Thursday, March 21, 2013

Choir of the West stops the show in Dallas

Success at conference a 'milestone' for choral program

by Camille Adams, A&E Writer

Pacific Lutheran University’s Choir of the West made a splash at this year’s American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) national conference. The conference, which takes place every other year, was in Dallas and began March 13, concluding on Saturday. 

ACDA is a nonprofit music-education organization and a prominent force in the choral music world. The conference is a time to connect composers, conductors, singers and publishers from across the nation and around the world. 

The audition process to be selected to perform at the conference is rigorous, spanning several years and requiring recordings of a choir’s continued progress and excellence. 

The last time Choir of the West performed at the national level of ACDA was in 2005 in Los Angeles. Since then, progressively fewer choirs have been chosen to perform at subsequent conferences. 

After passing the ACDA regional level in 2012, Choir of the West advanced to the national conference with roughly 40 other choirs, including children’s, junior high, high school, university and professional choirs.

Last week, Choir of the West showcased alongside legendary, well-established ensembles such as The Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Tallis Scholars, both from Britain. 

Choir of the West performed songs from their winter tour repertoire, including “Northern Lights,” a world premiere work by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, and “Exultate,” a premiere piece by Dr. Brian Galante. 

Esenvalds said of Choir of the West, “they are definitely the best choir in the nation and quite possibly one of the best choirs in the world.” 

In the middle of Esenvalds’ piece, Choir of the West received a standing ovation from the audience. 

Junior Kameron Jacobs said, “Choir of the West was the buzz of the conference.” The audience continued to react enthusiastically as they started clapping well before the end of the choir’s last song. 

Senior Erin White said, “People would stop us on the streets, in the elevator or even at the hotel hot tub when they realized we were in Choir of the West.” 

Amidst receiving numerous accolades, the choir members had the opportunity to further their musical knowledge by attending workshops on various musical subjects, such as the art of a capella. 

The theme of this year’s conference was ART: Advocate, Remember, and Teach. 

Jacobs said, “as a choral education major, the conference was inspirational.” 

One of the unique aspects of the conference was the memorial event for the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  

The memorial took place at the JFK monument in downtown Texas and featured readings, distinguished speakers, and choral performances. 

Overall, the ACDA conference was a milestone event for the choral program here at PLU. 

White said, “this solidifies PLU’s presence in the choral music world.” The various attendees at the conference said Choir of the West had musicality and expression, and the praises continue to pour in on Facebook and email. 

Choir members said they predict this overtly positive experience bodes well for the department through newly made connections and opportunities. White said, “it meant so much for us to give [conductor] Dr. Nance everything he wanted times a million from us as a choir.” 

Although some members of the ensemble will be graduating shortly, Choir of the West is a predominantly young ensemble, and singers will have the chance to continue to grow together in the coming years. 

Jacobs said, “Looking ahead, I’m so excited for what can happen in the future.”