Join ACDA! reflections by Danielle Carrier

The Vermont ACDA chapter is a phenomenally supportive and collaborative community that I highly encourage all choral musicians to be a part of. In my first few months of teaching, after leaving my support group of college peers and faculty mentors, it was easy to feel isolated. I was used to having seemingly limitless resources for any and all things choral, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever find anything like that in Vermont. Then, my students and I participated in the ACDA-sponsored Madrigal Festival. Within seconds of walking through the door, I was greeted with hugs, warm smiles, and excitement to have a new teacher there. Once the students had begun rehearsing, all of the educators got together to discuss the festival. I was immediately impressed with the level of experience, expertise, and passion for teaching and music that I was witnessing. This, I realized, was my new support group.

Throughout my last three years as an educator, the individuals I met at that festival have been both peers and mentors, but more than that, they have become true friends. I know that I could go to any one of them, any time, with any question, and they would do everything they could to provide the help and information I needed. Upon joining the VT ACDA board, I realized that our membership extends well beyond educators, and that we have an enormous variety offantastic things to offer all choral musicians. I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to work with such an amazing community and I am proud to be a member of the VT ACDA chapter.

Danielle Carrier
Choral Director
North Country Union High School
VT ACDA Board Secretary


VYO choral mini-camp, Aug. 18-19, 2016

Choral Mini-Camp is the kick-off to the Vermont Youth Chorus & Chorale’s 2016-2017 season. This summer, we are welcoming ALL students with an interest in participating, even if they are not already a member of the VYOA. Choral Mini-Camp is a great opportunity to befriend fellow singers, work with accomplished instructors, and prepare your vocal chords for the upcoming schoolyear. Choral Mini-Camp takes place at the Elley-Long Music Center in on Thursday, August 18th & Friday, August 19th from 9am until 3pm. The $45 fee for non-members will be credited toward tuition if choosing to join our vocal ensembles this season. We encourage all students with an interest in singing to attend this super fun two-day Choral Mini-Camp!
click here for REGISTRATION form

ACDA/VMEA Fall 2016 conference

We are thrilled to announce this year’s ACDA Keynote Speaker, Cristian Grases. Joining us from the University of Southern California, Dr. Grases will be presenting three different sessions:

  • “Sing’n Move, Let’s Groove”
    In this interactive session we will explore techniques to incorporate body movement and body percussion in your choral rehearsals and performances using the principles of Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics with a modern twist. Come and explore the idea of involving your entire body in the process of singing.
  • “The Music of Latin America”
    There is an increased interest to discover and perform the music of other latitudes. Be ready to connect with the repertoire of Latin America. Songs from this large region of the world can be rhythmic and energetic, but also intimate and introspective. For all levels of difficulty, come and discover the fascinating world of Latin Choral Music.
  • “Latin American Rhythm in your Blood”
    Explore the world of Latin American Rhythms including the nuances, regional variances, and ways that will help teach these rhythms to singers.  Together we will discover the various instrumental combinations for each style. Unravel this eclectic world of rhythms in a fun and interactive workshop and take home a valuable wealth of resources and information.

In addition to Dr. Grases, the ACDA team has selected some outstanding vocal/choral sessions this year. The detailed schedule for the conference (including instrumental/general/technology sessions) will be released later this month, along with updated REGISTRATION.

Don’t forget that VT-ACDA members receive a significant discount on their registration, so be sure to join/renew right away. We look forward to seeing you at the Killington Grand on October 9th & 10th!


Ethnic & Multicultural Perspectives (July 2016)

A Foray Into Cuban Choral Music In Havana by Sherrill Blodget, July 2016

Trip to Havana, Cuba, and performance with Coro Vocal Leo

In May 2015 I had the wonderful opportunity to bring members of the Castleton University Chorale to Havana, Cuba, to collaborate with Cuban professional choir Coro Vocal Leo and their wonderful director Corina Campos.  Each choir learned repertoire from each other’s country.  I sent Wade in the Water (Moses Hogan) and Ubi Caritas (Ola Gjeilo), and (after a very long wait) received three Cuban pieces to learn:  Las Cuatro Palomas by Ignacio Piñeiro, arr. Electo Silva; Chanchullo by Ruben Gonzoles, arr. M. Pacheco and G. Hamilton, and the Gloria from Misa by Beatriz Corona.  I will briefly describe each of these below.

After traveling to Cuba, we rehearsed with Cornina and the members of Coro Vocal Leo in the Casa Victor Hugo in Old Havana. The rehearsal itself was a wonderful experience. Only a few of my students speak Spanish, and very few of the Cuban choir members spoke English.  Yet the groups melded right away and demonstrated the power of music to transcend language as we quickly put together the program, including learning choreography for Chanchullo.

The next day we met at the Museo de la Revolución  (Museum of the Revolution) for a dress rehearsal and performance. The museum is housed in the former Presidential Palace, home to Cuban leaders from the 1920’s – 1959, including Frank Batista.  Following the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro turned the palace into the museum to display the history of the revolution. We performed in the presidential ballroom – an exquisite room with a beautiful mural on the ceiling, chandeliers, and very live acoustics.  (wikepedia palace ballroom). It was also extremely hot, as there was no air conditioning and not much cross breeze.  Sweating was just one of many things we experienced during our performances and stay in Cuba. Another was the positive attitude of the Cubans when conditions were not perfect, or equipment malfunctioned or was missing.  During our stay we used one of the few good electric keyboards in Havana – it is shared among prominent music ensembles, and had to be rushed off immediately following our performances.  In the palace ballroom the electrical outlets did not match those of the keyboard and we did not have an adaptor. No one got worried about this, but rather set to work adapting the cord to fit the outlet with some extra wires. Many such stories throughout our time and performances in Havana!

Our performance featured each ensemble individually, and then the combined pieces conducted by Corina and myself. We were well received and thoroughly enjoyed performing and watching Coro Vocal Leo. My students and I were very inspired by the tremendous energy the Cubans brought to their singing. They felt the music with their entire bodies, and many of the pieces involved some kind of movement, if not specific choreography. Their tone and musicality was exquisite and the experience of collaborating with them was life changing.  Many of the singers, as well as Corina, came to watch our ‘solo’ performance at the Habana Libre Hotel later in our stay, which we really appreciated.

Later in the week, we had the pleasure of attending the Minnesota Orchestra performance of Beethoven including the Choral Fantasy at the Teatro National de Havana.  This was the first performance in Cuba of a United States orchestra in over 60 years, and Coro Vocal Leo was one of the choirs singing the Beethoven. Very exciting!  And it was wonderful to make a connection with this fabulous ensemble.

As the US and Cuban relations continue to open up and improve, I suspect much more of the fabulous Cuban choral music will be published and become more readily available. I encourage us all to check it out as this happens, as there is a wealth of music waiting to be ‘discovered’!

The Ensemble: Coro Vocal Leo

Founded in 1993, Coro Vocal Leo is a professional chamber choir directed by Corina Campos. They are well known in Cuba and have won a number of international awards. The ensemble is known for bringing their singing to life by adding theatrical choreography to many of their pieces.  Some links to hear them (of varying recording quality):

The Repertoire: 

We learned three Cuban pieces to sing with Coro Vocal Leo. Each of them is accessible to a solid SATB High School choir, college or community choir.  Getting the music is a bit tricky as none are published, but if anyone is interested, please let me know.

  1. Chanchullo by Ruben Gonzoles, arr. M. Pacheco and G. Hamilton.

chancullo, bailemos, gocemos   (Let us enjoy ourselves, let us dance, let us enjoy the party)

This is very fun piece SATB, a cappella piece, with very few words that are often broken into repeated syllables. It is about 2.30 long. The Cubans described this song as depicting a raucous party.  The music definitely portrays this – it is polyrhythmic, with each voice part depicting an instrument. While the individual notes and parts are not difficult, there are many syncopated rhythms, and it is a bit tricky to lock together.  The clave, which is the rhythmic foundation to most Cuban music, is woven into the texture and heard outright in the altos in the final section. Of course Coro Vocal Leo adds movement and dancing when they perform this piece – for an added challenge!

(See above for a link to hear Chancullo)

2. Las Cuatro Palomas by Ignacio Piñeiro, arr. Electo Silva.


Habanera no te canses de quere a tu sonero, Que si me olvidas me muero
Sin tus caricias no puedo vivir,

Nunca olvides niña Hermosa, Que al splendor de la luna,
Bajo pergola suntuosa, Eternamente me juras te amor.

Yo tengo cuatro palomas, En una fuente redoda
A todas le pongo agua, Todas beben su poquito
Ninguna se pone brava, Que Buena son mis palomas.


Habanera, do not tire of loving your sonero,
Because if you forget me, I would die without your caresses.

Never forget, beautiful girl, that by moonlight,
under a sumptuous arbor, you swore to love me.

I have four doves in a round font (fountain), I our water for all of them,
All of them drink a little, none of them gets angry. How good are my doves.

Las Cuatro Palomas is a cappella, has three distinct sections (A B C A), and is about 2 minutes long.  In contrast to Chancullo it is primarily homophonic. Set in c minor there are some interesting harmonies, and more text to contend with, and of course syncopated moments. Section C utilizes a traditional Spanish texture of solo duet over chords with an ostinato bass line. The duet can be sung by tenors or sopranos, though tenors fit the text better, as it is the sonero singing to his habanera (girl from Havana). The music perfectly depicts the playful and flirtatious text sung by the dramatic sonero.  (There are a variety of interpretations on youtube. This one is a bit faster than we took it with Coro Vocal Leo, but very expressive:

3. Gloria from Misa by Beatriz Corona. Beatriz Corona is one of the most well-known contemporary composers in Cuba. Unfortunately due to the separation between Cuba and the United States, not much of her music has reached the US.  I have only been able to find one commercial CD of her music (mentioned above). She has composed over 200 pieces for  choir and choir with chamber or full orchestra including eight masses, as well as some orchestra pieces. Many of her choral works are a cappella, and often set the text of Cuban poets.

The Gloria is set for choir and strings, and includes a beautiful tenor solo.  In E Major and mostly homophonic, it is tricky due to syncopation and some unique harmonies. All voice parts split throughout, and at the end.  (2 min, 45 sec)

Some of Beatriz Corona’s a cappella choral works are published and also recorded on the CD Aire Nocturno. These are well worth checking out!

4. Misa Cubana a la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre by Jose Vitier: in Novemeber 2014 the Vermont Collegiate Choral Consortium, with Castleton, Middlebury, St. Michael’s, and Johnson State College choirs, orchestra, and soloists, performed Jose Vitier’s Misa Cubana (getting in the mood for traveling to Cuba!). Though we did not perform this in Cuba, it is accessible and beautiful, and deserves mentioning. The full work runs about an hour, and includes twelve movements with the Latin ordinary of the mass (less the Credo) in addition to Marion hymns, and Spanish texts written by Vitier’s wife – poet Silvia Rodríguez.  Vitier, one of Cuba’s most famous contemporary pianists and composers, wrote the mass to honor “Our Lady of Charity” – the patron saint of Cuba. The music varies from a Baroque style Ave Maria, to classical, to romantic scoring reminiscent of film music. The textures of voices and orchestra change throughout, though often including Cuban percussion.


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in learning more about these pieces or would like a copy of Chancullo or Las Cuatro Palomas.


ACDA/ VMEA Conference 2015

The VMEA Fall Conference will be held at the Killington Grand Hotel and Conference Center on October 11 and 12. We are excited to inform you that Vt-ACDA has had the pleasure of working together with VMEA in carefully planning all of the choral sessions for this conference again this year.

We will be featuring the amazing Jazz vocalist and composer, Greg Jasperse, as well as providing workshops specific to vocal technique and repertoire. There are also sessions customized for the choral director of young voices. Please do not miss out on the opportunity to take great technique and repertoire back to your choral ensemble or classroom. There is something for everyone at this conference!

Come out and network with fellow choral directors and music educators of all specialties as well as enjoy the beautiful ambiance of fall foliage on Killington Mountain. Please view the entire schedule and additional information at
Registration is only $90 for active VMEA/NAfME/ACDA members!
I look forward to seeing you there!

~Kristin Cimonetti – President Vt-ACDA, Secretary VMEA


VT-ACDA teams up with the VMEA!

Mark your calendars for our fall conference, Oct. 12-13!
We are thrilled to be teaming up with Vermont Music Educators Association conference at the Killington Grand Hotel and Conference Center. With great speakers, workshops and reading sessions, plan to attend both Sunday afternoon & Monday and enjoy 2 days for the price of 1!

And you won’t want to miss our FEATURED GUEST, Elizabeth Nuñez, of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

Register HERE before September 30th and save $$$


Past Conferences *2013*

We welcome our neighbor, Canadian composer Donald Patriquin to this year’s Fall Gathering!

He’ll share with us thoughts about world music for our various types of choruses, as well a sampling of his own music for different ensembles — school, community, college.

With lunch provided for all as part of the registration fee, and closing the day with a reading session of different styles of new choral literature, we hope you’ll join us!

Date & Location:
Saturday, October 26, 2013

McCarthy Arts Center, St. Michael’s College (enter via the “south” entrance to campus, closest to the I-89 ramps)
Parking is available in the Faculty/Staff lot next to the Arts Center (no restrictions on weekends)
Campus map provides information.

Registration / Fees:
In advance: $40$15 (high school/college students)
At the door: $50$20 (students)
Even if you’re paying at the door, please register in advance to help our planning!
Please Click here for the registration form.

Schedule (as of Aug. 20, subject to slight variation):
9:45 – 10:15  Check-in & Registration & Refreshments in the Arts Center lobby
10:15 – 10:30  Welcome, introductions, group sing with Donald Patriquin
10:30 – 10:45  Special Program
10:45 – noon  Session 1: World and International Music for our choirs, with Donald Patriquin
noon – 1:00    Lunch (on campus)
1:00 – 2:15      Session 2: Learning about & singing several of Donald Patriquin’s compositions
2:15 – 2:30     Break
2:30 – 3:45     Reading sessions (Middle School/Jr. High; SATB <community/HS/College>; Church/Worship)
3:45 – 4:15     Group Sing with Donald Patriquin and wrap-up