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EDITOR’S REMARKS Welcome to the new and improved Star of the North! Our organization is going through so many exciting changes we thought it was time to shake up the look of the newsletter as well. Thanks to Rob Schanilec and the staff at By All Means Graphics for the countless hours put into the redesign these past few months. Your flexibility and patience with our myriad of requests is greatly appreciated!

MARK POTVIN St. Cloud State University

In this issue, you’ll notice several new permanent features. The first is our “Legacy” column, featuring retiring Executive Secretary (and ACDA poster boy) Wayne Kivell. Each issue, this column will focus on a unique figure in the fabric of our state’s choral heritage. Our hope is that this segment will, as the subtitle suggests, illuminate the past, inform the present, and inspire the future. Secondly, our new Executive Director has submitted his first “Last Word” – found at the conclusion of the issue. Each month, Bruce Becker will weigh in on issues and challenges facing our ever-evolving organization. You may also observe that we’ve expanded the number of “Pick Six” entries in each issue from two to four, reprinted interesting articles from other publications, and included some intriguing and surprising research. The reprinted articles and research will be rotating features. The fun starts with informative documents published by Chorus America regarding last spring’s Eric Whitacre Extravaganza as well as the results of a nation-wide survey on the importance of choral singing. We continue to include articles from our statewide leadership as well. In this issue, Tom Hassig offers insight into goal-setting, prioritization, and flexibility with his submission entitled “Mowing the Lawn,” district chairs Brian Ohnsorg and Mary Jo Bot discuss building community and individual responsibility in our ensembles, and Martha Coventry Graber delves into the importance of civil discourse between our singers, our audiences, and ourselves. All that and more...this thing is jam-packed. It’s a great issue, folks! Enjoy.


Star of the North • Fall 2009

Land of 10,000 Choirs The Star of the North is published three times a year by ACDA of Minnesota: Fall/Conference, Winter, and Spring. Articles may be submitted to the copy editor for consideration: Mark Potvin, SotN Editor 1206 11th Ave. N. Princeton, Minnesota 55371 (763) 631-0629 Home (612) 889-2791 Cell Visit our website for updates: Advertising materials and photos should be sent directly to: By All Means Graphics 17 Bridge Square Northfield, MN 55057 (507) 663-7937 For more information on advertising contracts, rates and specifications, please contact: John Kleinwolterink or (320) 589-4400, ext. 2062

ACDA of Minnesota reserves the right to edit and approve all submitted materials. •

ACDA ADVOCACY RESOLUTION Whereas, the human spirit is elevated to a broader understanding of itself through study and performance in the aesthetic arts, and whereas, serious cutbacks in funding and support have steadily eroded arts institutions in our country, be it resolved that all citizens of the United States actively voice their affirmative and collective support for necessary funding at the local, state and national levels of education and government, to ensure the survival of arts programs for this and future generations.

ACDA of Minnesota Board of Directors President ................................................Brian Stubbs President-Elect ................................... Steve Albaugh Vice President .......................................... Judy Sagen Executive Director.............................Bruce Becker Secretary ..................................................Tom Hassig Financial Chair ...................................Charles Hellie Northwest District Chair ...................Mary Jo Bot Northeast District Chair............... Mary Whitlock Southwest District Chair ..................Kari Werdahl Southeast District Chair.................Brian Ohnsorg Metro West District Chair ......... Linda Armstrong Metro East District Chair ................Karen Lutgen Membership Chair .............................Bruce Becker Advertising Chair ................... John Kleinwolterink Newsletter Editor .................................Mark Potvin

ACDA of Minnesota Repertoire and Standards Chairs Boy Choirs.....................................André Heywood Children’s Choir .............................. Deborah Lamb College and University Choirs .... Angela Broeker Community Choirs ...........................Steve Boehlke Ethnic & Multicultural Perspectives ................ Martha Coventry Graber High School Choirs ...............................Steve Dietz Jazz Choirs ......................................... Michael Shafer Junior High/ Middle School Choirs ....................... Sue Gilsdorf Male Choirs ............................................. Mike Smith Music and Worship ......................Maureen Putnam Show Choirs................................. Heather Douglas Two-Year College Choirs .................... Karla Miller Women’s Choirs .................................. Kari Douma Youth and Student Activities..................Christopher Aspaas •

Star of the North Advertising Rates 81⁄2” x 10”.....................................................$200.00 81⁄2” x 51⁄2” .................................................$125.00 81⁄2” x 41⁄3” ................................................... $90.00 42⁄3” x 10”....................................................... $70.00 21⁄3” x 10 ........................................................ $50.00 31⁄3” x 41⁄2” ................................................... $30.00

Star of the North Ad and Article Submission Dates Winter 2010.................................................12/31/09 Spring 2010 ....................................................... 4/9/10 Fall 2010 ..........................................................8/13/10


COLUMNS President’s Cue ....................................................4 Legacy .......................................................................... 16 FMC Endowment Update ................................28 College Choirs....................................33 Jazz Choirs ...........................................34 Women’s Choirs ...............................35 Community Choirs ...........................36

19 FEATURES Mowing the Lawn, Tom Hassig ........................ 6 Never Stop Singing!, Peter Myers ........................8 Building Community – In Our Choir, Our Workplaces, and Among Our ACDA Choral Colleagues, Mary Jo Bot .................. 10 The Evolution of an Organization, Brian Ohnsorg................................................... 12 Fostering a Civil Generation, Martha Coventry Graber ................................. 13 A Spotlight on Innovation: The Eric Whitacre Festival, Kelsey Menehan ............ 22 Chorus America Survey on Choral Singing .......................................... 30






Honors Choir Information .............................. 7 Simon Hasley Community Sing ....................... 9 Choral Arts Finale Information ..................... 11 Dialogue Snapshots.......................................... 20 2009 Collegiate Choral Festival .................... 29 POLICY STATEMENT ON PROGRAMMING Recognizing the broad diversity of cultures and beliefs by our member directors, by our singers, and by all those touched by performances of choral music, ACDA of Minnesota reaffirms its commitment to balance and diversity in programming. It is important that we, as the leading proponents of choral art in our state, actively encourage and model sensitivity to and awareness of diversity, particularly with regard to sacred and secular repertoire. We recommend that no more than fifty percent of the literature chosen for Honors Choirs, All-State Choirs and Pick Six packets contain music with sacred text. Performances and lists pertaining to music in worship are exempt. Adopted by the ACDA of Minnesota Executive Board, January 13, 1996.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


PRESIDENT’SCUE Happy fall! At this time of year – when we are focused on starting up again with school programs, concert seasons and church choir rehearsals – it is easy to feel like we are jumping onto a moving train. The lurch back into reality is always a little harsh, yet is often also energizing. After a little time off, we find we can face the season with renewed energy and creativity. BRIAN STUBBS Brainerd High School

Your ACDA-MN board has spent the summer busily mapping out the next year, as well as laying groundwork towards the future. I am pleased to report that on July 1, the Executive Committee

“...we are working with our district chairs to reinvigorate the vision of their job description and purpose.” met and spent the better part of a day hashing out procedural items and dreaming about the direction of our organization. It was one of those days that may sound mundane, but the energy in the room was overwhelming. The biggest highlight: our new full time Executive Director, Bruce Becker, signed a letter of agreement to officially begin serving our organization in this new position. Just writing that last sentence gives me pause. To think of where we have been and where we are it too simplistic to simply say “WOW?” Bruce’s column at the back page of our journal will give you a sense of this man’s great optimism and energy. Another fundamental change I would like to highlight is that we are working with our district chairs to reinvigorate the vision of their job description and purpose. You may or may not know the role they have historically played on our board. You will hopefully feel their impact in the future, however, as we model their districts after our state model – creating sub-cultures across our state and reaching out to existing and potential members. They will be communicating with you more frequently


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– look for their emails! There will be requests for your input. Please reply with one quick thought before you delete! Our vision is to celebrate the fantastic work happening across this great state in ways that are both meaningful and appropriate to fit the specific needs and strengths of each district. Our future state conferences will be a chance to compare and share ideas that are being regularly put to use in all corners of Minnesota. On a personal note, I need you to know that I was a nervous wreck as we neared Dialogue. My first full board meeting as the new President (a two-day event) was scheduled prior to Dialogue’s start. My training under Judy Sagen was over, and her tremendous contributions to ACDA-MN as President would be a tough act to follow. Sleep was out of the question for me as I lay awake worrying about some forgotten minutia that would bring our organization down under my watch. That prospect gave me tremendous pause. When the fateful day arrived, our conference room was filled with the most amazing group of people! Each came to the table dedicated to serving, enthusiastic about the future, and optimistic about our direction. I suddenly realized that everything was going to be fine. Your ACDA-MN board was not going to let me fail because they were, and are, so passionate about our future. I was overwhelmed. We are at a great time of vision and energy. I ask you to be a part of it. Contact any of us, anytime, with your thoughts and ideas and questions. Resolve to make our website ( a well-used resource in your professional life. We look forward to hearing from and serving you. There is much more to share with you in the coming months! I look forward to reporting to you in this column down the road. For now, best wishes on the fall!


estival Concert Saturday, November 14, 2009 7:00 p.m. benson great hall, Bethel University eaturing Minnesota State University-Mankato Concert Choir Northwestern College Choir St. John’s University Men’s Chorus University Singers, University of Minnesota Duluth University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers with special guest conductor

Craig Jessop

and a world premiere by

Eric William Barnum

The Star of the North Festival Concert Series American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund Committee

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


FROM THE FIELD Mowing the Lawn September is here. Time to renew, refresh, refocus and re-imagine. It’s time to mow the lawn again. I say that with three intended meanings.

TOM HASSIG Prior Lake-Savage High School

First, anyone who owns a house knows there are duties that come with home ownership. Painting, re-roofing, cleaning the garage, mowing the lawn – it’s all part of home ownership. We may or may not enjoy these jobs, but they are part and parcel to owning a house. The same is true of being a professional educator. There are some jobs we have to do whether we want to or not. Conventions, workshops, professional development, curriculum writing, textbook ordering, erasing white boards, and calculating grades are part of the responsibility of being involved in this profession. Second, there are many ways to mow the lawn. Round and round, back and forth. Many professional lawn-care experts recommend that it’s best to mow the lawn differently every time. Sometimes we should go round and round, sometimes up and down, sometimes back and forth, sometimes we should mow on a diagonal. The important thing is to vary the mowing pattern to avoid making ruts in the yard by running the mower over the same track every time. The same is true for education. We need to do things differently once in a while to pull ourselves (and our students) out of the ruts. Remember: there is a subtle but importance difference between being in a rut and being in the groove. My third meaning of what it means to mow the lawn is vision. My dad was a farmer, and a pretty good one. He had more than 70 head in his herd of milk cows and nearly 600 acres of land under the plow. He was considered a leader in his area and other farmers often imitated what he did and incorporated any new ideas he adopted. Our farm has some hilly land...southeastern Minnesota is like that. Farmers used to plow and plant by going up and down the hills. Dad was one of the first farmers in the area to adopt terraces and contour farming to reduce erosion and soil run-off.


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Dad planted alfalfa, oats, wheat and some soybeans. He loved the smell of new-mown hay and delighted in the sight of grain swaying in the air as currents ebbed and flowed over the fields. He always derived the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, however, from planting and harvesting corn. There was nothing Dad liked better than driving along the country roads and observing the how the corn crops were growing – whether they were ahead or behind last year, how healthy the stalks looked. Dad prided himself a great deal on planting straight rows of corn. On a level field, his rows were always so straight you could practically shoot an arrow down a row for the length of the field and hit a target at the far side. On fields which were contour planted, he made sure that each successive pass of the planter lined up evenly with previous passes. The result was a completely even strip of planting with no gaps from the planter straying slightly out of line. When asked, Dad always said this made it easier to harvest, but I know he also held the belief that any farmer who cared about the land would show it through neat fields and straight rows. If the rows were crooked, odds were the farmer was careless about other things also. I suspect that deep inside Dad liked straight rows because they were prettier to look at. A finely planted field is a sight to behold. To this day I am reminded of Dad every time I see a corn field. I never drove the corn planter. That was Dad’s job; later the duty was passed to my brothers. When I bought my first house, I had to buy a lawn mower and, for better or worse, I made it my aim to mow in as straight a line as I could, just like Dad’s rows of corn. My problem was that Dad never revealed his secret for how to keep the rows straight. After a few tries, I discovered the secret and I’ll share it with you. To mow those perfectly straight lines, you can’t just put the mower’s wheels where they should be and move forward while keeping the wheels in line. Little bumps or rises in the lawn jar and

bump the mower slightly off course. You look back after one pass with the mower and see that the line has jigs and jags as if it were a line of yarn that seven cats had been playing with. You can try to focus your eyes a foot or two ahead of the mower and try to keep a straight line, and odds are you will mow in a straighter line than the first method. Still, the pass you make with the mower will not be a truly straight line. The secret for keeping a straight line is to put the wheels at the right starting spot, but then set your sights on where you want to end up. Keep your vision focused on the end of that straight line. Your eyeballs need to keep moving back and forth between where you are now, where you’ll be in a few feet, and where you want to be at the end of the row. Do that, then look back and you’ll see a nice straight row that Dad would be proud to call his own. Isn’t all of this the same for education and life in general? We can’t focus solely on where we are at this immediate moment. We can’t even put most of our energies on where we’ll be in a day or two. We need to always focus on where we want to be in one, two, or five years. Along the way, we may decide to move the target due to outside factors or changes in personal goals, but we still need to keep a longrange focus. If we do, the odds are good we’ll end up where we want to be. If we don’t we’ll surely end up some place, but it’ll probably be some place else.

Statewide Honors Choir Projects Continue 2009-10 The annual ACDA-MN statewide honors choir projects will be scheduled throughout the coming school year even though the North Central Division Conference and their related honors choir events will be held in Minneapolis in March. Here are the details for the Minnesota honors choirs which involve hundreds of our students each year:

Elementary Honors Choir – Saturday, November 21 St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi Guest Conductor: Greg Reierson, Marshfield, WI Concert time: 4:00 pm CD auditions due: October 7 Listening/Selection Day: October 10 Joel Gotz, Minnetonka, Chair

7/8 Anacrusis Girls Honors Choir – Saturday, November 21 St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi Guest Conductor: Mary Kay Geston, Northwestern College Joint Concert time: 5:30 pm CD auditions due: September 30 Listening/Selection Day: October 3 Jamye Casperson, Lakeville, Chair

7/8 Anacrusis Boys Honors Choir – Saturday, November 21 St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi Guest Conductor: Christopher Aspaas, St. Olaf College Joint Concert time: 5:30 pm CD auditions due: September 30 Listening/Selection Day: October 3 Lisa Doering, Minneapolis, Chair

9/10 Mixed Honors Choir – Thursday, February 11 Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis MMEA Mid-Winter Clinic Guest Conductor: Jeff Redding, Orlando, FL Concert time: 5:00 pm CD auditions due: November 4 Listening/Selection Day: November 7 Phil Brown and Melanie Kjellberg, Chairs

For an ACDA-MN 2009-10 complete calendar of events visit

Complete student audition information, honors choir pricing structure, and director’s instructions, along with conductor biographies and other useful information were posted on the ACDA-MN website ( just prior to the beginning of the school year and will remain there through the fall.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


NEVER STOP SINGING! Exploring Minnesota’s Passion for Singing Editors Note: The following is a summary of the concept of Sing We All!, a documentary produced by the Myers Communication Group. This is the first in a series of three articles by Peter Myers as he outlines what makes choral music in Minnesota so unique. The documentary was broadcast on a variety of Minnesota Public Television stations in the spring and summer of 2009. Visit for more information. Minnesota has a reputation for its prolific choral music, from the renowned St. Olaf Choir to professional ensembles such as the Dale Warland Singers, VocalEssence and Minnesota Chorale. The state is home to countless professional and semiprofessional ensembles, college choirs and community groups. Children’s choruses and gospel choirs are also a part of this mix. Local composers write extensively for the voice, and in 2002 Minnesota welcomed more than 3,000 singers from around the globe to the World Choral Symposium. What’s behind this passion for singing? The documentary explores Minnesota’s choral tradition through interviews with the state’s leading choral conductors and composers, historical background, behind-the-scenes activity, rehearsals and concert excerpts. Through personal stories and musical excerpts, it reveals the great joy and inspiration that people derive from performing and hearing choral music. The documentary is a collaborative effort involving the participation of more than 20 choral ensembles and conductors.

“The documentary explores Minnesota’s choral tradition through interviews with the state’s leading choral conductors and composers, historical background, behind-the-scenes activity, rehearsals and concert excerpts. Through personal stories and musical excerpts, it reveals the great joy and inspiration that people derive from performing and hearing choral music.”


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“Minnesota has a reputation for its prolific choral music, from the renowned St. Olaf Choir to professional ensembles such as the Dale Warland Singers, VocalEssence and Minnesota Chorale.” It fills an important need to document Minnesota’s rich choral tradition and provides a permanent archive of interviews, transcripts and rehearsal and performance footage that offer insights into the state’s prominent conductors. It is expected to reach a broad audience through television, the Internet, and DVD distribution to high school choir directors. It is our hope that the documentary and related materials fulfill the following objectives: 1. Celebrate the choral art and inspire the thousands of Minnesotans who sing – or have an interest in singing – in choirs at every age and experience level 2. Provide advocacy for the choral art, and in particular the evolution of choral music from a strictly volunteer activity to an art form that deserves the level of respect and support that is accorded to professional instrumental ensembles 3. Create an archival resource that preserves our choral heritage through extended interviews with Minnesota’s outstanding choral conductors and advocates, along with rehearsal and concert footage This subject was intended to tie into Minnesota’s 150th anniversary, for which the American Composers Forum commissioned five new choral works premiered at the State Fair in 2008. Five choruses from around state collaborated on that project. Key components of the documentary include: 1. Interviews with leading choral conductors. 2. Interviews with noted Minnesota choral composers. 3. Interviews with others passionate about choral music and who can provide a national or international perspective on Minnesota’s choral excellence, or offer another unique point of view. 4. Interviews with singers, focusing on those who are especially articulate and passionate about singing. Personal stories that reveal how singing has impacted their lives were of particular interest.

5. Representative footage of choral groups in rehearsal and performance. 6. A historical tracing of the roots of Minnesota’s choral tradition. This history is well documented from the time of F. Melius Christiansen to today, but there were already more than 20 established choirs in the Twin Cities when he arrived here in the early 1900s. 7. The story of the Gospel music influence as personified by Robert Robinson and the Twin Cities Gospel Choir, providing an effective counterpoint to the dominant Scandinavian choir tradition. 8. Independent youth choirs which have nurtured the musical interests of thousands of young singers. The documentary was offered free of charge to all public television stations in Minnesota and beyond. Supplemental material and resources for choral organizations, conductors and singers is in the process of being generated. The documentary has also provided valuable archival footage of interviews and rehearsal excerpts for an art form that generally has not been well documented in film or video (with the exception of college choir holiday concerts).

Community Sing with Simon Halsey Sing with internationally renowned British conductor Simon Halsey as he leads an evening of all-British choral music, including Vaughn Williams’s O Clap Your Hands, Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via, and Dove’s I Am the Day. This event is co-sponsored by ACDA-MN. Visit www. to register. Performance details are as follows: Friday, October 23, 2009 7:00 pm-8:30 pm Plymouth Congregational Church 1900 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis $15, which includes required music Community sing participants will receive a coupon code when they register to save $5 on tickets to the VocalEssence “British Invasion” performance on October 24. For concert tickets, call 612-371-5656.

This project supports a new collaborative effort by local choruses to advance the profile of choral music in Minnesota.

ACDA-MN Summer Board Meeting Participants (L-R) Row 1: Mary Whitlock, Northeast Chair; Linda Armstrong, Metro West Chair; Mary Jo Bot, Northwest Chair; Kari Werdahl, Southwest Chair; Tom Hassig, Secretary; Mark Howarth, Registrar; Judy Sagen, Vice President Row 2: John Kleinwolterink, Advertising Chair; Tom Hale, Webmaster; Chuck Hellie, Treasurer; Brian Stubbs, President; Steve Albaugh, President-Elect; Bruce Becker, Executive Director; Mark Potvin, Star of the North Editor

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


FROM THE FIELD Building Community in our Choirs, Workplaces, and Professional Organizations

MARY JO BOT St. Cloud State University

It happens to choral conductors all the time. That call comes from a long ago chorister who just wants to share what’s going on in his or her life, invite you to a wedding, or ask for some advice over a cup of coffee. Often times, the conversation turns to fond recollections of their choir experiences. When that happens, you have the assurance that meaningful connections have been made and your choir has been the community you hoped it would be. It is too easy to take that important aspect of community for granted. Perhaps we would be well served to stop as this new year begins, decipher just what it means to be in community, and consider how we can be better facilitators of community in our choirs and professional arenas. As choral conductors, we have learned that communities are not simply the towns or cities where we live, but are complex structures of relationships formed when people join together over common values, shared interests, or a unifying purpose. We find ourselves in many settings that can be considered communities – our choirs, our schools, our churches, and even our profession. The key to being more than just a group of people

Building community at Summer Dialogue.


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joined together for a common purpose is to be in relationship with those people. The stronger our relationships, the more vibrant and effective our communities will be. The driver in building community is passion. In our occupation of choice, we are lucky to share the passions of music – choral music, specifically – and of education. As choral conductors in any arena (church choirs, community choirs, school choirs, etc), we work not only as musicians but also as educators, leading our choirs to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the choral art. It is that passion which knits us together and compels us to achieve the high standards to which we all aspire. Using our shared passions as a catalyst, how can we work toward developing relationships that will build community in our choirs, in our workplaces, and among our ACDA choral colleagues? Some thoughts: • It is essential that we believe in what we are doing and in the people with whom we are doing it. When we do, we will naturally expect the best of those involved. • We must empower others. When others feel ownership, they become more creative and more committed to the community. Allowing others to feel genuine ownership in the community may mean that we need to give up a bit of control, but in doing so we give others the opportunity to make a greater investment and to take pride in the group’s accomplishments. • We need to take time to get to know others in our communities as unique and interesting individuals. We are more likely to have positive interactions with a friend than with a stranger. • We must communicate, and in doing so, we must also listen. Each one of us has a need to be heard. “Real listening shows respect. It creates trust. As we listen, we not only gain understanding, we also create the environment to be

understood.” (First Things First, by Stephen R. Covey, New York, Simon & Schuster. p. 214) • We must foster an environment in which community members are treated with dignity and respect. • We must take time to reflect on our work together and then name and celebrate our successes. Community building takes time and effort. It is not a “quick and easy” process, but it is vital to vibrant collaborations. Each of us can take the initiative to work toward building community in our own choirs, our workplaces, and among our choral colleagues around the state. Think about ways that you can work on building up the communities of which you are a part. During Minnesota’s Summer Dialogue, President-Elect Steve Albaugh facilitated a wonderful session in which ACDA members shared their ideas for building community in their own choirs. Talk to any of the members who attended and ask them to pass on the ideas that were shared. The list included ideas for learning names, for team-building activities, and for planning retreats. Service-learning and community engagement projects with your choirs are other means to building community by focusing on the needs of others. At your place of employment, find small but meaningful ways to engage your colleagues on a personal level. Greet people. Be committed to listening. Ask questions instead of talking about yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Acknowledge the successes of others. It is a constant goal of ACDA-MN leadership to build relationships among its members because they understand the importance of a strong, supportive choral community. Share the value of belonging to ACDA with a choral colleague and invite them to join ACDA. Ask them to join you in attending ACDA conferences and Summer Dialogue. Choose to become involved in any aspect of the ACDA community. Volunteers are always needed for festivals, conferences, honor choirs, etc. Don’t wait to be asked. Contact your district chair or other members of ACDA leadership to offer your services. You’ll foster new relationships in the process and you’ll get more out of the experience than you put into it.

Renew ACDA membership in Minnesota at or mail directly to: Bruce W. Becker, Executive Director 12027 Gantry Lane Apple Valley, MN 55124

Finally, plan to gather with a larger community of choral conductors from across the upper Midwest and attend this year’s NC-ACDA conference “A Community that Sings!” in Minneapolis March 3-6, 2010. The conference will feature national and international leaders in the community singing movement. At the conference, make a point of interacting with others who share your passion for choral music and in the process be part of sustaining this regional community – a valuable network of support. We all thrive in communities in which we are active participants, in which we have built strong relationships, and in which we feel ownership. It’s worth putting in the time and effort to build relationships in our communities, for strong relationships are vital to the kind of vibrant communities to which we all aspire.

Fifth Annual Choral Arts Finale The 5th Annual Choral Arts Finale is slated for Sunday, April 18, 2010. This year’s clinician is Paul Salamunovich, conductor emeritus of the Los Angeles Masterworks Chorale and St. Borromeo Catholic Church in North Hollywood, CA. Any high school age choir (school, community, or worship-based) may audition for this prestigious festival. Application materials may be downloaded from the Minnesota ACDA website. Applications are due January 14, 2010, using a recording from this year’s (2009-2010) choir. Groups selected to participate receive reimbursement for their travel costs, a $500 award, and a commemorative plaque. This event is made possible through the generous support of Concordia, St. Paul donors, David and Sandy Frauenshuh. Additional benefits are available for ACDA members on the day of the festival, April 18: • ACDA members are welcome to observe all afternoon clinic sessions at Concordia University. • ACDA members are invited to be Concordia University’s guests at the 4:30 p.m. directors’ supper. • ACDA Members also may reserve two free tickets for the evening gala concert. For more information, please contact David Mennicke, Festival Coordinator, at

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


FROM THE FIELD The Evolution of an Organization BRIAN OHNSORG Jordan High School

Reflect for a moment on your experiences in successful organizations. Specifically choral organizations: your high school choir, college choir, community choir, semi-professional chorus, etc. Weren’t they all successful because of a leader that had vision and the diligence to see it through, as well as a group who dedicated themselves to the same idea because they became part of it’s success? As a teacher, I want those same sorts of experiences for the students of my choirs. But sometimes it just doesn’t seem like we’re progressing as quickly as I’d like. Have you ever felt that way? I guess it is a race that requires a slow and steady approach. An approach that recognizes the “compound interest” that will one day be the reward of our hard work within the “evolution” of our organizations. This summer I have had the pleasure of teaching a six-week session of private voice lessons to 20 of my students that sing in one of our three choirs at Jordan High School. They will give a recital at the end of this week. This is not anything unusual from what I’ve been accustomed to as a teacher. However, much of my teaching past has had me instructing voice students who sing in other conductors’ choirs. While this is fine, it has not given me such a direct feeling of reward as working individually with my own choir members. I have gotten so much enjoyment out of working with this dedicated bunch of singers this summer because they seem to be genuinely enjoying the lessons and practicing on their own! (Did I say “practicing?” Yes, I think I did. I attribute that to the makers of the Superscope because now I can give them a CD to practice with at their first lesson.) As I reflect upon these 20 students who are among the finest leaders in their choirs, I wonder, “How did they get to where they are now?” I guess a handful of them have taken private lessons from me for the last few years, they’ve gone on and performed leading roles in musicals, participated in honor choirs and received Superior ratings at contest. Now their friends and peers have decided that they too would like to pursue their vocal training through lessons. Perhaps my efforts are beginning to accumulate? Perhaps I could consider this to be


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one of my program’s own “evolutions?” I’m beginning to realize that years and decades go by very quickly and that steps we take individually today further our organization’s “evolution” and give us wonderful things to look forward to. So, here I am typing this article and finding myself excited to start programming music for the new school year. I’m recommitting myself to the optimism that with each voice lesson, recital, and successful concert our organization is heading toward a tradition that will some day perpetuate itself in our school and community. But it is so difficult sometimes to remain diligent and patient as we work toward those goals, isn’t it? Especially when we have those “artistic” moments of frustration over what is or is not happening on a particular day within our organization?!? Ah, but how it helps to return to those long-term goals that we set. Yes, this is a good time to open up my desk drawer and find those long-term goals that I wrote down for myself once upon a time...aha! Here’s that post it note... Okay, looks like there’s still lots to keep chipping away at here. It’s somewhat overwhelming to think about. It’s probably best that I to add the words “one step at a time” to this list. Because “though changes produced in any one generation are small, differences accumulate with each generation and can, over time, cause substantial changes in the population” ( I love the words accumulate and substantial in that definition! They give me faith in what I’m doing and help me to renew my sense of purpose as I look toward the new school year. An organization’s “evolution” is about being forward thinking and an optimist. I really like that! I am also reminded of what a wonderfully unique opportunity we have as choral directors to link together the past, present and future. What “evolutions” have taken place in your organization? What is yet to be accomplished? Choral music is a worthy endeavor! Keep pursuing your vision and take time to delight in the “substantial changes” that have already occurred within your organization because of your passion, care, purpose, and diligence!

FROM THE FIELD Fostering a Civil Generation The past year has been truly extraordinary. I hope yours was marked by growth and learning, recognition for accomplishments, problems faced and solved, joyful moments, love, and miracles. I hope the summer has been full of personal and family time, renewal, and enjoyment of yet another wondrous Minnesota summer season. Life is rich indeed. MARTHA COVENTRY GRABER St. Paul Central High School

As I look toward the coming year, I am overwhelmed by the vastness of problems – as well as the opportunities – that we must tackle. As choral directors working with ensembles performing in public venues, we have much to consider as we face our groups and ponder our responsibilities to them and to ourselves.

“The kids sing with such love and commitment! They are poised, respectful, and dignified…” In January, I listened to a Westminster Town Hall Forum featuring English author Dr. Os Guinness. He discussed the public school curriculum he coauthored entitled Living with Our Deepest Differences. Guinness suggests that we must rediscover “the vision of public life where everyone of all faiths are free to enter and engage in public life on the basis of their faith within a framework which is understood and taught from generation to generation.” Dr. Os urges us to “create a covenanted framework of agreed principles by which we recognize each other’s rights, within which we negotiate our deep and important differences – civilly and peacefully.” As a European, he expressed deep admiration for our country’s historic ability to foster vast enormous religious and philosophical diversity through the tenants of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He calls this “America’s Greatest Experiment.” (While the sentiment is complimentary, did America from the beginning include Native American or African spiritual thought? Harsh

strategies were sometimes employed to eradicate non-Judeo-Christian ideals completely.) Nevertheless, Dr. Guinness has observed a gradual change over the past half century: a decline in American tolerance as religious differences exploded on the scene, particularly in the last decade. Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerance thusly: “1: capacity to endure pain or hardship; 2a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own; b: the act of allowing something.” So often the word “tolerance” takes a negative connotation, ie: “I can tolerate her” (Meaning “if I try hard, I can put up with her, but barely.”). Using that attitude as a starting point, it is a small leap to behave with complete lack of empathy or patience with ideas different from our own. We must agree on parameters of conduct and civility when bringing our differences together. As Americans, we have to reconcile that the issue of race is a failing – begun before the authorship of our Bill of Rights – that plagues us daily. Our public behavior in light of differences and disagreement has become quite bad. Recent vitriolic political campaigns and angry public protests come to mind as examples. What we must guard against the idea that any one idea is necessarily superior to any other. All persons have equal rights in the public square regardless of numbers, longevity, or power. In Minnesota, we are still relatively homogenous. Certainly in large urban areas this is not so, yet the demographics outside of major cities are steadily changing. Much is happening through immigration and refugee programs. Vastly different religious practices are vying for space, time, and recognition on a scale never before experienced within our communities. More importantly, media exposure and an imposing global community are exposing our deepest differences. Our children are faced with a melting pot of innumerable divergences in ideas and beliefs. What they will know and understand about the world will be far different than the knowledge held by their parents, spiritual leaders, and teachers. Indeed, it already is so. How important it will be that they determine how to come

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together and interact, each within the basis of their personal convictions yet allowing others the right to their own. Have we given them a model in which to proceed? As educators, aren’t we challenged to relearn and teach our children civility in the public square? My small select group, Central Singers, was formed eight years ago when I got a call from the Midway Lions Club to provide carolers for their holiday luncheon. They needed to be a portable group that could sing a cappella. I selected a small ensemble, found a few pieces they could learn, and established a regular time to rehearse them until December. They earned $300 for that first gig. New and repeat requests for holiday programs continue to come in annually. Through the years, I have collected a large body of “holiday songs” and Central Singers have taken this on as one of their main purposes for existence. Favorite carols, interesting arrangements, student requests, and recommendations from friends have all made their way into our repertoire. Admittedly, I am the one ultimately choosing what to include and my choices indicate what I care about and wish to share. That message is not obvious – indeed, it can easily be very misinterpreted – but lies indelibly within my programming. I had an exemplary group last year. The rest of Central had (and continues to have) very little awareness of their talents and of what they actually do. Some of my colleagues might even resent my monopoly on these students’ attention after school a bit. I wanted to find an opportunity for the Central Staff to experience them live and up close. The kids sing with such love and commitment! They are poised, respectful, and dignified…I thought it might be helpful exposure and help alleviate some tensions to have them sing for the staff. I approached my principal and asked if they could sing at a staff meeting in December. She told me I could, but she emphatically said they couldn’t sing any Christmas carols. She wanted to be sure not to offend anyone. A small number of our songs were unrelated to Christmas, but the rest of our repertoire consisted of carols. They go... well...caroling. It is what they are hired to do. My principal’s response shouldn’t have been surprising. I empathize fully with the urge to repress anything nearing proselytizing or the pushing of one’s beliefs upon another. I am a passionate doubter and tire of people worrying about me, assuming that my doubt means an absence of spirituality or morality. Additionally, as your Ethnic and Multicultural R & S chair, I am nearly hyperaware of the need to program carefully and sensitively. I found myself feeling taken aback and embarrassed at my principal’s emphasis. Didn’t she know there was no


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way on earth I would have any intent to offend, convert, or persuade? I had only wanted the staff to hear the quality of work the kids do as they go out into the community to sing and represent our school. In plain terms, I wanted to show them off and my students wanted to be shown off. They knew they were singing extremely well and they yearned for their teachers to witness their success. After speaking to my principal, I knew it was high time to take a step back, look over our repertoire, think this through, and begin a discussion about religious and ideological sensitivity. In the rush of getting music learned, we had not had the chance to talk about much about our music. I don’t typically explain much to an audience either. In both cases, I knew the conversation was past due. In my mind, I probably assumed it was all somehow apparent. I wasn’t even sure how to start with the kids, so I began (very tentatively) asking, “Where are each of you in your own spiritual thinking?”

“I don’t have clear guidelines to offer you when making your own program choices. I do recommend that you simply spend time thinking about what you have, try to get a sense of what might be dominating or is left out, what subliminal message is buried within the context of your program. Worry less about eliminating and have fun searching for more divergent things to include.” What ensued was a remarkable, frank, eye-opening discussion with each student sharing both their spiritual upbringing and the extraordinary places in which their minds existed at that moment. They were all different. A few shared about how Atheism and Agnosticism are real spiritual channels of thought, not voids. One pointed out that even within the same sect or denomination individual minds ponder the mysteries of humanity, earth, and life in vastly different ways. Sometimes, such ponderings are even contrary to the actual words and ideas of the rituals of a given belief system. They seemed intrigued

by each others’ ideas and thoughts. They were respectful and listened. We all became closer that evening. We didn’t really draw any strong conclusions – we mostly shared and listened. In the end, the kids did not sing for a staff meeting, where our audience would be captive, but instead sang in the lobby of the school at the end of an evening of conferences. We invited people ahead of time to stop by and listen. The singers felt good about that. Most of their performances throughout December were similar. I think the kids got the most satisfaction out of caroling before a performance of Jacob Marley’s Christmas at Park Square Theater and in the lobby of the St. Paul Hotel. In these venues, they got to sing through their whole list of songs and had the precious opportunity to see passersby double-take, pause, and then draw closer to stand, watch, and listen. They loved the serendipity of the experience. I know that people are often caught off guard by the sound of good a cappella singing – it stops them in their tracks. When they realize they are listening to a high school group, they become completely charmed by their conduct and poise. All of these performances are invaluable if for nothing but this reason alone! As Central Singers has evolved, we’ve developed our own take on the traditional holiday program. We do not use caroling booklets. Instead, I have accumulated a collection of well-written, interesting, sing-able pieces in a wide range of languages and from a variety of cultures. I have a fondness for pieces that ponder and question. Some of the carols are familiar and some are not. Some are religious and some are not. They range from medieval to contemporary, classical to jazz. They are all a cappella, some with percussion instruments and occasionally an obbligato instrument if I have an instrumentalist in the group. Most importantly – not all of them are even Christmas tunes!

we should not leave our religion beliefs at home when entering the public square. Rather, we need to come to the public square bearing all the parts that nourish our individual characters. We just have to learn to bring all those opinions and ideas together civilly yet remember that a standard of public behavior is built into preparation for good performances. Not everyone gets to practice that as often as choirs do. An ongoing debate among my singers is why they love particular songs. Sometimes it’s the rhythmic vitality, texture or spirit of a piece. Less frequently a particular idea or text triggers the appeal. Most are beloved because of the melody or how fun their part is to sing. They each like different songs for different reasons – there is no consensus between the kids. They debate their likes and dislikes vigorously and energetically, but no one is ever offended or hurt. They are much more amicable about their differences than adults can tend to be. They don’t try so hard to get others to agree with them. As I think about this I am humbled. I am proud of them – not just for their beautiful singing, but for what great people they are. I think it is important to share them with an audience as often as I can. Perhaps they don’t need us to teach them how to live together and accept their deepest differences within the public square. Perhaps they need to teach us.

I don’t have clear guidelines to offer you when making your own program choices. I do recommend that you simply spend time thinking about what you have, try to get a sense of what might be dominating or is left out, what subliminal message is buried within the context of your program. Worry less about eliminating and have fun searching for more divergent things to include. I found it interesting that Dr. Guinness felt strongly that To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


LEGACY Illuminating the Past, Informing the Present, Inspiring the Future Wayne Kivell, a graduate of Luther College, has received an MS degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA in musicology from the University of Minnesota, specializing in Renaissance and Early Music. He has done additional study at numerous workshops under Robert Shaw, Roger Wagner, William Vennard, Douglas McEwen, Norman Luboff, Paul Salamunovich and B. R. Hensen. WAYNE KIVELL

In 1994, Mr. Kivell completed 33 years of music education, the last 25 years at Northfield High School. From 1975 to 1983 he was assistant conductor of the Dale Warland Singers. In 1988 he founded the I Cantanti chamber choir in Northfield and has since added the Le Donne Cantanti women’s choir. Choirs under his direction have twice performed as guest choirs at the Luther College Dorian Music Festival, four times at Minnesota Music Educators, and six times at a state or divisional convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Wayne is a life member of the American Choral Directors Association. He has long been active in

ACDA, having served as district chair, membership chair, newsletter editor, state president, North Central division president, division convention chair, national chair of the high school repertoire and standards committee, and national convention coordinator. He recently retired as executive secretary for ACDA of Minnesota. In 2000, Mr. Kivell was awarded the F. Melius Christiansen Award for lifetime conducting experience and distinguished service to choral music in Minnesota by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. Editor’s Note: The following is a condensed transcript of an interview with Wayne Kivell held in Moorhead, MN, on August 6, 2009. SotN: Wayne, how did you first come to the decision to be a choral director? WK: It was kind of strange. In high school, I was an instrumentalist. I started trumpet in fifth grade and played all the way through. Some friends told me, “Oh, you should go out for choir, too.” I had been a decent singer all that time, but trumpet was my main instrument. So I only had one year of singing in high school...that was my senior year. When I left to go to Luther, I had planned to be a band director. We packed to go down to Luther, [and when we arrived] I realized I had forgotten my trumpet! I tried out for the Chapel Choir, made that, and even though I was a vocal/instrumental major it was clear I was going to go vocal from that point on. SotN: Describe your first teaching assignment. WK: My first job was in southwest Minnesota, in Lakefield. I taught 7-12 vocal music and German I & II. Although I minored in German, I hadn’t planned on teaching it, but did so for four years. SotN: What was your first annual salary?

A couple of ACDA ‘Young Pups’ in 1988: Wayne Kivell and Steve Boehlke.


Star of the North • Fall 2009

WK: I think it was something like $4200, but I got an extra $250 for teaching German. SotN: What were some of the ideas you implemented to encourage students to sing? WK: I needed to get kids involved in Lakefield. This was before the days of class lists. The first day of school, I had no idea who was going to walk into the choir room. It’s hard to select music when you don’t know who’s going to be there. I did a little recruiting to double the number of boys [that first fall] to a total of six. During the course of that year, for the next year, I auditioned every boy in the school. I went to every study hall, pulled all the boys out into the choir room, had them sing a few bars of My Country ‘Tis of Thee, and gave them a score of 1-5. I just went right down the line. After hearing all of them, I said, “You, you, and you can go back to study hall.” For the remainder, I said, “You’ve got a great voice. I want you in choir next year.” I had a much more balanced choir the next year. SotN: Who were some of your musical mentors growing up? WK: The main person was Reginald Torrison, who influenced not only what I did, but where I did it. He was my high school choir and band director my senior year, his first year out of Luther. He was a real inspiration to me. He, as well as friends, got me into choir that senior year. He was the kind of person you wanted to emulate. Ironically, he taught for only 10-11 years and then went into the ministry. Weston Noble, of course, was the obvious inspiration at Luther. Anyone who had the opportunity to study with him, well, that’s who your main mentor is, but also Bart Butler at Luther. He was amazing, probably one of the most intelligent people I ever knew. Then in 1967, I went to the Meadowbrook School of Music and took a six week workshop with Robert Shaw. For a young choir director, still in his late twenties, that was a godsend. SotN: What were some highlights over your career? WK: First of all, performing with the Nordic Choir at Luther. We had some memorable performances while on tour. There was one in Albuquerque that none of us who were in choir will ever forget. We sang an entire concert without one smattering of applause. At the end of the concert, the audience quietly stood up. We didn’t know they couldn’t applaud in that church. We didn’t know what was going on. We just got chills. Certainly, rehearsing and performing with Robert Shaw was a highlight. In six weeks, we did Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass, Oedipus Rex by Stravinsky, and we ended with Bach’s St. John’s Passion. Shaw let you into finer listening skills. We’re on four measures for twenty minutes. At first, you sit back and wonder, “What’s he harping on? It sounds great to me.” Then,

after working with him for a couple of weeks, you started to hear what he was hearing. You realized where he was taking you from and where he was leading you to. SotN: What choirs have been influential in developing the sound you enjoy hearing? WK: College choirs of all types. Later, I came to enjoy the English choir sound. I’m interested in all types of choir sounds. I may not like it, I may not do it, but it’s fascinating to hear different kinds of tone. To take every piece of music and sing it to a standard “choral sound” just isn’t being true [to the music]. SotN: How do you go about selecting literature? WK: You choose music for the ensemble you have. You don’t pick your music and then wait to see who comes in the door. To do anything else is foolish. SotN: In what ways has programming changed over the years? WK: The most recent change in programming, especially as you go to ACDA conventions, the proliferation of 20th, and now 21st century music. That’s good, but not good is the absence of anything from prior to the 20th century. We’ve forgotten our roots. You will hear some programs where conductors are so focused on impressing their choir director audience with the pieces they have doesn’t make for balance. That’s the thing that’s missing: balance in programming. SotN: If you had to pick five chestnuts… WK: I’d have to think about it, but I’ll tell you the one piece that always works with a high school choir: Sicut Locutus Est, from Bach’s Magnificat. It’s got a chance for everyone to shine. It has rhythm, it has climax points, it’s just plain fun. I don’t care what a young person’s musical interest is, they can get excited about that piece. That’s one that particularly worked for me. SotN: How did you first become involved in ACDA? WK: I got involved while I was at my second job. Some colleagues down in Iowa said I should join ACDA. Like most people, I resisted for about a year, but finally paid my six dollar dues and signed up. After a few years, I decided it was a good thing and paid my life dues – $100. Best investment I ever made. When I came back to Minnesota, I found out we did not have a state organization, just a state president. The national president came to MMEA and sat down with a group of choral directors and appointed me to become the MN state president beginning in the summer of 1972. The current state president, Philip Steen, couldn’t go to the division convention in Indianapolis and asked me if I could go in his place. That was my first of over 30 consecutive ACDA conventions at the national and divisional level.

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put together a state board and we were having regular meetings. Everybody said, “When you host a divisional convention, your membership will increase.” This is certainly true. That convention drew 1004 people. It was the first divisional convention in the country to ever break 1000.

Wayne leaving the podium.

SotN: Why should people be join ACDA? WK: It is our main professional organization. How many people in the medical profession aren’t members of the AMA? I don’t think they’d consider it. How many lawyers aren’t part of the American Bar Association? We should be that dedicated. Every choir director should be a member of ACDA. Get involved. Come. You don’t have to hold office. Just come and learn. Share. I’ve talked to fine conductors and said, “You should be involved in ACDA.” “Well, I don’t know if I need it.” I respond with, “Well, maybe ACDA needs you. Share.” SotN: How has the organization changed over the years? WK: The organization has changed because we have an organization. At that Indianapolis convention in 1972, I went to a state president’s meeting and they were starting to outline sites for the next few division conventions. At that time, we had a region of ten states. Well, 1974 was going to be in Des Moines, 1976 was going to be in Columbus. They looked around and asked, “Who wants it in 1978?” Nobody raised their hand. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I raised my hand and said, “We’ll take it in Minnesota.” Six years down the pipe. I figured we could get something together, and we did. We had 66 members when I started in 1972 and my goal was to double the membership in two years. We did. We had exactly 132 in 1974. During those two years, we


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SotN: How has the ACDA-MN calendar of events evolved? WK: The state convention came first. We had the first state convention in January of 1974 at Normandale Community College. Our headliner was Charles Schwartz of the U of M. We had choirs come in and perform, and a couple of interest sessions. That was about it. At that time, we decided to have the convention in the fall. We didn’t want to have it in the winter to compete with MMEA or in the spring to conflict with contest or anything like that. We made the decision to put it in the fall. Late enough so choirs would have a chance to get something together and early enough so what people picked up at the convention they could apply to the rest of their year. I can’t remember why, but we picked the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and it’s never changed since then. We had a few church music conferences, we had a contemporary music forum one year in the seventies. Dialogue is a whole other story. A group of ACDA-MN people got together in Sioux Falls in 1984 and talked about a summer conference. Axel [Theimer] said, “Well, I’ll host it.” Convention and Dialogue have obviously become our two biggest things. Then came the honor choirs, men’s/women’s festival, Star of the North festivals, etc. SotN: What’s the next big thing for ACDA-MN? WK: I’m hoping that the mentorship program will be the next big focus for ACDA-MN. It’s something we’ve talked about for years. It’s something that’s been set up individually. ACDA needs to focus to set up a program where younger directors can connect with a mentor. SotN: Why was creating the Executive Director position such a critical move to advance the organization? WK: ACDA of MN has grown so much over the years, you can’t ask a person to hold down a full-time conducting position and do [Executive Director work] for ACDA, which is almost another full-time position. Yes, you could divide it into little segments, but it’s more efficiently run by one person than fracturing it out. SotN: So what is the role of volunteerism in an organization like ACDA? WK: It’s 100% important. Even with a paid position [like the Exec Director], we need volunteers. There are big jobs, there are little jobs, but nothing that is going to cause anybody to take much time away from their paid position.

SotN: What advice do you have for young choral directors? WK: First of all, let me just say that people coming out of college are so better prepared than we were 40-50 years ago. When I think back on how green I was, it’s scary. I see people coming out of colleges and universities and stepping into good programs (or growing good programs) right away. Try not to be an entity [onto yourself]. Look for assistance from retired people in the area. We have an excellent retired conductors in Minnesota. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to come in and assist you with rehearsal, develop a filing system for your music, or anything no matter how mundane. SotN: What do you think your impact has been on choral music in Minnesota? WK: I don’t know if I’ve had any impact on ACDA other than getting it started. You develop it, grow it a little bit and then kick it out the door. I have been privileged to be connected with some fine choral organizations: I Cantanti, the Dale Warland Singers, and Northfield High School. I hope that’s what people will remember. SotN: What kept you active in ACDA through the years? WK: When you believe in an organization, it’s an honor to serve.

Wayne can finally rest after nearly four decades of ACDA leadership!

SotN: Thanks, Wayne. WK: My pleasure. Thank you.

Describe your vision for the future of ACDA Inspirational, Technological, Multicultural, Data-Driven ~ Tim Sharp, ACDA National Executive Director Editor’s Note: This new feature will appear in each issue of Star of the North and will ask nationally recognized figures in our field to discuss an important topic in five words or fewer.

Tim Sharp joined Summer Dialogue participants to discuss the future of ACDA. Pictured with Tim Sharpe is ACDA-MN President Brian Stubbs.

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DIALOGUE 2009 The fi rst annual ACDA golf tournament was a great way to connect with others!

It was an inspiring, validating, and motivating week. I look forward to Dialogue all year long!

Being a fi rst-time teacher, I thought it was really fun to talk with other colleagues.

WOW – my fi rst visit to “Dialogue” is DEFINITELY ranked as the very BEST choral conference I’ve EVER experienced!


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It was a great week of inspiration, fellowship, musicianship and artistic learning. I thought Karen Kennedy’s presentation “The Golden Proportion” was absolute “Golden Wisdom.”

DIALOGUE 2009 ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue was so vibrant this year. I really felt the community of choral Minnesotans making long-lasting, meaningful connections.

It was great that we had a “Real” group of HS singers that gave up part of the summer to perform for us...Thanks Kathy and DL Laker Singers!!! What a rewarding week! With the sessions we shared I am refreshed and ready for an exciting new year.

My heart was touched and inspired by the presenters. What an exhilirating experience working with René Clausen and singing such wonderful music for the All-Staters.

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GUEST FEATURE A Spotlight on Innovation: The Eric Whitacre Festival, March 2009 for me to work with as many young people as possible in one shot,” he said. Whitacre had dreamed of doing a similar kind of thing in Minnesota, where choral singing is revered from cradle to grave. While at the 2007 convention of the American Choral Directors Association, Whitacre asked long-time friend Anton Armstrong, music director of the world-renown St. Olaf Choir, what he thought of the idea. “Great,” Armstrong said. “Let’s talk to Philip.”

Editor’s Note: Kelsey Menehan is a writer and choral singer based in Washington, DC. She writes frequently for the Voice and Singer Network, an online resource for choral singers. This article is reprinted from the Voice, Summer 2009, published by Chorus America (© 2009). Past issues of the Voice can be ordered from Chorus America by going to the Publications page of the organization’s website: Music festivals typically celebrate composers who are no longer with us. And while the likes of Mozart and Bach certainly are worthy of any homage we can pay them, one wonders, do you have to be dead (usually for a very long time) in order to rate a whole program (or a whole weekend) devoted to your music? A number of choral organizations, and not least of all, choral composers themselves, have answered that question, “Of course not.” Eric Whitacre has, for years, put on regional choral festivals, mostly on the West Coast, showcasing his choral compositions. One of the most popular and performed composers of his generation, Whitacre has developed quite a love affair with his mostly young fans, who have embraced him as their own personal rock star. And he enjoys nothing more than being able to massage a sea of voices into the vision that he had in his head when composing his music. Typically, at a Whitacre festival, five or six high school choruses come together, perform individually, and then join a top college or semi-professional choir for a massed concert. “It was a way


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That would be Philip Brunelle, the founder and artistic director of VocalEssence. A big supporter of the music of today – VocalEssence has commissioned some 122 new choral works from living composers – Brunelle and his staff were cooking up plans for the ensemble’s 40th anniversary season in 2008-2009. A Whitacre festival fit the bill perfectly. “What I didn’t realize was that Philip doesn’t sleep and has more energy than all of us combined,” Whitacre said with a laugh, “so a month later he calls and says, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’ He had mapped the whole thing out. He had this concept for a much bigger thing than I was originally imagining.”

DREAMING BIG: UNCHARTED TERRITORY The general plan was to have choirs of different ages singing Whitacre’s pieces in a massed concert – the adult VocalEssence Chorus and its smaller professional Ensemble Singers, the college-age St. Olaf Choir, and an honors choir made up of auditioned high school students from all over the state and the region. Then, with Whitacre on hand for the whole weekend to rehearse his pieces with the various choirs, Brunelle and his staff made a list of related outreach events for the choral musicloving community. How about a community sing where choral musicians, young and old, could sing through some pieces with Whitacre? What about having choral directors all over the state come to observe Whitacre preparing the choirs and to engage in a dialogue with him? And, by the way, Mr. Whitacre, how would you like to write a new piece to premiere at the concert?

“It was a festival on steroids,” Whitacre said, but in the end, he agreed to all of it. The date was set for March 20-22, 2009 – still a year and a half out. But it would require every last moment and a Herculean effort by staff and dedicated volunteers to pull it off. VocalEssence has extensive experience putting on festivals. Its two-week long festival in 2007 celebrating American composer William Bolcom – featuring 13 performances in venues all over the city, plus multimedia and live video – dwarfed in scope and length even the hyper-charged plans for the Whitacre festival. VocalEssence has often collaborated with the St. Olaf Choir, putting on joint concerts every two to three years. About a quarter of VocalEssence members are St. Olaf grads, owing in part to this association, and Sigrid Johnson, associate conductor of VocalEssence, is also on the faculty at the college. “It has been a wonderful place for many of our students, after their time at St. Olaf, to go find a challenging and artistically rewarding choral experience,” Armstrong said.

Students had to record themselves singing an Italian aria – in Italian – as well as vocal exercises. “We didn’t want thousands of students applying,” Becker said, “even though thousands would want to apply. We figured that if you could survive the audition process then you already had demonstrated commitment. We could cut to the chase and get the real student who was very, very interested. In this way, we were able to hone and laser our search for the very best students.” Despite the rigor, some 400 students sent in audition CDs, quickly inundating the VocalEssence office. Staff cataloged and sorted the recordings and then sent them off to the two choral directors (per voice part) who reviewed them. The students filled 160 slots representing some 90 high schools.

But VocalEssence had never assembled a high school honors choir before. “While we have great relationships with the music educators in our community,” said Mary Ann Pulk, VocalEssence’s managing director, “we do not have a standing program that engages high school choral singers...The last thing we wanted to do was to create a program that was going to undermine the activities or efforts of the high school choirs or compete in any way with their honor choirs or all-state choirs.” What was needed was someone with strong connections with the high school choral directors across the state, who understood the opportunities as well as the challenges. That person was Bruce Becker, who had directed high school choral groups for 35 years and was currently working in music education at the regional level, and a relatively new member of the VocalEssence board. Becker began by reaching out to his friends and colleagues, veteran high school choral directors who had experience mounting all-state choral activities. “I asked four people, one for each voice part, to be on the dream team,” Becker said. “These were people who had a connection with the professional world of singing outside of their classrooms and also had experience working with kids in an effective way.”

FINDING THE BEST STUDENTS The dream team’s first order of business was to establish the criteria for the audition process. They looked at several models, borrowing the best ideas from the ACDA honors choir projects and all-state choir projects, to create a process that was both simple to implement and rigorous. They asked students to audition through a CD recording rather than in person, which isn’t done very often in all-state circles.

Five kids were chosen from White Bear Lake High School outside Minneapolis, known for its excellent music programs. All of the singers had already sung Whitacre pieces and were huge fans. “He’s like the Beatles to us,” explained Shane LeClaire, a bass. William Haugen, a tenor, went further. “He’s like a god to us. In our age group, choir is like, oh well, choir. But with Eric, choir is CHOIR.” Second soprano Amber Rose Jael made the seven-hour trek by car to Minneapolis from far-flung Badger High School located in a small rural town just 11 miles south of the Canadian border. She had heard Whitacre’s music but never sung it. “We have a really small choir, in grades 7 through 12, with only 30 people,” she said. “We don’t get to do much challenging music, so this is really a wonderful thing to be able to do.” The students were expected to download rehearsal tracks for their voice part, put together by VocalEssence section leaders, and to arrive at the festival with their parts learned. The proof, of course, would be in the singing. On Friday morning, March 20, the students walked from the downtown hotel where they were staying as a group, to the Central Lutheran Church, their rehearsal venue for the weekend. A huge cheer went up when Whitacre took the podium, and then the choir

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


settled down for its first run-through of “ Lux Aurumque,” one of the pieces they would be performing by themselves in the Sunday massed concert. After changing up the tempo on the first phrase to test the singers’ ability to follow the baton, Whitacre smiled. “I have some new Animal Crackers pieces [set to poems of Ogden Nash],” he said. “I think we can learn them tomorrow for the concert on Sunday. They’re even dumber than the first set. Whaddya’ think?” Another cheer went up. Then it was back to business. For Becker it was a high moment. “We knew the choir had potential to be very good,” he said, “but you never know until you get them there on the first day and they start making their first sound together.”


“When we bring people in of this caliber it is not just about VocalEssence or the people on the stage at the concert having the opportunity to connect,” she said. “It is an opportunity to offer something to singers who, in and of their own choruses, would never have the resources to bring someone like Eric in to work with them.”

CONNECTING WITH CHORAL DIRECTORS Another group that VocalEssence wanted to reach out to were choral directors, members of the regional ACDA or the Music Educators Association. On Saturday afternoon, choral directors around the state came to observe Whitacre rehearsing the high school honors choir, to engage in a question-and-answer session with Whitacre and his long-time collaborator poet Charles Anthony Silvestri, and to attend a reception sponsored by Minnesota music publisher J.W. Pepper.

When the VocalEssence staff first broached with Whitacre their idea for a community sing, he said, “A reading session? People won’t come, will they?” The VocalEssence staff had no such qualms. This was Minnesota, after all.

As with the community sing group, the choral directors wanted to engage with Whitacre about his creative process. “A better understanding of the piece will always help you teach it and shape it better,” said conductor Bill White. “It is invaluable.”

On a cold and rainy Friday night, 250 people crowded into an auditorium at the MacPhail Center for Music in downtown Minneapolis to sing four songs with Whitacre and to ask him questions about his creative process. Among the attendees were church choir members, a strong contingent of students from St. Olaf and other colleges, and young adults in busy careers who had fond memories of singing in their high school chorus and were looking for ways to get music back into their lives.

The story of the origins of “Lux Aurumque” gave Whitacre and Silvestri an opening to describe their unusual relationship to each other – and to the Latin language that they both love, but for different reasons.

“I saw fewer than 10 people I knew,” said Pulk, managing director of VocalEssence. “It was all new people and it was a young demographic, which was really exciting.” The group delighted in the singing – and in the stories Whitacre told about how his pieces came to be. Even when he explained that he had grown up without religion and that his church was “the movie theater,” there were no audible gasps from what one guessed was a largely church-going crowd. His music sprang from the sacredness of human experience, he told the group, “of love and sorrow and grief and joy, birth, death” – and that is what connects. Just before singing “Lux Aurumque,” which many read as an allusion to the baby Jesus in the manger, Whitacre offered that the poem could just as easily be about any baby, any mother beholding her newborn. In addition to providing a venue for singers to rub shoulders with a real live composer, the community sing fit right in with VocalEssence’s strategic goal to forge meaningful connections with other singers and choruses, Pulk said. It was so successful, in fact, that VocalEssence plans to reprise the idea for its upcoming British festival, featuring the work of Simon Halsey.


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Whitacre found the poem by Edward Esch (“Light, warm and heavy as pure gold and the angels sing softly, to the new-born baby”) and loved its simplicity, but didn’t want to set it in English. He asked Silvestri, a Latin scholar from a family of Classics scholars, to translate it into Latin. Composing for a Latin text, Whitacre said, gives him a chance to “impose my will on the poetry” – something that he does not feel free to do with poems in English. “For me, I just find Latin to be this mystical language,” Whitacre said. “It is dead mostly, but still the Roman culture is the foundation of so many things that we see and do in our lives. The other part of it is that it has perfect, pure vowels, which I adore.”

The word lux, for example, works so much better than the word light for singing. “Lux becomes abstract, almost a bauble or a gem, something you can fixate on,” he said. “The thing about working with Tony is he is a singer. I can say to him, ‘That is very beautiful what you just wrote but it has to end in umm,’ and he finds an incredibly poetic way to give me the vowels and consonants I desperately need.”

Out-of-the box thinking continued after the concert. VocalEssence made the live concert recording available online for purchase, via download, three days after the performance. That’s 13 Whitacre pieces, including the world premiere of “Nox Aurumque” and among the first performances of his new set of Animal Crackers. “We sold download cards in the lobby and on our website with a special code that would allow people to log in and download the performance (one time) to their computers,” said Bauer. “They can then burn it to a disk if they like. We got quite a few comments from people about what a great idea this was and how they had never seen this before.” It was another opportunity that a tech-savvy artist affords where someone else might not. “Eric has such a different approach in how he connects with his fans than your typical choral artist,” Pulk said.


“I know not to give Eric words that end in ‘inc’ because they are not singable” said Silvestri. “You want to have a flow of the line. So it is fun for me to try to come up with something that works for singing and also works with the rules of Latin grammar. Believe me, I get emails about that.”

THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT MARKETING Reaching out to audiences that were important to choral music was another goal of the Whitacre festival. And having a bonafide “choral rock star” at the center of the event presented some unusual opportunities to venture outside of the box in marketing it. Whitacre has purposely made himself and his music very accessible to his fans – first through his own website and then through his pages on the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. So it made sense that the initial marketing would be Whitacre extending a “video invitation” on his web pages. From there, viral marketing took over to a degree many of the planners had not witnessed before. “By the time our direct mail postcard went out,” said Jennifer Bauer, VocalEssence’s communications director, “we had already sold over 1,300 tickets to the performance. We did not place any newspaper ads.” Three weeks before the concert, the 2,400-seat Orchestra Hall was sold out, exceeding VocalEssence’s revenue goal for ticket sales by 50 percent. Folks were coming from 29 states and three foreign countries. The event staff quickly convened and decided to sell tickets to the dress rehearsal. “We needed to have flexibility to say, ‘We have something golden’ and not say to people, ‘Hey, too bad you didn’t buy your ticket soon enough,’” Pulk said. “More than 250 people came, and I think they were thrilled to be there and felt like they got behind the scenes. The lesson is to look outside the box.”

After two days of intense rehearsals, the Sunday afternoon massed concert unfolded like a beautiful tapestry, or, perhaps more accurately, went off like a fireworks display. When Whitacre was introduced, a huge cheer went up, mostly from the high balconies where high school kids leapt to their feet. Thereafter, whenever Whitacre came on stage, there was applause, prompting him to say, “Don’t you think this tradition of clapping every time the musicians come back on stage is kinda funny?” The program included a few non-Whitacre pieces, which for the most part fit into the overall fabric and gave the high school honors choir an opportunity to sing under Brunelle, Armstrong, and Sigrid Johnson. The St. Olaf Choir opened the program with Mendelssohn’s “Ehre sei Gott in der Hobe” (Glory to God in the Highest) and a beautiful Scottish ballad, “Loch Lomond.” The Choir, by tradition, holds hands as they sing, and their connection to each other, to the music, and to their conductor was palpable. The opening cast some kind of spell that carried through as Whitacre returned to the stage to direct the Choir in his “A Boy and A Girl,” “Water Night,” and “The Seal Lullaby.” The VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers then gave a soulful reading of “When David Heard,” a piece that Whitacre had written for a dear friend who had lost his 19-year-old son. Based on the biblical text where David learns of the death of his son, Absalom, the work is grief embodied – the wailing, keening, wrenching kind – and brought tears to much of the audience. The Ensemble Singers then performed “With a Lily in Your Hand,” one of Whitacre’s earliest compositions, and his wellloved and much-performed “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” – a piece that Whitacre said nearly drove him mad composing, as he had to live inside the obsessive mind of Leon-

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


ardo for long stretches. Closing out the first half was the world premiere of “Nox Aurumque” (night and gold), a darker and thornier companion to Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque,” sung by the Ensemble Singers and the St. Olaf Choir. The second half of the program centered on the youthful forces of the high school honors choir. After singing three nonWhitacre pieces, they delivered hysterical renditions of Animal Crackers Vol. 1 and 2, the latter volume hot off the press and committed to memory just 24 hours beforehand. The choir’s unfettered tone was a perfect match for “Lux Aurumque” and Five Hebrew Love Songs, the latter based on little love notes that Whitacre’s wife had written down about moments early in their relationship. The combined choirs came together for Whitacre’s “Cloudburst,” based on a poem of Octavio Paz and inspired by watching an approaching thunderstorm in the desert outside Las Vegas. The finishing touch was “Sleep,” based on a Silvestri poem about that ethereal dream-like state right before falling into slumber. A fitting way to say goodnight to an amazing event.

After the concert, a line of people, mostly young, snaked through the lobby of Orchestra Hall to get Whitacre’s autograph. A young man from Wisconsin said he had decided to compose music because of Whitacre. “Here, listen,” he said, putting his iPhone to my ear. A college choir was singing one of his compositions. It was lush and beautiful, with tell-tale Whitacre-esque chord clusters. “I find that when young people begin writing choral music, they are fascinated with the possibility of writing for voice,” said Philip Brunelle. “The excitement for them is that, of all instruments, the voice is the most vulnerable, you can’t hide behind anything.” “Looking at all these kids from everywhere,” said Pulk, “high school kids, St. Olaf kids, the kids in the audience and seeing such incredible excitement for a classical art form, it just gives you hope and makes you realize you are in the right business. And we are going to have a future.

Eric Whitacre with the high school honor choir at Central Lutheran Church. (Included photos courtesy of VocalEssence.)


Star of the North • Fall 2009

Advocate for Choral Excellence (ACE) Award District Recipients (L-R) Margaret Boehlke, Metro East; Cheryl Bungum, Southwest; Doug Strandell, Southeast; Gladys Hovland, Northwest not pictured: Mike Wolsted, Metro West; Sheila Shusterich, Northeast

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DIANA LELAND Director of Development

During the ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue conference held at Concordia College in Moorhead from August 4-7, many ACDA-MN members contributed to the F. Melius Christiansen (FMC) Endowment Fund. During the four-day conference, 76 people donated nearly $3,300 to benefit Minnesota choral music. A BIG thank you to everyone who made a tax-deductible contribution to assist us with ensuring a strong and vital future for Minnesota choral music. Are you aware that since the FMC Endowment Fund chose its first scholarship recipients in 1997 that a total of 152 ACDA-MN members have been awarded nearly $85,000 in scholarships to attend Summer Dialogue, national and division ACDA conferences, graduate school and the World Symposium on Choral Music? ACDA-MN should be very proud of this achievement! Since many grant applications that we prepare and submit on behalf of the Endowment Fund request

that we indicate how many of our ACDA-MN members contribute to the FMC Endowment Fund, the ACDA-MN board has established a goal during 2009-2010 that every member make a donation. Contributions of any amount are most welcome! We’d love to announce that 100% of ACDA-MN members have participated and assisted us with reaching this goal. It’s very important that we all show ownership of our Endowment Fund as we request that corporations and foundations contribute to our cause. A special thank you to past Executive Secretary, Wayne Kivell, for challenging the Summer Dialogue participants to reach the $2,500 mark during our recent donor campaign. As the donation total approached $2,000, Wayne agreed to match every donation that was received between $2,000 and $2,500. Thank you, Wayne, for your generous and heartfelt contribution. Many of you have viewed the incredible documentary “Never Stop Singing” on Twin Cities Public Television. This program beautifully showcases the history of choral music in Minnesota. We need to preserve and sustain this legacy which we are so very proud of in our state and remind ourselves to “Never Stop Giving Giving” to the FMC Endowment Fund. Thank you ACDA-MN members for your numerous on-going financial contributions to the Endowment Fund. You are truly amazing and appreciated! Donations may be made online at: You may also mail a check, made payable to the FMC Endowment Fund, to: Bruce W. Becker, Executive Director American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota 12027 Gantry Lane Apple Valley, MN 55124-6286

F. Melius Christensen Endowment Fund’s Summer Dialogue Scholarship recipients.


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ON THE HORIZON The 2009 Minnesota Collegiate Choral Festival Excitement is building as the much-anticipated Minnesota Collegiate Choral Festival is taking place on November 14, 2009! The Festival concert will feature five Minnesota Collegiate choirs chosen through an audition process.

STEVE ALBAUGH Rosemount High School

The five college choirs selected and their conductors are: • Minnesota State University-Mankato Concert Choir, David Dickau, Conductor • Northwestern College Choir, Timothy Sawyer, Conductor • Saint John’s University Men’s Chorus, Axel Theimer, Conductor • University Singers, University of Minnesota Duluth, Stanley R. Wold, Conductor • University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers, Angela Broeker, Conductor

awards scholarships totaling more than $10,000 to Minnesota choral directors for participating in many professional development opportunities. To purchase tickets, please visit the Benson Great Hall Box Office at: or phone: 651-638-6333 or 866-424-4849 For more details about the Collegiate Choral Festival, please visit: or


The choirs will sing individually and also in a massed choir under the direction of Craig Jessop, head of the music department at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The combined choirs will premiere a commissioned choral work that was composed specifically for this Festival by Minnesota native Eric William Barnum entitled ‘look up...’. The new composition will be featured as the grand finale of the Festival Concert. The Collegiate Festival Concert will be presented at Benson Great Hall on Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 7:00 pm on the Bethel University campus located at 3900 Bethel Drive in St. Paul, Minnesota. All seats are reserved and are on sale at the Benson Great Hall Box Office. Tickets are priced at $25 each. Concert patrons who donate $50 to the FMC Endowment Fund will receive a complimentary CD recording of the entire Festival Concert. The 2009 Minnesota Collegiate Choral Festival is sponsored by the F. Melius Christiansen (FMC) Endowment Fund Committee on behalf of the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. All proceeds for the concert will be donated to the FMC Endowment Fund, which annually To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


RESEARCH RESULTS PUBLISHED New Study Finds Positive Benefits of Choruses and Choral Singing for Children, Adults and Communities Washington, D.C. – If you enjoy singing with your neighbors, congregation, or classmates, you’re taking an increasingly popular path to a successful life. According to a new study by Chorus America, an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses today, up from 23.5 million estimated in 2003. And when children are included, there are 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses in 2009. More than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children. That’s good news because singing in one of the 270,000 choruses in the U.S., such as a community chorus or a school or church choir, is strongly correlated with qualities that are associated with success throughout life, the study finds. Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble. Chorus America first evaluated the benefits of choral singing and its impact on communities in a 2003 study. The results from this latest research support and advance earlier findings that choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.

“Ninety percent of educators believe singing in a choir can keep some students engaged in school who might otherwise be lost...” “The prototype of a choral singer is how Americans aspire to see themselves today: as active, involved citizens with a broad range of creative interests and concerns for their communities,” says Ann Meier Baker, the President and CEO of Chorus America.

ADULTS WHO SING ARE REMARKABLY GOOD CITIZENS A few of the current study’s major findings for adult singers include: • Choral participation remains strong in America with 32.5 million adults regularly singing in at least one of 270,000


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choruses nationwide. Choral singers exhibit higher levels of civic involvement, with choristers almost three times more likely to be officers or committee members of local community organizations such as the PTA. Seventy-eight percent of choral singers indicated they “at least sometimes” volunteer their time in their community, while only 50% of the general public say the same. Seventy-four percent of choral singers agree or strongly agree that singing in a chorus has helped them become better team leaders or team participants in other areas of their lives; nearly two-thirds agree or strongly agree that being in a chorus has helped them socialize better in other areas of their lives. Choral singers donate 2.5 times more money to philanthropic organizations than the general public. Ninety-six percent of choral singers surveyed who are eligible voters said they vote regularly in national and local elections; only 70% of the general public cites the same level of participation. Civic engagement also extends to patronage of other art forms, with choral singers at least two times more likely to attend theater, opera, and orchestra performances as well as visit museums and art galleries.

The 2009 study included a new component that explicitly examined the effects choral singing has on childhood development. The results show children who sing in choirs display many of the enhanced social skills found in adult singers, substantiating earlier conclusions that singing in childhood is likely to have an enormous influence on the choices individuals make later in life. Additionally, both parents and educators attribute a significant proportion of a child’s academic success to singing in a choir.

CHILDREN WHO SING IN CHORUSES HAVE ACADEMIC SUCCESS AND VALUABLE LIFE SKILLS Several of the study’s major findings for young singers include: • There are approximately 10.1 million American children singing in choruses today. • The majority of parents surveyed believe multiple skills increased after their child joined a chorus. Seventy-one percent say their child has become more self-confident, 70% say their child’s self-discipline has improved, and 69% state their child’s memory skills have improved. • More than 80% of educators surveyed – across multiple

academic disciplines – agree with parent assessments that choir participation can enhance numerous aspects of a child’s social development and academic success. Educators also observe that children who sing are better participants in group activities, have better emotional expression, and exhibit better emotional management. Ninety percent of educators believe singing in a choir can keep some students engaged in school who might otherwise be lost – this is particularly true of educators (94%) who describe the ethnicity of their schools as diverse. Children who participate in a chorus get significantly better grades than children who have never sung in a choir. Fortyfive percent of parents whose children sing state their child receives “all or mostly A’s” in mathematics (vs. 38% of nonchoir parents) and 54% get “all or mostly A’s” in English and other language arts classes (vs. 43%).

THE DECLINE IN CHORAL SINGING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN IS OF CONCERN While the 2009 study determined there are numerous academic and social benefits resulting from a child’s participation in a chorus, it also pointed to an alarming trend suggesting that these opportunities are not available, or are being reduced or eliminated from schools across the country. More than one in four educators responded that there is no choir program in their schools. Additionally, more than one in five parents said that there were no choral singing opportunities for their children in their communities. A conclusion of the 2003 study was that choral singing is an accessible entry point for arts exposure, with fewer barriers – economic, cultural, and educational – than posed by other art forms. This is still true today, suggesting that the decrease in choral singing opportunities in schools and communities is a missed opportunity for bolstering student achievement and engagement in their schools. “The data in this report suggests that it would be a mistake not to leverage the benefits that choruses bring to children, adults, and the communities they serve,” observes Todd Estabrook, Chairman of Chorus America. “Simply put, if you’re searching for a group of talented, engaged, and generous community members, you would do well to start with a chorus.” A large percentage of the American population appears to be drawn to choral singing and the desire to participate in the communal expression, creation, and performance of beautiful music. Whatever motivates choral singers to sing, the data

indicates that choral singing is a thriving and growing form of artistic expression in America, and can be acknowledged not just for providing great musical performances, but for advancing many of the positive qualities associated with success in life both for children and adults. Chorus America’s mission is to build a dynamic and inclusive choral community so that more people are transformed by the beauty and power of choral singing. Chorus America strengthens choral organizations and provides their leaders with information, research, leadership development, professional training, and advocacy to help them deliver the best possible contributions to their communities and to the choral art. Chorus America provides invaluable news, resources, and expertise delivered in myriad accessible ways, and its programs bring professionals and volunteers together to learn and collaborate in a friendly, supportive environment that promotes networking, information exchange, and shared goals. Chorus America speaks with a strong and unified voice to increase recognition of choral singing as an essential part of society. More than 1,600 choruses, individuals, arts organizations, and businesses are members of Chorus America. The 2009 Chorus Impact Study was produced with funding support from The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, an anonymous donor, and The National Endowment for the Arts. The full report and an executive summary are available online at

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Star of the North • Fall 2009

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ANGELA BROEKER University of St. Thomas

Gjendines bådnlåt Gjendine Slålien, arr. Gunnar Eriksson Bo Ejeby Forlag, 1088 ( ( SATB, limited divisi Gunnar Ericksson’s affinity for ostinati is displayed beautifully in this setting of a Swedish lullaby. The haunting nine-bar melody, sung by sopranos then altos, is accompanied by sparce, ostinato patterns in the other voices. Works well when paired with Eriksson’s “To the Mothers of Brazil” (Walton Music, HL08501635). In Judah’s Land Appalachian Carol, arr. Michael Eglin Santa Barbara SBMP 876 SATB divisi Michael Eglin has set this beautiful Appalachian Christmas carol with enough variety in texture to produce a captivating piece yet maintaining the simplicity of the original tune. Three verses are set for tutti choir, men then women, and a return to tutti for the final verse. A quiet, reflective spirit permeates throughout. Exsultate Deo Hans Leo Hassler Arista Music Co. AE 291 SSATB A challenging late Renaissance motet, this piece contains complex imitative counterpoint alternating with homophonic sections in triple meter. Useful as a concert opener, Hassler constructs musical motives aptly representing the “tympanum” and “cythara.” Sixteenth-note melismatic passages require lightness and agility.

Zigeunerlied Moritz Hauptmann Schott Musik International C 46787 SATB German Romanticism meets animal noises! This gypsy song tells the story of seven girls turned into werewolves, complete with the sounds of wolves and owls (wille wau, wau, wau, wille wau, wau, withe hu). This primarily homophonic partsong is filled with drama, drastic dynamic changes, and charm. Some tuning challenges, but the piece is well within the reach of most select high school choirs as well. Music, When Soft Voices Die Stephen Chatman ECS Publishing No. 7.0488 SATB and oboe A native of Fairbault, MN, and current head of the Composition Division at the University of British Columbia, Stephen Chatman is known for his popular choral collections. This piece is from a set entitled “There is Sweet Music Here” for solo oboe and choir. Using Shelley’s wellknown poem, he bookends a short homophonic middle with undulating sections using short motives and ample voice crossing. The resulting mass of sound is a picture-perfect expression of the text. Weeping Mary John G. McCurry, arr. Brad Holmes Santa Barbara SBMP 750 Triple Choir (SSA, SAT, A/T TB) This tune comes from The Social Harp, one of more than 100 hymnals published in the United States using shape-note notation. The triplechoir format brings great excitement to an already driving tune. Quite accessible, the piece is filled with dotted rhythms, open fifths, and sporadic claps. Works best if the three choirs can be somewhat separated in the performance hall.

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MICHAEL SHAFER St. Anthony Village High School


Waltz for Debbie Bill Evans, arr. Phil Mattson Hal Leonard SATB a cappella This classic tune is a favorite of Phil Mattson and the P.M. Singers, sensitively arranged by one of the grandfathers of vocal jazz. It has all the components that define a stellar vocal jazz feature: solo lines interwoven throughout the piece, two part interplay between the men and women, beautiful phrases, thick dominant 7th harmony and wonderfully structured movement within the inner voices. A more advanced group would love the musical challenge this piece provides. It Don’t Mean A Thing… Duke Ellington, arr. Anders Edenroth UNC Jazz Press SATB a cappella It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) was written by Duke Ellington in 1932, defining the swing era and continuing to be a favorite in all vocalists’ libraries. Mr. Edenroth has taken this sparse, playful melody and made a hard swinging a cappella “burner.” The tune begins with an introduction that features interchanging soloists, and sets a ballad-like feel. It quickly moves to cut-time with a walking bass line accompanied by imitative horn kicks. After the head, there is a crowd-pleasing complex soli section that is challenging to even the most accomplished group. It will quickly top your ensemble’s list of favorites. A Child is Born Thad Jones, arr. Michele Weir UNC Jazz Press SATB with Rhythm Section Michele Weir arranged this beautiful Thad Jones balled while she was a member of the P.M. Singers. The rhythm section is employed after the A section and continues throughout the remainder of the chart. A simple melody with lush harmony and lovely phrases make this ballad a truly great chart. It provides musical interest but is accessible to singers and audiences alike. A bonus from the arranger: the rhythm section parts are written out!

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Wings to Fly Jeremy Fox Foxtrot Music (( SATB with Rhythm Section Wings to Fly is an original composition in 6/8 with an earthy melody you and your group will go away humming after rehearsals. It uses syllables, allowing your singers to think more instrumentally. This chart will be a great change of pace (and groove!) in your program. (Notes by Jeremy Fox) Teach Me Tonight Sammy Cahn, arr. Jason Smith Available via Arranger: SATB a cappella Are you looking for a tune to feature your star soloist? This is the chart for you. It is a ballad that includes background vocals, finger snaps, optional vocal improvisation, a well-constructed soli section, and walking bass lines. Without a doubt, it is the crowd pleaser you have been looking for. Count Your Blessings Irving Berlin, Arr. Phil Mattson Available via Arranger: (Soon available at Hal Leonard) SATB a cappella Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep) is among the finest compositions of Irving Berlin. Its theme and poetry speak to one of human beings most important understandings i.e. only gratefulness brings with it the possibility of compassion and humility. Both melodically and harmonically, the song ideally combines music and text. This arrangement was written to be done by any type of mixed choral ensemble. (Notes by Phil Mattson)

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KARI DOUMA Eagan High School

Pacem Lee Dengler Harold Flammer Music E5543 2-Part accompanied with optional violin This piece is wonderful for a variety of concert seasons. I think it would especially appropriate when programming for a winter concert that can’t be too “holiday-ish.” The text is an easy, traditional Latin setting that many students will have sung before. The legato lines, and accessible range instantly makes a children’s, beginning or “developing” choir sound lovely. The piece is a good solfege/sightreading vehicle as it is in the key of C. This piece is also excellent for building beautiful tone.

Smieklis Man Aldonis Kalnins ed. Vance Wolverton Santa Barbara SBMP 165 SSAA a cappella Smielklis Man is a fun, exciting, quick piece about Johnny and his boots made of dog and cat skin! The text is Latvian and an IPA pronunciation guide is provided. A recording is also available on the Santa Barbara Music Publishing website. The recording is Wolverton’s choir and I used this as a primary source for diction when working this piece up with my choir. The divisi is not difficult and the harmony quite simple – this makes it a quick learn for a mid-level to advanced choir.

Russian Candle Carol arr. Nancy Grundahl Curtis Music Press C8725 SSA accompanied I first heard this piece in late elementary school and it has been a favorite of mine ever since. The haunting, e minor melody elicits visions of dark, Russian nights and the desire for light and peace. The accompaniment often imitates the strumming of balalaikas. The opening text is: “Through the night I will burn my Christmas candle.” I have substituted the word Christmas for the word winter and other than that reference to Christmas, the rest of the text would be a very appropriate for a winter concert selection. This was first published in 1987 but it is still available. It is worth adding to your regular rotation.

Music in My Mother’s House Stuart Stotts Arr. J. David Moore Santa Barbara SBMP 880 SSAA accompanied Music in My Mother’s House opens with a lyrical, rhythmic solo or ensemble unison. The divisi begins during the first refrain. There are several times during the piece where the lyrics give way to scat syllables that reminiscent of the musical sounds heard during the narrator’s childhood. The piano accompaniment includes echoes of jazz, “music box” tinkling, and ragtime and is not simple. This is a beautiful tribute to the power of music and is great for any sized ensemble. A complete sound file on the SBMP website for reference.

The Dream Tree arr. Ben Allaway Warner Brothers SSA accompanied with optional oboe This was my singers’ favorite piece this year. The words and music were originally written by Buffy Sainte-Marie. (You should find a recording of this to play for your choir if you use this piece – she has quite the “folky” voice!) The often unison verses open to the beautifully written threeand four-part refrain. The piano accompaniment looks simple but requires artistry and a high caliber of musicianship. The text is beautiful and it inspired many thoughtful conversations and writing projects with my choir. A must!

Van gli effluvi de le rose (The Scent of Roses) Francesco Paolo Tosti Arr. Robert Sieving Santa Barbara SBMP 650 SA accompanied Although this is seems to be a simple SA arrangement, it is deceptively challenging due to the language and the warm, sustained tone needed to capture the bel canto style. The arrangement comes with a detailed pronunciation guide as well as an excellent translation. The ranges are not extreme for either the sopranos or the altos, yet the altos are required to sing well into their middle ranges. I would use this with an advanced women’s choir that was ready to sing with a “spinny,” warm, legato sound. Again, a lovely recording (by the Women of the Wayzata Concert Choir) is available on the SBMP website.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


6 



STEVE BOEHLKE Minnesota Valley Men’s Chorale


Crossing the Bar Gwyneth Walker E. C. Schirmer 6378 SATB accompanied Crossing The Bar creates the strong images of the sea with the “final voyage” leading us out across the water to see our “Pilot, face to face.” Walker has taken the great poetry of Alfred Lloyd Tennyson and strengthen the already powerful words in way she uses choral colors to enhance the text. This is a wonderful community chorus composition by Walker. It works extremely well for piano and chorus, but there is an orchestral accompaniment available from the publisher for an added thrill. Here Inside My Heart Andrea Ramsey Santa Barbara SBMP 825 SATBB accompanied This selection is a commission by the Friends University Concert Choir in honor of Dr. David Weber and his 27 years as director of the Concert Choir. Ramsey has chosen the text of Antonio Machado, regarded by many as the finest poet of 20th century Spain, for this commission. Ramsey’s composition is fresh and full of musical tension and resolution. The composer has been very successful with regards to musical word painting. This selection is well worth a look. If Ye Would Hear the Angels Sing Stephen Mager Oxford University Press SATB and organ Stephen Mager has taken a traditional Dutch carol and created excitement in his fresh orchestration of the composition. If Ye Would Hear the Angels Sing is available for full orchestra. This is just one of several traditional holiday selections that Mager has arranged for chorus and orchestra. Each of them also works well with keyboard.

Star of the North • Fall 2009

Silent Noon Ralph Vaughan Williams, arr. Blake R. Henson GIA Publications, G-7356 SSATBB accompanied All will recognize this composition by Vaughan Williams and most have sung it at one time. Henson’s arrangement of this classic solo keeps the strong relationship between text and music and allows the chorus to experience the wonderful poetry of D.G. Rossetti. Skating Traditional Estonian Carol, arr. Ken Berg Colla Voce 48-96750 SATB accompanied This secular Estonian Carol is a light, easy waltz that reflects the simple pleasure of skating outdoors on a frozen pond. This is a wonderful “fill” octavo for you holiday concert. Try singing this carol in Estonian. Walton has provided a great pronunciation guide. Sanctus Ola Gjeilo Walton Music WW1396 SATB divisi a capella Gjeilo is composing some wonderful choral music. Many of his compositions are instantly enjoyed. Like Whitacre, they are fresh and expressive to perform. They look harder than they really are, but both conductor and singer need to be prepared. These compositions will allow your chorus to stretch a little and to explore new sounds. Sanctus is well worth your study time.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •




In this, my inaugural column as your new Executive Director for ACDA-MN, I must first say that I am honored to be in a trusted position to serve the constituency of this outstanding professional organization. ACDA-MN is recognized around the country for its quality leadership, innovative services and activities offered its membership. I look forward to working with ACDA-MN leadership and member volunteers to keep moving in a substantive and progressive direction in the years to come. Two items come to mind as I consider what I should write about. The first and most obvious to all who have been involved with ACDAMN in recent years is to recognize the service, dedication and support given by Wayne Kivell, our newly retired Executive Secretary. Wayne, incidentally, was our first official parttime employee! In one of the many support and transition meetings we have had over the past weeks, Wayne shared that since 1972, there have only been five years where he was not actively working or volunteering in some capacity for ACDA. That’s quite a record and it has left some huge shoes to fill!

Since those early years, I’ve known Wayne as Star of the North Editor, as State and North Central Division President, as North Central Convention Chair, as Historian, as keeper of the ACDA-MN archives, as Membership Chair, as a member of the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music Board, as member of the first F. Melius Christiansen Anniversary Concert Committee, and as a member of the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund Committee. I’m certain there are more duties he fulfilled during these 37 years of service of which I am not aware. It is a remarkable record, and one that offers lessons of volunteerism and leadership for all of us. I salute you Wayne Kivell – the face of ACDAMN to hundreds and hundreds of members – and thank you for being the consummate professional leader who faithfully served the


Star of the North • Fall 2009

growing needs of our organization. Don’t worry Wayne, I’ve got your phone number and email address posted on my computer... you will continue to hear from me! You now begin filling another role of leadership within of mentor! Wayne we’re not done with you yet! The second item that surfaces as I assume this new role is the emerging critical issue of annual ACDA membership renewals. With the newly approved addition of $15 of state dues to your membership fees, it becomes imperative that ACDA-MN members renew your national membership with your state membership chair...that would be me! Even though the chair... membership renewal notices are sent from the ACDA national office, please remit your completed renewal forms and checks directly to me for processing within our state organization. At this juncture, the national ACDA office has no way to remit to Minnesota the $15 state dues amount. If you remember one thing from my first column...remember to send back your membership forms and checks directly to me as I continue serving as your state membership chair. Send to: Bruce W. Becker, Executive Director/Membership Chair 12027 Gantry Lane Apple Valley, MN 55124 Email: You may also renew your ACDA national membership online by going to our state website, There you will be able to renew membership through the state organization and conveniently pay by credit card. Remember...renew your membership right here in Minnesota! Keep your Minnesota dollars in Minnesota! You will be regularly reminded about this important message throughout the coming months...stay tuned!


That’s all for now...

MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION Please accept my application for membership in ACDA of Minnesota as indicated: NEW member number RENEWAL NAME HOME ADDRESS


Active ($85 national; $15 state)


Associate ($85 national; $15 state)




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Life/Paying* ($200 national; $15 state)

Life membership is payable in $200 annual installments. Ten years of active membership is required before applying for life membership.

HOME PHONE I am including a donation in the amount of $ _______ for the F. Melius Christiansen endowment fund. INSTITUTION



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WORK If you do not want to have your contact information published in the ACDA of Minnesota Directory, check here:


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As an ACDA member, I will comply with the copyright laws of the United States of America. Compliance with these laws is also a condition of participation by clinicians and performing ensembles that appear on any ACDAsponsored event or convention. Mail completed form to: Bruce W. Becker 12027 Gantry Lane Apple Valley MN 55124

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Renew locally! Go to or send this form directly to our Minnesota office!

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


ACDA of Minnesota 12027 Gantry Lane Apple Valley, MN 55124

WESTMARK Minnesota All-State Choir CDs Available CDs of the 2009-2010 Minnesota All-State Mixed, Men’s and Women’s Choirs are available for order from Westmark. These high quality CDs were recorded in session and concert at the All-State Choir summer camp at Concordia College-Moorhead. To order, visit our web site at to download an order form, or call 763-512-1718 to order by phone.

Call WESTMARK for On-location audio and video recording Computer editing & mastering CD & DVD duplication Graphic & printing services For more information, contact us at (763) 512-1718, email, or visit our website at Proudly serving choral music ensembles for over 30 years WESTMARK PRODUCTIONS • 5717 Woodstock Avenue • Golden Valley, Minnesota 55422

PRST.STD. U.S. Postage Paid CMI Permit No. 47 Farmington, Minnesota

David M. Smith Piano Technician Specializing in Piano Tuning & Repair 11312 Arlington Brainerd, Minnesota, 56401 Phone: 218-851-7645 Email:

ACDA Star of the North Fall 2009  

Fall edition of the Star of the North for the MN chapter of the ACDA.

ACDA Star of the North Fall 2009  

Fall edition of the Star of the North for the MN chapter of the ACDA.