Trish Joyce, Director – Coriste, New Jersey Youth Chorus
I’m sure that all of us have heard this phrase, or variation on this phrase, many times — We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We’ve all had those awe-inspiring moments, at ACDA Conventions, which we will never forget. As I think back over these, two of my strongest memories are from earlier Conventions that I attended.
The first was hearing the Tapiola Children’s Choir and the Toronto Children’s Choir in 1991 (1 ½ years before I began my own community children’s/youth chorus). Wow. I clearly remember leaping to my feet, along with the rest of the audience, after their performances. Each had its own distinct sound, but both demonstrated beauty, richness, warmth and expressiveness. Each stayed true to their traditions, but also ‘pushed the boundaries,’ to quote our Eastern Division theme, with folk music from other countries (Aizu-Bandai-San, arr. Ishimaru, Tutira Mai Nga Iwi, tradition Maori) or music by contemporary composers (Aglepta, Mellnäs, and Miniwanka, Schafer). This was such an eye-opener for me, as to what the possibilities could be for young voices.
The second memory was the 1992 Eastern Division Convention in Boston; that convention was dedicated to the memory of Frauke Haasemann. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study under her as a student at Westminster Choir College. During the dedicatory ceremony, all the attendees sang “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen” from Brahms’ Requiem, conducted by Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, and accompanied by Glenn Parker. Wow. Not only did this have special significance in itself, but brought back the incredible memories of preparing the entire Requiem, and performing it under Robert Shaw as a WCC student.
Just as Tapiola and the Toronto Children’s Choir did, we hope to present a program that speaks to who we are through a range of different styles of music. Harmonic Whirlies will set the opening of the program in “Shall We Dream?” by Australian composer Michael Atherton, and will segue into the slightly jazzy “I Am the Rose of Sharon” by Danish composer Soren Moller. Several of the girls in Coriste will join Ethan Sperry’s “Wedding Qawwali” in Indian dance. This will be followed by the gorgeous Finnish folk song “Kaipaava” and Z. Randall Stroope’s “Psalm 23,” which holds a very special place in the hearts of the Coriste girls. The jubilant Alleluia by Paul Basler finishes the program. The emotional connection to each other, and the emotional connection to our listeners is a very important part of what we do. I hope there will be music that speaks to you.
I think we can all call to mind those teachers and directors whose shoulders we stand on — those teachers and directors who have had such a profound affect on our lives and careers through their passion, dedication, work ethic and love of the choral art. I know that I, and countless numbers of choral directors, still continue to be influenced today by the incredible work of Frauke Haasemann and Dr. Flummerfelt. I know that I, and my fellow Children’s and Youth Chorus directors, continue to be influenced by those who set the gold standard in working with the young voice, from Tapiola and TCC to so many fabulous choirs across the globe. We all know, and are grateful to those in the choral world, who opened our eyes to the possibilities and potential that we could develop in our own choirs.
I look forward to the Convention, and to all that we will continue to learn from our fellow educators, conductors, and colleagues. See you in Boston!