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Reflections on ACDA National Convention in Oklahoma City

by Russell Otte, President, Oregon ACDA

Iotte feel very fortunate. In the forty years since I began working as a choral music educator in Indiana, I’ve had the pleasure of attending numerous ACDA National Conventions. I remember my first one in Kansas City, and soon after in Minneapolis. Then San Diego, San Antonio (twice), Washington, D.C., Chicago, Louisville, Miami, Los Angeles and now Oklahoma City. I doubt that I have them in chronological order or that I could tell you which year matches with each site, but I do have thoughts about each as a part of my career.

I recall the concert sessions in the hotel ballroom with less than ideal acoustics in Kansas City, the Music in Worship event at the National Cathedral in D.C., the excitement of the audiences for all the concerts in the Disney Concert Hall where the acoustics were wonderful, the joy of having a student in a National Honor Choir in Louisville, the surprise of being in Chicago in February and being able to walk from venue to venue in moderate weather, the wonderful social time with new friends in San Antonio, etc.

With Oklahoma City still fresh in my memory, I’m drawn to focus on the amazing variety of choral music presented in the programs of the concerts and the literature of interest sessions and reading sessions. It seems to me that this convention embraced choral music from more parts of the world than I’ve heard at other conventions. What a phenomenal celebration of our art form. We certainly have a large repertoire available to us as we work with the choirs in our local communities!

I’m also excited by the appearance of multiple single gender ensembles. I don’t know whether this mix of performing choirs is the result of a specific plan by the organizers, or the result of the tapes submitted for this convention. I do know that I enjoyed the array of ensembles of different voicings. Where or when do you get to hear a concert that begins with the American Boychoir, leads to the St. Mary’s Varsity Ensemble (high school men), then the Cornell University Glee Club, and then The Vocal Majority (125 voice adult barbershop chorus)? Or how about a program of Alamire (8 mixed voices from England), Cantoria Alberto Grau (about 25 womens voices from Venezuela), Chor Leoni (about 50 men from Canada), and Incheon City Chorale (about 60 voices from Korea)? WOW!

I do wonder how we are going to keep all of our history alive. It seems that the works of the choral music canon have received less attention in the "concert hours" of recent years. How will we make quality performances of these works available to newer members of our guild? It is such a wonderful problem to have – so much quality literature to be heard and so little time at a convention.

I feel compelled to compliment our leadership in regard to the venue. I enjoyed the opportunity to have a 10 minute walk between the convention center and the concert venue with the National Office located across the street. In the process of attending each session on the convention schedule, I needed the time to breathe and reflect. How wonderful that the weather cooperated with daytime temperatures in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s!

It is exciting to know that sound and video recordings of the concerts and sessions are available from this convention. When attendance at the convention is not possible, these resources are still available to our members for their professional growth and development. It may not be quite the same, but certainly a resource to be considered when working back in the northwest.

I began by saying that I am fortunate; however, I also know that I worked hard and sacrificed in order to attend as many conventions as I did during my career. I encourage more of our membership to find a way and/or make a way to get to a national convention (it may be called a conference in the future). I know that each one was a career changing event for me. Oh, by the way, I believe that I've attended my divisional convention every year during my career. I may be an ACDA convention junkie, but I can live with that label!

Even though I’m fully retired, I look forward to attending the next convention in Chicago. I’m already putting the dates of March 9-11, 2011 on my calendar. I’m looking forward to concerts in Orchestra Hall and Holy Name Cathedral while meeting for reading sessions and interest sessions at the Chicago Hilton. I hope that I’ll see you there!

beautifulstar

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