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The evolution of choral sound: in professional choirs from the 1970s to the twenty-first century

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Imitation is the genesis of change. One basic principle of human nature is that people imitate what they see and hear. In the professional choral arena, musicians extend the high

Imitation is the genesis of change. One basic principle of human nature is that people imitate what they see and hear. In the professional choral arena, musicians extend the high art of imitation through fine-tuning, and creative reinterpretation. Stimulated by this cycle, the color of the twenty-first-century professional choir shifted compared to that of professional choirs from the 1950s through 1970s, causing an evolution in choral sound. In a series of interviews with iconic composers and conductors of professional choirs, the subjects involved in the study conveyed comprehensive and personal accounts outlining how professional choirs have refined the standard of choral sound. The paper is organized into three sections: (1) where have we been, (2) where are we now and (3) where are we going? It explores various conductors' perceptions of how and why choirs are unique when compared to earlier generations and what they believe caused the shift in choral tone. Paired with this perspective is the role of modern composers, whose progressive compositional techniques helped shape the modern choral sound. The subjects involved in the study further theorize how current inclinations may potentially shape the future of professional choral music. Although the subjects expressed differing opinions about the quality of the twenty-first-century choral tone, many agree that there have been specific transformations since the 1970s. The shift in choral tone occurred due to developments in vocal technique, exploration of contemporary compositional extended techniques, an adherence to historically informed performance practice, imitation of vocal colors from numerous cultures, incorporation of technology and emulation of sound perceived on recordings. Additionally, choral music subtly became prominent in film scores, and innovative conductors created progressive concert programming, and developed novel approaches to entertain audiences. Samplings of contributors involved in this study include: John Rutter, Harry Christophers, Charles Bruffy, Nigel Short, Craig Hella Johnson, Alice Parker, Michael McGlynn, Phillip Brunelle, Craig Jessop, Libby Larsen, Ola Gjeilo, Cecilia McDowall, Jaakko Mäntyjärvi and Stephen Paulus.

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  • 2013

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Training for music administration: meeting the needs of future music faculty

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Department chairs or school directors, as the bridge between administration and faculty, and closely associated with the teaching and learning at the heart of the institution, hold very important roles

Department chairs or school directors, as the bridge between administration and faculty, and closely associated with the teaching and learning at the heart of the institution, hold very important roles in the departments or schools they oversee. Many chairs and department administrators in music schools and departments are selected from the faculty of the department and asked to serve as the chief administrator. They assume a set of duties that, to that point, have been beyond the purview of their academic training and professional experience--particularly for those with training in the performance disciplines. While usually successful as teachers, these new chairs and department heads face a difficult transition into administrative work because the skills required for an effective administrator are very different from those necessary to be an effective teacher.

The purpose of this research was to ascertain the knowledge and skills that would be most practical for individuals aspiring to administrative or leadership roles in schools or departments of music, and to design a doctoral cognate that would supply that knowledge. The author reviewed the available research into administrative training for individuals pursuing administrative work in schools and departments of music. Interviews were then conducted with current or former music administrators from across the United States, inquiring about their experiences as administrators, any administrative training they received, and the types of things they wished they had known when first working in an administrative capacity. The author used this information to make recommendations concerning the creation of a doctoral cognate in administration for graduate students preparing to become music faculty so that they are equipped to undertake administrative responsibilities.

The resulting cognate area consists of four courses: a course in finance, budgeting, and development; a course on organizational structure and behavior; a course on management and leadership theory; and a practicum or independent study in administration, in which students spend time observing and shadowing their department administrator(s) to apply the principles learned in the previous three courses.

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  • 2015