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Looking Forward

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As we usher in the new year and the start of a new decade, threats to our national security and economic stability stream across the headlines with alarming regularity. Yet, in the face of such uncertainty, music continues to yield a singular and unique power to bring people together and lift our spirits. In tribute to the many great educators who carry the torch of music into the trenches of our schools, endowing future generations with the capacity to express themselves through song, this issue features our fifth annual Choral Directors of Note report. As we honor a handful of vocal music teachers, it is important to once again note that the mentors named in these pages are intended to be merely representative of the legions of wonderful and inspired choral directors across the country.

Nevertheless, the work being done simply cannot be overstated. In some cases, this means providing children who might not otherwise have a chance to succeed with a place where they feel welcome. “Sometimes, all these kids need is for someone to believe in them and then they begin to believe in themselves,” notes John Harned, the choral director of Sandy Hook, Connecticut’s Newtown High School and one of the 2010 Choral Director of Note honorees. Martha Helen Schmidt, who is both a composer and the choral director of Burnsville (Minn.) Senior High School, relates a story of an alto singer who auditioned and earned a solo in a school concert, in spite of being afflicted with Down syndrome. Joel Everist, the director of Choral Activities at Mason City (Iowa) High School, speaks of the unique virtues of music as a vehicle for both expression and introspection: “Music is one of the most powerful aspects of the arts because it deals so directly and publicly with our emotions. Self-reflection, inspired by the study of choral literature, opens the hearts and minds of students as they create and experience art.” Well put, Joel.

Looking to the new year, one of our resolutions here at Choral Director is to continue to expand the involvement of our readership in the content of this publication. Would you like to nominate a colleague for the 2011 Choral Directors of Note? Do you have an opinion on something you’ve read in the pages of this publication? Do you have a vocal tip you’d like to share, a suggestion for future editorial coverage, or even an idea for an article? Don’t hesitate to e-mail me at esussman@symphonypublishing.com. I look forward to hearing from you all year long…

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