Part 3: HISTORY OF THE WASHINGTON CHAPTER, THE AMERICAN CHORAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION
The Summer Institute Years
Meharg’s front page article for the newsletter (Spring-1996), indicated the planning for the Summer Institute (set for August 1, 2, 1996) was well underway. He said, “We’ve got music for you to read for virtually every level and voicing. Our reading session directors are leaders in choral music from this state. We’ve got past ACDA presidents, Ed Schaefer, Scott Peterson, Karen Fulmer, Paul Schultz, Repertoire and Standards chairpersons, and many other outstanding choral experts. We’re featuring a session of the music of NW composers and arrangers including some outstanding pieces by newly published writer Vijay Singh. Church choral leaders will have significant reasons for attending. You won’t find a boring moment!”
Twyla Brunson also promoted the first Summer Institute saying, “This institute was developed to provide choral directors in our state an opportunity to meet with colleagues for several days of reading and interest session.” Twyla also talked of a feature of the event that has continued to be popular to this day…the annual Salmon BBQ.
In addition to the presenters mentioned earlier, we can’t forget that Gene Brooks, national executive secretary of ACDA was there. Don Barrows, Judi Burns, Dave Cross, Cathy Bleeker, Scott Dean, Ken DeJong, Linda Fahlgren, Leslie Guelker-Cone, Judy Herrington, Dan Jackson, Helen Lauritzen, Rich Nace, Charles Peterson, Janet Reiter, and Greg Vancil all led reading sessions at this first annual Summer Institute. Planners had begun with the premise that we have outstanding choral leaders in the state and that should be used.
It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to using state leadership for the sessions, we would ask Malecki Music to provide titles for reading that were chosen by the session leaders. The usual complaint among choral people attending publisher/retailer reading sessions…the kind many attended each year…was that “you had to wade through a great deal of ‘junk’ to find a few gems.” The intent of the organizers of the Summer Institute was to guarantee that the pieces selected were high quality, tested, and chosen by leaders who could be trusted to select great choral literature. Despite these stipulations, the Malecki people cooperated and provided a great service to WA ACDA.
In this same newsletter (Spring, 1996) we see first mention of the WA ACDA website. Meharg, who has continued as webmaster since then, was just beginning his website work at the time. He cautioned by saying, “It runs best on Netscape 2 or better.” Not one to raise expectations too high, he also said, “It’s rudimentary with lots of room for additional information and links.”
A headline in the Fall edition of the newsletter said, “Reading Session Serves 70.” President-Elect Twyla Brunson served as program chair for the event held on August 1 and 2, 1996. In addition to all those named above, it should be mentioned that music of northwest composers, Donna Schultz, Jerry Weseley Harris, Vijay Singh, and Andrea Klouse was featured. “Essential Learnings,” a hot-button topic in the schools was the topic of a Karen Fulmer led presentation. Charles Peterson talked on vocal pedagogy and Joseph Crnko held a “break-out” session about “The Child’s Voice.”
Considerable work had gone into listing the criteria for the Outstanding Leadership and Service Award for Washington ACDA. Basically, the award goes to one who demonstrates outstanding qualities in musicianship, leadership, and loyalty to ACDA. WA ACDA named Joan Catoni-Conlon, then teaching and conducting choral music at the University of Washington, as the first recipient of this award.
With Editor Cindy Busler’s resignation after the spring newsletter issue, Howard Meharg picked up the role as Editor of the newsletter. He proposed naming it “UNISON.” His article on the naming of the newsletter quoted the dictionary, “Unison! One sound, the interval of a perfect prime, the state of being so tuned or sounded; akin to union, an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one as in the formation of a single political unit from two or more separate and independent units, a uniting in marriage, something formed by the combining or coalition of parts or members, oneness, the growing together of severed parts.”
He further stated, “Unison, that illusive guiding principle which is the obsession of so many successful choral conductors. Unison provides the yardstick, actually a micrometer for measuring tuning, for observing balance, for evaluating blend, and for deciding the presence of ensemble or precision in attack and releases. In short, are we together here?”
The WA ACDA was off and running with the Summer Institute. It was to become a yearly event. The second annual session was held July 30 to August 1, 1997. UPS promised another great Salmon BBQ and the board continued with the notion of using state leaders, asking them to select the titles and conduct the sessions.
The second issue of UNISON, January 1997, featured a full page article with the headline “Wayne Hertz Remembered Fondly.” Dr. Wayne Hertz, best known for his work at Central Washington University, had died July 26, 1996. The article noted, “It may be impossible to name all the choral directors who ‘came to be’ as a result of Wayne’s leadership.” He was born in 1908 in Illinois. He earned a Doctor of Music in Education degree from New York University in 1959, but after teaching in the Illinois public schools, moved to Ellensburg and CWSC in 1937. Governor Daniel Evans proclaimed Wayne S. Hertz Day in the State of Washington for May 25, 1974…a unique honor. Hertz became a member of ACDA in 1962, one of the early members of the organization.
At a January 11, 1997 board meeting it was announced that Richard Nance and Karen Martin had consented to allow their names to be placed in nomination for the office of President-Elect…term to being July 1, 1997. Ballots went out later in the spring and Richard Nance was elected to the position.
At the same meeting, the board commended Karen Fulmer, a past president of WA ACDA and director of choral music at Sumner Junior High School, for being named the Washington Teacher of the Year.
Twyla Brunson took over as president on July 1, 1997
The second annual Summer Institute, July 30- August 1, 1997, again featured state choral directors as leaders of the reading sessions.
Rebecca J. Rottsolk, Artistic Director of the Northwest Girlchoir in Seattle, was awarded the 1997 Service and Leadership Award.
Twyla’s article in the Spring ’98 UNISON commended Washington choirs for their great performances at the NW Convention in Portland. The Tacoma Youth Choir, The Pacific Lutheran Women’s Choir, the Tudor Choir, and the Gonzaga University Choir each sang. She also thanked Noel White, SW Washington chair, for heading up a March 28 workshop in Longview featuring Solveig Holmquist from Western Oregon University, and Karen Martin, who organized a Women’s Choir Festival held at PLU.
The last Wednesday of July came to be “the date” for the start of the Summer Institute. A pattern was beginning to develop as it appeared the WA ACDA had designed a “keeper” as to the annual event.
In the 1998 session (July 29-31), the planners, led by Richard Nance, Program Chair, invited Stephen Hatfield, a Canadian composer, as featured guest. Jim Moore, the current ACDA national president, Connie Branton, president of the NW Division, and Robert Hawthorne of Oregon Catholic Press also joined Hatfield in the “headliner” category.
Judy Herrington, R&S Chair for Children’s Choirs, wrote an article for UNISON in the form of an interview with Stephen Hatfield. This idea has been used several times since then as an introduction to the Summer Institute headliner.
Hatfield, quoted from another source, said, " I hope
to present an alternative approach to inspirational content, one that
incorporates a broader emotional spectrum and does not condescend to
singers or audience. I think my music tends to have more grit and friction
than most choral music in this genre, more of an examination of the dark
places we must all work through en route to the light."
The session of 1998 as, once again, held at the University of Puget Sound. The board, at various times (early in the life of the Summer Institute) discussed the possibility of rotating the event among several locations throughout the state. So far, it hasn’t happened. A location close to Sea-Tac airport, comfortable weather, and most of all, the hospitality and welcome expressed by the music department and food service at UPS keeps bringing WA ACDA back year after year to this campus in Tacoma.
Paul Schultz, Director of Choral Activities at UPS, was instrumental in making sure ACDA was welcomed. Paul was also the recipient of the Leadership and Service Award for 1998. Upon receiving the award he said, as he listened to the list of ACDA activities in which he had been involved, that it “sounded like a quote from a history book.” He said that history is really a process and that “performers are better equipped to present who ‘they’ are…what a Bach fugue or a Beethoven sonata or an ives song is really all about. No one is allowed to recarve Michaelangelo’s David, or to repaint Monet’s Water Lilies or to rebuild the Cologne Cathedral. But, we are the fortunate ones who are allowed to breathe new life into Bach’s Italian Concerto or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony or Schubert’s Winterreise…whatever we perform, whenever we perform it!”
Male voices got another boost when R & S Chair, Stuart Hunt, of Marysville, organized a male chorus festival featuring Male Ensemble Northwest. Stuart followed up on a workshop two years prior that was set up by Janet Reiter of Vancouver. The Marysville event was attended by 400 high school male singers.
Richard Nance, Director of Choral Music at Pacific Lutheran University, took over as president July 1, 1999. Judy Herrington was WA ACDA’s newly elected president-elect.
Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Director of Choral Studies at the University of Miami, Florida was a special guest at the 1999 Summer Institute. Again, the attempt of the planning committee was to provide reading sessions for all levels for schools, churches, colleges, and community groups.
In addition, Leslie Guelker-Cone headed up a “Time Management” roundtable, Cathy Haight, Seattle Pacific University, talked on vocal pedagogy, Paul Schultz presented a session on motivation techniques, and Ken Wilson’s topic was “Teaching Vocal Jazz.” Mary Neumann of Malecki Music once again headed the team of workers from Spokane who provided all the music for the event.
Howard Meharg was presented the Leadership and Service Award for 1999.
The 2000 Summer Institute (July 26-28) featured Andre Thomas from the University of Florida. Session leaders included Solveig Holmquist, Stuart Hunt, Roiberta Jackson, Tim Russell, Pat Michel, Andrea Klouse, Oscar Munoz, Richard Nance, and Howard Meharg.
Interest session included: “What I wish they had taught us in college,” a roundtable led by David Anderson; “Percussion Techniques,” with Oscar Munoz; and “Choreography for choirs of all ages,” presented by Kandy Gilberty.
The Rainier Valley Harmonizers from Puyallup, presented a short concert.
The annual salmon BBQ continues to be a favorite.
Robert Northrop, who directed choirs at Curtis High School in Tacoma for many years, was the recipient of the 2000 Leadership and Service Award. Bob served as state treasurer for five years and had been on the board. He had been suffering from brain cancer for some time and died on August 14, two weeks after the award was presented to members of his family. Sarah Graham, a former student of Bob’s, said he knew he had been given the award and appreciated it very much.
Meanwhile, Karen Fulmer had been elected as president-elect of the NW Division. This meant she was program chair for the 2000 NW convention in Seattle. Fifteen choirs from the state performed during the convention of March 8-11, 2000. In addition, Stu Hunt, Lori Weist, Paul Dennis, Roger Kelley, Ben Keller, Paul Schultz, and Scott Dean all led or participated in interest sessions.
Headliners for the 2001 Summer Institute were Diane Loomer and Morna Edmundson of Vancouver, B.C., co-directors of the internationally acclaimed women’s choir, Elecktra. Loomer also directs Chor Leoni, a men’s choir from Vancouver, B. C.
Presenters were Neil Lieurance, Randy Wagner, Darnelle Preston, Susan Windham, Karyl Carlson, Rob Higby, Ben Brody, Cindy Dinsmore, George Strid, Fred West, Sarah Graham, Dave Dickerson, Keith Loftis, Wayne Lackman and Ben Keller.
Evaluation forms continued to show that the Summer Institute was meeting the needs of directors. “The most valuable resource I have is a network of supportive colleagues. At Summer Institute I have a chance to expand that network and also learn from other directors,” one participant said. “I look forward to singing here every year and selecting new music,” said another.
The 2001 Leadership award went to Richard Sparks, then director of choral music at Pacific Lutheran University. The award was presented by colleague on the PLU staff, Richard Nance. Sparks founded Seattle Pro Musica.
As Judy Herrington began her term as president, Leslie Guelker-Cone was elected as the new state ACDA President-Elect.
It was former King’s Singer (an original member of the group) Simon Carrington who served as clinician at the 2002 SI. Others who led sessions were Karen Thomas, Margaret Green, Dan Davison, Peggy Burrough, George Guenther, Heather Stein, David Anderson, Michelle Ancianux, Patty Bourne, Mark Kloepper, Jim Peterson, Kathryn Lehmann and John Walk.
Pepper Music at Ted Brown, Tacoma, took over as supplier for all music read at the session. Pat Howland led the Pepper team.
The 2002 Leadership and Service award went to Twyla Brunson. Twyla was a huge contributor to the planning of the format for the SI, among her other roles in leadership in ACDA…including a two year term as president of the NW Division. Her outstanding choral work was at the Junior High/Middle School level.
Anton Armstrong, Professor of Music at St. Olaf College and conductor of the famed St. Olaf Choir, was the WA ACDA Summer Institute guest clinician in July, 2003.
Unfortunately, records on who, from among the ranks of Washington leaders, presented the reading sessions could not be found.
President Leslie Guelker-Cone’s article regarding the session said: “Talking about music “as a means of grace in other people’s lives, Dr. Anton Armstonrg…graced us with his participation…This year’s event…drew a record 170 participants.” Leslie thanked past--President Judy Herrington, Linda Hamilton, President-Elect, and the entire board. She also had high praise for the work of Rob Dennis, Treasurer, and George Guenther for their work on registration and housing.
The year’s Leadership and Service award went to Peggy Burrough. Long noted for her outstanding work with Jr. High choirs, Peggy had just recently retired after directing music at Puyallup High School.
The 2004 SI opened for registration on Wednesday, July 28th. Edith Copley, from Northern Arizona University, was our guest clinician.
Leslie Guelker-Cone, Bellingham, was president in 2004 and Linda Hamilton, program chair.
Presenters included Kristina Ploeger, Multi-cultural music, Priscilla Baldock, women’s music, Steve Goodenberger and Gary Cannon with sacred music, Kelly Kunz and Teresa Fraser, vocal jazz material, Leora Schwitters and Richelle Tripp with Jr. High/Middle School music, Judy Herrington, elementary choirs, Dave Dickerson and Ann Brueggemeier, presenting high school materials, and Kurt McKee, Josh Viles, and Matt Carey leading new songs for male voices. Paula Herd and Kathryn Lehman presented the college/university packet.
Rob Dennis, who served as treasurer for several years, had the emotional honor of presenting the 2004 Leadership award to his father, Paul Dennis. Paul was noted for his superb choral work first in Longview at Mark Morris High School, but most of his career was spent at Walla Walla High School where he continually impacted lives and developed some amazing choirs for well over 20 years. He was a lifetime ACDA member and also served WMEA in several roles.
Other ACDA sponsored events continued to be presented. A workshop for Children’s Music Specialists was held October 9, 2004, at Bethel Lutheran Church in Shoreline, Washington. Kelly Foster Griffin, past-president of the NW Kodaly Educators, was the clinician.
Dale Warland headlined the 2005 Summer Institute.
A complete list of institute reading session leaders was unavailable for 2005.
A “new twist,” as Program Chair, Linda Hamilton called it, featured a “Jazz Interaction Night.” It offered a change to experience jazz with a live combo, along with a teaching demonstration by Janet Reiter and Judy Filibeck.
Scott Peterson, choral director at Yakima Community College for 29 years, was awarded this year’s Leadership and Service plaque. Scott has served ACDA in many capacities, most recently as state president. He was president-elect for the NW Division at the time of this award and was in the middle of preparations, as program chair, for the NW convention coming up in Portland in 2006.
Scott, who was in Fairbanks, Alaska leading a choral workshop, wrote: “I thank my colleagues in the Washington Chapter of ACDA for this honor. To be recognized by one’s peers is a precious thing and I am truly grateful.”
Planners, including President Linda Hamilton, stayed a little closer to home in choosing the headliner for this year’s session. Sharon Paul, who is choral director at the University of Oregon, clearly demonstrated that excellence in developing great choirs is a NW tradition and expectation.
Jennifer Price of Granite Falls and Rebecca Rottsolk presented elementary choir music. Planners went to Oregon, too, for Loren Wenz, Newberg, to lead the reading of collegiate level music. Loren was joined by Robert Bigley of Shoreline Community College. James Browyer presented music for women’s voice, while Dan Jackson led the reading of male chorus literature.
High school material was presented by George Guenther and Ben Keller. Ken DeJong and Jason Anderson conducted the sacred music reading session. It was Ken Riggs and Pam Nordquist for Middle School/Junior High materials.
Sheri Erickson and Frederick Lokken directed participants in music for community choirs and Tom Almli led the jazz session.
The recipient of the 2006 Leadership Award was Judy Filibeck. Judy was state president of WA ACDA in 1981. She has been an active ACDA leader for over 25 years.
The leadership, with Leora Schwitters as president, of ACDA again ventured to the eastern side of the country for the 2007 clinician, Z. Randall Stroope. Stroope is well known for his wonderful compositions for choirs. His packet of reading materials had a number of his pieces. They were well received and it’s a safe assumption that many NW programs feature Stroope compositions in 2007-2008.
The multi-cultural session was led by Russ Seaton and Kristina Ploeger. Anthony Giles and Matt Carey directed music from the high school packets. Ron Mallory and Norma Aamodt-Nelson took care of the sacred music materials.
Connie Branton, from Boise, Dawn McCormick and Georgina Philippson led participants in music for middle school and junior high school students. Paul Schultz and Mark Kloepper directed community choir music.
It was Nick Anderson with vocal jazz materials, while Sue Green and Shari Anderson did elementary choir literature.
Music for men and for women was presented by Linda Short and Rafe Wadleigh, while Megan Oberfield held a session on Kodaly in the Choral Context.
The winner of this year’s Leadership and Service Award was Neil Lieurance, former director of choirs at Shorecrest High School. While retired from full time choral work, Neil still conducts choirs at Seattle Pacific University. Readers will note that Neil’s name has been connected with ACDA from the time the organization began in this state. He was particularly active in the Puget Sound Choral Conductors Guild and, as noted previously, helped in the merging of that group with ACDA.
Summing it up
WA ACDA has apparently found a format, a time, and a place for meeting the needs of choral directors. The organization's Summer Institute, while the main venue for serving members, is only one of the events and services provided by the association. For lack of documentation, many workshops and services may well have been omitted in the writing of this history of the organization. If member readers can provide this material, please send it to Howard Meharg, your ad hoc historian. History will be “revised” to accommodate additional information as it comes in.
In the meantime, the SI has become nationally recognized as a wonderful way to learn more about the job of a choral conductor and a superb venue for finding wonderful literature for use by choirs of all types. The friendly atmosphere, great weather, and the wonderful facilities and hospitality of the University of Puget Sound contribute immensely to the success of the event.