‘New Normal’ – Reimagining Choral Singing!

Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador

An intimate, extended 3-day environment in which 16 choral conductors can explore innovative practices and develop strategies for offering relevant opportunities for singing together in their local communities, schools, and choral organizations.

André de Quadros, presenter/facilitator

October 27-29, 2020 • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Given the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic, we will follow Provincial and University guidelines for presenting this project in October.

In the 21st century, the term “new normal” has been used to describe an unusual occurrence that has become commonplace. It is something that replaces the expected, the usual, and the typical. Rather than lament what has been done in the past or what could have been done, the ‘new normal’ is a time of extraordinary possibilities if one is are willing to embrace change and, in the case of choral singing, new ways of and reasons for singing together.

As many disciplines are reinventing themselves in the 21st century and embracing a new eclecticism infused by feminism, critical theory, queer theory, race, and postcolonial studies, the same possibility exists for choral music. Race, gender, poverty, and justice are beginning to become voices in the conversation of what it means to sing together. The evolving role(s) of the choral conductor in the 21st century is expanded to include new and evolving roles of the choral conductor/leader (e.g., servant-leadership). New teaching and rehearsal strategies are developing to address the diverse role of the choral conductor/leader.

Choral music is reshaping itself, reimagining and building new repertoires, purposes, and societal connections. Through a 3–day professional learning retreat, conductors will begin to reimagine the choral art as they are immersed into the world of possibilities experienced in and through choral singing.

The quantity, quality, diversity, and scope of choral music in the 21st century is staggering. As more and more people are discovering the benefits of collective singing, the field is experiencing a rapidly changing scope and purpose. One aspect of this ‘new normal’ is the adaptation of the choral genre to local contexts, demographics, and goals. Some choirs in the ‘new normal’ include the previously-unincluded, e.g., ensembles that have a cause beyond creating beautiful music and those singers who work for a better world through their choral art. (Choral Music in Global Perspective, André de Quadros, 2019)

3-day professional learning retreat

The aim of this immersive retreat is to provide an intimate, extended 3-day environment in which 16 choral conductors can explore innovative practices and develop strategies for offering relevant opportunities for singing together in their local communities, schools, and choral organizations.

Throughout these interactive sessions, participants will explore varied singing traditions and repertoire, new and evolving performance practices, and scholarly research that repositions a once-Western phenomenon as a combination of both a global and community-based concept. The ‘new normal’ is also ever-changing in that what is new today will become essential to the ongoing development of choral music in the foreseeble future. Choral conductors/leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador are already re-creating the use of singing and song in varied contexts and settings. This retreat will highlight already existing practices and build toward future initiatives related to the evolving roles of singing and song in innovative ways. Newfoundland and Labrador is poised to be a national and international leader in this new global movement in choral singing.

Be a part of this experience

All choral leaders (e.g., community organizations/private schools, K-12 music educators, faith-based musical leaders) across the province will be invited to apply, with a maximum of 16 guaranteed a space (in accordance with the funding we are applying for). In order to extend participation to participants outside the St. John’s metro area, 6 conductors will be compensated for travel to and from St. John’s. Lunch will be provided for all participants (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday). Release time from school-based teaching responsibiites (approximately 6 participants will be covered and the NLESD will be reimbursed through reimbursement of substitute days). Workshop resource materials will be provided to delegates on site. All participants will attend all three days of the retreat. 

What’s in it for me?

For choral conductors in our province, this retreat will be:

A means to learn more about current research, initiatives, and changing practices in choral music on a global scale… and reflect on possible connections to this province and country.

A means to acknowledge and celebrate wonderful leadership in this province already – creative, innovative, and important practices in varied choral contexts and settings.

A means to collaborate and reflect together on ways forward in choral music in this province (and beyond) – ways that embrace the ever-evolving nature of how singing and song are embedded in fundamental community-based values, traditions, needs, and interest.

A means to grow understandings of the potential of singing together in terms of both artistic and socio-cultural needs, objectives and outcomes as we think collaboratively about future role(s) of choral music in the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and beyond.

A means to bring choral leaders in NL together for an immersive experience in all ways, means and reasons for singing together.

A means to strengthen relationships between choral leaders… leading to growth of respect and valuing of each other’s varied practices, settings, and contexts.

André de Quadros

Dr. André de Quadros, conductor, ethnomusicologist, music educator, writer, and human rights activist has conducted and undertaken choral education research in over forty countries around the globe. Professor of Music at Boston University, André has held a number of leadership positions at the university, including Director of the School of Music, Chair of the Music Education Department, Chair of the Department of Music in the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Artistic Director of the Tanglewood Institute. A sought-after conductor and clinician, André is Music Director and Conductor of the Manado State University Choir (Indonesia) with which he toured France, Sweden, Sri Lanka, and Poland in 2010 winning a first prize at the Warsaw International Competition. An ardent human rights and social change activist, André believes that consensus music-making can bring people and cultures together. To that end, he has been at the forefront of efforts for music and social change. André is a leader in conducting pedagogy and has pioneered a process of music-making that stretches the boundaries of traditional choral music-making by developing new cross-cultural experimental repertoire with influences of Arab, Indian, Latin American, and Indonesian music. As author and editor, André has edited the prestigious Cambridge Companion to Choral Music for Cambridge University Press; is co-editor and co-author of Tanglewood II: Summoning the Future of Music Education published by GIA Press; and author of Choral Music in Global Perspective, published in 2019 by Routledge.

Stay tuned for updates and information about how to apply

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