California All-State Music Education Conference

February 15-18, 2018
San Jose, California


Featured Guest Ensembles: _____________________


The Filharmonic

The Filharmonic, an LA-based a cappella group of Filipino-American youngsters who were featured in NBC’S hit musical competition, The Sing-Off, has much to sing about. The 5-piece vocal group made the semi-finals, joined The Sing-Off national tour, and were featured in the Universal Pictures hit movie, Pitch Perfect 2, setting off a viral sensation after their Late Late Show appearance. In 2016, The Filharmonic brings their unique blend of hip hop, pop and 90’S nostalgia to more than 150 college stages nationwide and was named the #1 college booked entertainment group of the year.

Entertainment Weekly raved, “The Filharmonic knows how to put on an effortless performance, dancing and just having a party”

Click here to learn more about this amazing ensemble.


Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble

Now celebrating its 39th season, Kitka is an American women’s vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe. Dedicated to developing new audiences for music rooted in Balkan, Slavic, and Caucasian women’s vocal traditions, Kitka also strives to expand the boundaries of folk song as a living and evolving expressive art form. Kitka’s activities include an Oakland-based home series of concerts and vocal workshops, regional, national, and international touring, programs in the schools, recording, publication, and broadcast projects, master artist residencies, commissioning, original works, community service, and adventuresome collaborations. A frequently occurring symbolic word in Balkan women’s folk song lyrics, Kitka means “bouquet” in Bulgarian and Macedonian.

A women’s vocal ensemble unlike any other, these sophisticated singers blend a contemporary sensibility with specialized vocal techniques that have been distilled over centuries. Using only the pure unaccompanied voice, Kitka creates a constantly shifting landscape of sound, pulsing with angular rhythms, where dramatic dynamics leap from delicate stillness to shattering resonance, and seamless unisons explode into lush, incomprehensible chords.

Kitka’s material ranges from ancient village duets to complex choral works, from early music to contemporary theater. The sound of their voices is exotic, both elegant and eerie. The melodies are hauntingly beautiful. The many languages in which they sing are largely unfamiliar to American ears: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Georgian, Hungarian, Ladino, Latvian, Macedonian, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, with the occasional Latin, medieval Galician, or ancient Greek. It is exactly this unfamiliarity that is so riveting, as Kitka’s sensitive precision lifts their work out of the merely musical into a universe beyond words, an experience that is primal, elemental.

More than just a concert, an evening with Kitka unites vibrant music, enhanced by a subtly changing stage picture, compelling song introductions, and each singer’s warm rapport with the audience. Listeners are transported by a continuous unfolding of music that flows seamlessly from ethereal, contemplative pieces to rousing earthy rhythms.

This is powerful music by accomplished musicians who offer more than just exquisite execution—these women clearly share a passion for what they do. Kitka: joyful voices uniquely blended in exquisite dissonance and harmony.

Click here to learn more about this amazing ensemble.


CASMEC Performing Ensembles: ______________________________________

    Voce (Cuesta College)   (John Knutson)

Voce is the premier vocal jazz ensemble at Cuesta College. Since its inception in 1981, the ensemble has toured extensively on the West Coast and has toured Europe eleven times. Voce has received numerous awards including an Outstanding Performance Award from Downbeat Magazine, First Place at the Reno Jazz Festival, two invitations to perform at the Conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators, two invitations to perform at the Jazz Education Network conference, and an appearance at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Voce has been the featured headliner at the California Music Educators Conference, the Point Loma Jazz Festival, and at the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival. In Europe, Voce has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and The Vokal Total Festival (Austria). Voce has recorded five CDs, “Sea Journey in 2001, “Just One of Those Things,” in 2006, “Timepieces” in 2008, “Crossing the Lines” in 2011, and their newest CD, “The Whole Package” in 2014.
    Bakersfield College Chamber Singers  (Jennifer Garrett)

The Bakersfield College Chamber Singers is an elite, auditioned group of students and alumni that perform challenging repertoire of all styles and periods. They perform in at least two major concerts per semester and can be seen at numerous school, community, and private events. In Bakersfield they have been featured on the morning news and on the radio show, “First Look” with Scott Cox”. The Chamber Singers constantly seek for new opportunities and challenges and recently commissioned composer Ron Kean to write a piece for their upcoming concert entitled, “Freedom”. This commission developed into a collaborative project between Dr. Kean, Dr. Garrett, and the Bakersfield College Choirs. In March “The Journey of Harriet Tubman” was premiered as a multi-movement work with staging, soloists, and an original video by Hannah Kean about the life of Harriet Tubman. The Chamber Singers were truly blessed to be able to honor such an amazing woman.

The Chamber Singers proudly represent Bakersfield College in touring locally and abroad in places such as Hawaii, Costa Rica, and in 2013 they performed with American composer, Eric Whitacre in Carnegie Hall in New York. In June 2015 the Chamber Singers represented the College on a performance tour of Rome, Florence, and Venice, Italy. Then in July of 2018 the Chamber Singers will join choirs from around the world in the Sydney Opera House under the direction of Craig Hella Johnson.

    Monte Vista High School Chamber Singers  (Jodi Reed)

Chamber Singers is Monte Vista’s select group comprised of 32 singers, usually juniors and seniors. Monte Vista placed first in the Northern California Golden State Choral Competition in 2014. In 2015 they appeared on the nationally syndicated NPR radio show, From The Top, hosted by Christopher O’Riley. They have traveled extensively, most recently to Italy, France, UK and are preparing for their upcoming 2017 Spain tour.
    Santa Clara University Chamber Singers  (Scot Hanna-Weir)

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s, Ph.D., and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the fourth-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. The Department of Music at SCU provides an inspiring and creative environment that engages students in the study, creation, and appreciation of music as an essential element of a Jesuit liberal arts education. The department offers multiple areas of study including performance, musicianship, theory, composition, historical and cultural studies, and technology. The Chamber Singers is a mixed ensemble of highly select, experienced singers and is the University’s premiere choral ensemble. Their repertoire includes a variety of sophisticated chamber choral music from the renaissance to the present day, often including new commissions and premieres. The ensemble is composed of about half music majors, most carrying dual majors.
    Cantabile Youth Singers   (Elena Sharkova)

Cantabile was established in 1994 by music teacher and choral conductor Signe Boyer in response to the need for a music education program providing vocal technique, musicianship skills, and group singing in a non-religious setting. Our founder Signe continues to be involved in the organization’s growth and success. Her vision and legacy continue through the Signe Boyer Scholarship Fund that ensures that no child is ever turned away for financia l reasons.

Signe’s vision and the hard work of a very engaged Board of Directors helped grow enrollment steadily as the group gained regional prominence and participated in national and international festivals and tours. In 2004, internationally acclaimed conductor Elena Sharkova was appointed as Artistic Director. Since then, two new choirs have been added: Aria – a young women’s a cappella ensemble, and Bravi – a young men’s choir; and our Young Men’s Division has expanded to include our new Vocal Training Group directed by Jace Wittig. Our Preparatory classes, now part of our Training Division, have doubled in size. Cantabile has performed on such prominent stages as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and alongside professional artists and groups including Symphony Silicon Valley and Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Opera San Jose and West Bay Opera, Ballet San Jose, and the legendary Kronos Quartet. Cantabile’s recent international tours include the Passion of Italy Festival, Newfoundland, the UK, Russia, Finland, Ireland, and Paris, France. Cantabile is proud to be touring in New Orleans, Louisiana, this season.

    Acalanes High School Bella Voce  (Bruce Lengacher)

Bella Voce is the advanced women’s chamber ensemble in Acalanes choral program. This auditioned ensemble sings a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Renaissance to newly commissioned works. They compete in the Women’s Golden State Choral Competition and have placed 4 out of the last 5 years. They have been recognized for their mature tone, expressiveness and a high level of artistry.
    California State University, Fullerton Concert Choir  (Christopher Peterson)

The California State University, Fullerton Concert Choir, directed by Christopher Peterson, is a 74-voice auditioned, mixed ensemble comprised primarily of students studying voice in the School of Music. The Concert Choir gives a number of performances in Southern California every year, and has also toured in Canada, Hawaii, Europe, and the United States. The Concert Choir performs a variety of accompanied and unaccompanied repertoire, and collaborates annually with the CSUF University Singers to present performances of choral-orchestral masterworks. They have joined the University Singers in performances with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. For the past four years they have represented CSUF at the Pacific Southwest Intercollegiate Choral Association Festival of Choirs. A major mission of the Concert Choir is to sing and perform traditional as well as new choral music at the highest artistic levels, and to communicate to their audiences through compelling and musical performances.
    American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble  (Arthur Lapierre)

This year marks the 20th year in which the American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble has been directed by Dr. Arthur Lapierre. The ensemble performs regularly at school functions as well as at local high schools and community events. In 2005 the ensemble recorded their self-titled CD, American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and won their first DownBeat Award. Most recently the ensemble collected its’ 16th DownBeat Award. The ensemble has, over the years, performed for IAJE, ACDA, and JEN in conferences held in cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Salt Lake City, New York, Long Beach, and New Orleans. The American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble is the advanced-level vocal group in a 2-year jazz degree comprised of courses including jazz choir, jazz/pop styles, jazz history, jazz theory, jazz improvisation, Jazz piano, and applied lessons. All our recordings may be heard at:
    Reyburn Intermediate Tenor Bass Ensemble  (Allison Crose)

Reyburn Intermediate is one of five middle schools in Clovis Unified. It lies on the East side of the town of Clovis, where the community is rich in agriculture and diversity. The students and community vary greatly in demographics, creating a large range of capabilities among the students.

The Tenor Bass Ensemble is Reyburn’s all-male ensemble. This group is non-auditioned and has grown considerably in size over the past 5 years.

They enjoy learning a wide variety of musical styles at varying levels of difficulty. Their favorites range from lighthearted stories such as “Pirate Song” by Tim Y. Jones all the way to the heartfelt text of “Homeward Bound” by Carl Strommen.

The Tenor Bass students are often complimented by choral directors and adjudicators for their professional singing onstage as well as their etiquette and support as audience members.

They have earned Command Performances Ratings at the Clovis Unified School District Choral Festival for two years in a row, as well as the 2016 Central Coast Choral Festival Award for Excellence.

Interest Sessions: ______________________________________________________

    Essential ingredients for a successful secondary choral program: Committing to the process  (Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos and Amanda Isaac)

Dr. Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos and Amanda Isaac will discuss and provide strategies on how to foster music literacy, musicianship, and vocal technique. In addition, the session will provide insights for effective instructional delivery and appropriate repertory selection.
    Finding Their Space: Re-Inventing The Choral Audition   (Alyssa Cossey)

“Auditions” can be intimidating, even for the most seasoned singer. This session will transform the traditional choral auditioning process from selective, competitive, and anxiety-ridden to one that is inclusive, welcoming, and focused on the individual. By challenging traditional auditioning procedures and offering new strategies, directors can more accurately assess students’ skills and set their singers and ensembles up for success. Techniques such as effective vocal range testing procedures, tonal memory exercises that work, and tricks for helping new singers “find” their voice and leave the audition feeling successful will ensure that every singer finds a place in your choral ensemble.
    Movement to Bring Your Choir to Life   (Jeffrey Benson)

Those who do the work, do the learning! This session will provide techniques for including movement and engaging the singer in ways to improve tone, intonation, rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, articulation, and the overall musician.
    The First Five Years: A Survival & Planning Guide   (Becky Marsh & Alyssa Cossey)

So you got the job, now what?! How many students will you have? What classes are you expected to teach? Who do you ask about music, funding, facilities…and the list goes on. Knowing where to start can be a daunting task. This session will explore the challenges that all music teachers face in a new position, from navigating the students’ needs and expectations and surviving the first day, to establishing healthy and attainable goals for both the near and distant future. By the end of this session attendees will learn how to thrive in, rather than simply survive, those first five years!
    Inside-Out Conducting: Uncovering your unique conducting style   (Buddy James)

This session takes on traditional conducting instruction and offers an alternate, and often opposite, approach. Instead of applying pre-existing patterns and gestures to existing music, attendees will be challenged to first deeply examine the music, and themselves, to uncover unique and effective gestures for communication. Movement and communication techniques, including Laban movement analysis and Tai-Chi, will be used to bring the musical language of choral masterworks to life. Numerous attendees will be selected for demonstration and feedback.

Session Handout – Inside Out Conducting
Session Slideshow – Inside Out Conducting

    Selecting and teaching repertory for the singers you have and the choir you want to build  (Jenny Bent and Angel M. Vázquez-Ramos)

Dr. Jenny Bent and Dr. Angel M Vázquez-Ramos will discuss strategies for selecting educationally and pedagogically valuable repertory for ensembles comprised of singers with varying ability and experience levels. The session will also provide rehearsal planning and pacing techniques that meet the musical needs of each singer, thus enhancing your choir’s appreciation and understanding of the works they perform and the choral art.
    WHAT? I’m teaching CHOIR?!  (Rachelle Randeen)

Are you an instrumental director who has been given the “opportunity” to teach choir? Is this “opportunity” accompanied by feelings of panic, stress and helplessness? Do not fear! We’ve got you! You CAN do this! And be successful!! Subjects covered in this session include…

  • Teaching appropriate vocal tone production
  • Breath support, vowel shape & diction
  • Teaching part singing
  • Teaching Sight Singing
  • Rehearsal tips & tricks
  • Personality / leadership variances between instrumental & choral music
  • Festivals & adjudicated performances
  • Selection of choral repertoire

    Tackling Difficult Dialogues through Repertoire   (Scot Hanna-Weir)

The world is complex and our singers face many challenges confronting the difficult issues of today, particularly in light of recent events. Thankfully, the text and topics of choral music provides us with opportunities to open our classrooms up to more than just music making. How can we use pieces of music that are artistically satisfying to also be the impetus for discussion and consideration of the real challenges that we face as a society, and how can we help guide our students in these explorations?
    Sound before Sight? Taka-what? Creating Sound Musicians in the Choral Classroom   (Joshua Palkki)

Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory suggests that a sound before symbol approach is most effective when teaching students to read music. Yet, many choral teachers take a notation-based approach that ignores the aural preparation that is necessary for singers to hear (audiate) musical notation. This interactive session will demonstrate teaching strategies to help create “sound musicians” in the choral classroom—singers who can bring notation to life aurally rather than simply learning to decode symbols. Rhythm syllable systems, solfege systems, teaching strategies, and resources will be presented. Come and learn how Takadimi rhythm syllables and a well-sequenced approach to music literacy can change the musical lives of your students!
    We Can Mend the Sky: Choral Music and Social Justice in an Age of Division  (Joshua Palkki)

Jake Runestad’s “We Can Mend the Sky” ends with the lyric, “If we come together, we can mend a crack in the sky.” In 2017, Americans live in an exceedingly divided society. What can choral conductor-teachers do in the wake of such disunion? In addition to being safe, inclusive people for singers, choral educators can be a part of social justice work in several ways; for example, through: community and/or non-profit collaborations, the programming and commissioning of social justice-themed repertoire, and discussions with singers and audience members about how choral music relates to equity, inclusion, and justice. This interactive session will explore practical ways in which choral musicians can be part of the solution. Collaborative models and repertoire suggestions will be shared.
    Modifying Scores to Suit the Ensemble   (Roger Emerson)



Reading Sessions: ______________________________________

    Reading Session A1  (Friday, 8:30 am)
Bill Zinn

Easy High School SATB
Middle School/Jr. High Choirs
Show Choir
    Reading Session A2  (Friday, 8:30 am)
Tammi Alderman

Advanced High School SATB
College & University
Two-Year College
Vocal Jazz
    Reading Session B1  (Friday, 1:45 pm)
Kim Nason

Children & Community Youth Choirs
Elementary School Choirs
    Reading Session B2  (Friday, 1:45 pm)
Angel Vázquez-Ramos

Men’s Choirs
Women’s Choirs
Ethnic & Multicultural Perspectives


Choral Leadership Academy:

  • This event is for high school, community college, and university students interested in the choral music profession.

    The CLA will bring together high school students who demonstrate an interest in the music profession, together with pre-service college music education majors, for two days of musical and educational activities. These activities will teach musicianship skills, inspire confidence, and build camaraderie among musicians of the next generation. Click here for more information.


Conference Registration is Now Open!    Click here to learn more.  Be sure to enter your ACDA member number when you register. It can be found above your name on the address label of your Cantate magazine.