The Southwestern region of the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA) offers a Collegiate Honors Choir conference every other year. This year the conference will be held in Denver, Colo., from Feb. 24-27, and Ouachita Baptist University will send seven music education majors.
The ACDA is a group of choral directors that meets every two years. It is divided into regions, and during the years between formal meetings, each region holds an honors choir conference.
“Our region has the normal honors choirs [elementary, high school, etc…], but unique to our region is a collegiate honor choir,” said Dr. Gary Gerber, OBU associate professor of music. “It has been a tremendous success for us.”
The conference typically involves “students coming together, rehearsing at the convention, then performing a concert at the end of the conference,” Gerber explained.
Gerber, who will be taking the students to the conference, is also serving in his fourth year as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for the Southwestern ACDA. In that role, he is very involved in planning and coordinating the conference.
According to Gerber, an average of 150 to 200 students from the Southwestern Region attend the conference. This year organizers anticipate about 160 students. Each year, the ACDA enlists the help of a well-known, respected choir director to lead the choir. This year’s conductor will be Dr. Craig Jessop, former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and current chair of the music department at Utah State University. The choir will be accompanied by a brass choir.
The music education students from Ouachita attending this year’s conference are: seniors Molly Jo Banks of North Little Rock, Ark., and Natalie Carroll of Harare, Zimbabwe; and juniors Jennifer Carney of Van Buren, Ark.; Jessica Hardy of Ozark, Ark.; Emily Peek of Pine Bluff, Ark.; Maggie Taylor of Russellville, Ark.; and Josiah Wheeler of Jacksonville, Ark.
Wheeler is participating in his second honors choir. “I loved every minute of it the last time I went,” Wheeler said. “I bet this time will be even better.”
The conference is an opportunity to “sing great music with a couple hundred great singers,” Wheeler added, as well as to “hone singing and conducting skills.”
“It means that I’ll be able to have an experience at a music conference that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Taylor said. “It also means that I will attend different clinics along with high school directors from all over the country in order to further my education and get my name out there.”
Taylor also attended the previous conference and said her favorite part of that trip was “getting to know the other people that went along with me.”
Hardy and Peek will be attending the conference for the first time this year. “I’m so excited to hear some amazing ensembles perform and work under the direction of Craig Jessop,” Hardy said. “We will be practicing like crazy, going to different workshops and lectures and listening to many different choral ensembles.”
Peek said she is “incredibly excited about going. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to meet new people with the same interests I have.”
“I was told we’re going to have one to two rehearsals a day over music we’ve already been given,” Peek added. “Also, there are going to be other concerts and exhibits that we will be able to visit for free.”
While the conference will be a lot of work for the students, Gerber said it is a great opportunity for students to go and practice what they will be doing in their careers as choir directors.
Gerber also said that Ouachita’s presence at the conference is a great networking tool, and “helps keep our name out there.”
For more information about Ouachita’s choral program or the ACDA, contact Gary Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5128.
By Ananda Boardman, Signal writer