Vermont Academy of Choral Music a non-profit in Vermont was founded in 2016 and this has been the first season that we haven’t been able to run our normal rehearsal/ performance schedule. Nevertheless, we are dedicated to not only promoting quality choral music and music education in Vermont, but promoting active forward thinking and action to create positive change in people’s lives. This 4ward Voices lecture series will include choral conductors, teachers, directors, advocates and inspirational speakers from all around the world, to bring to the consciousness important issues, historical musical examples, innovative ideas and teaching techniques and workshops all cultivating a strong foundation through music. All are welcome to attend, not limited to just Vermont choral musicians!
The series will take place for 4 weeks (April 19th, 2021- May 15th, 2021) , and dates and times are listed below.
The series will take place for 4 weeks (April 19th, 2021- May 15th, 2021) , and dates and times are listed below.
In order of appearance
Monday April 19th at 4:00pm- 5:00pm (est)
Passion Music: History, Resurgence, and Innovations in the Twenty-first Century
Musical settings of the Passion narratives have existed since the Middle Ages, initially performed within the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. In the past few decades, many composers have attempted to put their own stamp on this centuries-old form with innovations. With the flourishing of the Passion genre at the turn of the twenty-first century, there also arose a trend in dechristianization of the genre, giving rise to works with narratives that are not centered on Christ. This presentation will give an overview of Passion compositions from the Middle Ages to the present time, focusing on innovative approaches in the twenty-first century and their meanings for us in light of social justice issues.
Hailing from Hong Kong, Andrew Hon is currently a doctoral student in choral conducting at McGill University where he studies with Professor Jean-Sébastien Vallée and directs the University Chorus. He obtained master’s degrees in choral conducting from Yale School of Music (MMA) and the University of Cincinnati (MM), and a BA in music from the University of California, Berkeley. Hon has previously served as the Head of Music at Fung Kai Innovative School in Hong Kong, Choir Director at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Newport, Kentucky, and a section leader/singer at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church in New Haven, Connecticut, and Marquand Chapel at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He is currently a pro-core singer at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in Montreal, Canada.
Monday April 19th at 5:15pm-6:15pm (EST)
Dr. Jacqueline Leclair
How to Feel More Confident and Comfortable Performing
Oboist Jacqueline Leclair is Associate Professor of Oboe at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. She is a member of Ensemble Signal, and can frequently be heard performing solo and chamber music concerts internationally. Dr. Leclair formerly served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College (NYC), and was Assistant Professor of Oboe at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) from 2007 to 2012. During her last two years at BGSU she also served as the Director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.
Leclair has recorded for Nonesuch, CRI, Koch, Neuma, Deutsche Grammophon and CBS Masterworks, receiving critical acclaim in particular for her premiere recording of Roger Reynolds' Summer Island. Luciano
Berio's Sequenza VIIa Supplementary Edition by Jacqueline Leclair is published by Universal Edition, Vienna, and Leclair's recording of the piece is on the Mode Records collection of all Berio Sequenze and other solo works.
Leclair is the author of the 2014 book 75 Performance Strategies for the Advanced Oboist and English Hornist, and released a solo CD in October 2020 “Jacqueline Leclair - Music for English Horn Alone” on New Focus Recordings.
The New York Times has reviewed Leclair's performances as "astonishing" and as having "electrifying agility"; and the New Yorker has referred to her as "lively" and "wonderful." Leclair studied with Richard Killmer and Ronald Roseman at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester and SUNY Stony Brook, earning a Bachelor of Music, Master’s Degree, and Doctor of Musical Arts.
Wednesday April 21st 3:50pm-4:50pm (EST)
Dr. Marcela Molina
Multi-layered approach to community engagement
Dr. Molina has been affiliated with the Tucson Girls Chorus since 2006, first serving as Artistic Director and taking the helm as Executive Director in 2011. Under Dr. Molina’s guidance, the Tucson Girls Chorus has grown significantly in both programming and outreach. With her leadership, the TGC has transformed into a collaborative organization that creates access to inclusive programming for youth, and provides resources to music educators and support to their classroom all year-round. In 2011, she was an honoree in Tucson's 40 under 40 for her significant achievements and contributions in her profession and community. In 2014, Dr. Molina was one of eight in the state of Arizona chosen as a Cox Hispanic Heritage Month honoree and in 2016 she was selected as finalist for the Woman of Influence Awards in the category Arts and Culture Champion. In 2017, under Molina’s leadership, the Tucson Girls Chorus was awarded the 2017 Copper Cactus award for Charitable Business sponsored by the Tucson Metro Chamber. Born in Bogotá, Colombia Dr. Marcela Molina holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and the University of Arizona. She has contributed articles to Antiphon, the official online publication of the Arizona American Choral Directors Association (AzACDA) and the book Teaching through Performance in Choir, Volume 2. She was named 2019 Choral Director of the Year by AzACDA and often serves as a clinician and guest conductor at choral festivals. Dr. Molina serves on the board of the Arizona Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, and serves as part of the advisory group to the Choral Commons.
Wednesday April 21st at 5:00pm-6:00pm (est)
Dr. Bruce Chamberlain
The Art of Conducting is the Art of Preparation
Dr. Chamberlain retired from the University of Arizona as DCA and Associate Director of the Fred Fox School of Music in 2018, completing a 41-year career in collegiate choral music. His DMA grads have been finalists in the ACDA Conducting Competition an unprecedented 7 times in a row and are engaged in college/universities, churches, community and professional choirs and secondary choirs around the globe. He has guest conducted professional choirs and orchestras in many of the world’s finest concert halls, including Vienna’s Musikverein, Prague’s Rudolphinum, NYC’s Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, and Seoul’s Art Hall.
Saturday April 24th at 11:00am-12:00pm (est)
Tasting the text – the missing ingredient
Ever since I moved from full time performing with The King’s Singers to teaching and performing in the US and round the world, I have become more and more aware of (some might say obsessed by!) the importance of singers communicating the meanings and emotions behind the words of the music they are singing. I hope to address this issue a little in my talk and to suggest some ways of encouraging our choirs to perform as spontaneous interpreters - even after multiple rehearsals!
Simon Carrington, Yale University professor emeritus, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in music, performing as singer, double bass player and conductor, first in the UK, and latterly in the USA and round the world. From 2003 to 2009 he was professor of choral conducting at Yale University and director of the Yale Schola Cantorum, a 24-voice chamber choir which he brought to national and now international prominence. Prior to coming to the United States, he was a creative force for twenty-five years with the internationally acclaimed British vocal ensemble The King’s Singers, which he co-founded at Cambridge University and which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. Simon now keeps up an active schedule as a freelance conductor, leading workshops and master classes round the world. His recent conducting engagements include the Cor de Cambra at the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona, Berlin Rundfunk Chor, Collegium Musicale, Tallinn (Estonia), Coro Casa da Musica, Oporto (Portugal), Tokyo Cantat, Gondwana Choral School, Australia, Houston Chamber Choir, Canto Armonico, Boston, and Yale Schola Cantorum. He leads annual conducting courses at the Chamber Choir Festival in Sarteano (Italy), and the Yale Summer Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut, and contributed a chapter on rehearsal technique to the Cambridge Companion to Choral Music. During his Yale tenure he led the introduction of a new graduate voice degree for singers specializing in oratorio, early music and chamber ensemble, and he guided two Yale graduate students to their first prize wins in consecutive conducting competitions at ACDA National Conventions. From 2001 until his Yale appointment, he was director of choral activities at the New England Conservatory, Boston, where he was selected by the students for the Krasner Teaching Excellence Award and from where he received an Honorary Doctorate in 2014. From 1994 to 2001 he held a similar position at the University of Kansas. He divides his time between southwest England and southwest France where he lives with Hilary, his wife of 51 years.
Monday April 26th at 4:00pm- 5:00pm (est)
People Who Inspire
Interview with Gary Graden and Jessie Pierpont Monday April 26th 2021 4.00 PM (10.00 PM in Stockholm) People Who Inspire We meet people who continue to be sources of inspiration in our lives. Through their passion, commitment, vision, dedication, devotion, and service, particular friends and colleagues give us inspiration in our own work as conductors and musicians. In our interview I would like to highlight particularly three friends and colleagues who have continued to inspire me, and give me the energy and motivation to continue in my work. In keeping with the topic of ”People Who Inspire” I would like to ask Jessie Pierpont to tell us about her experiences in starting an excIting project in New England, namely the Vermont Academy of Choral Music. Through her passion, commitment, vision, dedication, devotion and service, Maestro Pierpont is yet another of these people who inspire. I would like to know more about her activity and experiences as entrepreneur, conductor and educator.
Gary Graden Singer-conductor, born in the USA, studies at Hartt School of Music and with Eric Ericson at Stockholm Royal Academy of Music. He is the Director of Choral Music in the Stockholm Cathedral. Has also been on the faculty of Stockholm´s Musikgymnasium where he founded Stockholm Musikgymnasium´s Chamber Choir. With this choir and his S:t Jacobs Chamber Choir he has won grand prizes and first prizes in several of Europe´s most prestigious competitions, including European Grand Prize. He has participated in a wide array of national and international festivals, conducted orchestras and choirs throughout the world, has made more than 30 commercial recordings, and has commissioned and premiered more than 100 works. Graden is the recipient of the "Johannes Norrby medal" for his contribution to Swedish choral music, and was elected Sweden´s “Choral Conductor of the Year” in 2005. In 2009 he was awarded the Guidoneum Award from the Fondazione Guido D´Arezzo in Italy, in 2015 the S:ta Cecilia Prize awarded by the Stockholm diocese of the Swedish Church, and in 2020 the medal Litteris et Artibus awarded by the King of Sweden.
Wednesday april 28th at 4:00pm-5:00pm (EST)
Dr. Gabrielle gaudreault
Simplifying the complex: An application of Tim Gallwey's "Doctrine of the Easy" to score study and rehearsal technique.
There is something for everyone in the vast compendium of contemporary choral repertoire today. I have always been drawn to compositions that are a little outside-the-box and challenging. While these pieces are certainly not right for every ensemble, I believe that they should nevertheless not be reserved for elite performing ensembles. Through the combined lenses music theory and choral pedagogy, I take a practical look through several contemporary choral works that may be deemed “too difficult” for the average ensemble. With Tim Gallwey’s “Doctrine of the Easy” as a guiding principle, I provide tools and insight on score study and rehearsal techniques that can make this repertoire more accessible to singers and conductors through simplification and analysis.
Gabrielle Gaudreault is a conductor, pedagogue and collaborative pianist. Passionate about contemporary music, collaborating with composers, and innovative concert programming, she currently sings and conducts with Artifice Ensemble, a new-music choir based in Washington D.C. She recently served as the assistant conductor to Kent Nagano at the Staatsoper Hamburg. In Spring 2020, Gabrielle completed her Doctorate in Choral Conducting at McGill University,
where her research thesis focused on the analysis of late-20th-century choral works by Québécois composers. She also holds a double Masters Degree in Music Theory and Choral
Conducting from Indiana University, where she also worked as Associate Instructor of Aural Skills. Gabrielle is an experienced pedagogue in choral music, piano, ear training and music
theory. She has taught privately and in schools, from elementary to college levels. Gabrielle is the co-founder of CG Music Academy, where she teaches private piano and voice lessons. She has previously served as Artistic Director of the South Shore Children’s Chorus and The Carousellers community choir, Co-Director of McGill’s University Chorus, and frequent Guest Conductor of the Saint-Saint-Lambert Choral Society and Les Muses Chorale in Montreal.
Gabrielle previously earned a bachelor’s of music in piano and has worked as a collaborative pianist for the past 15 years, playing for a wide range of performers and ensembles, including vocal and instrumental solo recitals, professional opera companies, and many choral organizations.
Wednesday May 5th at 5:30pm- 6:30pm (EST)
Dr. Erin Plisco
Re-imagining the Choral Performance
This session is two-fold: it sets forth alternative methods and venues for choral concerts, and outlines a student programming assignment that utilizes a virtual concert platform.
Erin Plisco is the Associate Director of Choral Studies at Missouri State University, where she helps lead a comprehensive choral program of over 300 singers, conducts multiple choirs, and teaches undergraduate/graduate choral conducting and literature. She is a frequent guest clinician across the United States and abroad, and enjoys working with choirs of all ages. She also maintains a career as a professional ensemble soprano, performing with choirs across the Unites States. Dr. Plisco completed the DMA in choral conducting from the University of Arizona, where she studied conducting with Bruce Chamberlain and voice with Elizabeth Futral. She also studied at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, where she was a recipient of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship and worked with Grammy-nominated conductor Stephen Layton.
Friday April 30th at 4:00pm-5:00pm (est)
Rossini's Stabat Mater in the context of Italian choral-orchestral music
A native of Florence, Italy, Filippo Ciabatti is the Music Director of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, and the Interim Music Director of the Dartmouth’s Choral Ensembles. He also contributed to create Dartmouth’s Opera Lab. In October 2018, its first production featured Grammy Award winning baritone Daniel Belcher, and soprano Amy Owens.
In 2018 – 2019, he led the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra in an Italian tour in collaboration with the Orchestra Toscana dei Conservatori in prominent venues and festivals, including the Puccini Days in Lucca. Other highlights of the season include an all-Beethoven concert with Israeli pianist Sally Pinkas, and a collaboration with the NPR show “From The Top”, hosted by American pianist Jeremy Denk. In 2020, Mr. Ciabatti will conduct the world premiere of a new secular oratorio composed by the renowned jazz composer Taylor Ho Bynum, and will collaborate on a project with the Martha Graham Dance Company.
In 2018, he made his debut with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, that he conducted again in 2019, in an event created in collaboration with the Creative Projects Chair of the VSO, Matt LaRocca. In 2020, Mr. Ciabatti will, also, collaborate for the first time with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, as assistant conductor.
During the summer of 2018, he was invited to be a Conducting Fellow at the Aurora Music Festival in Stockholm, under the direction of Jukka-Pekka Saraste. During the festival, he conducted Hannah Kendall’s 2017 composition, “The Spark Catchers”, in a concert that also featured legendary cellist Mischa Maisky in the Konserthuset Stockholm.
In 2017 - 2018, Mr. Ciabatti conducted Madama Butterfly at Opera North (NH), Hansel and Gretel and Don Giovanni (directed and featuring Nathan Gunn) at the Lyric Theatre at Illinois.
In 2016, Mr. Ciabatti conducted Tosca at Opera North (NH), directed by Russell Treyz, and Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Theatre at Illinois, directed by Christopher Gillett. In 2015, he made his South American debut conducting the Universidad Central Symphony Orchestra in Bogota, Colombia, where he also taught masterclasses in orchestra and Italian opera. With La Nuova Aurora Opera, he conducted full productions of Handel’s Rodrigo (2015) and Purcell’s King Arthur (2016).
As a pianist and vocal coach in Italy, Mr. Ciabatti worked for the Cherubini Conservatory, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Florence Opera Academy. He has played for masterclasses of Renée Fleming, Nathan Gunn, William Matteuzzi, Donald George, and Isabel Leonard. Since 2016, he has been music director and vocal coach of “Scuola Italia per Giovani Cantanti Lirici” in Sant’Angelo in Vado (Italy), and last summer has joined the faculty of “Opera Viva!” in Verona as music director and vocal coach.
Friday april 30th at 5:15pm-6:15pm (est)
Dr. Justin Rito
Better Together: Pairing Music with Beer
For this lecture, Justin will lead attendees through a series of Music and Beer pairings. Since the session will be virtual, we’d like you to pick up three beers, chill them, and have them ready with a glass before the session begins so that we can all taste and listen together. If you’re within driving distance of Essex Junction, VT, we recommend visiting Black Flannel Brewing Company to buy the three beers, since those are the versions of these styles for which Justin chose music pairings. If that’s not possible for you, the alternate examples will work just as well for the tasting. If you’re unfamiliar with your local beer producers, stop by any craft beer shop near you and ask someone for the listed style, or write to Justin (email@example.com) with your location, and he’ll respond with a few commercial examples to search for.
1. German-style Pilsner
Justin Rito is a brewer at Black Flannel Brewing Company in Essex Junction, VT, where he also teaches classes on craft beer. Justin’s background is in composition, music theory, and piano performance, and before leaving higher education to pursue a career in the beer industry his most recent position was as Assistant Professor of Music at Northern Vermont University. Justin's professional interests are great beer, great music, and how they interact. His free time is spent with his partner Erika and their daughter, a spoiled Weimaraner named Arvo, and any forest he can get lost in.
Saturday may 1st at 1:00pm- 2:00pm (est)
Explore your voice
Develop your vocal technique by getting back to basics! Both a refresher class and an exploratory class, we’ll re-discover the fundamentals and encourage singing with your most natural, free voice. Participate in technical exercises addressing breathing, legato, and agility and use your body to develop vocal flexibility and strength.
Canadian soprano Jacqueline Woodley has been praised for her fearless versatility, changing styles fluidly from early music to contemporary, from opera to art song. Sought after for her “exceptional talent” in performing modern works, Jacqueline created the role of Milice-Bride in the première of Ana Sokolovic’s opera, Svaba-Wedding, with Queen of Puddings Music Theatre, a production that toured Canada and Europe. She also starred in its American productions at Philadelphia Opera and San Francisco Opera. Other acclaimed performances of contemporary music include works by Jonathan Dove, György Kurtág, Kaija Saariaho, Aaron Gervais and Judith Weir.
Recent performances include her Montreal Symphony debut under Kent Nagano; the Forest Bird (Siegfried), Cherubino (Marriage of Figaro) and Papagena (Die Zauberflöte) for the Canadian Opera Company; Tina in the Canadian premiere of the acclaimed Flight by Jonathan Dove at Pacific Opera Victoria, Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Edmonton Opera; appearances at the Vancouver Early Music Festival and the Ottawa Chamberfest with Les Voix Baroques and Les Boréades; the title role in Apollo e Dafne; La musique in Les plaisirs de Versailles; Handel’s Messiah for the many orchestras including National Arts Centre Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Kitchener’s Grand Philharmonic Choir and in a staged version for Against the Grain Theatre. Jacqueline has been featured singing Bach arias as part of the concert and video series Bach Odyssey with violinist Emmanuel Vukovich. She has been featured in Tapestry Opera’s M’dea Undone and Oksana G. and appears frequently with Edmonton Symphony, Kitchener’s Grand Philharmonic Choir and Clavecins en Concert.
Jacqueline holds a Master’s Degree in Opera from McGill University and is an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio. She teaches privately, works regularly as a vocal coach with various choirs, and is sought out as a speaker and guest vocal technician. Jacqueline is currently on the voice faculty at the Saint-Laurent College in Montreal.
Saturday May 1st at 4:00pm-5:00pm (est)
How to Commission A New Work For Your Ensemble - and Why It Can Be An Amazing Experience
Matt LaRocca is a composer, performer and educator who you are just as likely to see playing with a band in a dive bar as conducting an orchestra. He is on the composition and theory faculty at the University of Vermont and is the Artistic Director of the Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the Executive Director of Music-COMP, an organization that teaches composition to students throughout the country by pairing them with professional composers as mentors. Committed to new music and innovation, Matt is the Chair of Creative Projects for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
As a musician growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, Matt is equally at home in both the rock and classical worlds. His classical work has been commissioned by groups such as the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra. As an arranger, Matt has worked with artists such as Guster, Henry Jamison, Matt Flinner and Kat Wright to write orchestra and chamber music arrangements for performance and recordings. Artistic residencies include an expedition to the high arctic through The Arctic Circle organization and composition/improvisation teaching residencies at schools throughout New England and California. Matt performs as a violist and guitarist in classical, rock and improvisation ensembles. Current projects include free improvisation group House, Ways and Means in which he plays the electric viola, and the dance collective Ergo Movement.
Matt lives in Waterbury, VT with his wife Heather and their children Jasper, Sawyer and Macy. He holds degrees in chemistry and music from Middlebury College and a doctorate in music composition from Boston University.
Monday may 3rd at 3:45pm- 4:45pm (est)
Heightening Aural Awareness: An Introduction to Indian Classical Music & its Teaching Tools
The utterance of the term 'Indian classical music' to a western audience often brings to mind this exoticized idea of unfathomable microtones and the seemingly esoteric concept of a 'raga'.
This presentation aims to break down some of the mystique surrounding this rich tradition and frame it in a way that highlights its teaching traditions, theoretical principles and aural merits from a pragmatic and universal standpoint that can provide fresh perspective on our approach to choral practices like tuning, sightsinging and solfege. Indian Classical Music is a tradition as rich, developed and nuanced as its western counterpart, and possibly more relatable than we may realize to the modern world of music.
Vidita Kanniks is a multi-faceted vocalist specializing in ensemble music, historical performance and cross-cultural work. Equally at home with her background in Indian Classical music and her Western classical training she strives to represent both sides authentically in her unique artistic identity.
monday may 3rd at 5:00pm-6:00pm (est)
A Home for All: Welcoming Choral Singers across the Gender Spectrum
Margaret (Maggie) Burk is currently in her second year of doctoral study in choral conducting at the University of Michigan, where she studies with Eugene Rogers and serves as Assistant Conductor of the Men’s Glee Club. While at Michigan, Maggie was proud to lead a vocal music workshop at Saginaw Correctional Facility through the university’s Prison Creative Arts Project. In addition to her studies, Maggie is an active church musician and composer; she is the Director of Music Ministries at West Side Church (UMC) in Ann Arbor, and her choral music is published by Selah. She also sings in the Detroit-based professional choir Audivi. Maggie holds degrees from the Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music (MM) and St. Olaf College (BM). Prior to graduate school, she taught middle and high school choral music in Minnesota and Kansas.
Wednesday May 5th at 3:45pm-4:45pm (est)
Dr. SHerrill Blodget
Exploring the Contemporary Choral Music of Argentina.
This introduction to the incredible body of contemporary Argentinian Choral music explores its roots in Indigenous, folk, European and African traditions. Much of the concert/lecture presentation was recorded live in Fall 2019 with performances by Castleton University Chamber Singers (no masks!). Repertoire includes Kadu Wallum (Hector Bisso), selections by Carlos Gustavino, Ariel Ramirez, and Lilian Cangiano, and Astor Piazolla's Libertango (arr. Oscar Escalada).
Dr. Sherrill Blodget is Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Music Department at Castleton University in Castleton, Vermont, where she directs the University Chorale and Castleton Chamber Singers, teaches voice, and conducting, and is vocal director for musical theater productions. She is the faculty advisor to the Castleton Student ACDA Chapter and a cappella ensemble Vocal Unrest. Blodget was recently honored to be selected as the 2019 Vermont State Colleges Faculty Fellow. She is active as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor at home and abroad, and co-founded the Vermont Collegiate Choral Consortium to promote annual masterwork collaborations between the Vermont colleges. Blodget has served as Collegiate and University R&S Chair (present), President, Ethnic and Multicultural and Community Choir Repertoire and Standards Chairs for Vermont ACDA and on the National Board of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.
Blodget enjoys teaching and performing, and strongly believes in the power of music to inspire students and audiences alike. Prior to joining the Castleton faculty in 2008, she directed high school choral and vocal programs, and university, community, and church choirs in Arizona, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. She has worked with a wide spectrum of ensembles including early music, women’s, men’s, and mixed ensembles. Her research interests include Latin American Baroque and contemporary choral music, and choral voice placement. Blodget was selected to participate in the ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program through which she completed a residency at the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay in October 2017, and recently brought students to sing in Cuba and Costa Rica, and to participate in the America Cantat-8 Festival in the Bahamas.
Blodget earned her D.M.A. in choral conducting with an orchestral conducting minor from the University of Arizona; M.M. in choral conducting from the University of Oregon; M.M. in music education from the Pennsylvania State University; and B.A. in music from Yale University.
When not involved in making music, Blodget loves to hike, x-country ski, swim, and explore Vermont and the Adirondacks with her two young sons and husband.
Friday May 7th at 3:45pm- 4:45pm (est)
Dr. T.j. Harper
Special Considerations for Rehearsal Technique During COVID.
DR. T. J. HARPER is Associate Professor of Music and the Director of Choral Activities at Loyola Marymount University. Dr. Harper received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California where he graduated with honors. Choirs under Dr. Harper’s direction have performed at professional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and has been the headlining clinician and conductor throughout the United States and abroad. Dr. Harper is a board member of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), he is the Chair of the ACDA International Activities Committee, and the Director of the ACDA International Conductors Exchange Program.
Saturday May 8th at 11:00am-12:00pm (est)
Voices of the Future: Cultivating Leadership, Independence, and Conducting Skills in Young Choristers
Can a nine-year-old be a consummate musician and conductor? Is it possible for someone so young to possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and maturity to provide effective leadership for a choral ensemble?
Tom Brand thinks so, and he has devoted his career to taking young musicians seriously. Tom believes that it’s never too soon for a chorister to begin developing authentic musicianship and leadership skills and that early training in these areas can be invaluable. Since 1993, Tom has served as Artistic Director of United Choir School (UCS), a network of Connecticut-based girls’ choirs, whose 32 ensembles are conducted almost entirely by students under age 18, and he's now in the process of establishing Saecula Choral Academy as a unique K-12 conservatory devoted specifically to choral conducting.
In this interactive session, Tom and a few colleagues from UCS will discuss their approach to training young conductors and will consider questions such as...
Tom Brand is Founding Artistic Director of United Choir School and Saecula Choir Foundation in New Haven, CT, and Director of Music at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bridgeport, CT. He received early musical training in the Trinity Boys Choir of New Haven under Walden Moore and at the American Boychoir School of Princeton, NJ under James Litton. Tom began conducting at age 16 under the guidance of Chris Shepard and went on to receive degrees in music and choral conducting from Yale, where his mentors included Marguerite Brooks and Jeffrey Bernstein. He has composed and arranged more than 200 choral works, has held faculty positions at Vassar College, the Taft School, and Southern Connecticut State University, and has served as President of the Connecticut Chapter of The American Choral Directors Association.
Saturday may 8th at 2:00pm- 3:00pm (EST)
Listening to Community, Providing for Community.
Hugh Keelan has conducted throughout the world, from the Residentie Orchestra (conducted by Toscanini) in The Hague, Holland, to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (in pioneering recordings of seminal American symphonies by Roy Harris and William Schuman), the Saint Louis Symphony (with a world premier), and the Windham Philharmonic (creating excellence, transcendence and inclusion in community). He has collaborated with the great artists of our times, including Solti, Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Shura Cherkassky, Maurice Sendak, Tom Stoppard, Beni Montresor, and, when his time allows in the future, Senator Bernie Sanders for Copland's Lincoln Portrait. For Maestro, 'Life' and 'Art' are not distinct, just different words for a committed exploration of beauty and transcendence.
Monday may 10th at 5:00pm-6:00pm (EST)
Dr. Jean- Sébastien Vallée
A Child of Our Time: Challenges of Our Time
A discussion of the genesis and current challenges surrounding the performance of Michael Tippett’s oratorio A Child of Our Time as we mark the 80th anniversary of its composition.
Canadian-American conductor Jean-Sebastien Vallee is an internationally recognized conductor, scholar, and pedagogue. Dr. Vallée is Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choral Studies, and Coordinator of the Ensembles & Conducting Area at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montréal. In addition, Maestro Vallée is Director of the renowned choir of the church of St. Andrew & St. Paul in Montréal, and Music Director of the Ottawa Choral Society. Prior to his appointment at McGill University, he served as Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Los Angeles and was on the choral faculty of the University of Redlands.Ensembles under his direction have toured throughout Europe and North America, performed for the American Choral Directors Association and the California Music Educators conferences, and were awarded first and second places at the San Luis Obispo International Choral Competition in 2011. In 2015, Maestro Vallée was the runner-up for the American Prize in Choral Conducting. Dr. Vallée holds degrees from Laval University, Sherbrooke University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.In addition to his interest in choral, operatic, and orchestral music, Jean-Sébastien is an advocate for contemporary music, making one of his priorities to premiere and commission works by young composers and program rarely performed repertoire. As a scholar, his research interests are varied and focus primarily on Renaissance French music, the oratorical works of Michael Tippett, and conducting pedagogy, more specifically the connection between audiation and gestural communication. Dr. Vallée has been invited to present his research at several national and international conferences in North America, Europe and Asia including the American Choral Directors Association Conventions, Festival 500 in Newfoundland, the National Collegiate Choral Organization conference, Podium—the national convention of Choral Canada, the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, and the World Symposium on Choral Music in Spain (2017) and New Zealand (2020) . Maestro Vallée’s work has been broadcast nationally and internationally by CBC Radio and PBS and can be heard on several recordings, including his recent albums entitled Lux (ATMA, 2017), Requiem (ATMA, 2018), and Distance (ATMA 2021).Recent activities include concerts at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, a tour with the National Youth Choir of Canada, a return to Carnegie Hall with the music of Howard Goodall, and lectures at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music, in New Zealand. www.jsvallee.com
Monday May 10th at 7:00pm- 8:00pm (EST)
Dr. christopher Jackson
Benjamin Britten for All
A TOUR THROUGH BRITTEN'S EXTENSIVE OUTPUT DEMONSTRATING HOW AND WHY ALL SINGERS CAN AND SHOULD EXPERIENCE HIS MUSIC.
Dr. Christopher Jackson is the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He works frequently as a guest conductor for Honor Choir Festivals on the east coast and has led masterclasses and workshops on conducting and Baroque music, including at the San Juan Conservatory of Music. He has taught courses in Music History, Vocal Methods and Pedagogy, Conducting, and is also the co-founder of the professional ensemble, Bricolage, which debuted with performances of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition, The Little Match Girl Passion, in conjunction with various Collegiate and High School Art Departments and to raise funds for Women’s and Children’s shelters. In his previous position at Lycoming College, he led national and international tours (China, Canada, New York, Florida) and co-founded the Lycoming Baroque Choir and Orchestra. That ensemble was honored to have been selected as a guest performer for the PaACDA 2016 Fall Conference.
In addition to teaching, conducting, and academic research, Christopher is also active as a professional choral singer and soloist. He is a core member of and Educational Outreach Manager for the professional chamber choir, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, which has been twice nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Choral Performance, including 2020's album, Once Upon A Time. In 2016, he was honored to sing as a member of the Grammy Award-Winning ensemble, Roomful of Teeth. He has sung with other professional ensembles such as Tucson Chamber Artists, Kinnara Ensemble, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The South Dakota Chorale, Les Canards Chantants, and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran, NYC. His areas of research include the choral music of Benjamin Britten, links between modern educational practices, learning theory, and music education, and programming Renaissance and Baroque Music for choirs of all ages and abilities.
Dr. Jackson received his BA in voice performance from Oklahoma State University, and his MM in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College where he was the graduate assistant conductor of the Westminster Symphonic Choir under Dr. Joe Miller. He received his DMA in choral conducting from the University of North Texas.
Wednesday May 12th at 4:00pm-5:00pm (EST)
Dr. Jason A. Dungee
A Pedagogy for Living: Anti-Racism in the Choral Rehearsal
Dr. Jason A. Dungee currently serves as the Director of Choral Studies at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. Dungee has degrees from the University of Arizona, Westminster Choir College and Hampton University. Previously, he enjoyed 8 years as a successful choral music teacher in Newport News and Williamsburg, Virginia. He was a Conductor Fellow in the 16th Varna International Music Academy in Varna, Bulgaria. In March of 2020, Dungee was Co-Conductor of the first HBCU Tribute Choir for the Southern Division ACDA Conference. Recently, Dr. Dungee has found success in popular music and entertainment as well. He was selected for 2 consecutive years to prepare choirs for the southeast leg of HBO’s internationally acclaimed touring production of The Game of Thrones Live Experience, featuring music from the hit TV program. In South Carolina, he has conducted sold out, critically acclaimed performances as guest conductor of the Charleston Gospel Choir and in March of 2020, he performed with the London Symphony Orchestra as they premiered Andre Thomas’ Mass.
Friday May 14th at 4:00pm- 5:00pm (est)
Dr. jabarie Glass
Jabarie Glass is an assistant professor of music and the associate director of choral studies in the School of Music at the University of South Carolina. At UofSC, he conducts two choral ensembles, University Chorus and Women’s Chorus, and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting and music education. His varied conducting experiences have included working with university, secondary, community youth, festival, and church ensembles.
Recent engagements include a collaboration with African American song literature scholar Louise Toppin, in which Glass conducted the 2019 University of Michigan premiere of William Grant Still's opera, Highway 1, USA. Most recently, he conducted Jeffrey Scott's A Pioneer's Opus, a chamber work commissioned by the UofSC woodwind faculty to commemorate Richard T. Greener's legacy as the University's first Black professor and the first Black graduate of Harvard College.
Glass's scholarship focuses on conducting pedagogy, choral pedagogy, and music literacy. He has given guest lectures and presentations on these topics with university choral programs, at professional development workshops, and at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. His article on the intersection of literature selection and choral pedagogy was recently published in the February 2021 issue of the Choral Journal.
For nine years, Glass was the director of choirs at Southaven High School and Southaven Middle School. During his tenure, the Southaven High School Chamber Singers received numerous awards and honors, most notably giving invitational performances at the American Choral Directors Association Southern Division Conference and the Mississippi-ACDA State Conference. He was also the founding conductor of CoroFuente, the tenor-bass chorus of CoroRio, a community youth and adult choral organization for which he currently serves on the board of directors. As a proponent for access to quality musical education, Glass is passionate about sharing the knowledge gained from these experiences with current and future choral practitioners. Furthermore, he continues to invest in the musical growth of young choral musicians through clinics with secondary choral programs and conducting honor choruses.
A native Mississippian, Glass earned a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Mississippi. There he was named the Department of Music's Undergraduate Choral Music Education Student of the Year. In the same year, he was inducted into the University's Student Hall of Fame, a university-wide honor bestowed upon only ten seniors annually based on leadership, scholarship, service, and potential for success after graduation. Glass went on to earn a master's degree in music education from the Florida State University College of Music. He earned a doctoral degree in conducting from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. At Michigan, he studied conducting with Jerry Blackstone, Eugene Rogers, and Michael Haithcock and voice with George Shirley. He pursued additional conducting studies as a conducting fellow with the Chorus America Conducting Academy and the Yale-Norfolk Chamber Music Festival Choral Conducting Workshop.
Friday may 14th at 7:00pm-8:00pm (EST)
The Death Knell – A look at Rachmaninoff’s choral-orchestral masterwork The Bells Op.35
Hailed by the composer (along with the All-Night Vigil) as his favorite personal composition, The Bells Op.35 for soloists, chorus and orchestra is surprisingly rarely performed nowadays. Portraying different stages of the human life through four different bells, this exciting work, based on the poem of Edgar Allan Poe, has quite a few intricacies. From the stunning orchestration to the omnipresent lurking Dies Irae, from the quiet processional humming of the chorus to the shouts of terror, the images portrayed in this unique choral symphony are unquestionably leaving a lasting impression on its listeners.
Philippe Bourque, choir master and conductor, pianist, pedagogue and music director.
A versatile and passionate musician of choral music, he has been teaching at Vanier College since 2010 where he is active as choir master and ear training teacher. He was appointed Artistic Director of the St. Lawrence Choir in March 2014. An unwavering pedagogue, Philippe is convinced of the necessity to invest in the future generations. He has also worked with the choir of the Vincent-d’Indy music school and the F.A.C.E. Young Singers. He also gives private lessons in conducting and is regularly invited as a jury member or clinician to countless festivals both here and abroad.
Since 2006, Philippe Bourque has directed the choir and small ensemble of the Protestant Church of Terrebonne-Mascouche and ensured the musical and liturgical programming for the church’s Sunday Celebrations. He was also Artistic Director of the Chœur du Musée d’art de Joliette (2008-2014), the Petits Chanteurs de la Cathédrale (2005-2007), the Chœur en Jazz vocalists (2006-2009) and McGill’s Simply Sweetly (now Les Muses Chorale, 2007-2011).
Currently at McGill University to pursue doctoral studies in choral-orchestral conducting, Philippe Bourque previously studied under Julian Wachner, Robert Ingari, Alexis Hauser and Ivars Taurins. He is the recipient of a Lieutenant-Governor’s Award while studying at the Vincent-d’Indy music school and received McGill’s Constance-Willney Music Scholarship and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship (SSHRC).
Saturday May 15th at 3:00pm
Matthew Guard hosts an 8-part in-depth series exploring one of the masterworks of the choral canon, culminating in a recording of Skylark’s epic performance at St. Paul’s Harvard Square in the fall of 2019. The eight segments include top Vespers trivia, historical context, the structure of the piece, exploring the soundworld of Russian choral music, the professional choir approach to singing in Old Church Slavonic, insights from the original manuscript, a study of the tempo and pacing of the piece, and artistic decisions made by Artistic Director Matthew Guard which made Skylark’s execution of the Vespers unforgettable.
Skylark is a premier vocal ensemble of leading American vocal soloists, chamber musicians, and music educators. Skylark’s dramatic performances have been described as “gripping” (The Times of London) and “awe-inspiring” (Boston Music Intelligencer). With “some of Boston’s best singers” (Boston Globe), the voices of Skylark “can sway you softly into calm and then all but throw you across the room with sheer harmonic force” (Thought Catalog). Skylark strives to set the standard for innovative and engaging programs that re-define the choral experience for audiences and singers alike. Artistic Director Matthew Guard’s well-researched and creative programs have been described as “engrossing” (WQXR New York) and “original, stimulating, and beautiful” (BBC Radio 3). Skylark’s most recent three recordings all reached the top 10 of Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, earning praise for “imaginative” programming (Limelight Australia) and “singing of the highest standard for any area or any repertoire” (Classics Today). Since its founding in 2011 in Atlanta and Boston, Skylark has branched out to perform its dynamic programs in museums, concert halls, and churches across the United States. Skylark made its international debut in March 2018 at St. John’s Smith Square, London, as part of the UK choir Tenebrae’s Holy Week Festival. The Times of London declared that Skylark was “the highlight” of a festival that included some of the UK’s leading choirs, including The Tallis Scholars, Polyphony, Tenebrae, and the Gabrieli Consort. In 2017, Skylark embarked on a historic tour with Clear Voices in the Dark, a compelling program featuring Francis Poulenc’s notoriously difficult Figure Humaine paired with songs of the American Civil War. Skylark’s performance at the French Institute Alliance-Française in New York was described as “fascinating…. impeccable diction and a seamlessly blended sound… Singing in a shimmering pianissimo that rises to a triumphant crescendo, the Skylark ensemble practically opens the heavens with the beauty of their sound…” (Stage Buddy NYC). The previous year, Skylark made its debut at Atlanta’s celebrated Spivey Hall with a chamber performance of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil. A not-for-profit entity, Skylark performs educational outreach programs with high school and college students across the United States during its concert tours. In addition to numerous outreach workshops in public schools across the country, Skylark has conducted residencies at premier colleges and elite secondary schools including Harvard, MIT, Wellesley College, Endicott College, Milton Academy, Woodward Academy, and Philips Exeter Academy.
About Matthew Guard, Artistic Director Conductor, entrepreneur, and business strategist Matthew Guard is earning a reputation as one of the most innovative and thoughtful programmers in American choral music. Praised for his “catalyzing leadership” (Q2/WQXR) and “musically creative and intellectually rich” programming (Opera Obsession), Guard is passionate about communicating something unique in each concert and recording. Guard scours the world of available repertoire for each program, exhaustively researches each piece, and crafts concerts that captivate audiences with their hidden connections and seamless artistry. Guard has always had a deep love for choral music, studying conducting and music theory in college, and conducting over 150 concerts as the Music Director of the Harvard Krokodiloes, Harvard’s oldest a cappella group. Guard earned his MBA from Emory University, and spent five years as a business strategy consultant. With Carolyn Guard, Skylark’s Executive Director, he was also part of the founding team of Babiators, a lifestyle brand of children’s products named one of “America’s Most Promising Companies” by Forbes in 2014 and to the Inc. 5000 in 2016. Guard’s true passion has always remained in the arts, and for choral music in particular. Since founding Skylark, he has been fortunate to benefit from the advice and mentorship of phenomenal conductors and teachers, including Jameson Marvin, Simon Carrington, Vance George, and Joshua Habermann. Much of his musical knowledge has arisen from self-study and practical experience, and he considers his ongoing education with the singers of Skylark to be one of the most invigorating and enriching experiences of his life.
Saturday May 22nd at 11:00am-12:00pm (est)
Voces8 and barnaby smith
VOCES8 and developing a career in the choral music
Barnaby Smith is Artistic Director of the internationally renowned vocal ensemble VOCES8, Live From London digital festivals, and the UK and US arms of The VOCES8 Foundation. He is in demand as a conductor, choir trainer, countertenor and arranger. Barnaby completed his studies in Specialist Early Music Performance at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis where he was a pupil of Andreas Scholl. Barnaby is also an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme.
With a schedule that takes him around the world, recent highlights include performances at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican Centre, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Sydney Opera House, Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, La Seine
Musicale and Cité de la Musique in Paris, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Konzerthaus in Vienna, Bozar in Brussels, Tokyo Opera City, NCPA Beijing, Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Utrecht
Early Music Festival and residencies at the St Andrew’s Voices Festival and St Magnus Festival.
Barnaby’s collaborations include Rachel Podger, Roderick Williams, Christina Pluhar, Masaki Suzuki, Jacob Collier, Jonathan Dove, Christopher Tin; conducting includes the Academy of Ancient Music, Australian National Academy of
Music, English Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Monte Carlo Symphony, Philharmonia,
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and he directed the music for the Olympic Mascots Film Scores at Abbey Road Studios with the British Film Orchestra. Recent digital collaborations include The Sixteen, the English Chamber Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort & Players,
The Tallis Scholars, the Academy of Ancient Music and Chanticleer. Barnaby is also Artistic Director of the Milton Abbey International Music Festival, and co-curates and teaches on the MMus programme in Choral Studies at Cambridge University.
On disc Barnaby has released commercially on Decca Classics, Universal, Sony, Warner, Naxos, Signum Classics and VOCES8 Records. His most recent recording, After Silence, was given Gramophone
Editor’s Disc Choice. He has four no.1 selling albums on the Decca Classics and VOCES8 Records labels, was delighted to receive the award for Album of the Year 2015 from Classic FM, was voted Choral Disc Choice Award by BBC Music Magazine in June 2014 and has
won 9 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards. Barnaby Smith is managed worldwide by Libby Percival of Percius. www.percius.co.uk