Celebrating Western Region at ACDA National in Cincinnati

Congratulations to all the Western Region participants in the National ACDA Conference!

iSing Silicon Valley 

Jennah Delp Somers

iSing Silicon Valley brings together more than 300 1st–12th grade singers in Silicon Valley, CA offering them rigorous musical and vocal training and creates extraordinary opportunities for them premiere newly-commissioned works, collaborate with acclaimed artists, make professional recordings, and tour the world. Celebrated for the gorgeous vocal blend and joyous singing of its choirs, iSing has built a deeply committed musical community in the Bay Area — and has earned recognition on the national and international stages. Awards include the Chorus America, Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (2018) and the Grand Prize at the 8th International Robert Schumann Choral Competition (2018).
California State University-Long Beach’s Bob Cole Chamber Choir has won CHOIR OF THE WORLD at the Welsh Isteddfod and FIRST PRIZE at the Internationalar Chorwettbewerb at Spittal, Austria. Comprised of 40 extraordinary pre-professional musicians, the Chamber Choir tours yearly and has concertized throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and China. With Jonathan Talberg at the helm, the ensemble has performed at five Western and one National, as well as two NCCO conferences. Alums are teaching throughout the country, running collegiate programs of national importance, leading worship, and are currently under contract as singers with the Metropolitan, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and LA Operas.

Hour of Power Choir 

Irene Messoloras

Hour of Power Choir is made up of 36 volunteer and professional singers from the Los Angeles/Orange County area. The ensemble believes that the universal language of music has the possibility to bring great joy, peace, and healing to its listeners. The HOP Choir can be heard in the weekly international Christian television program, “Hour of Power with Bobby Schuller”. Broadcast in over 56 countries, the HOP Choir leads millions of viewers each week in worship. The ensemble has performed extensively throughout the Netherlands and Germany, regularly sings new music, and performed at the ACDA national virtual conference in 2021.
The Utah Valley University Chamber Choir is composed of thirty-two undergraduates who share a passion for collective vocal artistry. The choir fearlessly seeks to embody the highest standards of musical excellence with vulnerability, drama, unity, and compassion. With the direction of Reed Criddle, the UVU Chamber Choir has twice performed at the National Conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization and the Western Region Conference of ACDA, as well as numerous Utah state conferences of ACDA and UMEA.
During the past twenty-eight years, the Mt. San Antonio College Chamber Singers have won numerous awards and received special performance invitations, including; thirteen ACDA National and Regional Conventions; six European tours, headline performances at the” Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival” in Banff and the “Australian National Choral Association Convention” in Port Macquarie; they won two platinum medals at the “Xinghai Prize International Choir Championships” in Guangzhou, China; won three Gold Medals at the “World Choir Games” in Tshwane, South Africa, won “Choir of the World” at the “International Musical Eisteddfod” in Wales, along with performing numerous tours throughout the United States.

The Sterling Ensemble

Michelle Jensen

The Sterling Ensemble is a Los Angeles based choir, founded in 2018 by Michelle Jensen. This diverse community of singers performs historic and modern choral works in the LA area and abroad. Collaborations include Grammy winning artists Hila Plitman, Sangeeta Kaur, Danaë Vlasse and Ben Bram. Their first performance tour abroad was to Sardinia, Italy in January 2020 where they were invited to headline the historic “Sos Tres Re” festival and perform in concerts around the island. The Sterling Ensemble has also collaborated with composer Richard Burchard to produce “Into the Light”, an album of the composer’s choral works.
Valencia Vikings 2n’4 Vocal Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Christine Tavares-Mocha is from Valencia High School in Valencia, CA. Our mission is to Inspire, Uplift, and Cultivate Community. Downbeat Magazine Award Winner multiple years for High School Vocal Jazz and featured performer at The Monterey Jazz Festival, JEN (Jazz Education Network), Western ACDA and Hollywood Bowl, Valencia has traveled the world touring and sharing their music with others. This will be their first National ACDA Performance.
Latin America’s choral repertoire is often infused by its numerous genres of traditional music. These are profoundly influenced by cultures of West-African nations that were brought to America through slavery during colonial times. This presentation will explore music from Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and some Antilles islands; in connection with the original West-African traditions of music, instrumentation, and dance. It is our goal to empower colleagues to become more proficient at teaching and performing music of this region and to encourage the crafting of more inclusive and diverse concert programs.

Saunder Choi, Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng

Choral Perspectives from Southeast Asia

Presented by Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng and Saunder Choi, this session shares key points from a book of interviews and conversations with Southeast Asian choral professionals regarding choral education, culture, and composition practices in the region.
This session highlights and reinforces the basic techniques choral educators need to consider when teaching vocal jazz and close harmony repertoire for non-amplified performance whilst maintaining good vocal health. From the harmonic theory needed to make a chord truly ring, to discovering a spectrum of colours to employ within your ensemble’s sound, former King’s Singers baritone Chris Gabbitas will approach several of the group’s best-loved arrangements and pass on practical skills for use with your own singers no matter their prior experience. This is a genre for all singers to enjoy!
As historical research advances, choral scholars are taking a greater interest in forgotten pieces of our choral history. This presentation explores the under-represented people and pieces of the German Renaissance through middle Baroque eras, from madrigals and motets to cantatas by Johann Schein, Hans Leo Hassler, the other Bachs, and many others. Explore expressive and accessible pieces for any level or voicing of ensemble. Attendees will receive a resource database of compositions and public domain scores.

Edith A. Copley, Mariana Farah, Lynne Gackle, Jessica Nápoles, Coty Raven Morris, Elizabeth Olson

Gender Bias in the Choral Field: Past, Present, and Future

This session will feature five active women conductors and a first-year doctoral student in a candid discussion about past, present, and future challenges for women in choral music. The presenters will offer strategies on how young and experienced conductors can fight new and longstanding matters involving gender bias in the choral field. Members will learn to: a) identify instances of gender disparity in the choral profession; b) fight challenges related to gender bias; c) support students and colleagues who experience gender discrimination; d) advocate for themselves and others; e) promote change to help create more equitable spaces for women conductors

Zanaida Robles, Edna Yeh, John William Trotter, Sarai Hillman

HerVoice: Mentoring Emerging Women Choral Composers

ACDA is proud to be a sponsor of HerVoice, a competition and mentorship project for emerging women composers of a cappella choral music. The initiative serves a global network of emerging women composers who receive artistic, professional, and career advice from a panel of master composers, including Stacy Garrop (chair), Chen Yi, and Zanaida Stewart Robles. Founded by John William Trotter, Artistic Director of the professional vocal ensemble Chicago a cappella, HerVoice is now in its second year. Come learn about the impetus of this project, who benefits, how to share it with others, and even how to participate yourself!

Zanaida Stewart Robles, Will Chandler, Jefferson Johnson

Sleeping Choral Giant: Rediscovering the Music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Many choral musicians are familiar with English choral music at the turn of the 20th century from the likes of Vaughan Williams, Elgar, and Stanford. But few are aware of the contributions of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a Black English composer whose choral and orchestral works were performed around the world to near universal acclaim. It is time for him to take his rightful place among our collection of great English choral composers. Come and hear selections from his works as we discuss his life, his music, and how to program it for our choirs.

Gene Peterson, Jamila L. McWhirter, Mark Lawley, John T. McDonald, Robert Sinclair

Supportive Environment for the Next Generation of Choral Educators

Teaching K-12 choral music is a rewarding experience. However, it can also be filled with challenges. This session will examine how we can cultivate a supportive environment for the next generation of choral teachers. Panelists will discuss issues related to mentoring K-12 singers who might be interested in choral teaching. Additional discussion will focus on providing insights to those who teach vocal music education majors and observe student teaching interns. Participants will discuss ideas as to specific tools and techniques that can help early career choral educators cross the divide between stress and success in the K-12 choral classroom.

Rob Dietz, J.D. Frizzell

Tone and Style: Using Pop Music to Build Better Singers

Why should we perform popular music with our choirs? How can we use contemporary music to build stronger singers and diverse programs while expanding traditional technique and challenging choral norms? This session will reveal the benefits of popular and contemporary music to choral singers and their communities while also addressing the most common roadblocks directors face while teaching it. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the importance of culturally native pop music in the choral program, strategies to successfully and authentically teach this music to their singers, and practical ways to incorporate it into their programs.
This session presents a new methodology to promote the inclusivity of transgender and gender expansive (TGE) individuals in choral ensembles. Line recombination involves combining portions of the existing alto and tenor lines in a mixed ensemble in order to provide a singable part without changing the musical content of the piece, thus supporting the student’s gender identity and accounting for their vocal health during and after transition. Attendees will sing recombined lines in standard repertoire and learn how to create their own lines to provide an alternative for their TGE singers that meets their vocal needs without compromising musical integrity.

Matt Falker, Cedric Dent

Understanding the Unique Voice and Culture of the Gospel Musician

It can be quite a challenge understanding the perspective of a student that walks into your choral classroom armed with only experience in contemporary gospel, and little to no music reading exposure. Through Cedric Dent’s time with 10-time GRAMMY award winning vocal group “TAKE 6”, we will explore the unique voice of the Black gospel musician, by seeking to understand the core of the gospel vocal sound, common gospel harmonic devices, and the cultural heartbeat that seeps through this special musical art. Participants will learn about how to better connect with, honor, and educate these students.

Iris S. Levine, featured conductor

Music in Worship Event: How Good and Pleasant: The Song of Belonging

The conference theme of belonging has guided this Music in Worship event toward a spacious, interfaith gathering driven by the common themes of loving God and loving our neighbor. Historic Plum Street Temple will ring with the voices of the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir under the direction of Martha Shaw and be joined by vigorous congregational singing conducted by Iris Levine. A new setting of Psalm 147 by Dan Forrest will also be performed with the composer at the piano.

Elizabeth Schauer, Clinician Student Conducting Masterclass

Elizabeth Schauer serves as director of choral activities at the University of Arizona. An award-winning educator, Schauer conducts Symphonic Choir and Arizona Choir, and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting, literature and methods with a student-centered focus to an international population of learners. Choirs under her direction have been selected by audition and invited to perform on local, state and regional conferences of ACDA, NAfME, CMS, and AGO. She has presented at national, regional, and state ACDA conferences, Presbyterian Association of Musicians, CMS and NAfME. Schauer holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservaory of Music, Westminster Choir College, and the Univeristy of Michigan.

Jace Kaholokula Saplan   Indigenous People’s Immersion Choir

This choir will present music of indigenous people and traditions including but not limited to areas of North America (Alaska, Canada, the Dakotas, Greenland, Hawaii)

Matt Falker
Vocal Jazz Immersion Choir

This choir will hone jazz techniques on specially crafted, instrumentally influenced arrangements that honor this uniquely American art form. The choir will be accompanied by a full rhythm section, and members will focus on the application of choral techniques in a style that uniquely encourages participants to be stylistically flexible and creative.

Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Conductor
Elementary Honor Choir

Fernando Malvar-Ruiz is a Grammy Award-winning conductor serving his fifth season as artistic director of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Malvar-Ruiz is an internationally regarded choral conductor, clinician, and educator who has worked with children’s and youth choirs his entire career. From 2004 to 2017, he was the artistic director of The American Boychoir, leading the ensemble in over 150 performances and annual national and international tours. He conducted The American Boychoir on six recordings, led its performances on the Academy Awards and a 9/11 Memorial Service broadcast globally on CNN. Malvar-Ruiz was the music director for the film Hear My Song (Boychoir).

Daniel Afonso, Composer

Daniel is the commissioned composer for the National Elementary Honor Choir. They will premiere his piece: Marcha, Pezinho in Cincinnati.

Jeffrey Derus, Composer

Jeffrey is the winner of the ACDA Brock Prize. His piece “I Will Go” will be premiered by the Jason Max Ferdinand Singers.