GATR 2017 Interest Sessions and Chamber Choirs

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Chamber Choir I: Home and Heart Sandra Howard
This program includes selections by American composers centering on the human connection created by a sense of home and heart. Works include:
The Road Home – Stephen Paulus
Peace – Kevin Siegfried
Good Night, Dear Heart – Dan Forrest
Sandra Howard is an Associate Professor of Music at Keene State College where she is Coordinator of Music Education and Choirs. In May 2017, she traveled to Einbeck, Germany with the KSC Chamber Singers to participate in collaborative performances and a cultural exchange with Keene’s partner city and community members. Dr. Howard has worked with singers of all ages ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens. Her research has been presented at regional and national conferences for NAfME, ACDA, SRME, SMTE, and at the ISME international conference. She is the NH Music Educators Association Immediate Past-President, NH ACDA Treasurer, and serves on the Music Educators Journal Editorial Committee. Howard is the recipient of the 2017 NHACDA Choral Director of the Year Award. She lives in Westmoreland, New Hampshire with her husband and son. She summers in Caratunk, Maine where she leads outdoor adventures as a Registered Maine Whitewater and Recreational Guide. 
Chamber Choir II: Music of the Afternoon and Night David Fryling
A delightful mix of accompanied and a cappella works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Works include:
Sure on this Shining Night – Samuel Barber
Afternoon on a Hill – Colin Britt
Ballade to the Moon – Daniel Elder
David Fryling is Director of Choral Activities at Hofstra University, where he conducts both the select Hofstra Chorale and Hofstra Chamber Choir, teaches choral conducting, and supervises choral music education student teachers in the field. In 2014 David was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame as the “Educator of Note,” and in the fall of 2016 David was named a semi-finalist in both college/university and community chorus divisions of The American Prize in Choral Conducting.
David’s recent invitations include various all-state and regional honor choirs, master classes, workshops, and adjudications throughout the Northeast, and in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Utah and Alaska. He is also the founding conductor and Artistic Director of the non-profit eVoco Voice Collective (
Chamber Choir III: Of Dreams and Passions Jeffrey Buettner
Jeff will lead a set of treble-voiced partsongs  that warrant our attention, by composers of diverse backgrounds. We’ll sing:
I Want to Die While You Love Me – Rosephanye Powell (b. 1962)
All My Trials – Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947)
and one or two others!
Jeff Buettner is Director of Choral Activities at Middlebury College where he conducts the Middlebury College Choir, Chapel Choir, and the Bach Festival choir and orchestra. At Middlebury he teaches ensemble vocal music and conducting. Jeff’s research interests also include music of Ukrainian Roma (“Gypsy Choirs”) and choral music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Jeffrey is the founding conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Chorus and Concert Chorale. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Collegiate Choral Organization and the College Music Society. He was a Fulbright scholar in 2010 to the I. Kotlyarevski Kharkov State University of Arts in Kharkov, Ukraine where he taught American choral music and tradition, and conducting.
I(a) Creating Custom Scores of Choral Works – a quantum leap in speeding up the choir’s learning process David Castonguay
  • During rehearsal, do your students immediately mark all interpretive instructions into their scores?
  • Do students confuse the pronunciation of che in Italian with che in Spanish?
  • In French do some students continue to pronounce final letters that are silent (tout, mais)?
  • What about mixing up which “s” is pronounced as an “s” and which “s” is a “z” in any language?

Turbo charge the rehearsal process by efficiently conveying even the most subtle interpretive points of the conductor’s artistic vision through the production of a customized score.  Additionally, streamline the learning of pronunciation of all languages though the use of IPA as the lyrics in the score.
This lecture/demonstration will illustrate how each of us can easily modify scores using computer notation software and an IPA font to drastically improve a choir’s learning curve.

David Otis Castonguay is Professor Emeritus of Music, Radford University.  He retired in 2016 after a 42 year teaching career that included academic appointments at Radford University, Bemidji State University, the University of Connecticut and Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont.

The recipient of several Fulbright awards to teach master classes and lead performances of academic and professional choirs in Russia, Castonguay’s international experience also has included serving as a juror on choral competitions in Russia, the UK and the Czech Republic.

Castonguay’s career has included conducting high school and church festival choirs, conducting major choral works with orchestra and numerous presentations at NAfME and ACDA conventions.

In retirement, he continues to be active as a soloist, conductor and scholar.  His critical edition of Stravinsky’s Les Noces will be published by Musica Russica and a computer program is in development to train choral conductors in the detection of melodic and rhythmic errors in polyphonic music.
I(b) Ensemble Building Warm-up Techniques David Fryling
The Choral Warmup is an important part of every choir rehearsal. Traditionally a time to focus on posture, breathing, and group vocal technique, it is also an invaluable tool to transition your students “from the hallway to the rehearsal hall.”

However, the warm up is also–just as importantly–a time to (re)connect the group as an “ensemble organism.” Using diverse drills and exercises, we can remind our singers of the artistic goals and challenges before them. We can use the warm-up time to help build better individual musicianship skills and encourage more meaningful musical communication among the group members.

This session will explore multiple ways to approach this responsibility with a focus not only on physical warmups, but also on group “brain exercises.”

David Fryling ( is Director of Choral Activities at Hofstra University, where he conducts both the select Hofstra Chorale and Hofstra Chamber Choir, teaches choral conducting, and supervises choral music education student teachers in the field. In 2014 David was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame as the “Educator of Note,” and in the fall of 2016 David was named a semi- finalist in both college/university and community chorus divisions of The American Prize in Choral Conducting.
David’s recent invitations include various all-state and regional honor choirs, master classes, workshops, and adjudications throughout the Northeast, and in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Utah and Alaska. He is also the founding conductor and Artistic Director of the non-profit eVoco Voice Collective (
David has served as a guest artist on the conducting faculty of the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Choral Studies in Fredonia, NY since the summer of 2014. For the seven summers before that, Dr. Fryling served as Coordinator of the Vocal Artists program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, where he was conductor and music director of the World Youth Honors Choir and Festival Choir & Orchestra.
I(c) The Singing Culture of the Baltic Nations Bethany Plissey
Come explore the tradition of song and its high importance as a cornerstone of the culture of the Baltic nations Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. This session will include a basic overview and history of the UNESCO protected Baltic Song Festival tradition boasting choirs of up to 20,000 singers; some history of the Singing Revolution that was key to gaining independence (through singing) from Soviet occupation near the end of the cold war; a few recommendations of Baltic choral composers and resources, and will endeavor to explore some of the musical characteristics common in traditional Baltic songs. There will be an opportunity for group singing and an invitation to join the Johnson State College choirs in a special tour to the Baltics to experience the Latvian Song & Dance Festival in person during the summer of 2018. This session is open and accessible to choral singers, educators, and conductors alike, and provides an opportunity to gain some insight into the culture connected with some of our conference’s other Baltic offerings. Bethany L. Plissey is Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Johnson State College where she conducts the Johnson State Chorale and Chamber Singers and teaches courses in conducting, choral literature, vocal pedagogy, choral methods, and diction. Under her direction, the JSC Choirs have toured internationally in Canada, Spain, Austria, and Germany and are currently preparing for a tour to Latvia, Estonia and Finland in the summer of 2018. Ms. Plissey has served as a choral clinician and festival organizer in Florida, Georgia, Vermont and Wisconsin. Recently she appeared as a guest conductor (summer 2016) at the Bulgarian National Opera in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria where she conducted works for chamber orchestra along with performances of choral- orchestral works by Schubert and Vivaldi. Ms. Plissey holds degrees in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting from Indiana University. After teaching music for grades 6-12 in Atlanta, she took on doctoral studies at the University of Miami with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe where her research focused on the Practices of Choral Conductors in the Baltics and Scandinavia. She has traveled extensively throughout the Baltic region interviewing prominent composers & choral conductors, observing choral rehearsals and performances, and exploring the rich catalogue of choral compositions and folk music. Ms. Plissey also serves as the VT-ACDA R & S Chair for Colleges and Universities.
II(a) The Three C’s of Circle Singing: Creativity, Collaboration, & Community Stephen Paparo
Circle singing is a new way to infuse creativity, collaboration, and community-building into your school, church, or community music program. Made popular by ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin, it consists of improvisatory music making in an ensemble where voices are the only musical instruments. Singers stand in a circle; the leader creates a multilayered texture of musical patterns or ostinatos, which are taught aurally and sung repeatedly by each section of singers. Once the texture is established, the leader and others can improvise solos.
Circle singing blends improvisation and composition because it is a process of creating an entire musical structure that includes rhythm, melody, and harmony in real time, and involves the creation and refinement of musical ideas as the musical structure evolves. Circle singing provides opportunities for collaboration and shared musical leadership among its members. Singers of all levels can find appropriate challenges. Circle singing participation develops performing, composition, arranging, improvisation, aural, and theory skills, which strengthen choral ensemble musicianship.
In this interactive session, participants will:
(1) experience the excitement of creating circle songs;
(2) learn strategies for facilitating circle-singing activities in any choral setting; and
(3) expand their notion of music-making possibilities in traditional choral ensembles.
Dr. Stephen A. Paparo is Assistant Professor of Music Education and conductor of the University Chorale. He holds degrees from Michigan State University (Ph.D.), Syracuse University (M.M.), and Ithaca College (B.M.), and is a Guild Certified Practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education. He is active as a guest conductor and regularly presents at international, national, and state conferences. He is President-Elect and Student Activities chair for the Massachusetts American Choral Directors Association. His research interests include the application of the Feldenkrais Method to singing instruction, non-traditional choral ensembles, and LGBTQ studies in music education. He is published in Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, and Music Education Research, and Musicianship: Composing in Choir (GIA Publications). His compositions for beginning choirs are published by Alfred Music.
II(b) Reading Session: Sacred Music Jeff Rehbach
We’ll discuss and sing a variety of music appropriate for the concert stage or worship services, encompassing works written or arranged by contemporary composers. Selections (for SATB choirs and keyboard) will be drawn from repertoire that does not demand expert reading skills, yet is expressive and appropriate for varied occasions, such as Erev Shel Shoshanim (Josef Hadar); Oseh Shalom (arr. Ginberg); Requiem (Eliza Gilkyson, arr. Craig Hella Johnson); Hymn for America (a thanksgiving text arr. by Stephen Paulus); Morning Has Broken (with a new tune by Bob Chilcott); Blessesd are the Peacemakers (by Middlebury faculty composer Peter Hamlin); Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child (spiritual arr. by K. Scott Warren); and Let Everything That Hath Breath (an upbeat gospel arrangement by Jeffery L. Ames). Jeff Rehbach leads the Middlebury College Community Chorus and the Vermont Choral Union. For fifteen years, he conducted the Middlebury Congregational Church choir (and very early in his career, served as assistant conductor for the Sage Chapel Choir at Cornell University); he also directed the Middlebury College Chamber Singers from 1999-2007. He enjoys exploring works from Renaissance times to the present with his choirs. For more than thirty years, he has led Middlebury’s annual open reading of Handel’s Messiah.
II(c) Technology Tools for Better Practice and Assessment with Singers James Frankel
Whether you have a small elementary school choir, a highly competitive high school or collegiate choir or a newly found community singing or performing group you can probably say
that you’d like more time with your singers and to be able to spend that time working on “the
good stuff”. This session will introduce you to tools that you can use to empower your singers to
become more independent in their practice while also enabling you to easily assess and observe their progress. These web-based tools are accessible and easy to use for singers in elementary school through adult choirs and range from sight-reading practice to solo or ensemble repertoire rehearsal and assessment.
Dr. Jim Frankel is the Head of Digital Education for the Music Sales Group, and Director of MusicFirst. Previously, he was the Managing Director of SoundTree, and before that he was the instrumental and general music teacher for 15 years in New Jersey Public Schools. Jim is a widely published author in various state, national and international journals of music education.
He is the author of The Teachers Guide to Music, Media & Copyright Law, co-author of YouTube in Music Education, contributing author for Critical Issues in Music Education and co-author of Making Music with GarageBand & Mixcraft. In addition to his writing, Jim is a highly sought-after clinician and keynote speaker in the local, national and international music education community. He is on the Board of Directors for TI:ME and is the past president of ATMI.
III(a) Unpacking Brahms’ “Waldesnacht” Christopher Kiver
Brahms’ beautiful, lush setting of “Waldesnacht” is the audition piece for the 2018 Vermont All State Chorus. A wonderful work to engage your students with the music of a great choral composer, Dr. Kiver will guide participants through the audition portion – the first verse – by addressing the background of the composition and composer, key musical elements and issues relating to German diction. Delegates will be ready to hit the ground running in the new year helping students prepare this wonderful work. Christopher Kiver conducts the Penn State Concert Choir and Glee Club, oversees the graduate choral conducting program, and teaches classes in choral conducting and choral literature. He is founder and director of The Orpheus Singers and serves as Director of Music at the University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College. Kiver is a graduate of the University of London, Florida State University and the University of Michigan where he received the D.M.A. in choral conducting.
Choirs under Kiver’s direction have performed at state and regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and National Association for Music Education. He has taught at the Westminster Choir College Summer and Saturday Seminar programs, and appeared as guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator in the United States, Australia, China, and New Zealand.
A native of England, he has received numerous prizes and scholarships including a Fulbright Award, and the 2002 Sydney World Symposium Foundation Scholarship. In 2006, he was a double Grammy Award winner (“Best Choral Performance” and “Best Classical Album”) as a chorus master for the critically acclaimed Naxos recording of William Bolcom’s monumental Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
III(b) How and Why to Commission a New Work For Your Ensemble Matt LaRocca
Interested in a commissioning a new piece of music for your Choir, but aren’t sure where to start? How do you choose a composer? What is the timeline like? How much control over the work do you have? How much does it cost?
Commissioning a new piece is a rewarding and engaging endeavor for any group. It engages the community and creates a work of art that has a life beyond your own choir and can be shared and performed many times. This session will look at the benefits of commissioning a work for your ensemble and examine the details of a commission– what to look for in a composer, how to get the most out of the process, sample contracts and rates, different methods of funding, and more.
In addition, we will examine the key tenets involved in composing and arranging choral music. Choosing and working with a text, writing for each vocal part, and arranging and adapting non-SATB music to a choral setting.
Matthew LaRocca is a composer, conductor and educator based in Burlington VT. He is on the faculty of Saint Michael’s College and directs the Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra and South Burlington Community Choir. Matt is also the Assistant Director of Music-COMP, a Vermont organization that teaches composition to elementary through high school students and facilitates live performances of their music by professional musicians. Committed to new music and innovation, Matt is the Artistic Curator of the Vermont Symphony’s Jukebox concert series.
As a composer, Matt’s work has been commissioned by groups such as the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra. From 2007-2008 he was the Faculty Composer in Residence for the Montana State University Symphony. Artistic residencies include an expedition to the high arctic through The Arctic Circle organization and free improvisation residencies at schools in New Hampshire and California. He frequently performs as both a violist and a guitarist.
Matt attended Middlebury College, graduating with a B.A. in chemistry and music. He holds a Masters of Music from Carnegie Mellon University and a doctorate from Boston University.
III(c) Bridging the Gap Between Traditional Choir Settings & New, Creative Pedagogies Andrea Maas
The constant emergence of new creative technologies, supported by creative initiatives set forth by state and federal standards begs us as music educators to question whether or not we are serving the needs and interests of our students. Singers in particular, may be an underserved group of young musicians if they come to their musical experiences later in life and perhaps do have not received as extensive a musical training background as their instrumentalist peers. This session will demonstrate some fun and effective tools that choral directors can use to expand, – not replace – what takes place in the choral classroom. Engaging with music history, multi-media outlets, simple notation software and non-traditional notation tools can engage and motivate singers to find their unique voice in the context of your school or community choir. This session may be of interest to teachers looking to expand on their already successful concert work and to new or upcoming choral directors seeking ways to engage their young singers in an otherwise more traditional choral setting. Andrea Maas, Ed.D, has most recently served as the Director of Student Teaching in the program of Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she successfully completed her Doctoral degree in Music Education as of May, 2016. She taught K-12 music in Vermont public schools, founded and conducted community choirs with students aged 3-80 for over 16 years and maintained a private voice studio before returning to life as a student in NYC. Since then she has worked with undergraduate and graduate level students to develop skills, understandings and approaches toward music education in both the music and non-music classroom. Andrea’s musical training and teaching experiences include piano, voice, general music, choir, band, theory and musical theater. These experiences along with her work with pre-service teachers, continues to inform Andrea’s commitment to music education and vocal expression general daily curriculum, aesthetic education and teacher training. Her dissertation, “Musical Expression in the High School Choral Classroom” is now available online. Andrea is the Director of Curriculum at MusicFirst in NYC.