GATR 2019 Interest Sessions and Chamber Choirs

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Chamber Choir I: Eō e Kuʻu HawaiʻiJace Saplan
E hele mai, join us as on a musical expedition to Hawaiʻi nei. This set will celebrate sacred legends and places integral to the culture of Hawaiʻi. Participants will learn about the language, movement, and protocol intertwined with Hawaiian choral performance. 

Hawaiʻi Island Suite by Michael Springer 


Hole Waimea

ʻOiwi E

Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan serves as the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Dr. Saplan received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, his Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University-Portland, his Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting with cognates in Music Education and Ethnomusicology from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Known for his work in celebrating the intersection between Hawaiian music and choral performance, he is the artistic director of Nā Wai Chamber Choir, a professional vocal ensemble based in Hawaiʻi dedicated to the preservation and propagation of Hawaiian choral music. Under his direction, Nā Wai has commissioned and mentored emerging Native Hawaiian composers and conductors, toured throughout rural Hawaiian communities, and led workshops on the performance of Hawaiian choral music at schools and universities throughout the country.

Prior to his appointment to the University of Hawai’i and Hamilton College, Dr. Saplan served as the chorus master for the Frost Opera Program at the University of Miami where he prepared a number of contemporary works such as Golijov’s Ainadamar, Kuster’s Old Presque Isle (done in collaboration with the John Duffy Composer’s Institute and the Virginia Arts Festival), and a premiere work by Grammy-nominated composer Shawn Crouch. He also served as an instructor of choral music at Florida International University where he directed the FIU Master Chorale and taught courses in undergraduate and graduate choral conducting.

His work in preparing choruses and as a festival clinician are vast, resulting in performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Hall, The Oregon Bach Festival, Old South Church (Boston), Church of the Holy Trinity (Philadelphia), La Madeline (France), and the Harrogate Music Festival (UK).

Dr. Saplan’s research focuses on the performance practice of Queen Lili’uokalani’s choral compositions; multicultural perspectives in the choral rehearsal; intersections of choral pedagogy, gender, and sexuality in communities of color; and Native Hawaiian agency in music. His scholarship on these topics have also led him to lead clinics at the state, regional, and national level for the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators, National Collegiate Choral Organization, and the LGBTQ Studies in Music Education Conference. He is a frequent clinician and adjudicator for state, regional, and national conferences and festivals.


Chamber Choir II: Adult Treble ChoirStephanie Council 
Struggle and Strength
Selections for adult treble voices centering on a theme of finding strength, power, and comfort despite life’s struggles.

Cor meum – Hanne Bæverfjord

Truth – Andrea Ramsey

The Peace of Wild Things – Joan Szymko

Dr. Stephanie Council is the Director of Choral Ensembles and Lecturer in Music at Mount Holyoke College where she conducts Glee Club, Chorale, and Chamber Singers, and teaches conducting and independent studies in choral music. Her main areas of study include choral pedagogy, conducting, concert programming, and early music performance practice. Formerly the Director of Vocal Music for the Ponca City Public Schools in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Dr. Council is passionate about choral pedagogy at every age, specifically relating to the development of individual music literacy and collective sound building. Dr. Council serves as the adult treble choirs Repertoire and Resources Chair for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and is frequently called upon by colleagues for programming recommendations for women’s and treble choirs.

A strong proponent of new music, Dr. Council has commissioned and premiered a number of choral compositions in recent years. She is sought after as a guest lecturer for choral music education students and as a clinician for collegiate, high school and youth honor choirs around the United States. She was a finalist in the 2013 American Choral Directors Association National Conducting Competition. Her most recent engagements have been as a conductor with the 2019 Vermont Northwest District Honor Choir and as a faculty conducting fellow at the Summer Choral Festival at Westminster Choir College. She has served as a section leader for choirs in the United States and abroad and has extensive experience conducting church choirs and assisting with creative worship planning. Council has received recognition for her teaching including being named Best New Faculty by the Mount Holyoke Student Government Association and receiving the Helen DeVitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching award for courses she taught at Texas Tech University.

Council completed her doctoral studies in choral conducting at Texas Tech University. She holds a Master of Music in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and Bachelor of Music degrees in vocal music education and vocal music performance from Oklahoma State University. Whenever she is able, Stephanie enjoys singing with the Five College Collegium and Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble, and various pick up groups.

Chamber Choir III: Music in WorshipDawn Willis
Let All the World in Every Corner Sing – Ralph Vaughan Williams  

How Far is it to Bethlehem – James McCullough

Down By the Riverside – arr. Brant Adams

Dr. Dawn Willis is the Artistic Director and founder of Bella Voce Women’s Chorus and of Solaris Vocal Ensemble. Under her leadership Bella Voce has performed throughout the region, recorded six CDs and toured Ireland, Austria, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Scotland and Canada. With Solaris she has produced two CDs and performed across northern Vermont and in Quebec, Maine and New Hampshire.

Dawn holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Music from Arizona State University and Master’s degrees in Sacred Music and Choral Conducting from Southern Methodist University. She has served as the Director of Choral Activities at McMurry University and Iowa Wesleyan College and conducted choral ensembles at the University of Vermont, Arizona State University, and Iowa State University. She has conducted performances of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra. She has also prepared choruses for regional orchestras in Iowa and Texas, in addition to conducting numerous festivals, clinics, workshops, musicals, operas, and madrigal dinners throughout the Midwest, Texas, and New England.  Dawn has served as Chorus Director for the Green Mountain Opera Festival and as the Assistant Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. She has also served as Music Director, Choral Director or Handbell Director for churches of various denominations including United Church of Christ, United Methodist, Presbyterian, and American Baptist.

I(a) Moving Well, Making Music
Friday @ 12:10pm
All singers move for a living! Self-care and injury prevention for musicians begins with focused attention on body awareness for moving well. We will be incorporating principles of Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais and Yoga to better establish habits of movement that bring vocal freedom for all singers and conductors. Fundamental care of body alignment, ways of leading and facilitating movement to enhance musicianship for all singers will be included.

Beginning with a FUN basic physical and vocal warm up sequence applicable for all ensembles and conductors, we will then look briefly at basic body alignment principles and try several movement awareness activities. These will enhance rehearsals and performances for all ages and musical backgrounds. Handout packets will include diagrams, links to media examples and a PowerPoint slide outline.

SUSAN WILKES explores the many ways that we can learn and embody ANY STYLE of music with energy, focus and physical freedom. Her passion for making music accessible to all brings the fields of health, well- being and music education (especially singing) to multiple and diverse communities of musicians.

She earned a BA in Music Education and teaching certificate in Special Education from Westfield State College, and Master of Music degree in Conducting at UMass Lowell, as well as a Masters in Health Arts and Sciences at Goddard College.

Susan is a licensed practitioner in Body Map (kinesthetic awareness for musicians through the Andover Educators Assn.), plays live acoustic music for patients as a Therapeutic Musician through the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP),. She is also a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is a certified Yoga Instructor for both adults and children.

Susan has led public school choirs for more than 3 decades in Vermont and NH, and currently serves as After School Youth Development Outreach Coordinator for the Manchester (NH) Community Music School. She is a member of the NH NAFME, and NH ACDA.

I(b) Championing the Culturally Responsive Choir: Philosophies, Practices, and Programming
Friday @ 12:10pm
As our choral legacy continues to expand and welcome cultures and music from around the world, so must our pedagogical ‘map.’ Join us as we explore how our current models of score-study, lesson-planning, and rehearsal approaches can welcome global perspectives and frameworks that give voice to our repertoire and students in ways that are expansive, informed, and nuanced. Together, we will discuss the presence of multicultural repertoire in our programs, reflect on the pedagogical messages we send to students who do not often have the opportunity to interact with their culture in choral contexts, and ideate ways on how our work can serve as a change agent towards a meaningful, multicultural community in song.(see bio above)
I(c) Singing Beyond the Notes: Tools for Musical Engagement
Friday @ 12:10pm
Conductors are continuously developing a variety of manners to improve learning processes aimed at reaching high-quality music. Expressiveness in performance is becoming a basic expectation of teachers, conductors, as well of the audience. Expressive behavior on stage is, however, a skill to be developed and not a skill to be expected that all students will perform naturally. The session intends to provide a conceptual change in the way that teachers and conductors will approach the way of introducing music in rehearsals. Several studies are being developed concerning the impact that expressing emotions can have on the audience’s visual impressions as well as the impact on the technical quality of the musical performance and to the well-being of the performers.

The session is based on practical exercises and attendees will experience activities such as: facial muscles recognition through movements and the application of facial movements to feelings; body balance exercises to provide connection and understanding of the body and thus confidence to the performer on stage. The practical exercises are all based on concepts of Alexander Technique, Tai-Chi, and acting. Attendees will also be provided to experience tools to commit student to a critical thinking of the repertoire allowing them to connect the body experience to the intellectual aspects of the music making.

LETÍCIA GRÜTZMANN is pursuing her doctorate in conducting at West Virginia University dedicating her degree to the research of performance practices. Originally from Brazil, she received two bachelor’s degree: Choral Conducting and Music Education – singing emphasis. Letícia also received two masters’ degree: conducting and voice performance. Grützmann has a vast choral conducting experience having worked with choirs of all ages and several levels, from community, school, and church choirs to collegiate and professional choirs. As a graduate assistant at WVU, Letícia is currently the conductor and artistic director of the WVU Women’s Choir. At WVU community music program she holds choirs for kids from 4 -7 years old, from 7 to 10, and children from 11 to 18 years old. She has founded a choir of experienced musicians called Vox Principalis where she volunteers as a conductor. As a clinician, she conducted and taught the 6th Latin-American Itinerant Choir School, was coordinator of a recycling course for music teachers, as well as several vocal techniques workshops. Letícia’s research interests are performance practices, vocal techniques for choirs, gesture as an element of emotional communication, circle of communication among conductor, choir and, audience. 
II(a) Breathing New Life Into The Choral Warm-Up
Friday @ 3:40pm
Do you find yourself regularly going back to your favorite “go-to” warm-up during rehearsal? Are your singers fully engaged in the process or do they tend to go on autopilot during this time? Do you run multiple warm-ups each day and struggle to keep each session fresh, engaging, and new?

This session breathes life into the choral warm-up, providing practical examples of how to engage your choristers in the process. There will be discussion regarding the various types of warm-ups and what should be included in each warm-up session. Areas covered will include breath, vowel alignment, intonation, range extension, and articulation. In addition, attendees will learn how to design warm-ups that relate specifically to the repertoire being studied allowing for a more efficient use of rehearsal time.

Excerpts of choral scores will be examined from a variety of genres, time periods, and levels of difficulty. Challenges within the score will be identified and warm-ups that address these challenges will be suggested. This session is very interactive, allowing participants to experience the warm-ups. Whatever age group or level of choir, there will be something in this session that relates to every choir director, choral singer, and voice teacher. 

DR. KYM SCOTT is the Director of Choral Activities at West Virginia University where she conducts the WVU Chamber Singers, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, and the West Virginia Community Choir as well as teaching conducting, choral techniques, and choral literature. She has directed choirs in Australia, Asia, Europe, the UK, and the United States, including several performances by the USC Chamber Singers with The Rolling Stones in Los Angeles and Anaheim during their “50 and counting” world tour.

Dr. Scott regularly presents at state, regional, national, and international conferences and has conducted All-State and Festival Choirs. She is currently the state president for the West Virginia chapter of the American Choral Directors’ Association. In April, 2019 she will conduct the festival chorus at the Chorus International Festival on Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

Having worked with all age groups, Scott is particularly passionate about choral music in the community. She has conducted community choirs for almost twenty years, worked with choirs for the homeless, and currently conducts a choir at the Hazelton Federal Penitentiary.

II(b) Forever Young: Singing into the Golden Years with Grace
Friday @ 3:40pm
Ah, yes, the joys of getting older! Similar to that of our changes as we went through adolescents we will go through more changes as our bodies’ age. What do these changes look like? How will these changes affect our singing? Are there ways that we can age with grace and maintain vocally healthy habits? How does this apply to the conductors and directors of the ensemble? Through research, stories, and experiences this workshop will offer an abridged version of the golden years as we continue on our life’s journey. Warm-ups are a vital aspect of the singer’s daily experience. These simple exercises are more than just simple tasks to “warm-up” the voice. They lay the foundation for the rehearsal, the day, or even the learning of a new score. How? Through practice exercises, a small score reading, and chances to apply ideas, you as the singer and/or director will have the opportunities to try for yourself tools and tricks taught through the workshop. The warm-ups and exercises are ways to keep the voice healthy, keep the conductor knowledgeable of what is changing, and how we as singers can age with grace.Conductor, pianist, and singer Eddie Wilkin ( encourages all to find their artistic voice through music. Eddie is the Director of Choral Activities at Fair Haven Union High School, the Artistic Director and founder of The Slate Valley Singers, the Conductor for the Rutland City Band, and Music Minister at the Union Church of Proctor. While studying Music Education at Castleton University, Eddie was able to study conducting under the supervision of Sherrill Blodget and Glenn Giles. After graduating with a Bachelors of Music in Music Education, he went on to pursue a Masters in Choral and Orchestral Conducting from the University of Rhode Island where he studied with Mark Conley, Ann Danis, Gene Pollart and Brian Cardany. Eddie continued his studies with a second Masters of Music in Music Education at Castleton University, with a focus on the community chorus. As Eddie continues to finish the thesis, he is attending the University of New England as a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership with a focus on Transformational Leadership. Previous conducting appointments have been: Lakes Region Youth Orchestra, Grace Church in Rutland Vermont, and with The Philharmonic Orchestra “Mihail Jora” of Bacau, Romania. Professional appointments include President of Green Mountain Music District, VT-ACDA Student Activities Chair, and NEMFA- Choral Manager.
II(c) 21st Century Approach to Male Recruitment
Friday @ 3:40pm
This session is designed to address the challenges that continue to plague choral directors in respect to recruiting males for choral ensembles. The following issues will be addressed: musical self-image, social issues, gender identity, and the 21st century reality and its effect on the definition of maleness. Research based solutions will be discussed and dialogue with participants to address specific issues unique to their communities should be a part of this session. Dr. Nicolás Alberto Dosman is an Assistant Professor of Music, Choral Conducting and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. He is also director of the Community Chorus at South Berwick. He studied choral conducting with Dr. Dino Anagnost at Columbia University and Drs. André Thomas and Kevin Fenton at Florida State University (FSU). Prior to his graduate studies at FSU, he attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he received his B.M. in music education with a vocal emphasis. Dosman has travelled the world conducting and frequently presents workshops at regional and national conferences. He is in frequent demand as a guest conductor and clinician in Maine, New England, and Latin America. Dosman is also skilled as an orchestral conductor and has increasingly conducted choral-orchestral works. In addition to his academic and artistic responsibilities, Dr. Dosman is the Maine American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) president, ACDA Eastern Division ICEP representative and serves on the national board of the National Collegiate Choral Organization as Maine’s representative.
III (a) Yoga for Singers Workshop
Saturday @ 9:00am
This workshop is a hands-on, interactive introduction to proper alignment of the body using key concepts from yoga and yogic breathing techniques as they pertain to singing, and a dynamic application of these concepts to performance in a masterclass setting. The concepts of body alignment taught in yoga are extremely useful for singers as they encourage proprioceptive awareness and a tension-free stance.  The group will be led through a series of yoga postures specifically aimed at preparing the body to sing by eliminating tension and facilitating proper alignment. Pranayama breathing techniques will also be presented and are used to help singers become more aware of the movements of their breath, aid in developing breath control, and to help calm pre-performance nerves. 

Concepts covered will include:

Yoga stretches and poses that prepare the body for singing

Finding your best body alignment for singing (and for life!)

Centering the mind and body for performance

Pranayama breathing techniques to expand and connect to breath

Dr. Evangelia Leontis, soprano, has extensive experience on the opera, concert and recital stages. She has been featured on the operatic stage in roles including Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Frasquita in Carmen, and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, among others. Dr. Leontis won the Bel Canto Award in the 2015 Orpheus Competition, was a finalist in the 2015 Kentucky Bach Choir Competition, and a winner of the 2010 Greek University Women’s Club Music Competition. She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Boston University (MM), and UNC Greensboro (DMA).  Dr. Leontis currently serves on the voice faculty of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and previously served on the faculties of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, and Guilford College.

Dr. Leontis completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in Bali, Indonesia with YogaWorks and has a blog entitled Inner Voice: the Intersection of Yoga and Singing. She has presented this workshop at numerous schools and programs including the Boston Conservatory, the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, the Manchester Music Festival, the New Music School, Greensboro College, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. More information can be found at

AccompanistsCharles Madsen, Melissa Dickerson, Samantha Angstman
Accompanists for the All-Conference Choir and Chamber Choirs (rehearsal & performance)
Village HarmonyConcert on Friday, 6/28 @ 7:30pm
$5 at the door
FREE for conference attendees
Village Harmony, a non-profit, umbrella organization based in Vermont, promotes the study and performance of ethnic harmony singing traditions from around the world.  For more than twenty years, they have organized traveling teen ensembles each summer in New England and ensembles for mixed-age and adult singers in numerous foreign countries. Each Village Harmony ensemble develops its own unique sound with a different team of leaders.  All share common traits:  a powerful, natural, unrestrained, vocal sound; a remarkable variety of vocal styles and timbres appropriate to the ethnic and traditional music; and a visible, vibrant community among the singers and audience as they share in a joyful celebration of music.  

The twenty-four brilliant teen singers in the present ensemble come from eight states plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, and are led by Larry Gordon, Sinead O’Mahoney and Scott Sexton.  The three teens from Bosnia participated in the Village Harmony singing camp in Bosnia last summer, and Village Harmony has sponsored them to participate in this program. We have rehearsed intensively for a week’s residence in western Mass, and will now be touring for two weeks around New England.  The concert program includes an eclectic mix of traditional songs from South Africa, Ghana, Bosnia, Georgia, Corsica and Galician Spain, American shape-note and gospel songs, and a French baroque psalm setting,  Nisi Dominus by Antoine Charpentier.  Ensemble members will accompany some songs on fiddles, flute and keyboard.  Natalie Brierre, a Village Harmony alumna who has been living in Galicia in northwest Spain for the past three years leads the Galician song with dynamic rhythmic accompaniment by a chorus of tambourines.
Larry Gordon, founder and co-director of Village Harmony, brings broad experience in New England and ethnic vocal ensemble traditions, in baroque music and in folk dance.  Through extensive travel, he has developed an international network of relationships with people who conserve, perform, and teach these traditions. Scott Sexton is vocal music director at St. Paul’s School in Jackson Mississippi, and also conductor of the select, statewide Mississippi Girls Choir.  He has led several school trips to Ghana and participated in Village Harmony camps in Macedonia and twice in Bosnia.  Sinead O-Mahoney has performed with Village Harmony and Northern Harmony for ten years.  Now in her third summer of leading Village Harmony camps, she is also assistant conductor of the Boston area world music choir Boston Harmony.