Twyla Brunson, tireless advocate for choral music and for ACDA, receives the 2014 Leadership, Excellence in and Devotion to the Choral Art Award

Editor's note: Past-President, Solveig Holmquist, presented this award on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the NW ACDA conference in Seattle. The following is Solveig's introduction and announcement of this year's recipient of the award, Twyla Brunson.

The 2014 recipient of NW ACDA's highest honor, which recognizes Excellence brunson et al in Leadership and in Serving the Choral Art, is a graduate of the University of Idaho, where she earned both a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Masters in Vocal Performance. She taught junior high choral music for THIRTY-THREE YEARS, fifteen in Walla Walla and eighteen in Sumner, Washington. After retiring from teaching, she became Music Curriculum Chair for the Sumner School District and is currently adjunct faculty in Music Education at PLU.

She attended the Kodaly Institute in Esztergom, Hungary; the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria; and both St. John's and King's Colleges at Cambridge University in England.

In 1988 she was a member of the Washington State Visual and Performing Arts Delegation to the People's Republic of China, exploring the arts of several regions of that country. She was named WMEA Valley Region's Outstanding Music Educator, and in 2001 was the recipient of the Christa McAuliffe Award for Educational Excellence. Personally, as an active musician and adjudicator, she has sung with the Oregon Bach Festival Choir, the Seattle Symphony Chorale, and the Walla Walla Choral twylasresponseSociety; she currently performs with Opus 7 and Chor Anno.

As the Northwest Division President, she planned the highly successful 2002 Division Conference in Boise, a bold move that moved the conference out of the I-5 corridor and yet showed a healthy attendance.

OK, by now you (and she) most certainly know who I'm talking about, but I insist that you (and she) must hear the wonderful things our colleagues have said about her, in their letters supporting her nomination:

Letter No. 1: "I really think she deserves this award. She has worked tirelessly and selflessly to improve the choral art, the music educators in our region, and ACDA itself. She is still the first person folks call on when help is needed."

[As a personal aside, I know that she has done at least four big, behind-the-scenes jobs for this very conference, at the request of both our president and our vice-president. Another example: she served as Hospitality Chair at last year's National Conference in Dallas. What that sort of job means is that you pay both the conference fee and the hotel, but you don't actually get to much of the conference. That's selfless service.]

Letter No. 2: This one's a testimonial: "In my first year of teaching, I joined Opus 7 (for those outside the Seattle area, Opus 7 is a high-level chamber ensemble) and was seated right next to her — the BEST professional move of my career! She mentored me as a teacher and got me involved in ACDA. Then once she retired, she came into my classroom and gave me tips, worked with my guys, etc. Even to
this day she still brings me fun music and resources all the time! What would I do without her?!!"

And to sum up, Letter No. 3: "She is a gift to choral music in the Northwest. As a sought-after vocalist, she brings incredible skill to her conducting and to her teaching of choral music. Because she was a master educator and magic-maker with adolescent singers, her choirs always showed energy and vitality, while singing with incredible precision and intonation.

She is highly respected and pursued as an adjudicator, conductor, and performer. She is also a selfless leader (do you see a trend here?) who has served ACDA tirelessly and with great wisdom and vision. Even when not holding office, she still helps with any detail that is needed and everyone knows that if you want something done right – call her!

She currently mentors new music educators through Pacific Lutheran University although she has been a great unofficial mentor for years. She has guided many student teachers and other young educators and is a font of wisdom and an incredible resource for pedagogy and musicianship. She currently sings with the Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble and Chor Anno, as well as making guest appearances with many regional ensembles including Choral Union. (How many choral conductors do you know who make the time to regularly sit under the baton of someone else, to keep their skills fresh?) She has studied and performed all over the world and is constantly seeking new knowledge and experiences.

As a role model and mentor to those entering the profession, her impact is at least as important to the future of the choral art as her past has been pivotal to its development. The Northwest is lucky and proud to call Twyla Brunson one of our own!

Let's welcome Twyla to the podium to accept this prestigious award.