Interest sessions - NW ACDA Conference 2020

(as well as bonus sessions presented by R&R chairs - 

see list at the bottom of this page)











Rachel Wulff

Building a Support System in Your First Year

Rachel Wulff is the Director of Choirs at LaVenture Middle School in Mount Vernon, Washington. Under her direction, the LaVenture Choir Program has tripled in size and now serves over 150 singers across three ensembles. In addition to providing private lessons to her students, Rachel is the music director for the annual school musical and teaches an AVID elective class. She has presented and adjudicated at numerous state and regional events, and has performed with the Bellingham Chamber Chorale as a member and soloist.
She is currently serving on the Washington ACDA Executive Board and pursuing a National Board Certification. She graduated magna cum laude from Western Washington University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in both Music Education and Vocal Performance. She lives in La Conner, Washington.​
What you can expect in this interest session

This active session will help attendees learn strategies to enter their first job with support and continue to maintain (and grow) that support. We will develop a plan for interviewing as a new teacher, practice communicating effectively with school administrators and colleagues, and begin building your framework for working within diverse cultures and social contexts.

What you can expect

Brenda Winkle

High Expectations for Children's Choir
Brenda Winkle began directing choirs in 1996 and teaching in the Boise Schools in 2007. Brenda serves as an elementary music specialist and choir director. Brenda began directing the Opera Idaho Children’s Choruses in October 2017.  
She has directed choirs of all ages. Brenda earned a BS in Music Education from Chadron State College in Nebraska and a MEd in Educational Leadership from BSU. 
Singers in OICC have performed as soloists for Boise Philharmonic, as company members in Idaho Shakespeare Festival and more. OICC have successfully performed in collaborative endeavors with Boise Philharmonic, Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale, Treasure Valley Concert Band, and Ballet Idaho.
When not directing choirs, Brenda enjoys spending time with her teenage daughter and their two dogs, practicing yoga, hiking and traveling.

What you can expect in this interest session

How do I introduce part-singing at the elementary level? What can I expect from voices of certain ages, and how can I use this information to select music? What are excellent literature resources for children's choirs? This session will engage each question with conductors of all levels of experience, focusing on community youth singers aged 3 to 13. Techniques for rehearsing ensembles that meet weekly will be explored, and attendees will explore recommended repertoire by singing excerpts.

Charles Anthony Silvestri

The Lyricist Guide to Performing Choral Music

Poet, composer, and speaker Charles Anthony Silvestri has worked with composers from all over the world to create texts tailor-made for their commissions and specific artistic needs. He has provided custom poetry, opera libretti, program notes and other writing for composers including Eric Whitacre, Ola Gjeilo, Kim Arnesen, and Dan Forrest, and for ensembles ranging from high schools to the Houston Grand Opera, from the King’s Singers to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, from Westminster Choir College to Westminster Abbey. As a clinician Silvestri speaks to choirs, classes, and concert audiences about his works, the creative process, the marriage of words and music, and about his collaborative relationships with composers.  He is the author of three books, including A Silver Thread (GIA 2019), a retrospective of almost 20 years of his lyric poetry. He teaches Ancient and Medieval
History at Washburn University, and lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
What you can expect in this interest session

Explore a unique perspective on the interpretation and performance of choral repertoire, as lyric poet and author Silvestri invites you to join him behind the poet’s pen. He will discuss the collaborative process, the deep connection between words and music he seeks to create, and the powerful roles of the conductor and choir in the interpretation and transmission of the poet’s and composer’s hearts and spirits.

Erin Guinup

The Power of Community Sing-a-longs

Erin Guinup is the founding Executive and Artistic Director of the Tacoma Refugee Choir, an ensemble dedicated to building a more welcoming community through song. A passionate advocate of community singing and the power of music to heal and unite communities, she has spoken at TEDxSeattle and been featured on PBS with the Refugee Choir, led community singing events and spoken at national conferences for Chorus America, NATS, and ACDA. A master teacher in both classical and contemporary vocal technique, Erin’s voice students have found success on Broadway, regional theatre, operatic stages, and television. She is an author, speaker, and soprano soloist and her internationally performed one-woman show has been praised as “an amazing tour-de-force.” Other career highlights include performing as Mary Poppins; conducting Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God; teaching voice workshops at Amazon; singing with Israeli-Palestinian choir Common Ground Voices in Jerusalem and Europe; and
mentoring new teachers.
What you can expect in this interest session

Community Singalongs have the power to unite communities, provide a salve for loneliness and depression, empower people to use their voice, and increase their interest in developing voices.  This interactive session will involve all attendees in singing as we demonstrate strategies for removing barriers for amateur singers and creating a playful environment for discovering one’s voice in a group setting. This session will simulate a community singalong as attendees sing and dance to contemporary and multicultural songs, accompanied by a 3-piece band.  Strategies and a variety of approaches to communal singing will be explored. In this time of division, singing together can be a powerful tool for sparking meaningful dialogue, channeling anger into productive action, connecting with audiences in powerful new ways and empowering people to work together and use their voice to make a difference.

Joseph To

Learning Chinese Diction and Choral Music from a Native

A Hong Kong Native, Joseph To graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Music

(Music Education with vocal emphasis). He studied choral conducting with Dr. Geoffrey Boers and

currently he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Music (Choral Conducting) at Washington State University

under Dr. Lori Wiest’s guidance. Joseph has sung with some prolific choirs in the Pacific Northwest,

including Chor Anno and Opus 7. A believer in music education, Joseph has worked with all ages in many

musical settings, from novice to professional. Joseph has worked and studied with some internationally

recognized conductors, such as Diane Wittry (USA), Kåre Hanken (Norway) and Helmuth Rilling

(Germany). Joseph is interested in empowering multi-cultural music and promoting Chinese choral music.

Currently, he is working on “A Practical Performance Edition of Select Chinese Choral Music with

Annotations, and Rehearsal and Diction Guidelines.” Joseph is the Choir Director at Japanese Baptist

Church, Seattle.
What you can expect in this interest session

The idea of "Culturally Responsive Teaching” has developed within the last few decades. However, due to the difficulty of Chinese diction, choral conductors and educators hesitate to program Chinese choral music for their ensembles as accessibility to practical assistance was limited. Within the last decade, research on Chinese diction has presented general diction guidelines on how to pronounce Chinese lyrics. In this session, attendees will learn the background of Chinese choral repertoire, learn skills to teach Chinese choral music to their choirs, and sing a section of a selected Chinese choral piece. A repertoire resource handout will introduce attendees to selected Chinese choral music for high school and community choirs. Issues explored will include phonetic Yale Romanized Mandarin-Chinese and practical application through the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Heather MacLaughlin Garbes and Timothy Fitzpatrick

Estonian Choral Music: Repertoire and Resources
Dr. Heather MacLaughlin Garbes is the founder and artistic director of the Mägi Ensemble, a professional women’s vocal ensemble that performs and records Baltic music. She currently serves as affiliate assistant professor in the University of Washington, where she helped develop and maintains the Baltic Choral Library, the first collection of its kind in the United States. Dr. MacLaughlin Garbes is an active conference presenter at state and divisional ACDA, College Music Society (national and international), the Library of Congress, and the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies events. She co-authored the chapter “Baltic Languages: Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian” in the book The Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet in the Choral Rehearsal, (Scarecrow Press). She has worked with numerous collegiate and community ensembles across the United States and has been a preparatory conductor for both the Latvian and Estonian National Song Festivals. She also currently conducts the Finnish Choral Society.

Timothy Fitzpatrick is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at the WWU, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in choral conducting, repertoire, and pedagogy, and conducts the Concert Choir, Western Voices, and Chamber Vocal Jazz. In 2013-14, Fitzpatrick spent a sabbatical year studying choral conducting, pedagogy, and the music of Estonian composers. He worked  with Estonian Tütarlastekoor Ellerhein, and frequently rehearsed and conducted the ensemble. In 2017, he was named Honorary Conductor of the choir. Fitzpatrick served as Founding Artistic Director of the Bellingham Chamber Chorale from 2003 to 2011. Under his leadership, the chorale released recordings, toured the Baltic region, and premiered an important commission by Estonian composer, Tõnu Kõrvits.
What you can expect in this interest session

Estonia has an incredible choral tradition that is not often represented in programming outside its borders. This session provides publisher information, performance practices, diction resources, brief cultural context, and a sampling of works by several Estonian choral composers.

Anna Song

Medieval Song Repertoire: A Rich Resource for Two and Three-Part Music

Dr. Anna Song is Associate Professor of Music at Linfield College where she also serves as the Director of Choral Activities. In 2004 she co-founded In Mulieribus, a professional women's vocal ensemble dedicated to the promotion and enrichment of community through music written primarily before 1750. Under her direction, the
ensemble has presented a highly acclaimed annual concert series in Portland since 2007, appears frequently as a featured guest artist throughout the region, and is regularly broadcast on regional and nationally syndicated radio shows such as Performance Today. The ensemble’s CDs have garnered praise from the Oregonian and Early Music America. A frequent choral clinician and adjudicator in the Portland area, she also coordinates the choral program at Young Musicians and Artists summer camp. Dr. Song holds degrees in music composition and conducting from UCLA and Yale University, and a Doctor of Music Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

What you can expect in this interest session

Finding suitable, interesting repertoire consisting of two or three-parts can be a challenge, especially for choirs consisting of singers beyond elementary or middle school ages. This session will focus on medieval song repertoire and how it can serve as a rich resource for this voicing, which is often suitable for T/B, S/A, or smaller ensembles. In addition to repertoire resources, attendees will explore basic techniques for arranging and adapting medieval songs for their choirs, and gather new perspectives on repertoire from this period.

Steve Zopfi

The Acoustics of Choir
Steven Zopfi serves as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Puget Sound and was the Artistic Director of the Portland Symphonic Choir, the official chorus of the Oregon Symphony, from 2003 – 2018. He has served on the faculties of Penn State University, the University of Washington, and Pacific Lutheran University and choirs under his direction have appeared at state and regional conferences of the American Choral Director’s Association, the National Association for Music Education, and other professional organizations. Zopfi has conducted the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Sinfonietta, and the Pazardzhik Symphony and has performed with the New Jersey Symphony, the Prague Philharmonic, and the Colorado Symphony. His recordings have been featured on NPR and American Public Radio and his arrangements and editions are published by Colla Voce publishing. In 2015, he was named Outstanding Choral Conductor of the Year by the Washington Choral Director’s Association.
What you can expect in this interest session

Recent research has shed light on how sound functions within the acoustic of a choir. An understanding of how sound-to-other ratio, damping, masking, and the Lombard and Choir Effects can influence how choristers hear and perform. By knowing some basic acoustic principles, choir directors can maximize the choir's acoustic to improve balance, blend, intonation, and sound. This session will include live demonstrations of these concepts by Spokane Kantorei to help with practical application with choirs.

Christopher G. McGinley

Sight Singing: The Ultimate Team Sport
Christopher G. McGinley is a dynamic conductor and music educator based in the Twin Cities where he pursues the DMA in conducting at the University of Minnesota. He holds faculty positions at Augsburg University (music education) and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire (conducting and music education). His choirs are noted for their vibrant and nuanced interpretations of works from diverse eras and genres. A strong advocate for community music, McGinley has served intergenerational choirs in Philadelphia, Wisconsin, and Oregon. He holds degrees in conducting and music education from the University of Oregon and University of Delaware, and pursued further studies in conducting at the Frost School of Music. His mentors include Kathy Saltzman Romey, Matthew Mehaffey, Karen Kennedy, Sharon Paul, and Paul Head.
What you can expect in this interest session
In this hands-on session, we will explore strategies for distributed leadership in ensemble sight singing. These techniques‚ which can be adapted to existing method books and materials at all levels engender autonomy and confidence by placing problem solving squarely in the hands of the singers. By dividing tasks among the singers, we create opportunities for differentiated instruction and individualized assessment, allowing students to succeed at their own challenge levels while contributing to the collective whole. The director becomes the coach, providing guidance and encouragement while the students rise to greater levels of independence and success.

Coreen Duffy

Beyond the Dreidl: A Worldwide Exploration of Choral Repertoire for Chanukah
Coreen Duffy is Director of Choral Activities at the University of Montana School of Music, where she
conducts Chamber Chorale and University Choir, teaches conducting, choral methods, and supervises
student teachers. At the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Duffy conducted ensembles and
taught conducting, arranging, and musicology. Duffy is an active clinician and composer: her works are
published by Walton Music, ECS, and Pavane and featured in ACDA sessions. A specialist in Jewish choral
music, Duffy has designed performance/interest sessions dedicated to Jewish repertoire at two National
ACDA conferences. She founded the Second Avenue Jewish Chorale of South Florida; under her
direction, the ensemble performed at the ACDA Florida Conference and the North American Jewish
Choral Festival. Duffy served two terms as R&S Chair for Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives in the
Florida ACDA. Her DMA dissertation at the USC Thornton School of Music investigated nineteenth-
century synagogue choral music.
What you can expect in this interest session

Beyond the Dreidl: A Worldwide Exploration of Choral Repertoire for Chanukah” will offer a multifaceted immersion into diverse Chanukah literature. The session embraces conductors who program at least one Jewish-music selection with their ensembles every holiday season. Identifying quality choral repertoire suitable for Chanukah presents a hurdle. “Beyond the Dreidl” will combine lecture blasts with reading opportunities of repertoire reflecting the diversity of Jewish culture, including music in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, and Ladino, from the seventeenth to twenty-first centuries. Participants will receive a reading packet with information about the literature. The session will contextualize the music, discussing genre, historical relevance, composer, connection to Chanukah, and performance practice. The session supports all conductors—of all backgrounds and ensemble types—including middle-school, high-school, collegiate, community, and music-in-worship directors.

Steven Zielke

 I Hear America Singing: The History of When America Joined in Song

Steven M. Zielke, Director of Choral Studies at Oregon State University is the Patricia Valian Reser Professor of Music. At OSU, Zielke directs the OSU Chamber Choir and teaches choral conducting. He earned his doctoral and master's degrees from Florida State University, studying with Andre Thomas and Rodney Eichenberger. He also received a B.M.E. from Friends University and taught middle and high school music in the Kansas public schools. Choirs under his direction have appeared at state, regional, and national conferences, including a 2015 performance at the National Collegiate Choral Association and three past performances at NW ACDA. He has been invited to deliver sessions at state, regional, and national conferences, including a session at the 2017 National ACDA conference on community singing. Zielke is a past-president of the Oregon ACDA, the artistic director for the Corvallis Repertory Singers, and the Director of Music at Corvallis First Congregational Church.

What you can expect in this interest session

National interest in community singing continues to fascinate America.  From beer choir to articles on how singing builds healthy communities, to Chorus America studies on singing participation, music professionals and the public alike seem interested and enamored with the idea that singing is foundational to a successful life.  Nevertheless, the most common response from many when invited to participate is the common refrain, "I can't sing."  Yet, there was actually a time when America joined in singing together to build national spirit, and informal community singing flourished in American society and music education. This session recounts this time period and what it might mean for a time where such national spirit is needed again.

Diane Retallack

Giving Voice to an Alzheimer's Journey
Dr. Diane Retallack is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Eugene Concert Choir & Orchestra and
Eugene Vocal Arts, the premier classical choral organizations of the region and Resident Company of the
Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Dr. Retallack holds a D.M. from Indiana University where she
studied with Margaret Hillis and Julius Herford. She was inspired by further training with Helmuth Rilling
through the Oregon Bach Festival and with Robert Shaw through Carnegie Hall festivals. Dr. Retallack
approached the commission of Shadow and Light from personal experiences, as both her mother and
grandmother had Alzheimer’s dementia. Composer Joan Szymko’s masterwork gives voice to the
challenges, frustrations, despair, hopes, courage and moments of light and tenderness of those with
memory loss and their caregivers. The premiere recorded performance won the American Prize, and the
documentary of the project won Best Documentary at the Oregon Independent Film Festival.
What you can expect in this interest session

Our journey to commission a choral-orchestral work by nationally-acclaimed composer Joan Szymko focused on the experiences of those with Alzheimer’s dementia and their caregivers. Shadow and Light is an extraordinary masterwork which gives voice to the challenges, frustrations, despair, hopes, courage and moments of light and tenderness. Audience members at the premiere performance by Eugene Vocal Arts in April of 2016 responded with deep emotion, asking - How did you know to tell my story? Attendees of the session will be introduced to this sensitive masterwork through excerpts of the award-winning documentary (The Story of Shadow and Light ), video of the premiere performance, honest and heartfelt libretto, and suggestions on partnering with care organizations and programming this work to connect to your community.

Max Mendez

Bodymapping: The Moving Choral Musician

Max Mendez, is a Professor of Music and Director of Choirs at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. For the last fifteen years he has conducted the NIC Cardinal Chorale, Chamber Singers, and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Choirs under his direction have performed concerts in Mexico, San Francisco, and Carnegie Hall. Max is a frequent guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator for festivals and workshops throughout Idaho and Washington. He was a founding member and artistic director of Spokane Choral Artists, a member of Male Ensemble Northwest (M.E.N.), and Tim Sharp’s Kentucky Harmony. Professor Mendez serves as President of the Idaho chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association. He is an advocate for community involvement in arts and music programs. He has an interest in music as a form of wellness and during his Spring 2019 sabbatical from North Idaho College he pursued extended studies in the field of Body Mapping.

What you can expect in this interest session

This session will introduce concepts of Body Mapping, a somatic foundational training, for the choral musician.  During the session, participants will experience body mapping practices based on six-points of balance.  Resources for incorporating Body Mapping foundations in the choral classroom will also be explored.

Sharon Paul

Choral Musicians: A Community of Storytellers

Sharon J. Paul holds the Robert M. Trotter Chair of Music at the University of Oregon, where she serves as Director of Choral Activities and Chair of Vocal and Choral Studies. Her teaching includes graduate courses in choral conducting, repertoire, and pedagogy, along with conducting the internationally award-winning Chamber Choir. Dr. Paul has presented interest sessions at regional, state, division, national, and international conferences. She appears frequently as adjudicator, clinician, teacher, and honor choir director throughout the United States and abroad, with recent appearances in New Mexico, Minnesota, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Singapore, Estonia, Sweden, and England. In 2019 she received Oregon ACDA’s Podium Award for “outstanding contributions to the choral arts,” and in the fall of 2014 she received the University of Oregon’s Fund for Faculty Excellence Award. Her upcoming book, Art and Science in the Choral Rehearsal, is scheduled for publication with Oxford University Press. 

What you can expect in this interest session

This session will explore the role of storytelling in our profession. We will investigate techniques to better connect our singers to the stories that they sing, with the goal of creating transcendent performances. We will examine how composers tell stories through musical gestures, some obvious and some requiring a bit of decoding. And we will consider the powerful stories that teachers and students share with each other as they build a musical community together. Attendees will participate in hands-on activities in this highly interactive session.

Joshua Shank, Spectrum Singers

Fostering an All-Inclusive Choral Environment: A FirstYear LGBTQ+ Choir's Perspective

Composer Joshua Shank’s works have sold over 150,000 copies and have been widely performed by educational and professional ensembles alike.  In 2002, he became the youngest recipient ever of the Raymond W. Brock Composition Award by the American Choral Directors Association and, from 2004 to 2014, he served as Composer-In-Residence for the Minneapolis-based professional choir, The Singers.  Joshua has a degree in Vocal Music Education from Luther College as well as a master’s degree in Historical Musicology and a doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Texas at Austin.  He currently teaches music theory, composition, music history, and conducts the Glee Club at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  He also serves as Artistic Director for the city’s 85-member LGBTQA-affirming choir, the Spectrum Singers.


More information at

Special sessions presented by R&R Chairs

Music of Migration: Voices of Immigrants, Refugees and the Borderlands (Ethan Chessin)
Ten Pieces, Ten Rehearsal Techniques (Nicole Lamartine and Anne Lyman)
Repertoire Starter Packet: Music for Day One (Michael Porter)
Vocal Jazz Repertoire: Finding and Adapting Charts for Your Group (Jess Horenstein and Mike Scott)
Creating "Buy In" with Contemporary Music (Jacob Steinberger)
Un Un: Unpublished Music by Under-represented Populations (Ethan Speery)
Shaman, Fables and Tall Tales: Choral Storytelling (Geoffrey Boers)
Composing Your Community's Story: Collaborating with Composers (John Muehleisen)

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