Great Music Set to Great Poetry: NKE and WA-ACDA Winter Workshop

Submitted by Darcy Morrissey, R&S Children and Community Youth Choirs

On January 15 and 16, NKE, WA-ACDA, and 53 attendees kicked off the new year with an in-depth study, “Great Music Set to Great Poetry for Children’s Choirs,” guided by Pacific Northwest power-house composers Judith Herrington and John Muehleisen.

On Friday night we were privileged to sing our co-commissioned piece, “Silver Bark,” a setting of a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, composed by Judith Herrington.  Not only did our attendees get to take this piece home to their choirs for immediate rehearsal and performance, but also Judy walked us through her pedagogical journey that she took with her choristers on this piece.  It was a rich experience full of attendee input, Judy is such a gracious leader exploring the many ideas that we contributed to the composition and to pedagogical enrichment.
On Saturday morning, we were treated to warm-ups that prepared the mind, ear and body for the packet of 20 octavos, customized by NKE Board Member, Melissa Headrick.  As some of you may have heard, we then experienced a lock-down for 30 minutes since we were alerted that an armed suspect was reported near campus.  Thank you to quick-thinking NKE President Alina Stroh, we were coached in proper reaction to an active shooter and, to our relief the “all clear” was given without issue.  Melissa Headrick led us in “Sweetly the Swan Sings” a canon, that got us right back on track with lovely music making.
Darcy Morrissey then presented “10 Fun Activities for Building Chorister Understanding of Poetry,” much fun and silliness was had throughout.  Composer John Muehleisen shared his delightful Tilden Songbook, a lovely set of pieces for children’s choirs featuring the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson and Christina Rossetti.  We were in awe when listening to the Northwest Girlchoir recording of “Glory,” a piece they commissioned for their 35th anniversary.  Truly, John’s musical setting was beyond masterful, his text analysis showed us how deeply composers lean on poetic understanding before composing.
We do have extra octavo packets! If you would like to purchase one for $20.00, please contact Darcy Morrissey:

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