ACDA Reflections: Michael Porter, BSU, and his student Leanne Oien, talk of their impressions of the national conference in Dallas

April, 2013

by Michael Porter, R&S Chair for Youth and Student Activities

Happy Spring!

As I look out my office window, I see tiny sprouts of green on the trees throughout Boise. There’s a lot of outdoor activity on the Boise State campus and you can sense a renewed energy as students return from Spring Break. While the arrival of spring is certainly a welcomed sign, it also signals a mad dash to end-of-the-year concerts, festivals, finals, etc.—all the activities that you wish you had just a few extra weeks for which to prepare!

Nothing provides me with the rejuvenation and extra-push to finish the year like attending an ACDA convention. This year was no exception. For those who were able to make the pilgrimage to Dallas for this year’s national convention, you know full well how special this experience was. Dozens of inspiring performances by our nation’s top choirs, interest session that provided further insight on how to be better conductors/teachers/advocates, reading sessions that added to our growing list of quality repertoire, and, of course, socializing with colleagues—both old and new.

This year’s convention, thanks to the great leadership of Tim Sharp and the rest of the national ACDA office, was a well-run and enlightening event. What was even more impressive was ACDA’s inclusion of our younger colleagues and future generation of choral conductors. Through numerous events and sessions designed specifically for the needs of college students, ACDA not only created an opportunity for tomorrow’s choral leaders to develop their craft, but fostered a feeling of inclusion at the convention.

Below is a short reflection from Ms. Leanne Oien, a Boise State music student who attended our convention. As you can see from her observations, this experience was monumental to her and, I’m happy to say, has planted the seeds for future growth in our discipline.

Best of luck as you finish out your semester!

Michael Porter
Director of Choral Activities
Boise State University
Idaho ACDA, Youth and Student Activities R & S Chair

Leanne Oien – ACDA Reflection

When preparing to attend the American Choral Director’s Association national conference in Dallas this year, I was unsure of what to expect. Ambitiously, I had planned to attend at least four interest sessions and concerts a day, beginning an hour after my arrival in Dallas. At each event that I attended I experienced a fantastic sense of community and a mutual respect between all attendees and presenters. The networking opportunities were endless, and all encounters with students and professionals were warm, welcoming, and provided me with a better understanding of how the choral conducting world functions, thus reaffirming my desire to become a part of it.

As an active member in the women’s chorus at Boise State University, one interest session that was of particular interest to me was Treble By Choice: Unleashing the Power and Beauty of the Female Voice in a Choral Ensemble. It was fascinating to see Dr. Hetzel and Dr. Arnold work together to guide the University of Kentucky Women’s Choir into a unified, poised, and strong sound. Dr. Hetzel closed with a call to eliminate the practice of purposing women’s choirs as training choirs, as any same gendered choir is capable of performing at the same level as any mixed group. Another interest session of importance for me, as a student, was Building a Resume for Success: Landing Your First Conducting Job, with Dr. Jimmy Shepherd of Catawba College. Dr. Shepherd’s charismatic presentation style made a potentially intimidating subject very easy to digest. Full of insightful tips and anecdotes, Dr. Shepherd’s intersession will likely be the gift that keeps on giving for all those that were in attendance.

The opportunity to see a live performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem is one that I understand to be rare. Having witnessed this colossal piece for the first time ever at this year’s national conference, I now understand why it is so very rare and consider myself incredibly privileged to have experienced it in person. In attending other concert sessions, I was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of conductors and performers. From the University of Louisville Cardinal Singers to Seattle Pro Musica Chroma and Marcus High School Varsity Treble Choir, the variety of repertoire and ages provided not only entertainment, but also a reassurance that the choral arts are thriving nationwide, and at all levels. From start to finish, every interest session and concert session at the American Choral Director’s Association national conference served as a celebration of choral music and conducting. It was a humbling and life changing experience for me, and I hope that in the coming years I will be able to build and expand upon it as I continue to attend ACDA events.