Author: Mark Boyle

Penelope Cruz: New President-Elect

Congratulations to Penelope Cruz, our newly-elected leader for the ACDA Eastern Division! Penelope will begin her term as President-Elect on July 1, 2018, and then as President on July 1, 2020. Among her duties will be the planning of the 2022 Eastern Region Conference! With her vast experience in ACDA leadership, we are in good hands! Penelope has taught primary and secondary-level music in public and independent schools; conducted school, children’s community, and honor choirs; and sung professionally in opera, musical theater, and choirs in Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York. Since 2003, she has been the choral conductor at White Plains High School (NY) where WPHS Choir members have sung in All-State, All-Eastern, and ACDA Eastern Division and National honor choirs, and at Carnegie Hall, Jazz@Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall, and at various universities, festivals, and competitions. Throughout much of her professional career, Cruz has been an active member of ACDA. At the National Level, she is a member of the first Diversity Initiatives Committee for which she made contributions to the Choral Journal and as part of an ad hoc committee on audition guidelines for honor choirs and auditioned choirs. For the Eastern Division, she has been Program Chair (2016 and 2020) and Honor Choirs Chair (2012 and 2014), where she initiated the Latino Repertoire and Chinese Repertoire Honor choirs. She has served as NY State President (2014-2015) and as Repertoire and Standards chair for both Women’s Choirs and Multicultural and Ethnic Perspectives. Penelope Cruz is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and earned the Masters of Music degree from Eastman School of Music. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Conducting Masterclass with Dr. Jerry Blackstone


We are thrilled to have Dr. Jerry Blackstone leading our undergraduate and graduate level conducting master-classes at the ACDA Eastern Division Conference in March 2018. This is an outstanding opportunity for university students to work with Grammy award-winning conductor and master teacher, Dr. Blackstone. He will also be featured in an interest session about teaching conducting as he concludes his tenure at the University of Michigan next spring.

Two to three undergraduate and two graduate students will be selected to participate. Selected students will each receive a $500 scholarship to offset their conference-related expenses. Undergraduate & Graduate Conductors will prepare two pieces and meet for private instruction with Dr. Blackstone the day before the masterclass. The conductors will work with a collegiate level chorus during the masterclass. These masterclasses will engage graduate and undergraduate conductors who are enrolled full-time in a degree program. Applicants are not required to be enrolled in a conducting class at the time of application, only in a college/university music program.

Click here FOR DETAILS ABOUT THE APPLICATION-AUDITION PROCESS. Note that the application deadline is November 1, 2017

Get Connected

And help us connect…

Let’s face it. Choral directors are busy people who are communicating on several different channels every minute of every day. More often than not, a well timed message while waiting in line at the grocery store is the one that gets the read and the response.

That’s why we’re building additional bridges through social media, hoping that a well-timed post featuring a teaser about the upcoming conference will entice you to click through and read more. And the best part is that you can share social media news with friends who aren’t (yet!) part of ACDA.

Get connected, and help us connect with your friends and colleagues who can benefit from all ACDA has to offer!

See you online!


The Kegerreis Fund

The Kegerreis Fund

A Living Legacy

In a few days, we’ll be launching the application and award process for recipients of the Richard Kegerreis Scholarship Fund. Mr. Kegerreis is most remembered for his tireless energies in producing the quarterly newsletter, The Troubadour, which was heralded as one of the best ACDA publications in the country.
Today, the scholarship is largely funded by individual contributions in his memory, and in dedication to the mission of ACDA. Proceeds from the fund not only subsidize student workers at our conventions, but also assist honor choir members who would not otherwise be able to participate.
Your contributions are tax-deductible, and deeply meaningful not only to the scholarship recipients but to the future of our organization. Please consider making a gift today – a gift that will “keep on singing.”

2018 Helen Kemp Award

The Helen Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award 



The Helen Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2010 to honor an individual who made a unique and extraordinary contribution to the field of choral conducting within the Eastern Region. Helen Kemp, as you may know, inspired and empowered volunteers to be successful and effective children’s choir directors, and was seminal in the creation of Choristers Guild.
The Conference Planning Committee is currently accepting nominations for consideration for the Helen Kemp Award, to be presented in March at the Pittsburgh convention.
The nomination deadline has been extended to midnight on Saturday, December 2, 2017. Please don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate someone who has had a profound effect on our collective lives!

October Notes from the Eastern Division President

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I send you warm greetings and tidings of great joy, as we officially launch EARLY REGISTRATION for the 2018 Eastern Regional (formerly Division) Convention to be held on March 7-10, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I have learned a great deal about ACDA since assuming the role of Eastern Region President just over a year ago, not the least of which has to do with finalizing contracts with hotels, performance venues, and local vendors who, in the last place, provide the real backbone that will bear out whether a convention is “somewhat successful” or “inspiring and rejuvenating.” Seasoned choral directors know that the truly defining element of a meaningful musical experience is largely a result of everything that happened behind the scenes before the sound of the very first pitch. Sometimes I think music teachers would be better served with a degree in business administration than credentials in performance practice and score study.

But alas, I find myself reminiscent about so many of my experiences at various ACDA events. The first time I saw The Albert McNeil Singers or The King’s Singers, not to mention so many moments of serendipity when a choir you scarcely knew about delivers an awe-inspiring performance that goes right to the heart!

Your leadership team is well aware of the planning and finagling it takes for you to get time off work, let alone funding to attend a conference, which is why we’re working tirelessly not only to get the word out about early registration, but also to encourage our constituency to make a few days of rejuvenation and reacquaintance with professional colleagues and friends a top priority for 2018. In a profession where we are so frequently isolated by the nature our specialty, one cannot overestimate the community and support system that is ACDA.

In these coming weeks we will be cranking up the social media machine to bring our community together, and you can help with that by sharing and reposting on the various social media threads. I will say many times, beginning right now, that while Pittsburgh is a fabulous convention city, the savings of booking early cannot be overstated, unlike cities like Boston and New York where competition keeps fares low until the very last minute. To that end, we’ll be posting airfares regularly in an effort to urge you to BOOK NOW and save!

If you’re not already following us on Facebook (ACDA Eastern Division), Twitter (@acdaeast), and Instagram (acda_east), (Snapchat coming soon!) I encourage you to do so as we will soon begin posting brief teasers for what you’ll experience in Pittsburgh next March. How about that… something joyful to read on your newsfeed.

Paul D Head
Eastern Region President

2018 Honor Choir Conductors

Jared Berry, Honor Choir Chair

ELEMENTARY HONOR CHOIR Susan Brumfield, conductor A treble choir of singers who will be in grades 4, 5, or 6 in March 2018 Dr. Susan Brumfield is Professor of Music Education at Texas Tech University, and holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Oklahoma. She is known throughout the United States and Europe as a clinician, consultant, author, composer, arranger and choral conductor. Dr. Brumfield is the author Jean Ritchie’s Kentucky Mother Goose, a book and CD memoir with American folk legend Jean Ritchie, which features rare and never-before-seen illustrations by Maurice Sendak. Other publications include Hot Peas and Barley-O: Children’s Songs and Games from Scotland and Over the Garden Wall: Children’s Songs and Games from England. Dr. Brumfield is currently working on Giro Giro Tondo: Children’s Songs and Games from Italy. She is a contributing author for John Jacobson’s Music Express Magazine and McGraw Hill’s Music Studio. An internationally recognized expert in the Kodály approach, Dr. Brumfield is the author of First, We Sing! Kodály-Inspired Teaching in the Music Classroom (Hal Leonard), a set of Kodály-based of curriculum and resource materials for K-5 music. This comprehensive series includes the Teacher’s Guide, Teaching Strategies for Primary Grades, Teaching Strategies for Intermediate Grades, Practice Activities for Rhythmic and Melodic Elements and First, We Sing: Songbooks One and Songbook Two. Forthcoming volumes include Songbook Three, Active Listening in the Music Classroom and Songs for Reading and Writing. Other ancillary materials include applications for interactive whiteboard, student workbooks and classroom materials. Founder and Artistic Director of The West Texas Children’s Chorus, Dr. Brumfield is also in frequent demand throughout the world as a commissioned composer and guest conductor. Her choral music is published with Hal Leonard Music, Colla Voce Music and BriLee/Carl Fischer, and includes more than forty titles. With four choirs consisting of singers from Kindergarten through college, the West Texas Children’s Chorus organization serves children throughout the South Plains area, and serves as a teaching lab for TTU Music Education students. In addition to performances with the Texas Tech University Choirs, the Lubbock Chorale and the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, the choirs have performed at the Texas Music Educators’ Conference, national conferences of the Organization of American Kodály Educators and the Amerian Orff Schulwerk Association, and has been featured in concerts at Carnegie Hall and other prestigious venues in NYC. The choir travels throughout the US on its bi- annual tours. Dr. Brumfield was honored in both 2012 and 2014 with the Texas Tech University College of Visual and Performing Arts Award for Outstanding Research, and as a two-time finalist for the President’s Book Award. In 2015, Dr. Brumfield was the recipient of the Louisiana Tech University Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.

JUNIOR HIGH HONOR CHOIR Gary Packwood, conductor An SATB choir of singers who will be in grades 7, 8, or 9 in March 2018 Gary Packwood is the Program Administrator and Director of Choral Activities at Mississippi State University, where he oversees all administrative aspects, and conducts the Women of State and the MSU Singers. Dr. Packwood’s other duty includes serving as the Head of Music Education, and teaching conducting and secondary choral methods. Dr. Packwood has conducted a multitude of ensembles, through invitation, for the state, regional, and national conference for both the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Through invitations, his choirs have also performed in some of Europe’s most distinct venues including Notre Dame Cathedral, Chatres Cathedral, La Madeleine Church, Sacra Coeur Church, The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, St. Nikolas and St. Stephen in Austria, and St. Nicholas Church in The Czech Republic. A Lifetime member of ACDA, Dr. Packwood has served in numerous positions in NAfME and ACDA, and is currently the President-elect of Southern Division ACDA. A frequent guest conductor, Dr. Packwood has served in this function for all-state and honor choirs in 28 states and on three continents. Internationally he has served as guest conductor and lecturer for the 2013 and 2010 Festival Internacional de Musica at the Universidade Federal de Campina Grande, Brazil; the 2009 Visiting Professor of Music and Conducting at Sultan Idris Education University in Tanjung Malim; Aswara Conservatory of Music in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 2007 artist-in- residence and guest conductor at the Conservatory of Music – University of Uberlandia, Brazil; and 2006 Festival Internacional de Musica at the Universidad Federal de Piaui, Brazil. He is a member of Golden Key International Honour Society, Phi Mu Alpha and Pi Kappa Lambda. Dr. Packwood is currently a Choral Review author for the Choral Journal and his own articles have been published in MENC’s journal, Teaching Music, and the 2ndEdition of the AmeriGrove Dictionary. Dr. Packwood earned the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southeastern Louisiana University, the Master of Arts degree from Florida Atlantic University, and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University.

WOMEN COMPOSERS REPERTOIRE HONOR CHOIR Sharon Paul, conductor An SSAATTBB choir of singers who will be in grades 11 or 12 or college in March 2018, or adults Sharon J. Paul is Professor of Choral Conducting, Director of Choral Activities, and Chair of Vocal and Choral Studies at the University of Oregon, where she teaches graduate courses in choral conducting, repertoire, and pedagogy, and conducts the University Singers and the internationally award-winning Chamber Choir. Dr. Paul has presented interest sessions at regional, state, division, national, and international music conferences and appears frequently as adjudicator, clinician, and honor choir director throughout the United States, with recent engagements in Utah, Washington, Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Georgia. In the fall of 2014 she received the University of Oregon’s Fund for Faculty Excellence Award, and in 2015 she was named the Robert M. Trotter Chair of Music, one of only three endowed chairs at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Under her direction, the University of Oregon’s Chamber Choir has garnered international acclaim in recent years. In May, 2015, the Chamber Choir was one of 10 choirs worldwide invited to compete at the 14th International Chamber Choir Competition in Marktoberdorf, Germany, where they received second prize overall, won a special prize for the best interpretation of the compulsory work, and were the only student group to achieve a Level I recognition for an “excellent performance at the international level.” Previously the Chamber Choir won First Prize at the 2013 Fleischmann International Trophy Competition at the Cork International Choral Festival in Cork, Ireland. In their first international tour they took top honors in two categories at the 2011 Tallinn International Choral Festival in Tallinn, Estonia. In the summer of 2017 the Chamber Choir will tour Spain, culminating with an appearance at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona. Dr. Paul served as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and conductor of Chorissima and Virtuose, the organization’s acclaimed performance ensembles, from 1992 to July 2000. Under her leadership, the chorus released four compact discs, premiered major works by composers such as Chen Yi and Jake Heggie, represented the United States at four international festivals, and performed at the California Music Educators’ state conference, the American Choral Directors’ Western Division conference, and the International Society for Music Education’s international conference. In June 2000 the SFGC was the first youth chorus to win the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence, a national honor presented by Chorus America. In the same year they were also awarded an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.

HIGH SCHOOL HONOR CHOIR David Fryling, conductor An SSAATTBB choir of singers who will be in grades 10, 11, or 12 in March 2018 David Fryling ( is director of choral activities at Hofstra University, where he conducts both the select Hofstra Chorale and Hofstra Chamber Choir and teaches beginning and advanced studies in choral conducting, as well as graduate-level studies in choral conducting and choral literature. In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor for the Hofstra School of Education, where he supervises choral music education student teachers during their field placements. In fall 2014 David was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame as the “Educator of Note” in recognition of his years of leadership in the Long Island music education community, and in the fall of 2016 David was named a semi-finalist in both college/university and community chorus divisions of The American Prize in Choral Conducting. An energetic and engaging conductor, clinician, and adjudicator of professional, community, and high school choirs, David’s recent invitations include various all-state and regional honor choirs, master classes, workshops, and adjudications throughout New York and in New Jersey , Vermont (New England Music Festival), Connecticut, Rhode Island , Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Utah and Alaska. He has also been music director and conductor of Hofstra Opera Theater productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Chaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Poulenc’s Dialogues Des Carmelites, and has served since 2014 as a guest artist on the conducting faculty of the New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) School of Choral Studies in Fredonia, NY. In fall 2013 David founded the eVoco Voice Collective (, a nonprofit organization of singers of the highest musical, technical, and expressive abilities, who together believe in the transformative and educational power of music. Passionate advocates for excellence in the vocal art, eVoco presents choral performances and recitals of the highest caliber throughout the year. The group’s two main ensembles, the Mixed Ensemble and the Women’s Ensemble, have an “open door” policy for all rehearsals, and teachers and students of music, especially, are encouraged to “sit in” throughout the process, in the hope that the groups’ weekly work together will serve as a continual learning space for students, educators, and music enthusiasts alike. For seven summers, David served as coordinator of the Vocal Artists program at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, where he was conductor and music director of the World Youth Honors Choir and Festival Choir & Orchestra. These two choirs formed the core of the high school choral experience at this intensive six-week arts camp, and under his direction they performed large-scale works including Brahms’ Nänie, Pärt’s Credo, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Duruflé’s Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Mozart’s Mass in C (“Coronation”). Before his appointment at Hofstra, David served as music director and conductor of the University of Michigan Arts Chorale and assistant conductor of the Michigan Chamber Singers, University Choir, and the internationally acclaimed Michigan Men’s Glee Club. While in Ann Arbor, he was also the music director and conductor of the Michigan Youth Women’s Chorus, a year- round all-state honors choir composed of select high school sopranos and altos from across Michigan. In addition to his professional teaching and conducting responsibilities, David has served the American Choral Directors Association for many years, and is currently Vice President of the Eastern Division. When not on the podium, he enjoys freelancing as a professional choral tenor in the greater New York metropolitan area.

Alex and Music’s Magic

The Elicker Family is finally complete – Kim, her husband Mark, and their son Ethan in China on the day Alex officially became a member of the family.

Mark and Kim Elicker and their son Ethan were a wonderful family, but they all had so much more love to give. About six years ago they traveled to China to adopt two year old Alex. This is his story – a story of endless love and musical magic.

Before Alex came home to his family, Kim, an early childhood educator herself, took her son Ethan to Kindermusik from the time he was a baby until he aged out. Lydia Klinger was their Kindermusik educator and really drew the family in. Kim shares why she choose Kindermusik:
Lydia was the reason we started and fell in love with the program. With Ethan I admit I valued the social benefits of being with other Mom’s and families. As an early childhood educator I connected with the developmental appropriateness of the curriculum. Years later when we adopted Alex, I once again became a stay at home mom and I wanted that connection to other families. I chose Kindermusik again with Alex because I loved it so much with Ethan, but I honestly, remember seeking activities that I believed would foster our bond and attachment.

When Alex came home with the Elickers at age two he wasn’t very verbal. He was a child surrounded by sounds he had never heard. Occasionally, he’d speak a word or two of Mandarin, like mā-ma (mother), bà-ba (father), gē-ge (older brother), and siè-sie (thank you).

Dr. Boyle: When Alex came home with you, how would you describe him?
Kim Elicker: He was quiet and energetic, though when he first came home he didn’t have a lot of stamina. He was curious and resourceful! He could play with a bucket, a box of crayons, and a paper bag. That was just him – he didn’t need anything fancy.

DB: You mentioned he wasn’t very verbal.
KE: He wasn’t. And that’s a typical very typical of children who are adopted into a family who speaks a different language than he was born into.

DB: Right…so what he had been hearing for the first two years of his life, he’s wasn’t hearing that any more and was a completely different environment for him.
KE: Exactly. In our situation, everything changed – what he saw, what he heard, what he smelled, even what touched his skin. It was all very different.

DB: So…you shared with me that on days he was going to Kindermusik, Alex tended to be more verbal.
KE: Yes. In the beginning, receptively he picked up English rather quickly. He was following simple one step directions.

DB: Little kids are sponges.
KE: Yes! But his communication pretty much shut down verbally. We expected that from classes we took before the adoption. His brain was switching gears. We read to him, we talked to him, we engaged him all the time, but he didn’t attempt to speak a lot.
When we started Kindermusik, in the beginning much of it was listening in that particular first program he was in. I noticed his concentration level – his focus – was very intent. He would be very tired those afternoons after Kindermusik in the morning!

By his second set of classes, I started noticing a change. We’d go to Kindermusik, we’d have lunch, and the rest of the day he’d be much more talkative. He’d attempt new words. Anytime he tried new words, it seemed to be on Kindermusik days. Once I noticed the pattern, I really started paying attention to it. It followed this trend for about a year.

DB: And did you take part in the classes with him?
KE: Yes.

DB: That’s great. There’s a great deal of research out there that tells us that because of the way music impacts the brain, when you make music with another person, it builds empathy between you and the other person, it builds trust between you and that other person. You can become more comfortable with that person when you share a musical experience.
KE: That’s an interesting take on my situation. When you are first adopting you need to build trust. That’s part of the attachment process. It’s an interesting thing for me to hear you say – it makes total sense!

Ethan and Alex having fun in the band room at Ethan’s school.

DB: Sounds like music was an important part of Alex’s process.
KE: Yes! I remember sharing the news of Alex’s increased verbal activity with Lydia, our Kindermusik educator. She said it just gave her chills! She was excited to get that feedback.

DB: I would imagine! Kindermusik is certainly fun with music and movement, but the mission is really to help kids develop socially and emotionally…getting them to interface with other kids and have positive interactions with adults. It helps them move through those developmental domains.
KE: Certainly. And in our case, it was quite obvious because he wasn’t really verbal at all…it was very easy to pick up on when was happening.

DB: It’s just so cool to hear about this – a very specific situation in which music helped a child affected by a rather involved transition find his voice. That’s music reaching parts of the brain that everyday speech or conversation does not. I would imagine that music coupled with music was helpful.
KE: Yes! That was his other area. According to the typical US standard, he would have been lacking in gross motor. Within six months he had caught up. The movement in the class was beneficial.

DB: That’s great. So how long was Alex involved in the classes?
KE: He was five, almost six when we stopped. When we love something we stick with it!

Early childhood music classes were a very important part of the Elicker’s lives. Ethan, now 15, lives for the trumpet and plays as often as he can. And Alex? He’s going into third grade this fall. He’s taking piano lessons and singing in church. His ultimate goal is to play organ! Lydia, their Kindermusik Educator, retired after 20 years of serving musical smiles to her community. She now plays with the Harrisburg Symphony. The Elickers still keep in touch with her. Recently, she arranged a meeting with the Symphony’s guest trumpeter, Allen Vizzuti and Ethan.

For the Elickers, participating in music classes helped smooth the complex process of an international adoption, helping Alex open up and explore his verbal possibilities in his new language. As an educator, Kim knew exactly what was happening. As a mom, she got to see music work its magic in her son’s young life. That’s why music educators do what they do. They are in it to change lives.

The Mission: Evoke Sounds to Meet Human Needs

Recently I decided to create my own mission statement for my work as a choral director. I had worked through the process of defining a mission statement with our ACDA membership, and I thought it would be interesting and informative to try the same thing for my own choral work. This is what I came up with:

As a choral director, I evoke sounds through a community of singers for the satisfaction of unique human emotional needs.

As I reflected on that role, I was pleased that I had concluded that I engage in work that matters in society because of the fundamental inner life needs of fellow humans.

In 2011, the GE Corporation conducted a survey in which they interviewed a thousand senior business executives in twelve countries on the topic of innovation. The most remarkable findings of this survey were the kinds of innovation these leaders think will be most important in the future. 77 percent agreed “the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that have helped to address human needs more than those that had created the most profit…” The common denominator between my work (and your work) and the results of this survey comes in the action of satisfying human needs.

While most of us probably don’t think of a choral ensemble as an activity of innovation, if we change our perspective a little, perhaps we’ll see that choral music making is an innovative solution to addressing human needs.
If you begin thinking of your choral work through the filter of an innovative solution to a human need, where might that lead you? We know that it already is for your singers and for your past audience, but if you get out of your current “music box”, where else could it apply its uniquely human magic?

Tim Sharp is Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association. Dr. Sharp pursues an aggressive agenda of progressive initiatives to keep ACDA energized and relevant in the 21st century, inspiring ACDA’s membership to excellence in choral music performance, education, composition, and advocacy. Tim is also in his fifth season as Artistic Director of the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Tulsa, where critics characterize his performances as having “stunning power” and “great passion and precision”.