As the Conner High School Choir from Hebron, Kentucky, gets ready to leave for Indianapolis this week, director John DeFerraro tells FloVoice about his group's road to the Music for All National Choir Festival.
By John DeFerraro
If you are looking for a truly educational alternative to the standard Orlando, Florida, trip with your choir to spend three days in an amusement park and perform for a grand total of 15 minutes, look no further than the Music for All National Choir Festival.
As choral directors, we are constantly bombarded by invitations to attend festivals and travel the globe with our groups. I’m positive that I currently have upwards of 40-50 messages containing invitations to perform in New York, Orlando, Italy, and other amazing destinations with my program.
Watch the 2018 Music for All National Festival LIVE on FloVoice!
While I don’t wish to diminish those organizations and the amazing opportunities that they offer, I was looking for something truly unique for the current group of students that I have this year. We are at the tipping point of reaching fantastic heights, but we needed a goal that would push us to the next level.
Specifically, we needed something that would not only serve as a challenge and an honor to obtain, but that would also provide a chance to elevate my students’ knowledge and challenge my skills as a conductor.
Music for All has created this for our profession with its first-ever national choral festival, which gets underway this Thursday and continues to Saturday. It is the only event that I have found that dedicates time to students' growth as individual musicians and student leaders, as well as providing conductor-only clinics.
When I read about the clinician lineup (Henry Leck as artistic director, alongside Joe Flummerfelt, Rollo Dilworth, Jason Max Ferdinand, and many, many others), I was impressed! This is the equivalent of multiple years of all-state honor choir conductors, each of whom will be working with my students.
Not only will our choir bring our own set of concert music to perform Friday at the lovely St. John the Evangelist Church with a guaranteed audience, but we will also receive a direct group master class session immediately afterward. What an amazing chance for educational growth.
Beyond that, these same clinicians will be leading my students alongside the other choral participants in preparation for a choral/orchestral concert under the baton of Leck and Dilworth. On Saturday afternoon, this assembled group of over 400 singers will fill the Hilbert Circle Theatre, home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, as a combined massive festival choir.
In all, we will receive individual group clinics, specialized topic interest sessions, an audio/video recording of our performance, a guest concert by the Oakwood Aeolians, a combined festival choir with orchestra, student leadership training with Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, and conductor-only workshops and roundtables.
I honestly do not believe it is possible to cram more into a three-day weekend, and I look forward to being one of the first choral programs to experience this transformative event.
While we are on our way to Indiana, I encourage other directors check it out for their programs in 2019. Even if you just apply, you will receive feedback on your submissions from Leck and other artistic committee members.
This is going to be a hallmark for our choral program and a moment in time when we will be able to look back and say, “That’s where it all began!”
The 2018 Music for All National Festival takes place March 15-17 and is streaming LIVE on FloVoice.