Gather at the River 2021 Online- A Recap of the Day

“Composer to Conductor: From Score to Stage”

On Friday, June 25th, Vermont ACDA hosted Drs. Amanda Quist and Tim Brent at our bi-annual summer conference, Gather at the River. Because this year’s conference was online, we were thrilled to welcome participants from around the world to the event.

This year’s virtual conference focused on the collaboration between composer and conductor, and how to engage the composer’s spark of inspiration by exploring the synthesis between composition and performance. Singers and conductors were inspired by new methods and skills with which to explore their musical endeavors.

The workshop ended with a Conducting Masterclass featuring students from the conference!


Friday, June 25th 2021

9:30 – 9:50 AM Castleton University Graduate Course Meeting                                       

10:00 – 10:30 AM Welcome Presentation and Warmups

Dr. Quist will lead the group through her warm-up sequence based on Body, Breath, Tone, Intonation. Dr. Brent will lead the group in some basic improv exercises you can use every day.

10:35 – 11:20 AM Dr. Brent presents ‘Cross-Genre-Composing and Performing Vocal Music’

11:35 AM – 12:20 PM Dr. Quist presents ‘Love the Process – Building the Choir from the Score’

In both sessions participants will dive deep into Dr. Brent’s ‘Peace Song’ and ‘Threads of Joy.’ Dr. Brent will begin by leading us through his inspirations for these pieces and Dr. Quist will guide us in a process to bring the composer’s inspiration to life in performance.

12:20 – 1:15 PM Lunch with breakout rooms for folks to eat together and catch up

12:45 PM Breakout room Round Table Discussions begin

image“Commissioning Music for Worship” – Professor Tom Shelton from Westminster Choir College will lead a discussion about commissioning music for use in religious settings. He’ll bring ideas for people starting the commissioning process to think about, and participants are encouraged to share their past experiences to contribute to the discussion.

margiesbestpic“Composer’s Round Table” – composer Marjorie Halloran.

Join contemporary composers for an informal discussion about the collaborative and creative processes involved in bringing a piece from conception and inspiration through to performance. 

Susanne Norwood“Meet and Greet” Round Table with Susanne Norwood

Incoming Vermont ACDA President, Susanne Norwood will host our meet and greet Round Table. Join us in catching up after a long and intense year of remote singing!

1:20-2:05 PM Dr. Quist presents ‘Repertoire for Success’

Dr. Quist will lead participants through a selection of varied repertoire designed to inspire success and musical growth; includes programming, teaching strategies, and opportunities to sing!

2:10-2:55 PM Dr. Brent presents ‘Getting started with Vocal Jazz’

Participants will find starting points in studying vocal jazz by diving into Dr. Brent’s arrangement of ‘Both Sides Now’ and other tips for vocal music educators at any level.

3:10-4:50 PM Conducting Masterclass 

Participants in conducting lessons will work with Dr. Quist and Dr. Brent on conducting in the spirit of rejuvenation. This session will spark inspiration as we return to our new normal in the fall!

4:50 – 5:00 PM Wrap-up

Additional Information

Caleb Pillsbury, VT-ACDA President


Biographies of Dr. Amanda Quist and Dr. Tim Brent

Dr. Amanda Quist

Dr. Amanda Quist is the Director of Choral Activities for the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. She directs the graduate program in Choral Conducting and is conductor of the award-winning Frost Chorale. Under her direction, Frost Chorale has been invited to perform with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas, and to record the music of Elaine Hagenberg for the composer. Dr. Quist was previously Chair of the Conducting, Organ, and Sacred Music Department, and Associate Professor of Conducting at Westminster Choir College. She is the recipient of Westminster Choir College of Rider University’s 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2018 Mazzotti Award for Women’s Leadership, and she is the Carol F. Spinelli Conducting Fellow.

Dr. Quist was recently invited to be a conductor for the ACDA International Exchange Program, clinician for the 2019 ASPIRE International Youth Music Festival in Australia, juror for the Penabur International Choir Festival in Indonesia, and clinician for the Interkultur International Choral Festival. Her ensemble, Westminster Kantorei, won the 2018 American Prize in College & University Choral Performance, has performed at the American Choral Directors Association’s (ACDA) Eastern Division Conference, Boston Early Music Festival, American Handel Festival, and Interkultur. The choir released its first commercial recording in 2017, Lumina, distributed by Naxos, which was hailed by as a recording “sung with great beauty of sound and excellent articulation… a CD to cherish” and by National Medal of Arts recipient Morten Lauridsen as “superb, a splendid recording, highly recommended.”

During her work with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Dr. Quist collaborated with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Dresden Staatskapelle. She has served as Chorus Master for the Philadelphia Orchestra Chorus and the Spoleto Festival. As Chorus Master for the premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s opera Matsukaze at the Spoleto Festival USA and the Lincoln Center Festival garnered praise from The New York Times and Charleston City Paper, who described the chorus’ performance as “beautifully prepared, gripping,” a “gossamer web of voices” and “bridging the vocal and instrumental textures with perfect intonation.”

Dr. Quist was Director of the Westminster Vocal Institute, a highly regarded summer program for talented high school students, and Director of Choral Activities at San José State University. Her other honors include the James Mulholland National Choral Award and the Audrey Davidson Early Music Award. An active guest conductor and clinician, her recent and upcoming appearances include the NAfME All National Honor Choir, All State High School & Collegiate Honor Choirs throughout the country, and serving as a headliner for music conferences in the US and abroad. Dr. Quist is the National ACDA Repertoire & Resources Coordinator for Collegiate Activities, and her choral series is published through Walton Music.

Dr. Tim Brent is a musician who’s work is “beautiful, awe-inpspiring and strikingly original” (Arts Atlanta). The recipient of 9 DownBeat Magazine awards as a vocal jazz educator, pianist, arranger and performer, he is currently a Lecturer at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami having most recently held the position of assistant professor of popular music studies at Westminster College of the Arts of Rider University. Tim is active as a composer and performer and works regularly as a vocalist and pianist. He has performed and/or recorded with such names as, Bobby McFerrin, Mel Torme, Ingrid Jensen, Brian Lynch, Ed Calle, Dick Oatts as well as latin Grammy award-winner Obie Bermudez.

As a composer Tim’s works are best described as “wonderfully energetic” (Charleston Post and Courier). He has had compositions, arrangements and orchestrations premiered by such groups as the Westminster Choir, the West Shore Chorale, State University of New York Pottsdam, Kansas State University and Western Michigan University Gold Company.

As an educator, Tim has held positions as the director of vocal jazz studies at the University of North Texas, The University of the Arts, Northern Illinois University, and Miami Dade College. He is currently the Eastern Division American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Repertoire and Resources Chair for Commercial/Contemporary music and serves on the board as the Higher Education Co-Chair for the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education (NJAJE).

Tim received his bachelors degree in choral music education from Western Michigan University where we studied with iconic vocal jazz educator Steve Zegree. He earned his masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Miami where he studied with the legendary jazz educator Larry Lapin.

As a guest clinician and artist, he frequently works with high school and college vocal groups around the country. Tim has presented interest sessions at state music education conventions, the Eastern Division National Association for Music Education (NAfMe) Conference, as well as the National and Southern Division ACDA conferences.

In 2017 Tim released is first solo album On the Sunny Side. This collaboration with 12 talented and gifted artists resulted in ten original, creative and unique interpretations of the jazz standard repertoire.

His music can be found in the Vocal Music Store and is also published by GIA PublicationsSound Music Publications, Sheet Music Plus, and MusicSpoke.