The following poster sessions have been selected for presentation at NCCO9:
Poster Session with Mini-Presentation
Lawrence Abernathy, Indiana University
Centering the Periphery: Context as Content
Raul Dominguez, University of Colorado Boulder
A Conductor's Guide to Mexican Choral Music
Angelica Dunsavage, Tennessee State University
Application of Alexander Technique to Undergraduate Conducting
Jami Lercher, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music
- Lawrence Abernathy, Indiana University
Ryan Doyle, McGill University M.Mus candidate
Culturally Responsible Performance of Choral Music of Other Cultures
Patrick K. Freer, Georgia State University
Allen Brooks, Georgia State University
Choral Scholarship and the Beloved Community: A Content Analysis of Published Journal Articles
Jonathan Harvey, Fitchburg State University
“Real Talk” in the Choral Rehearsal
Patrick Murray, Western University
Building Community through Interdisciplinary Choral Performance: Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields in Philadelphia, PA
Émilie Versailles, McGill University
Creating an Inclusive and Safe Rehearsal Space
Jeremy Wiggins, Western Connecticut State University
The Choral Music of Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
- Ryan Doyle, McGill University M.Mus candidate
Centering the Periphery: Context as Content
Within the choral rehearsal, the history and context of music is often viewed as periphery content. It is usually presented only when there is an abundance of time, or when the historical context is deemed critical in understanding the core content - the music itself. This can be problematic though, as through their programming decisions, conductors privilege particular histories and historiographies. The result is that ensembles are often robbed of the opportunity for deeper engagement with the art, while conductors run the risk of promoting ideologies andhistoriographies embedded within cultural artifacts.
Relying on the genre of the Sea Shanty as a case study, this poster session will demonstrate how historical misrepresentations can lead to wide-spread, distorted understandings of music, and its implied meanings. Consequently, this poster session will advocate for an archaeological method of analysis, and will work toward positioning history as an ongoing process in which conductors and performers are participants in, and contributors to.
In doing so, this poster session will explore how the centering of contextual content within the pedagogical framework of the choral rehearsal is critical to the correction of historical misrepresentations. I will argue that this allows for the creation of a more equitable choral experience, where historically excluded peoples, and histories are brought to fore. With this in mind, this poster session hopes to empower conductors and ensembles to consider themselves as proactive participants of history, and as participants in projects of historical reclamation.
SPEAKER: Lawrence Abernathy
Lawrence Abernathy is a third-year doctoral student in Choral Conducting at Indiana University. Previously, he was the Director of Music at A&M United Methodist Church in College Station, TX, where he oversaw a vibrant music program of multiple vocal and instrumental ensembles. He has appeared as a Conducting Scholar with the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and was the Assistant Conductor of the Ars Longa Ensemble, based in Austin, TX.
A Conductor’s Guide to Mexican Choral Music
William H. Frey’s Brookings Institution essay states that the USA will be “minority White” at 49.7% of the population in 2045. Hispanics will be the largest minority at 24.6%, Blacks at 13.1%, 7.9% will be Asian, and 3.8% will consist of multiracial populations. Within the category of “Hispanic,” the Mexican-American population ranks as the highest subgroup, representing 37,186,361 out of 60,481,746 Americans in the 2019 US Census projections. They have held the highest rank, at minimum, for the past thirty years. Should this statistical behavior continue into 2045, the Mexican-American population will play a major role in our lives as conductors/educators; they are our future students (college students or those taught by our music education students), singers in our ensembles, audience members, and patrons.
Our students and communities should see themselves represented in our repertoire. However, Mexican choral music, despite its rich history, is largely absent in our community. We acknowledge the repertoire of many Central and South American countries, but the United Mexican States (México’s formal name; UMS) remains underrepresented as their repertoire is unpublished, inaccessible and, more often, unknown to us. For example, one of our leading publishers of multicultural choral music has only four Mexican compositions out of its catalogue of 1,912 (.2%) works.
The goal of this poster session is to provide conductors with a basic working knowledge of the UMS’s choral history and repertoire. After learning from this poster and its handouts, conductors will have the necessary means to access repertoire and resources. They can then share this information in their classroom and on the stage. This poster’s goal aligns with NCCO’s new Mission Statement of envisioning and promoting “practices that foster the ongoing growth and transformation of our field. It will provide resources for educators to program repertoire and cultivate aesthetic that reflect diverse cultures and lived experiences.”
This poster will briefly outline the UMS’s music history eras (the Colonial period 1521 – 1821, the 19th century, and the 20th century) and their significant turning points. He will share major choral genres correlative to each period and speak to their performance practices. The poster will also survey noteworthy composers and their contributions. The handouts will expand upon the major points above and provide a list of recommended repertoire for all levels. This repertoire list will come from Dominguez’s annotated bibliography of Mexican choral works: an annotated list of 100+ compositions constructed by traveling to various libraries across the USA and cataloging their collections. The handout will also share resources regarding online manuscript collections and diction.
The Mexican-American population is growing and, while our representation on the concert stage has increased slightly, it falls largely behind the rapid growth we can expect to see. If our students and communities do not see themselves in our programs, our relevancy will suffer. In the spirit of cultural consciousness, Dominguez hopes to see an increase of Mexican choral music in our programs. By sharing the UMS’s rich history with our students, they will be able to pass this music onto their singers who, in turn, will inspire future generations of choral musicians.
SPEAKER: Raul Dominguez
Raul Dominguez recently completed his second year as doctoral student at the University of Colorado Boulder; the choral music of the United Mexican States is his primary research focus. Since 2018, he has traveled to a variety of US libraries to study and compile Mexican choral works into an annotated bibliography. Recently, the Cleveland Institute of Music accepted him as a Fellow for their inaugural Future of Music Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by the Sphinx Organization.
Applications of Alexander Technique to Undergraduate Conducting
As teachers and students return to in-person learning after a year or more of virtual instruction, increased screen time has taken a toll on physical awareness and alignment. This shift creates an ideal opportunity to reevaluate instruction with a focus on holistic awareness. Alexander Technique, though increasingly more popular in vocal instruction, has been underutilized in formative conducting instruction. Undergraduate conducting curriculums teach basic stance and the beginnings of pattern but put very little emphasis on the difference in personal body composition, alignment, and ways of movement without excess muscular tension. As a result, beginning conductors enter the profession with unnecessary and often unknowing issues that can cause a lifetime of pain and loss of teacher efficacy.
This poster presents the basic principles of Alexander Technique and its application to undergraduate conducting curriculum. Graphics will be included which describe alignment and muscular usage according to Alexander Technique, and common sites of physical tension in conducting. By using these graphics in conducting courses, students will gain a greater sense of body awareness, and start conducting from a place of physical ease. A section on the poster, as well as the handout, will describe the importance of language in conducting pedagogy, and how Alexander-informed language can describe conducting gesture with efficient and released muscular movement. If given a presentation in addition to the poster, this session will include a small, guided practice so attendees can experience the physical effects of alignment instruction.
SPEAKER: Angelica Dunsavage
Dr. Angelica Dunsavage serves as Director of Choirs at Tennessee State University. She received her DMA in Choral Conducting and Music Education from University of Arizona, with MM and BS degrees from Bowling Green State University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dunsavage currently serves as editor of WACDA’s Tactus. Her writing has appeared in the Choral Journal and the Choral Scholar. She has presented posters and interest sessions for NCCO, CMS and NAfME conferences.
Morfydd Owen (1891-1918), a charismatic and gifted Welsh composer of the early twentieth century, wrote over 160 compositions before her tragic death at age 26. Despite her dramatic life and visionary artistic style, the bulk of her compositions have never been published or performed. Even fewer of Owen’s works have been professionally recorded, contributing to the composer’s obscurity outside of Great Britain. After extensive archival research and study, seven of Owen’s unpublished choral manuscripts are now transcribed and edited into modern digital music notation. The range and scope of these works span strophic part-songs to full scale choral cantatas. Scores are available upon request with the intent to amplify Owen’s nearly-forgotten legacy.
Morfydd Owen’s work represents the height of the late Romantic era. Her use of modal interchange and chromaticism functioned to push the limits of tonality and expression, and her facility with text-setting and texture led to works of unique creativity and style. The bulk of her catalogue consists of songs for solo voice, but she experimented in nearly every genre. Her perspective brings us a glimpse of a young woman torn between her rural Welsh homeland and her artistic life in cosmopolitan London, all while facing the threat of The Great War which forever altered her life and music.
The proposed poster presentation introduces Morfydd Owen and her completed choral works, listed below. Highlights will include instrumentation, text sources, performance history (when applicable), and salient characteristics for each composition, along with suggested usage for choral ensembles.
- Sweet and Low (1911, SATB part song)
- The Refugee (1911, SATB and piano, only choral work published by Tŷ Cerrd)
- Fierce Raged the Tempest (1911, SATB and piano)
- Y Fwyalchen (1912, SSA part song)
- Ave Maria (1912, SSATB, Mezzo soloist, strings- only first movement complete)
- Mad Song (1912, SATB part song)
- My Luve’s like a red, red Rose (1912, SATB part song)
- Jubilate Deo (1913, SSATB, brass, organ)
- Pro Patria (1915, SATB, Soprano and Baritone soloists, orchestra)
SPEAKER: Jami Lercher
Jami Lercher is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at Baldwin Wallace where she conducts the Treble Choir and teaches courses in methods, conducting, and vocal technique. Jami spent 14 years in public schools, and directed the South Florida Jewish Chorale for 2 seasons. She holds a Music Ed degree from Iowa State, and completed a master’s degree abroad at the University of Wales. She recently completed the DMA in choral conducting from the Frost School of Music (Miami).
Culturally Responsible Performance of Choral Music of Other Cultures
The climate of social justice and increased antiracism which defined 2020 has brought the performance of music of other cultures into a new light. Professional musicians and music educators alike are confronted with the challenge of presenting different styles of music in responsible ways. Moreover, musicians are increasingly searching for ways to highlight and uplift foreign cultures through their portrayals of those cultures' music. In this analysis of choral rehearsal strategy and performance practice, we will investigate approaches which will allow us to navigate these situations of musical leadership and cultural stewardship.
This poster explores the possibility for culturally responsible performance of choral music of other cultures within the paradigm of Western art music. It unpacks three elements of style associated with choral music (melody, diction, and rhythm/meter) for a robust musical discussion. It then examines strategies for content delivery to audiences such as audio-visual and participatory activities which feature cultural voices or uplift the culture of origin behind pieces of music. In all, this poster provides a detailed look into aspects of choral music which properly address cultural responsibility and those areas which need improvement.
In addition to a purely musical analysis of choral arrangements of music of other cultures (often called 'world music'), this poster explores the possibility of an ethnomusicological approach to content delivery to students, singers, and audiences. Multiple examples show the lack of social or cultural awareness pervasive in modern choral publication. For example, as of writing, a search for "Multicultural in 'Choral'" on jwpepper.com, the name of their category for world music, yields 4,549 results. It is both a difficult and dangerous notion to lump Mark Hayes' arrangement of “Ubuntu” and Rosephanye Powell's arrangement of “Niño Precioso” into the same category - insinuating their similarity based on their shared otherness from Western repertoire. In the description of Gary Fry's arrangement “Song of Peace,” the publisher describes the second half of the piece - based on a Zulu folk song - as having simply "a world music groove. A powerful multicultural standout!" Even within descriptions of particular pieces, Western choral music is failing to explore in any depth the real cultural aspects which shaped the bases of their popular arrangements.
This poster provides a practical approach to a future in choral music which not only honors and uplifts the originating cultures behind our choral arrangements, but also provides more holistic and meaningful musical experiences for our singers and audiences.
Ryan Doyle is a first year M.Mus. Choral Conducting student at McGill University's Schulich School of Music, where he studies with Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée. His research interests include the connections between cultural musics and their choral arrangement counterparts, as well as the use of technology and unconventional performance practices in choral music. Ryan received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Delaware through study with Dr. Paul Head.
Choral Scholarship and the Beloved Community:
A Content Analysis of Published Journal Articles
This study consisted of a content analysis of peer-reviewed articles appearing in the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing and in The Choral Scholar & American Choral Review for topics and themes consistent with the NCCO statements of vision and mission. The review examined for content specifically reflective of “right-relationships,” “beloved community,” “cultural consciousness,” “cultural resilience,” and “culturally responsive teaching/learning” (https://ncco-usa.org/about/vision-mission).
The International Journal of Research in Choral Singing is the scientific research journal of the American Choral Directors Association. This journal welcomes studies that apply rigorous, systematically grounded methodologies, either quantitative or qualitative, to investigate phenomena of potential interest to all who sing in, work with, or are otherwise interested in choral ensembles. From its founding in 2002, the journal has encouraged research-based understandings that promote mutually informative conversation among scientific, artistic, and pedagogical orientations to choir singing. The Choral Scholar & American Choral Review, first published in 2009, is the scholarly journal of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.
The review proceeded in three phases, following previously established procedures for reviews of journal content in the arts and humanities (Freer, 2013; Huang, et al., 2010; Phillips, et al., 2003). The task of the first phase was to identify all mentions of the specified terms (above) published in the two journals. This examination was of all journal content, regardless of article type or peer-reviewed status. The focus of the second phase was a review for all content related to, but not directly using, those terms. The third phase of the review included a more focused examination of all content related to three terms found in the NCCO9 call for proposals: “caring,” “connection,” “community,” and “empathy.”
Findings and implications focus on parallels and divergences between the related content published in the two journals, with identification of pathways toward purposive reflection of the NCCO9 themes in future choral scholarship and research.
Patrick K. Freer & Allen Brooks
Patrick K. Freer is Professor of Music at Georgia State University where he conducts the Tenor-Bass Choir and directs the doctoral programs in music education. His degrees are from Westminster Choir College and Columbia University. Dr. Freer has guest conducted or presented in 39 states and 29 countries. Dr. Freer is Editor of the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing. He chaired the philosophy sub-group responding to COVID-19 concerns for the NCCO.
Allen Brooks is a freshman music education major at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. At GSU, Brooks is currently studying in the voice studio of W. Dwight Coleman. Brooks is also a member of nationally renowned Georgia State University Singers, under the direction of Dr. Deanna Joseph. As a member of the Georgia State Honors College, Brooks was also selected to be a part of the University Assistantship Program, where he conducts research under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Freer.
"Real Talk" in the Choral Rehearsal
This poster explores ways that we as choral educators can make the experience of our ensembles resonate ever more powerfully and intimately with our singers. Specifically, it will examine ways to implement Paul Hernandez’s “Pedagogy of Real Talk” in the choral rehearsal.
The “Pedagogy of Real Talk” is a way to reach students traditionally classified as “at-risk,” or more preferably, “at-promise.” It is a framework for developing meaningful rapport while creating learning experiences that are immediately relevant, giving voice to marginalized students. It is originally designed for use in the classroom, but can be adapted to serve the choral rehearsal.
The “Pedagogy of Real Talk” consists of two primary instructional pillars. The first is “Real Talks,” wherein we as instructors make ourselves vulnerable and human by sharing intentional stories from our own lives on a “universal theme,” and giving students a space during rehearsal to share their stories on that theme, as well. By doing so, not only do we create a space of inclusive openness, we also gain insight into the ways that our singers experience the world, and allow them to bring their individual expertise and worldview into the rehearsal. The second pillar is “Alternative Lessons,” wherein we as instructors design learning experiences that directly leverage the understanding of our singers’ worlds that we gathered during the “Real Talks.” The shape of these “Alternative Lessons” is limited only by the instructor’s imagination, and the connections to singers that we have developed. The poster will suggest several possible general approaches and specific examples.
These two tools, when combined, allow students to feel heard and seen, and help us as educators to make what we do in ensembles as relevant as possible to our students’ lives.
Jonathan Harvey is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at Fitchburg State University (MA), and Music Director of the Brattleboro Concert Choir (VT) and the Brattleboro Camerata (VT). In addition, he is on the board of Choral Arts New England, and serves as the Collegiate Chair of the Massachusetts chapter of ACDA. He holds degrees in conducting and musicology from the University of Connecticut, Indiana University, and Earlham College.
Building community through interdisciplinary choral performance: Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields in Philadelphia, PA
In April 2014, the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia and Bang on a Can All-Stars presented the world premiere of composer Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields, an hour-long oratorio for choir and amplified chamber ensemble on the history of coal mining in Pennsylvania's “coal country.” Billed as a “new form of community singing experience” (Mendelssohn Club 2012) during the lead-up to the premiere, the work featured a libretto that drew on archival sources and first-person interviews from mining communities, and was presented as site-specific, fully staged, costumed, and accompanied by a multi-media production and numerous engagement events. While Anthracite Fields is well known in the choral field as an evening-length concert work, less attention has been paid to the lengths to which the original artistic team, commissioners and singers went to craft a new work and production that reflected a process of inter-community engagement.
This poster draws on ethnographic research with Mendelssohn Chorus choristers that I conducted around the five-year anniversary of the work’s premiere to examine how choral participants experienced and understood “community” affectively in and through their work in rehearsal and performance. Specifically, analyzing choristers’ own reflections alongside the score, I demonstrate how Wolfe consciously constructed an “imagined community” (Ingalls 2018) in sound through her compositional choices that facilitated a sense of empathy and connection between one community of urban choral singers toward another community of coal mining descendants. Problematizing the reception history of the piece as a standalone work, I also suggest future directions for interdisciplinarity and civic engagement in large-scale choral compositional practice that equitably attend to who is represented on stage, and how. Visually, the poster presentation will feature a brief timeline of the commission and creation process, score extracts, quotations from choristers, and photos from the premiere performance. This session draws on recently completed doctoral research (Murray 2021).
Canadian conductor/composer Dr. Patrick Murray is Sessional Assistant Professor in Choral Music at Western University (London, ON) and director of the University of Toronto Scarborough Concert Choir. Murray has been commissioned by ensembles including New York Polyphony and Carmel Bach Festival, and he is published by Cypress Choral Music. Murray’s research examines community collaboration in contemporary choral composition. He received his DMA in choral conducting from University of Illinois.
Creating an Inclusive and Safe Rehearsal Space
In this poster session, I wish to offer tools to help choir directors create a more inclusive and safer rehearsal space. A completely safe space does not exist, but there are tools available to make a space safer:
There is no such thing as a “Safe Space”. No one’s safety or comfort can be guaranteed one hundred percent of the time. And a “Safe Space” does not mean “free of challenging idea” or different opinions, or never being exposed to people who are different than you. It doesn’t even promise that harassment and violence will never happen. But we can make spaces safer, first by acknowledging that some people are discriminated against just for being who they are, and then by doing what we can to ensure they feel supported if it happens on our watch. (Potter, Shawna. Making Spaces Safer: A Pocket Guide, To the Point, Division of AK Press, 2018)
I would like to focus my presentation on tools that I have discovered through my personal practice and research into inclusive practice and in particular with respect to non-binary and members of the LGBTQ community.
My current work with DIG! (UQAM) - Différences et inégalités de genre dans la musique au Québec has provided me with an opportunityto understand how there is an extensive need for a safer space across all music platforms including learning, teaching and performance. Also, as Artistic Director with Opéra Outside the Box, my learning with respect to safer spaces has gone beyond performance into venue organization, administration and program management. Through these experiences and research, I have developed tools and methods. As a Choral Director, this learning now helps me with the audition process, with non-gender-oppressive rehearsal techniques and in speaking about the voice in a way that is respectful to everyone’s gender identity and gender performance. Furthermore, I believe that defining and explaining different gender identities help with the understanding of what these choristers might need. My hope is that my poster presentation will provide some of the necessary elements for directors to create kinship and lead to a safer space for the choristers which in turn will lead to a more unified choir musically and with improved personal interactions.
Émilie Versailles is a queer non-binary choral conductor and singer. They conduct the UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) pop choir, les Intrépides. They have a degree in vocal performance, from UQAM and have studied at Concordia University in sexuality studies. They are currently doing a Graduate Certificate in choral conducting at McGill under the supervision of Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée. In addition, Emilie is Artistic Director for Opéra Outside the Box and works as a Research Assistant.
The Choral Music of Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
Joachim Raff (1822–1882) was a prolific composer who penned close to 300 original compositions and over 150 arrangements. Mainly known for his symphonic, chamber, and piano compositions, Raff also composed a significant amount of choral music, which includes fifty various sacred and secular compositions for unaccompanied chorus and seventeen choral-orchestral works. Raff’s compositional oeuvre spans almost every genre, and his compositionalportfolio shows his affinity for a wide range of compositional styles. Rather than siding with either the conservative or radical factions of the Romantic era, Raff’s eclectic style used techniques that prioritized compositional context as it relates to the text or theme of the composition. Raff had a multifaceted career and found acclaim as a composer in the last decades of his life.
The poster will include a biography, a brief discussion of Raff’s compositional style with appropriate musical examples, and a table of his choral compositions. The table includes contextual information/background, voicing, orchestration, and available editions for each composition. To provide attendees with an enhanced experience, audio/score samples of his music will be available through the use of QR codes. Copies of an expanded choral catalog of Raff’s works will be available for download.
Dr. Jeremy Wiggins is Assistant Professor of Music, Coordinator of Choral Activities and Graduate Studies, at Western Connecticut State University where he conducts choral ensembles and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting, choral literature, and music education. Wiggins maintains an active schedule as a conductor and clinician. Wiggins serves as the R&R Co-Chair for College Choirs for CT-ACDA and was recently named the Artistic Director of the Charis Chamber Voices.