Articles by our officers and R&S Chairs

Hail and Farewell

by Solveig Holmquist, President, NW ACDA (June 22, 2012)

It fholmquisteels so good to be handing over the NW Division reins to Gary Weidenaar! He’s assembling his team as I write this,
and both he and President-Elect Designate Patrick Ryan, along with our NW Treasurer Carol Stewart-Smith, just returned from the National Leadership meeting, so I know they are fired up and ready to go. Those meetings are always inspirational and motivating, especially now that so many exciting and improving changes are in the works for ACDA as a whole.

It really was a success story
Before I talk aboquote1ut that, though, I do want to report that we can be really proud of our recent NW Conference in Seattle on every level: that is, with all the accounting and final bills paid, we now know that not only did we not lose money (well, it’s happened, sometimes!) but we have come out with a healthy bank balance.  I’ve felt so gratified at the artistic, educational, and attendance successes, but have held my breath about the money part of it.

We had worked very hard to prepare a realistic conference budget, but there were the inevitable surprises, of course. You can’t predict the nature of those, or they wouldn’t be called surprises! Anyway, we covered those exigencies and still emerged very comfortably in the black. And notably, this was accomplished without being connected in any way to the Honor Choir budget, which was its own separate account.  This may be a first.

Furthermore, in this final “State of the Division” address, I am happy (nay, astounded) to report that NW ACDA has met both of the past 2-year series of operating expenses, despite the change made at the national level not to issue $5000 to each division to help with conference costs! We are healthy AND independent!

The reason has a namestewart-smith
Let’s be very clear about the reason for this: her name is Carol Stewart-Smith, and as long-time treasurer for the division she has held our feet to the fire for years. She’s very nice about it all, but the will of steel is always present, as every past NW President will agree. We are extraordinarily lucky to have her (unpaid!) expertise in that position, particularly in light of the fact that a few years ago it was declared that ALL ACDA treasurers should have term limits, and that her term was more than expired. The understandable motivation for such a national decision was fear of abuse of knowledge and power in that vital position.  However, you should know that we in the NW Division simply refused to give her up! There were eloquent pleas made, reason prevailed, and you see the result. It has paid enormous dividends for us to have Carol on the job, with the benefit of her institutional memory and friendly but pit-bull-like guarding of our business.

NW ACDA in good shape!
So that’s the first big reason I’m proud and happy to turn the reins over to Gary: we’re in good shape.

The second reason is that he and Patrick are not only at home with the fast-changing technological advances that are transforming and improving ACDA’s ability to connect to us alstolafl, but they are leaders! Gary has been using ChoralNet to improve and increase NW communication since he took the position of president-elect. The beautifully coordinated program for our 2012 conference is evidence of his technological expertise. 

Considering the changes that have occurred just since I became president-elect, I can’t imagine what things will look like in another four years! Believe it or not, when Karen Fulmer 2000-2002) and Twyla Brunson (2002-2004) were presidents, they laid out the conference program on post-its, which they shifted around their living rooms!

And my first communications were done with – gasp – letters on letterhead, which had to be obtained from the National Office!

Another source for our financial well-being
We in the NW Division were just beginning to take the Big Leap to an electronic newsletter. Aha! Here’s where we begin to trace the source of our healthy bank balance! Believe it or not, there are still states and divisions that spend hefty sums on print and mailing costs. And maybe there’s an upside to being relatively cash-strapped: we had to get serious about cutting expenses. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the NW has been the butt of jokes for our zealous “Save the Planet” beliefs.

One big proviso
I would just bring in one big proviso and plea to the excitement over all the big changes: can we please remember that the choral art is richest, deepest, and most meaningful when experienced live?

What YouTube performance, even if led by Eric Whitacre, compares to being actually in the audience, with others, while being personally moved by humans singing together? What CD can possibly rival the feeling you have when, following a stunning performance, you rise for a standing ovation with tears flowing down your cheeks? How terrible if the need for such connection fades away as more and more people just connect by texting?

In a recent New Yorker review entitled “The Disconnect”, Nathan Heller discusses
MIT psycholoquote2gist Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other” (2011). Turkle is “unsettled by kids who text in lieu of making phone calls, and by adults who answer emails during lectures,” and thinks that “technology is simultaneously drawing us away from social fulfillment and keeping us from finding solace in being alone.” Heller’s article continues with quotes from a similar study, “Together: The Ritual, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation” (Yale). Its author, Richard Sennet, argues that “cooperation is a skill – one that, until recently, all adults were forced to learn. Now that we’re losing challenging forms of interaction in the workplace and the school, we’re growing up without this training. A distinctive character type is emerging in modern society, the person who can’t manage demanding, complex forms of social engagement, and so withdraws.”

We in ACDA have the perfect means to temper this withdrawal tendency!  Each of us knows the value of the singing community. From the director’s podium we are uniquely positioned to witness the exact moment when an individual makes a discovery, or when a section grows with pride at having really mastered some beautiful passage. We see the singers in our choirs leave rehearsals with renewed energy, and we share that exuberance.

Please, don’t let this change. Help colleagues to know the personal benefits of ACDA membership, and keep encouraging them to join you at workshops, performances, and conferences.  Others have seen Alice Parker’s name on octavos; we’ve been in the same room with her! Examples are too numerous to go on with, but you can certainly supply your own. We have the best vocation there is for deepening our humanity and that of others by sharing the choral art. Keep it up!

It has been an honor to serve you.

Solveig Holmquist
President, NW ACDA