Leadership and Service Award

The recipient of the Washington ACDA Leadership and Service Award embodies the qualities associated with this honor: the conductor of outstanding choirs, programmer of a wide variety of high quality literature, an inspiring and effective clinician and adjudicator, an effective communicator, demonstrated loyalty and service to ACDA at the local, state, division, and national levels, and a model of strong character and integrity.

2016 – Lori Wiest

The recipient of the Washington ACDA Leadership and Service Award embodies the qualities associated with this honor: the conductor of outstanding choirs, programmer of a wide variety of high quality literature, an inspiring and effective clinician and adjudicator, an effective communicator, demonstrated loyalty and service to ACDA at the local, state, division, and national levels, and a model of strong character and integrity.

This year’s nominee continues to present artistic choral music with her choirs at WSU, through thoughtful and creative programming that is most worthy of consideration for national or regional ACDA conferences. Her touring choirs have performed regionally, nationally and internationally, with superb results.

Many of her former students have gone on to careers in the choral arts as teachers and performers and leaders in our ACDA organization. The quality of their commitment to teaching, singing and providing leadership reflect the outstanding training that they have received.

Lori remains active as a clinician and adjudicator in both NAfME and ACDA, in demand as an adjudicator as her colleagues know she will provide positive, clear insights and valuable strategies for improvement.
Dr. Lori Wiest recently finished six years’ service on the executive board of Washington State ACDA, in addition to service at national. She is a natural and effective leader, cultivating diplomacy through clear and timely communication, collaborative problem solving and a warm and gentle disposition. She has been innovative in her service and creative in the programming and organization of conferences. When she speaks, people listen. They know she will be kind and on the mark.

Please join me in congratulating Lori, the 2016 recipient of the Washington ACDA Leadership and Service Award.

2015 – Gary Weidenaar

The recipient of the Washington ACDA Leadership and Service Award embodies the qualities associated with this honor: the conductor of outstanding choirs, programmer of a wide variety of high quality literature, an inspiring and effective clinician and adjudicator, an effective communicator, demonstrated loyalty and service to ACDA at the local, state, division, and national levels, and a model of strong character and integrity.

Our recipient’s music background is diverse, including 15 years of teaching choral, instrumental and general music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in three countries. He holds degrees from Western Michigan University, Michigan State University and the University of Kansas. After receiving his doctorate, he served on the faculty in the School of Music at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for four years, conducting the Women’s Chorale, Men’s Chorale, Chamber Choir, and Vocal Jazz Ensemble, teaching undergraduate conducting and methods, and coordinated the Summer Masters Program. He then moved to the state of Washington where he currently serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, directing the select Chamber Choir and Women’s Choir, and teaches choral literature, methods, and conducting at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. “The program is characterized by a spirit of cooperation and mutual support among staff colleagues, largely because of his generous spirit and his operating philosophy.” The CWU Chamber Choir has been chosen to sing at 2 regional and 2 state conferences.

Dr. Gary Weidenaar is also the most recent Past President of the Northwest ACDA, where he provided leadership and creativity in the programming and organization of conferences. In addition to his life membership in ACDA, he is a member of the VoiceCare Network, and the National Association for Music Education. He served on the Arizona ACDA and the Northwest ACDA boards as Repertoire & Standards Chair of Youth and Student Activities.

Gary remains active as a clinician and adjudicator in both NAfME and ACDA, currently creating a curriculum to help improve listening skills and refine the ear of developing conductors.
Congratulations to Gary Weidenaar.

2014 – Leora Schwitters

The “Leadership and Service Award” for 2014 was given to Leora Schwitters on July 23rd.

In introducing Leora, Past-President, Lori Wiest said:

Our 2014 Washington ACDA Leadership Award recipient holds a Bachelor of Music, Summa Cum Laude, from the Yankton College Conservatory of Music in South Dakota and a Master of Arts for Teachers from the University of Washingto and is certified Level 1, Choral Music Experience (CME).

Before moving into the Kent School District in 1988, she taught in South Dakota, Wyoming and in Renton, teaching K-12 general, choral and instrumental music. Teaching at Cedar Heights Junior High in Kent for the majority of her 25 years in the public schools, her choirs performed at regional Music Educators National Conference and American Choral Directors Association conferences and, in the 2001-2002 season, with the Rainier Chorale in performing Orff’s “Carmina Burana”.

In 1993, Seattle’s KSTW TV honored her with a “Class Act” award for her work with junior high choirs. While she has retired from public education after 25 years, she remains the Artistic Director and Founder of the Rainier Youth Choirs and director of the Young Women’s Ensemble, Consonare, and Colla Voce.

She continues to remain active as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the state, and is a member of National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), where she has served on the Tahoma Chapter’s Executive Board and served as secretary and as president of the Green River Music Region organization.

In addition to ACDA, and NATS, she is also a member of NAfME, NW Kodaly Educators, and Chorus America. She conducted the 2014 WMEA Junior All State Choir and the Green River Music Region’s Honor Choirs in 2012 and 2014.

Within ACDA she has held many positions, including R&S Chair for Middle School/Junior High Choirs, President, and Treasurer of Washington ACDA, but her various roles as a volunteer within the organization seem boundless. Under her leadership, she developed the Outstanding Young Choral Director, now Emerging Choral Director, Award and the Outstanding Choral Director Award to recognize our talented choral musicians in Washington and she instituted the first WA ACDA board retreat following the Summer Institute as a way to allow a smoother transition of board members, more time to discuss the most recent Summer Institute immediately following the event, plan for the next event, and hold the traditional business meeting at the same time.

In her spare time, she and her husband Larry enjoy trail running and are avid birders.

Leora’s response:
I am so very honored and humbled to accept this award from the Washington ACDA. This organization has long had my loyalty and commitment even though I came into it well into my career. It thrills me to see so many young choral directors and future directors regularly attending Summer Institute and becoming members. There is such a wealth of knowledge and passion for choral singing among our members and they are eager and willing to share it.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have become a life member straight out of college, and used whatever means I could to attend state, regional, and national conferences. These conferences were where I got a glimpse of the possibilities and where I became inspired to stretch and grow artistically. I can honestly say that my membership and involvement in ACDA was the most important career decision I ever made.

I hope that others will take every opportunity possible to introduce yourself to other ACDA members, share your stories, observe, watch, listen, and then give back by become involved and uplifting each other. Together we will continue to grow and our singers (and the world!) will be the better for it.

2013 – Frank DeMiero

The prestigious “Leadership and Service Award” was given to Frank DeMiero.

Lori Wiest, out-going president of WA ACDA, presented Frank and outlined his accomplishments to the Summer Institute audience.

In part of her introduction she said, “His impressive resume is one with which we are probably familiar; but, let’s do the short version so that the picture of this great educator becomes clear. Frank went to Olympic College, EWU and CWU. He taught high school for nine years, then founded Soundsation, still a top Vocal Jazz group in the world, while teaching at Edmonds Community College. Frank and his family provided the Northwest with the finest Vocal Jazz Camp for 25 years and served more than 6,000 students and educators with the best experiences with which to return and share with their programs. Frank served as the Chairman of the Music Department as well during his long and successful tenure at Edmonds using administrative skills that he lent also to many professional organizations like MENC, IAJE and ACDA in important leadership roles.”

Dave Frishberg once called Frank DeMiero, “the Vince Lombardi of Vocal Jazz.” Anyone who grew up in Northwest Vocal Jazz, understands this comparison. I would assert, though, that I have even more redemeiro et alspect for Frank. Though Frank is an incredible professional, what is even more impressive is his personal, caring devotion to individuals and family.

Frank’s devotion to family is unwavering; and, everyone is Frank’s family. He has inspired more than one generation of students and educators with his endearing “Mama’s spaghetti” stories. Thank goodness five year-old Frank was trapped underneath an accordion until he learned to play it, or we wouldn’t have the musician who stands before us today. His metaphor to explain when something just isn’t quite right about taking a beautiful drive at sunset in a convertible Alpha Romeo … with your sister. … Those stories were so much more than entertainment. He takes whatever approach is necessary to help anyone who gets the chance to learn from him. With Frank, you always get the opportunity to find your true capabilities.

His impressive resume is one with which we are probably familiar; but, let’s do the short version so that the picture of this great educator becomes clear. Frank went to Olympic College, EWU and CWU. He taught high school for nine years, then founded Soundsation, still a top Vocal Jazz group in the world, while teaching at Edmonds Community College. Frank and his family provided the Northwest with the finest Vocal Jazz Camp for 25 years and served more than 6,000 students and educators with the best experiences with which to return and share with their programs. Frank served as the Chairman of the Music Department as well during his long and successful tenure at Edmonds using administrative skills that he lent also to many professional organizations like MENC, IAJE and ACDA in important leadership roles. It became clear that the considerable influence he had built by that time meant he could play an important role in supporting music education and educators as the Supervisor of Music for Edmonds School District for thirteen years. He was the Director of Vocal Jazz at UW for two years. Frank continues to help educators with his company, Sound Music Publications, through which he and Kenny Kraintz are able to channel their numerous gifts. Frank teaches (students and educators), adjudicates, clinics, conducts, composes and arranges. And still Frank continues to ‘walk the walk’ giving us the finest examples of Vocal Jazz and Choral music-making with his groups, Seattle Jazz Singers and Sno-King Community Chorale.

Frank has spent his life creating beauty and integrity in others. Whether it be through his choirs or the many honor groups he continues to direct, presenting fine workshops or providing fine literature, he builds us into better educators and better people.

2012 – Kris Mason

The 2012 recipent of the WA ACDA’s Leadership and Service Award was introduced by WA ACDA president, Lori Wiest. Here is Lori’s statement:

If you know this recipient well, several words come to mind immediately – friend, mentor, nurturer, humble, and spunky.

This recipient is well-accomplished in the field of children’s choral music. She began her adventure of building a thriving children’s choir program in the Seattle area in 1989. Under her leadership, this organization has grown and offers a quality, healthy choral education that reaches 200 children every year.

While being the conductor of two of the upper treble levels in her organization, she has also been a public school music educator and continues to actively serve in church music for over 30 years.

Her choirs have been invited to perform at regional and national conventions of the American Choral Director’s Association. In addition, she has served as a Washington State President of Chorister’s Guild and as Repertoire and Standards Chair of Children’s Choirs for the American Choral Directors Association in Washington State.

She enjoys opportunities to serve as a vocal music clinician and guest conductor throughout the region and is an advocate of music in children’s lives who has inspired many young choral conductors.

Her knowledge about creating a healthy, free, blended sound with her treble voices sets the standard. Someone of her accomplishments would have every right to brag, yet when you know her, you see the conductor’s spirit that we should all strive for. That spirit is the standard and is what many of us take away from being in her presence as she works with her kids, as she mentors other young choir directors and as she shares with all of us.

Our 2012 Leadership and Service Award winner is Kris Mason.

Kris Mason’s response:

I was blessed, surprised and overwhelmed to be the recipient of this year’s Leadership and Service Award. How do I begin to express my gratitude for this moment of honor and recognition?

For thirty five years I’ve enjoyed the great privilege of pursuing what I refer to as my calling in life: sharing the gift of music and the art of choral music making with children and youth, recognizing the transformative impact such work can have in their young lives.

Little did I know, in the early years, how crucial my relationship with ACDA would be in this lifelong pursuit. The American Choral Directors Association, and more intimately WA-ACDA, has been my primary source of inspiration, joy, friendship and education. It has provided the energy and creativity and support I’ve needed to “stay with” the daily-ness of serving my choral community with excellence. I’ve always had this valuable and trusted cohort of friends who willingly share their experiences and knowledge. These are the friends who have put the fun and the laughter back into difficult seasons and the friends who are at my side to celebrate the greatest successes of our work.

I cherish everything about the ACDA framework that is designed to support our dreaming and creating and growing. Thank you, WA ACDA, for this recognition.

2011 – Judy Herrington

The 2011 recipient of the WA ACDA’s Leadership and Service Award was introduced by Leora Schwitters, a past-president and now treasurer of the organization. Here is Leora’s statement:

The recipient of the 2011 Choral Leadership and Service Award grew up in Eugene, OR, graduating from North Eugene HS. After earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, this person went on to finish a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. After thirty some years of teaching and conducting, her school awarded her with the Inspirational Faculty Award and the Murray Foundation Chair for Teaching Excellence.

Further conducting studies continued under the tutelage of Rod Eichenberger and Henry Leck.

In 1991, she founded a community youth choir, which has grown to include seven choirs with over 200 singers. At this very moment, she is touring with the group as Artistic Director with performances scheduled in historic cathedrals in England and France.

She has directed honor choirs for the American Choral Masterpieces series, the Western ACDA Conference, and most recently, I had the immense pleasure of observing her conduct the Spokane Area Children’s Choir’s 25th Anniversary Festival Choir.

She is a Past-President of the Washington ACDA, serving as president from 2001-2003, and has also served on the board in the capacity of Children’s Choirs R & S Chair.

Through Pavane Publishing and Colla Voce Publishing, she has published choral compositions, arrangements and co-authored choral teaching texts. She also edits a choral series for Pavane Publishing.

I am pleased to award this prestigious award to my friend, a wonderfully gifted musician and teacher, whom we all know as choral director at Charles Wright Academy and as Founder and Artistic Director of the Tacoma Youth Chorus, Judy Herrington.

Judy’ response:

It is very humbling to receive this honor.

Washington ACDA is an organization that has given so much to so many.

It has given me professional mentoring and wonderful friends and colleagues. I will never forget my early conferences and the inspiration that came with it.

Washington ACDA has shaped my work, my teaching, my music. We truly have important work, that of inspiring young people and adults to learn to create beautiful music, recognizing and encouraging their passion for choral music and working together in a community of like-minded musicians.

It is important for each of us to continue to grow in our profession. This keeps our work both inspired and inspiring.

I hope each of you will continue your participation in ACDA for the learning opportunities it provides as well as to develop valuable friendships with the many remarkable musicians we have in this organization.

Our Washington chapter has a reputation for being generous and supportive of each other’s work and I have been blessed to have been a part of that generosity.

Thank you for this honor.

2010 – Richard Nance

The 2010 Leadership and Service Award recipient was introduced by Karen Fulmer, president-elect of the national ACDA and a former winner of this award herself. Karen said:

In a moment I will describe a number of qualities that makes our 2010 Washington ACDA Service and Leadership winner so deserving of this recognition.

But first of all I thought you might like to know a few things that aren’t listed in the bio – kind of the “insider’s scoop” on a celebrity. See if you can guess who this is:

Our winner:

Likes sushi,
Spends some spare time playing video games,
Knows what it is like to be the parent of teenagers,
Is a bit of a beer connoisseur,
Was raised outside of Washington state,
Is annoyed with choirs (or shall I say choir members) that sing out of tune,
Conducts choirs from youth to adults,
Set the alarm on Sunday mornings to make it to church choir practice on time,
And is the only person I know who can convincingly perform a serious Italian art song with a Texan twang.

Since arriving in Washington, our winner has received recognition at the state, division and national levels with choirs performing for both ACDA and MENC conferences. Our winner’s choirs have traveled internationally and also have been invited to participate in local elite performances such as the International Harp Congress and the American Masterpieces Project.

Our winner is a published composer with titles performed by choirs all around the world.

Service and Leadership go way beyond these personal accomplishments to serve the choral art. Our winner is a past Washington State ACDA president and as of July 1st, is now the Northwestern Division Past-president, who put together one of the finest division conferences ever offered this past March in Seattle.

He is a true artist, teacher, leader, mentor and friend to many. It is my great pleasure to present the Washington ACDA 2010 Service and Leadership award to Richard Nance.

Richard’s response:

I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to WA-ACDA for being named the recipient of the 2009-2010 WA-ACDA Leadership Award. This award means so much to me–since coming to Washington in 1992, I have made many great friends and colleagues through this organization. These people have been very supportive of me and my career, and I consider many of them to be my mentors.

WA-ACDA is a great community of musicians, but is first and foremost a network of loving and caring people. The collegiate contingent in which I work is a great example of this. There are tremendous choral programs at colleges and universities throughout our state, and though we as conductors are competitive with each other, we also genuinely care about each other. I believe this is a unique quality to Washington and is something you just do not see in other areas of the country.

This award is a wonderful surprise, and I cannot thank you enough for selecting me to receive it.

2009 – Leslie Guelker-Cone

Tim Fitzpatrick, R&S Chair for Women’s Choruses for WA ACDA, and a colleague on the staff at Western Washington University, presented this year’s Leadership and Service Ward to Leslie Guelker-Cone, Director of Choral Activities at WWU.

Tim said, ” I have known Leslie now for 13 years and have worked with in in many capacities. She has been a steadfast friend, a strong advocate and an extremely helpful mentor. I would not be were I am today without her support. She is dedicated to the ACDA community, her colleagues, her students and the choral arts in a way that one does not often see.”

Leslie Guelker-Cone is director of Choral Activities and Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Western. In addition to conducting the Concert Choir and the Western Voices chamber ensemble, she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in choral conducting and choral music education.

Her reaction to the award was, “what an unexpected and touching surprise to receive this award–I couldn’t feel more honored! The outpouring of love and support from all my ACDA friends and colleagues has been really overwhelming for me. I feel so fortunate to live and work here among so many wonderful people–including all the past recipients of this award–who have shaped choral music here in Washington in profound and important ways, and who have supported and encouraged me from the beginning. Thank you all–I am so grateful!”

Leslie is not only well known for her leadership in ACDA, she is recognized (literally) world-wide for her superb choral work. She recently conducted Western’s Concert Choir on tour in Eastern Germany and Poland; under her direction, the choir has sung at national and divisional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and regional and state conferences of the Music Educators National Conference.

She received her Doctor of Musical Arts from The University of Colorado, Boulder in choral conducting and literature. She has served as a Repertoire and Standards chair for the American Choral Directors Association at both the national and local levels and on the boards of both the California and Washington Music Educators Associations. She is currently the past President of Washington ACDA and is in frequent demand as a choral adjudicator, honor choir conductor, and guest clinician throughout the United States and Canada. Dr. Guelker-Cone received a WWU Summer Teaching Grant to assist her in the study of university choral conducting programs in Australia and New Zealand; current research includes study of the incorporation of the movement theories of Dalcroze and Laban into the teaching of choral conducting. She is a recipient of the university’s highest teaching honor, the Excellence in Teaching Award.