By Emily Harrison Weir
The high quality of Mount Holyoke College's Glee Club and Chamber Singers so impressed a group of music professionals that the groups have been invited to perform at a prestigious regional conference before some 800 music professionals, conductors, and educators.
The eastern region of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) invited only 15 ensembles to perform at its February 2016 conference in Boston; two are from Mount Holyoke. Being chosen to sing before this group of some 800 conductors and music educators is considered a coup, according to Lindsay Pope, Mount Holyoke's director of choral ensembles and lecturer in music.
"In my field of work, this is one of the biggest honors a choir can receive," she said. "I hope that our performance at ACDA will give Mount Holyoke's choral ensembles the recognition they deserve as cutting-edge women's choirs."
Ensembles audition for this honor, submitting their best work from the last three years anonymously to a board of choral directors that decides which groups to invite. As on TV's The Voice, the judges couldn't see the singers and chose the best choral groups based on sound alone.
"In my submission, I tried to showcase the range of repertoire that we sing here at Mount Holyoke, as well as the diversity of sound worlds—for example, classical, folk, and extended vocal techniques—that my students are able to express," Pope said.
The 40-member Glee Club and the 16-member Chamber Singers will perform a combined 25-minute set. Their repertoire is not yet finalized, but Pope has ambitious plans.
"My vision is to take a multi-movement work from the classical choral canon (such as Holst's Choral Hymns to the Rig Veda, Group 3) and juxtapose each movement with a work from another choral tradition," she said. "Many cultures will be represented."
Pope says she looks forward to sharing the MHC ensembles' work with a large and knowledgeable audience.
"Aside from Christmas Vespers, choral excellence has always been one of the best-kept secrets of Mount Holyoke," she said. "I am beyond thrilled to give my students the opportunity to perform for choral colleagues, mentors, and peers—people who will truly appreciate their vocal ability and intuitive music making."
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