up, we donned our costumes and make-up and took to the stage. We delivered the story and musical ideas to the best of our abilities. To celebrate our opening night performance, the choir went to a nearby club for a social gathering of epic proportions. A much needed relaxation after weeks of laborious rehearsals.

The sense of accomplishment came this morning from a wonderful review in the Charleston Post and Courier. Here’s the link to the review, as well as a link to an article including pictures of the production.

Tomorrow brings another opening performance of the Czech opera

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Spoleto Festival 2014 – Weeks 1 & 2

The end of the semester brings a wonderfully exciting time for the Westminster Choir. For the month of May and the beginning of June, we participate in our annual residency in Charleston, SC for the Spoleto Festival USA. This festival brings wonderfully exciting adventures that we wait all year to experience. This gem of a “work vacation,” as it could be called, becomes a fruitful month of building friendships, exploring a town rich in history, and ending our school year with a beautiful finale.

Westminster Choir’s involvement in the festival varies from year to year, but we are one of few regular cogs that keep the wheel of the festival moving at a well-tempered pace. This year, in addition to two performances of our tour repertoire and a choral-orchestral concert with the Charleston Symphony Chorus, we are the opera chorus in two full-stage productions. These productions exemplify the festival’s ideal of putting together avant-garde productions for the Charleston community to experience. These operatic productions are a staged version of John Adams’ oratorio El Niño and Leoš Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová. Such hard work has gone into both of these productions – it’s safe to say that I’ve never had to work so hard to memorize such difficult music as El Niño. What a leap our musicianship has taken since we’ve started preparing for this production. Because our involvement has been significant, our rehearsal schedule has been as intense as it can be. More regular updates will occur from here on forward. Here’s a bit of an overview about our first week in Charleston.


One of our first staging rehearsals with the director in Princeton.

Our travels began on Friday, May 9. The majority of the choir flew, while seven others (myself included) road-tripped down to Charleston from New Jersey. I love the scenic, rustic view of the eastern seaboard as life moves before your eyes. The hustle and bustle of life relaxes me. After about 11 hours on the road, I arrived in Charleston with a greeting that was like I was returning home from years of weary travel. The Southern charm of Charleston extends to you so warmly; I’ve never felt more at home. The choir checked in to our dorms in McConnell Hall at the College of Charleston, explored the city for a few hours, then had a tiny meeting run by this year’s choir managers. Afterwards, celebrations ensued as the choir parted for an evening: some went on frozen yogurt runs, others went out, while many retired for the evening.

An overview of our rehearsal schedule for the week is as follows: Saturday and Sunday were accompanied by double-rehearsals of El Niño. Lasting for the majority of the day, these rehearsals were mostly staging rehearsals. At long last, our principal singers and professional puppeteers were with us in addition to the entire set. It made the director’s artistic vision much clearer to see. What happens afterwards is where intensity comes into play. For El Niño, the choir is on stage for the entire production, since we play such a crucial role in the music. From Monday onward, we had triple rehearsal dates that were difficult to go through. Fortunately for us, the Westminster Choir has unrelenting work ethic and an undying determination to make professional-level music. These rehearsals, combined with staging rehearsals for the Janáček, provided us with wonderful insight on the professional musician community and gave us important experiences to bring back home to our friends and family in Princeton.

On Friday, we flew back to Princeton for our Commencement with the entire school participating. After two wonderful days back, our seniors and graduate students walked across the Princeton University Chapel chancel and received their degrees. The celebrations extended throughout Saturday, and the early Sunday morning bus call back to the airport came quickly.


Here I am with my fellow Choral Conducting graduates “The Six.”

We boarded a bus at 5:30a.m.(!) and traveled to Newark International Airport for our final returning flight to Charleston. After a few minor delays, we made it safely back for even more rehearsals that extended through Wednesday afternoon. Diligently, we trekked onward in our musical and professional journeys to make each opera a work of art. This week has been fruitful in terms of performances – El Niño opens on Friday, Kát’a opens on Saturday, and our Westminster Choir rehearsals begin for our own concerts.

Today, Thursday, May 22, was our first day off in a while – although we still have one final dress rehearsal for the Janáček opera this evening. Choir members are exploring, beaching, writing, reading, job-hunting, and catching up on much-needed sleep before the festival opens tomorrow. To those reading, be on the look out for special updates, included performance reviews, bios of the 2013-14 choir members, and updates on the pleasures that Charleston holds for our dear Westminster Choir.

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Return to Blogging

Greetings Westminster Choir Blog Readers,

My deepest apologies for such a long period of silence from my end. The second semester at Westminster Choir College catapults from the beginning of the school term and moves quickly toward the finish line. Like many other students, I fell victim to many great projects and required school directives that required the bulk of my attention. From this point forward, you have my undivided attention.

A lot has happened since last I wrote. Westminster Choir diligently defeated the “snowpocalypse” and gave a wonderful Spoleto Festival USA Preview Performance in Richardson Auditorium in March. Usually a homecoming concert featuring our tour repertoire, this concert featured two choral-orchestral works that we’re performing at the Spoleto Festival USA in May: the Dettingen Te Deum by G. F. Handel and Te Deum by Arvo Pärt. We were challenged by many missed rehearsals due to snow days and ice warnings, but we prevailed as an ensemble and made beautiful music.

Since then, many additional projects have occurred: my colleagues gave beautiful voice, conducting, and performance recitals, Westminster Choir has been working carefully to memorize El Niño by John Adams for another Spoleto Festival USA project, Schola Cantorum – the sophomore ensemble on campus – gave a wonderful tour in the South for three days, and many other performances eagerly awaiting as the days dwindle nigh. The past couple months have moved so quickly for all of us here that it’s no wonder that Westminster Choir College breeds success on a daily basis. Our professionalism, standards of excellence, and commitment to honest music-making stand strong throughout our stressful times. As the performances continue and the days for our pilgrimage to Charleston, S.C draw nearer, we continue to change the lives of those who come to hear our music.

Spoleto Rehearsal

First El Niño staging rehearsals with director John Labouchardiere at Westminster.

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Surprising Symphonic Sleepover in Philadelphia

In my last blog post, I mentioned certain weather surprises that tried to prevent our travels to Baltimore for the ACDA Eastern Division conference. Unfortunately, the weather got the best of the Symphonic Choir during our preparation for a performance of Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski. After several snow days, our long awaited piano dress rehearsal with Jurowski came, where the vigorous and detailed conductor exacted every amount of emotional energy from the ensemble. It was such a beautifully energized rehearsal that allowed us to tap into the “Russian energy” needed to perform this gifted work.


The next couple days brought along some surprises…

On Wednesday, February 12th, Symphonic Choir left Westminster Choir College with overnight bags and performance attire prepared to stay and meet the approaching snowstorm in Philadelphia. After another great rehearsal with the orchestra, all were warned of the storm’s impact on the mid-Atlantic and rumor spread about a forthcoming second night stay in Philadelphia. As time passed into later evening, we were all told that we were staying Thursday night as well, although no storm had hit yet. Imagine 165 students staying in the Doubletree Hilton hotel in Philadelphia. An evening of friendly encounters and supportive conversations gave way to an early morning of long-awaited answers.

We had performances scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of February 13th, 14th, and 15th. Due to the weather’s impact on the mid-Atlantic, our first performance was cancelled and we were stranded in Philadelphia for another night. Many students ran to a nearby Macy’s to acquire necessities (including clean underwear) for our second night’s stay. The hotel staff was wonderfully accommodating, as well as our staff and graduate assistants, who helped facilitate all of our surprise sleepover needs. Our Thursday agenda including a 45 minute detail rehearsal with Dr. Miller at the Kimmel Center, then we were left to our own devices.

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Many went out to dinner, others stayed in and watched movies and socialized.

Friday gave way to a brief run-through of the work and our first performance. Spending Valentine’s Day locked away inside a hotel with 165 of your closest classmates is an experience I will never forget. After spending a day working on schoolwork and preparing for the performance, we finally donned attire and took to the Verizon Hall stage. A successful first performance after such a variety of surprises made the trip extremely worth it. This is an experience I will never forget!

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ACDA Eastern Division Conference

One cannot survive in a career without a support system. The greatest aspect about being a choral conductor is the family that surrounds you throughout the world. The American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA for short) is an incredibly vibrant organization throughout North America, which offers tons of professional development experience, from intriguing interest sessions to concerts by choirs across the nation. The annual conference is an incredible time to get together with colleagues who share the same exciting passion as you for the choral art. This year, the ACDA conventions were held throughout different divisions. The Eastern Division ACDA conference was in Baltimore, Md., and featured several Westminster faculty members presented or performed. Here are photos of Amanda Quist and Westminster Katorei, who presented a program titled Building Sound and Spirit, and Tom Shelton, who presented a session “Getting Out of the Rut…Ideas for Introducing a New Song to Young Singers.”

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This past week carried a lot of surprises. We had two snow days in a row, which prevented classes from occurring. Traveling to Baltimore was much less of a hassle than we had expected. The Student Government Association at Westminster Choir College covered the conference registration for 60 student members.  We had to take care of our food and travel expenses. What an opportunity to reap the benefits of the convention’s offerings! I attended many great interest sessions.  One, presented by the American Boychoir School, focused on teaching of musical literacy. They went into great detail about how they teach music literacy and demonstrated some useful methods. It’s beautiful to see such young students making music at the same level as collegiate musicians.

Several great concert sessions led to inspiring talks with colleagues. The two invited concerts – Seraphic Fire from Miami, Fla. and TENET with the Sebastians – were particularly beautiful. I left both concerts feeling fulfilled and inspired to make beautiful music all over again. The greatest aspect of these conventions is walking out with the urge to change the world through musical inspiration. I always love watching concerts and discussing exactly what made them great.

The convention certainly provided great inspiration for me to press forward into my last semester of graduate school. I’m fortunate to have gone, met new people and rekindled wonderful connections, and represent a great choral school. This only makes me more excited for the next national convention! Up next on our docket is a Symphonic Choir performance of Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with Philadelphia Orchestra.

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