AUGUST 3-5, 2017 The annual collaborative Summer Conference sponsored by the Maryland/DC, Delaware, and Virginia chapters of the American Choral Directors Association
About Voices United
After years of hosting ACDA state events for Maryland and Virginia with limited attendance at each state event, Jack Ay, of the Musical Source called Paul Rardin, Maryland State ACDA president and Deborah Moyers Proctor, Virginia State ACDA president to ask if we would like to combine to host a joint ACDA conference. George Mason University seemed to be a good, place to meet since Sheri Neill had just come to GMU after teaching in the Virginia public schools for many years and she was willing to host the event.
Jack Ay, Sheri Neill, Paul Rardin, and Deborah Moyers Proctor met after conference calls to discuss plans for the following summer. At this and subsequent meetings they:
Established goals using honor choirs to reach areas of choral music not addressed by MENC including Community and Church choirs, and Children's Choirs.
Included reading sessions for all levels of choral singing using local experts from each of our states to present music each had used in programing for their choirs.
Jack Ay provided the reading session music selected by experts as well as providing perusal music at the event.
Chose name to include the word “United” (Paul Rardin's suggestion because he loved DC United Soccer) and because we were combining to divisions of ACDA, Northeast and Southern.
Established a social event to help choral folks learn to know each other and share ideas and experiences in a relaxed setting.
Included performing groups from the local area to demonstrate excellent choral singing in diverse areas.
Identified local conductors who could provide in-service training for areas of interest for all choral conductors.
Jack Ay, with his vast knowledge and experience attending conferences, was instrumental in selecting and contracting head-liners who were successful in providing help to other choral directors. He was able to negotiate with music companies to help keep expenses lower. His expertise in choral music has been invaluable since the founding of this conference.
The first Voices United was held at George Mason University in 1999. In 2002 the Delaware ACDA Chapter joined the conference with Paul Head as its state President.
Today the ACDA Voices United Conference continues to live out the mission of its founders. We continue to invite nationally renowned or locally loved choral directors to serve as our headlining clinicians. They provide their expertise, research, ideas or reflections through Interest Sessions, Masterclasses and leading choral ensembles.
We continue to feature two honor choirs for singers of all ages. Our Children’s Treble Honor Choir is for young singers, ages 10-15, whose voices have not yet changed. Our Voices United Honor Choir is an intergenerational choir for singers aged 16-116, bringing together singers from schools, churches and our community. Both of these choirs are conducted by our invited headlining clinicians.
In 2011, we added a third choir to our conference for YOU called the Conductor’s Chorus. In thinking the best way to learn is by doing, the Conductor’s Chorus gives conferences participants the chance to rehearse and perform together under the direction of one of our headlining clinicians. This is a great chance to experience the rehearsal approach, direction, conducting gesture and wisdom of our headliners all through your own singing experience.
Recognizing that the some of the greatest expertise is found in the choral directors among us, we continue to share ideas, repertoire, and wisdom through our Interest Sessions & Reading Sessions. Those are interested are welcomed to apply to present an Interest Session during our conference. Reading Session presenters are appointed by the three state presidents.
In 2015, spearheaded by Dr. Stephen Carriaciolo, we added an additional conference track for those who wish to focus on their conducting technique. Participants of the Conducting Symposium get the chance to hone their skills at gesture, score preparation and direction. These participants may also be selected to participate in a Masterclass with one of our headlining clinicians.
Above all, we place a great value on the community we provide for one another as fellow choral conductors. In many institutions, we are on the only person who does what we do, so the need for community is great. Through our Networking Lunches or Dinners, our Annual Voices United Banquet, and simply the down-time between sessions, Voices United provides a great chance to meet, connect and support one another as choral conductors.
Voices United is scheduled at the start of August, which serves as a great kick-start to the academic year. We hope that your time at conference is inspiring, energizing, and offers you the wisdom, resources and connections to get you through the year. Please join us and find out what Voices United is all about!
- Authored by Deborah Moyers Proctor & Bill Podolski May 2016