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ePublishing reading session presented at NW Conference, March, 2012

by Reginald Unterseher, R & S Chair for Male Choirs, NWACDA

I unterseheram happy to announce that the upcoming NWACDA Conference in Seattle will include an ePublishing Reading Session, comprised of pieces only available directly from composers.

The way that music gets from the composer into conductors’ and singers’ hands is in a significant transitional phase. I first wrote about some of the potential of ePublishing on this site two years ago, just before the first iPad was released.

While most choirs still work from paper scores and will still do so for some time to come, more and more composers are making their works available directly from their web sites or from composer co-ops.

Generally, they are distributed electronically as PDF files that choirs can print themselves. These pieces have not had the opportunity to be featured in reading sessions. Traditionally, the cost of ACDA reading sessions have been carried by music retailers and publishers, who print the booklets or collect packets of octavos to be distributed at conferences. It has been their policy to exclude pieces that are not available on their sites. They typically ask the session presenter for a list that is up to twice as long as the number of pieces that can be presented in the session, and the retailer makes the final selections from that list. Often, those choices are heavily influenced by economic considerations.

The music presented at this ePublishing reading session will focus on:transition

  1. Scores that are not available through traditional print publishers or the on-line print-on-demand resources of retailers. Those pieces are represented already in other sessions.
  2. Pieces from composers or groups of composers who make scores easily available through their own or the group’s web site or the ChoralNet Composer’s Marketplace currently under development.
  3. Scores for a wide variety of choirs, not for just one type.
  4. Scores that may have voicing, instrumentation, range, difficulty, or other characteristics that traditional publishers have felt make them commercially unprofitable, regardless of artistic merit.
  5. New music rather than public domain versions of older or classic works, though those scores also have a hard time making it into reading sessions.

The session will be presented without paper, which is the only way it can work financially. The session will be held in a room with WiFi internet. Scores will be made available to read on participants’ laptops, iPads, or tablet devices that can read PDF files and download them from a web site. The materials will also be available on the NWACDA web site following the conference.

This session will be the first of it’s kind, as far as we know, and we expect it to be an evolving format. I welcome all suggested improvements before and after the session on any aspect of the reading session, technical or artistic.

For titles in traditional reading sessions, R&S leaders present their lists in late summer to the folks at the retailers who prepare the booklets to give them time to put them together. One advantage of the paper-free aspect of the session is our ability to continue to gather our materials closer to the time of the conference. Some of that repertoire has been chosen, but I can still review more pieces and web sites for the next few weeks. I need to have all the pieces chosen by the end of February in order to have things prepared for the session.

If any of you, conductors and composers alike, know of pieces that should be considered, please send the information to right away.

Reginald Unterseher  is Music Director and Composer-in-Residence at Shalom United Church of Christ, Richland, Washington. His works are published by Oxford University Press and Walton Music. He co-founded Washington East Opera and served as Chorus Master for nine years. From 1996 until 2004, he was Artistic Director of Consort Columbia Vocal Ensemble where he conducted ensembles of children and adults. He currently serves as Repertoire & Standards Chair for Men's Choirs for the Northwest Division of the American Choral Director's Association.