From the President (Apr. 11, 2010)

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you all will be able to read this entire message, because there are many things going on in our organization that need to be recognized, and many individuals that go far beyond the call of duty to make sure that singers are getting quality experiences. And many of our members are the individuals that are going this extra mile!

This Friday and Saturday it was my privilege to observe and be a part of the annual Children’s Choir Festival, sponsored each year by our ACDA organization. During these two days I saw teachers come together to provide an experience for young singers of a very high quality. The festival is essentially organized and run by Susan Cherry of the St. Johnsbury School; Susan is also our Children’s Choir R & S Chair at the Executive Board level. The amount of effort and personal time that Susan spent in the organization and execution of this event is worthy of mention, as are all the music educators that sent students and than attended the event, observing rehearsals and pitching in to help. We all should feel immensely privileged to have these outstanding music educators among our ranks: Lisa Finlayson of Proctor Jr./Sr. High School, Joan LaClair of Bellow’s Fall Middle School, Allyson Ledoux of Charlotte Central School, Becky Luce of the Upper Valley Music Center and Meriden UCC in New Hampshire, Lisa Robar of Woodstock Union High School and Middle School, Melissa Towle of BFA Fairfax, Kate Ullman of Newfane, Jamaica Village, Windham Elementary and Leland & Gray Middle Schools, and Connie Wilcox of Black River High School and Middle School. These musicians need to be recognized for their personal effort in both their schools and also for their willingness to give up a weekend for the sheer pleasure of seeing their students have a high quality choral experience.

These students prepared a program of quality choral literature under the direction of Christine Jordanoff, a Children’s Choir specialist of international stature. This wonderful musician and human being brought to this Festival a wealth of experience and expertise, and there is no doubt in my mind that these young singers left better musicians than when they arrived. Special note should be made of Diane Chartrand and excellent accompanying and playing skills. I simply cannot say enough to properly convey to all of you what a truly wonderful experience this is; the only thought that comes to mind at the moment is why more of our choral music educators in the state are not participating in this truly worthwhile event? There is every reason for our ACDA Choral music educators to be doing so, and I hope that more will come aboard next year. Check out the attached program if you are curious.

Some asides of the festival are in order. I mention these things because they are important things that always happen at these kinds of events. First, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Rutland is a truly beautiful sanctuary and acoustical space, and this place of worship is truly blessed to have a musician like Lori Routhier as one of a team that serves the church in the music ministry. Beyond her work as a musician, Lori was incredibly committed to hosting this event and worked tirelessly on behalf of Vermont ACDA and the Children’s Choir Festival. She and some of her church community (Michelle and Suzanne Savageau, Donna Kinnie, Lois Jacubetz and Karen Stanton) worked tirelessly preparing food for the students and working for the greater good of the students. Lori in particular is a blessing to this church and to the religious community that she serves here, and Vermont ACDA is so lucky to have her as one of our R & S Chairs. I was also treated to a short demonstration of their fine pipe organ by their organist Richard Brown; he was only too happy to share his love of the instrument with me, and his playing was so wonderful to hear and observe. I have written about my passion for the organ earlier this year, and so it should come as no surprise that I cannot resist the temptation to tell you about it. Some of you might like to know that this instrument started out in the late 1800’s as a new Hook and Hastings installation, was later replaced with another instrument by the Estey Organ Company, and was most recently rebuilt by Stephen Russell. It is a magnificent instrument in this particular resonant acoustical space, and Mr. Brown is one more reason why Immaculate Heart of Mary Church should be proud to have such a wonderful music team to lead their music ministry. Richard Brown may be giving a solo recital on this instrument in the fall, concentrating on orchestral transcriptions for organ, and I for one plan on being there when it happens! I will let you all know when it does.

In closing, I must take a few moments to mention that much has been happening in the ACDA collaborative world. Several weeks ago Karen Jordan and her Middle School and High School Choirs gave a fine performance in conjunction with Nat Lew and his St. Michael’s College Choir; each of the choirs performed individually and than combined for one selection. This kind of collaborative venture is what I like to see happening amongst our colleagues. Another event several weeks ago was a performance of three college choirs in a joint venture where each choir performed individually and than collectively in Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.” Congratulations are in order to Nat Lew of St. Michael’s College, Sherrill Blodgett of Castleton State College and Jeff Buettner of Middlebury College.

Allyson Ledoux and Carl Recchia also recently combined their men in rehearsals and a culminating performance (just men!) in a mentoring experience with the men of Champlain Valley Union High School and Allyson’s young male singers from Charlotte Central School. This collaboration may very well spawn an ACDA sponsored event in the future for male singers, but Carl and Allyson should be congratulated for their initiating effort in this arena. My understanding from Allyson is that it was a very worthwhile and inspirational undertaking for her young male singers!

Dawn Willis and her Bella Voce Singers recently performed the Vivaldi “Gloria” with the Burlington Chamber Orchestra that was very successful indeed; I have heard many wonderful comments about that performance.

Larry Gordon and his group gave a wonderful performance at the Philadelphia Convention that was well received and well attended. I had not heard the group prior to this performance and was delighted to hear their repertoire and listen to their obvious delight and commitment as they performed.

I am quite sure that I may have forgotten a few other things that have happened in the last few months that have been initiated by Vermont ACDA members. But this should be enough for me to venture a statement: Vermont ACDA is alive and well, but still in need of more energy from the membership! In fact, membership is still an issue for me, and I IMPLORE all of you to work diligently at building our membership. It simply is not enough for all of us to give this lip service. We need to INVEST ourselves in the process of building this organization to unheard of numbers! This year we have delivered a highly successful Madrigal Festival for High School students, a Children’s Choir Festival of high quality, and organized and offered a Community Choir Festival that was not initially embraced by our Community Choirs this year but will be offered again next year. We will also be offering a Church Music event next year as well as a conference in September. We NEED your support and we NEED your participation to make these efforts successful and feasible in the future! Until than, I look forward to serving you as President; I take great pride in your accomplishments and wish to represent you in the best way I know how.

Most Sincerely,

Frank Whitcomb

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