Under the direction of Karen Bruno, Bel Canto was the only school-aged ensemble from Wisconsin selected to sing at the four-day (Feb.8-11) convention, which features choirs and choral directors from six states. Only 14 choirs total were chosen to sing at the conference.
Bel Canto will perform a 25-minute program Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. The choir will be accompanied by Lawrence conservatory students on piano and percussion, with guest student instrumentalists from the Lawrence Academy of Music and Fox Valley Youth Symphony. Performances at the ACDA conference are open to the public with a $5 charge.
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected to perform for this convention,” said Bruno. “We are thrilled to represent the Lawrence community as well as the Fox Valley. Our conference program represents what we do well: a broad range of music for women’s choirs, in a variety of languages, from a wide range of historical periods and countries.”
The choir will sing a premiere arrangement from Monteverdi’s opera “L’Orfeo,” standard repertoire including “Salut, Printemps!” by Claude Debussy and “Nigra Sum” by Pablo Casals and close with an exciting dance-like composition from Peru.
Bel Canto offers a sneak preview of its conference program in a performance tonight (Feb. 7) in a “send-off” concert at 7:30 pm in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Admission is free, with free-will donations accepted to help cover convention costs.
The girl choir was selected for the ACDA conference based upon three years’ worth of recordings that passed two rigorous blind audition processes.
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.
Teaching excellence, scholarship and creative activity earned four members of the Lawrence University recognition Sunday, June 5 at the college’s 162nd commencement. Eilene Hoft-March, professor of French and Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor, was recognized with Lawrence’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in absentia. The award honors outstanding performance in the teaching process, including the quest to ensure students reach their full development as individuals, human beings and future leaders of society.
A member of the faculty since 1988, Hoft-March previously was recognized with the college’s Young Teacher Award in 1991 and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1997. She is one of only three faculty members to earn those three teaching awards.
Hoft-March is a scholar of 20th-century French literature and autobiographies. Her scholarship also includes literature about children and the Holocaust. In addition to French language and French literature, she teaches courses in gender studies and has been a leader in the Freshman Studies program.
She has directed Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar in Dakar, Senegal and served as a faculty advisor to students in the Posse Program, an initiative that brings high-achieving high school students with exceptional leadership skills from New York City public high schools to Lawrence.
In announcing the award, Lawrence President Jill Beck reminded the audience the awards are a secret and Hoft-March was unable to attend the ceremonies.
Hoft-March earned a bachelor of arts degree in French and English at Carroll University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in French at the University of California-Berkeley.
Peter Glick, professor of psychology and Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of the Social Sciences, received the Award for Excellence in Scholarship, which honors a faculty member who has demonstrated sustained scholarly excellence for a number of years and whose work exemplifies the ideals of the teacher-scholar.
A social psychologist, Glick studies both the subtle and the overt ways in which prejudices and stereotypes foster social inequality. Along with Susan T. Fiske of Princeton University, Glick introduced the concept of “ambivalent sexism,” which asserts that not just hostile, but subjectively benevolent — though patronizing and traditional — views of women as pure, but fragile, reinforce gender inequality.
Most recently, Glick served as co-editor of the book “Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination” and a special issue on ambivalent sexism published in the journal Sex Roles. His research was recognized by the Harvard Business Review on its list of “Breakthrough Ideas for 2009.” That same year he was elected president of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
“Your theoretical and empirical analyses of the difficult, stubborn problem of ambivalent sexism have caught the interest of a large segment of the academic community, and have been cited literally thousands of times,” Beck said in presenting Glick his award. “Your research combines well-defined empirical studies, careful analysis and clear, insightful writing. Sexism is clearly an issue of great contemporary concern, and your insights into its origins represent an important example of how well conducted academic scholarship can address meaningful social issues.”
A member of the faculty since 1985, Glick earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Minnesota. Phillip Swan, associate professor of music and associate director of choral studies, received the Award for Excellence in Creative Activity. Established in 2006, the award recognizes outstanding creative work for advancing Lawrence’s mission.
Swan joined Lawrence’s conservatory of music faculty in 2002 as director of Cantala, the college’s women’s choir. Under his direction, Cantala has established a reputation for its outstanding vocal production and mastery in the art of creating an artistic choral sound. In addition to his work with Cantala, Swan is the musical director for Lawrence musical productions and serves as co-conductor of the White Heron Chorale, a semi-professional community ensemble.
Earlier this year, Cantala, which is comprised of freshmen and sophomores, received the highest honor in the field of choral ensembles — an invitation to perform at the prestigious American Choir Directors’ Association national conference in Chicago. Cantala was selected from more than 400 entries worldwide and was the only women’s collegiate choir so honored.
“Part master musician, part inspirational director, and yes, part psychologist, you transformed your young choir from wide-eyed recruits in September to a world-class vocal ensemble in March,” said Provost David Burrows in honoring Swan. “Cantala performed flawlessly at the ACDA convention and received standing ovations from the choir world’s most discriminating audience — 2,000 choir directors. This accomplishment is clearly the result of the inspired, creative and brilliant work you do with our students.”
Swan earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Concordia College, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Texas-El Paso and has completed all coursework for the DMA in choral conducting at the University of Miami (Fla.).
Scott Corry, assistant professor of mathematics, received the Young Teacher Award in recognition of demonstrated excellence in the classroom and the promise of continued growth.
Since joining the faculty in 2007, Corry has taught courses in calculus, linear algebra and number theory, among others, as well as Freshman Studies.
In presenting his award, Burrows praised Corry for “a passion for mathematics that leads to your great success.”
“Rather than fill your students with formulas and proofs, you focus on the process of mathematics,” said Burrows. “In the finest traditions of liberal learning, you free the minds of your students to think and not merely to memorize. You introduce them to a world where they can stand in awe of the power and beauty of mathematics. Your students admire your quiet but firm insistence on rigorous standards, your deep knowledge and your well-organized, understandable class presentations.”
Corry earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Reed College and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Conducted every two years, the ACDA national conference is the largest and most important choral event conducted in the United States. It typically attracts in excess of 5,000 choral directors from around the world.
The 36-member Cantala is the only collegiate women’s choir in the country selected to perform at this year’s conference and one of only 42 choirs from around the world invited to sing.
“Obviously this is a huge honor,” said Swan, associate professor of music, who has directed Cantala the past nine years. “It’s a little like winning a choral music Oscar in that you’re selected by a panel of your peers who have chosen to showcase Cantala as an example of one of the best choirs in the country. That’s very gratifying.”
Cantala was selected from among nearly 500 submitted tapes in a blind audition process by a jury of choral conductors. Choirs were chosen based on a series of recordings of performances covering the past three years.
“In making their selections, the jury wants to make sure any choirs they chose are consistent and reliable over a span of time. You can’t just have one good year,” said Swan.
Featured twice on the conference’s last day, Cantala will sing a 22-minute program on Saturday, March 12: a morning performance at the 3,500-seat Auditorium Theater on the campus of Roosevelt University and an afternoon performance at historic Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, home of the famed Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Cantala’s seven-song program, cleverly entitled “Jekyll, Hyde…and Seek,” is a series of works reflecting traditional/stable, unpredictable/unsettled and playful/childlike music. The program includes a 14th-century polyphonic work; Brahms’ “Four Songs, Op. 17” (mvt. 1); two contemporary works by composers Abbie Betinis and Yosif Ketchakhmadz; a Canadian folk song; andworks by Joan Szymko and Gwyneth Walker, two composers widely recognized for their significant contributions to the body of literature for women’s voices.
This is the second straight ACDA national conference in which a Lawrence choir was invited to perform. The Lawrence Concert Choir, under the direction of Rick Bjella, was selected to sing at the 2009 conference in Oklahoma City.
“To be chosen to sing at two national conventions in a row is really significant,” said Swan. “It clearly speaks to the quality of the choral music-making program at Lawrence.”
Swan, who serves as co-director of choral studies at Lawrence, also leads the Lawrence Hybrid Ensemble (jazz, early, contemporary, and world music) in addition to Cantala. He teaches courses in conducting, musical theater, music education and coaches student organized a cappella groups.
Active in the Appleton community, he serves as choir director at Appleton Alliance Church and conductor for the adult community choir, the White Heron Chorale.
The voices of two Lawrence University choirs will be showcased Friday, March 3 on the stage of the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha, Neb., as part of the North Central — American Choral Directors Association division convention.
Only five college-level choirs were selected for the convention and Lawrence pulled off a rare double invitation by having both its Concert Choir and Women’s Choir chosen to perform. The ACDA North Central division includes institutions in a six-state area — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Nebraska.
Choirs are chosen by a review committee through a blind audition tape process. The audition CDs submitted feature “live” concert performances from the previous three years. Joining Lawrence as college division performers will be the Dordt College Choir, Concordia University A Cappella Choir and the Minnesota State University – Mankato Concert Choir.
“Only the best auditions are chosen to perform at the convention, so for Lawrence to have two of the five college choir ensembles selected is really quite an honor,” said Phillip Swan, conductor of the women’s choir.
The Lawrence Concert Choir, under the direction of Richard Bjella, will perform at 9:35 Friday morning, while Swan’s Women’s Choir will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. The Concert Choir was selected for the honor of performing the ACDA’s prestigious Raymond Brock Commission Composition, which was composed by Mack Wilberg, the associate director of the Morman Tabernacle Choir.
The Women’s Choir will perform a program entitled “In Praise of…” that will feature three distinct sections: “In Praise of the Sacred,” “In Praise of Music” and “In Praise of Cultural Diversity,” which will include compositions from Venezuella, Czechoslovokia and the United States.
Founded in 1959, the American Choral Directors Association is composed of more than 20,000 choral musicians from schools, colleges, and universities, industry and institutional organizations, places of worship and community and professional choirs representing all 50 states.