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American Choral Directors Association

Repertoire Ethnic and Multicultural History


In 1979, ACDA increased the focus of its National Repertoire and Standards Committee to include an emphasis on the participation and inclusion of minorities at the state, division and national levels. Originally named as the National Committee on Ethnic Music & Minority Concerns, many distinguished individuals have articulated issues that have enabled ACDA to better serve its diverse membership by promoting the performance and study of music within its cultural and historical context.

READ founding documents of this committee

Throughout its history, distinguished individuals have articulated issues that have enabled ACDA to better serve its diverse membership by promoting the performance and study of music of the world's people. In 1992, the national officers of ACDA approved the change of name for this committee to 'National Committee on Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives' which champions a broader focus for the future of our organization. Chairpersons who have provided leadership since the establishment of this committee are as follows: Eugene T. Simpson, Andre Thomas, Richard Kinchen, Marvin Curtis and Ron Kean.

Issues and events that have been addressed in national reports by previous chairpersons include the following:

1979-84 - Eugene T. Simpson, Chair

  • The Committee is formed as a result of discussions held during the Symposium for Black Choral Conductors held at New Jersey's Glassboro State College.  ACDA National President Royce Saltzman introduces the Committee to the general membership in his column in the December 1979 Choral Journal.

1984 - Eugene T. Simpson, Chair

  • Small number of State chairpersons for Ethnic and Minority Concerns Committees
  • Changing leadership at the Division level
  • Commitment by national officers to have sufficient sessions from this area at the national convention

1985 - Eugene T. Simpson, Chair

  • Changing leadership at the Division level
  • Publication of a brochure which outlined goals and objectives of The Minority Caucus
  • Successful planning for the National Conference in Salt Lake City which included performances by the Albert McNeil Singers and the Calvin College Alumni Choir
  • Evaluation of Division Conferences and discussion of new areas of concern which included the formation of divisional collegiate ethnic choirs, the need to address inclusive language which did not discriminate against minorities, whether Gay Men's Choruses should be included in this committee and the need for state chairpersons in states where the minority population was sparse.

1986 - Eugene T. Simpson, Chair

1987 - Andre Thomas, Chair

  • Changing leadership at the division level
  • Meeting of the committee prior to the Special Interest Session at the San Antonio National Conference
  • Establishment of a roster for membership at the state and division levels
  • Submission and publication of three articles in Choral Journal by Thomas, Gail Mottola and James Kinchen.
  • Emphasis on better communication at all organizational levels
  • Thomas expressed concern over the lack of participation by minorities at the San Antonio National Convention and his plan to address the issue.
  • Future goals included the completion of a monograph of ethnic choral music, increase participation of minorities at national and division conventions, encourage minority authors to submit articles to Choral Journal, to strengthen the organizational structure of the committee and to make the body of choral directors aware of text of music that are racist.

1988 - Andre Thomas, Chair

  • Update on the Monograph of Ethnic Choral Music
  • Significant programming at the 1988 Eastern Division Convention which included sessions by Horace Boyer, Josh Jacobson, Matthew Lazar, Hale Smith, Ulysses Kay and a performance by The Boys Choir of Harlem.
  • Significant attendance by minorities at the Southern Division Conference which included a session by Evelyn White on "Serious Choral Music of Black American Composers." 
  • Performance by the Brazzeal Dennard Chorale at the Central Division Conference
  • An issue of concern was the participation and interest of members at state conferences

1989-90 - James B. Kinchen, Jr., Chair

  • Expressed the need for better communication within the leadership of ACDA toward the work of this committee
  • Articulated the goal to have assistance from Division Chairs to assist in filling every state chair for this committee
  • Expressed the need for greater visibility of minority conductors and performers at state, division and national conferences
  • Emphasis on multi-cultural choral music performances at all levels

1990-91 - James B. Kinchen, Jr., Chair

  • Resolution from the National Officers to be more aware of the gifts to be had from minority groups within ACDA.
  • Division chairs prove affective in planning for conferences
  • The Choral Heritage of William Dawson - Phoenix, AZ National Convention which featured performances by The Glassboro State Choir (NJ), Morris Brown College GA) and the Jackson State University Choir (AL).
  • Challenged ACDA to become 'a national organization of choral musicians which is inclusive and diverse enough to be as totally "American" as its name!'

1991-92 - Marvin V. Curtis, Chair

  • The committee on Ethnic and Minority Concerns continues to strive for the inclusion of the music and composers that are identified as ethnic and/or minority in sessions sponsored by ACDA at local, divisional or national meetings.
  • Expressed need for better communication and understanding between the national officers of ACDA and the Ethnic and Minority Concern Committee.
  • Expressed need for a redefinition of "Ethnic and Minority"
  • Cited the publication of an article in The Choral Journal by Lee Cloud entitled "Performance Practices of Spirituals."
  • The need to fill vacancies in leadership at the division level.

1992-93 - Marvin V. Curtis, Chair

  • Change of name for the committee from 'Ethnic and Minority Concerns' to 'Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives'
  • Expressed a need for a national registry of works by ethnic and multicultural composers and conductors
  • Successful Special Interest Sessions presented at the San Antonio National Conference by Horace Boyer, Lee Cloud, Robert Ray and Roland Carter.
  • Improved communication between State Presidents and Division Chairs.
  • Better communication within the National R & S Committee regarding planning for the National Conference in Washington, DC
  • Celebration of the first issue of The Choral Journal devoted to Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives.

1998-2003 - Anthony T. Leach, Chair

  • Expressed the need for effective communication with Division and State Chairpersons.
  • Expressed concerns of State and Division leaders who felt isolated in planning activities for their levels.
  • Established a short term goal to use e-mail, phone, FAX to communicate with all chairpersons at the state and division levels regarding plans for the National Conference in Chicago, IL.
  • Establishment of a national web page for the promotion of the work of this committee.
  • To continue the repertoire project initiated by Ron Kean, past chair which involves identifying and sharing print and no-print resources in ethnic/multicultural choral repertoire.
  • To encourage chairpersons at each level to promote the participation of constituents from their level at state, division and national conventions.
  • Organized the first Ethnic and Multicultural Resource Room at the 2003 National Conference in New York City
  • Organized the first inter-generational Multicultural Honor Choir for the 2001 national conference in San Antonio, TX, directed by Anton Armstrong and Maria Guinand
  • Organized an inter-generational Gospel Honor Choir for the 2008 Eastern Division conference in Hartford, CT, directed by Roger Holland

2003-2007 - Laurence Burnett, Chair

  • Organized the second inter-generational Multicultural Honor Choir for the 2007 National Conference in Miami, FL
  • Organized multicultural resource rooms at the 2005 National Conference in Los Angeles and the 2007 National Conference in Miami, FL

2007-2013 - Sharon Davis Gratto, Chair

  • Organized reading sessions, roundtable discussions and resource rooms/tables at National Conferences in Oklahoma City (2009), Chicago (2011), and Dallas (2013); advocated for an presided over an interest session in Dallas on Music of the Muslim World with Andre deQuadros from Boston University
  • Presented an interest session at the Chicago (2011) conference about the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College in Chicago and organized two conference tours of that archival collection
  • Sang with inter-generational Honor Choirs at National Conferences in San Antonio (2001) and Miami (2007) and the Gospel Honor Choir at the Eastern Division Conference in Hartford, CT (2008)
  • Engaged in ongoing advocacy for diverse repertoire and membership and honor choir participation on the organization's state, division, and national levels
  • Wrote and published multiple resource and advocacy Repertoire and Standards articles in the R & S column of the Choral Journal
  • Encouraged and supported division Ethnic and Multicultural Chairs in their efforts to identify representatives in this R & S area to fill vacant positions
  • Prior to becoming national Chair, served ACDA Pennsylvania and the ACDA Eastern Division as Ethnic and Multicultural Chair
  • Conducted at a multicultural reading session and presented a multicultural interest session at the 2010 Northwestern Division Conference in Seattle
  • Organized a Multicultural Honor Choir for a summer PA-ACDA conference
  • Worked with Tony Leach and Laurence Burnett on Ethnic and Multicultural Resource rooms at the New York (2003) and Los Angeles (2005) national conferences
  • Added resource information and updated the history to the Ethnic and Multicultural R & S site on the ACDA web page
  • Presented at the 2012 Yale International Choral Festival and Symposium and learned and performed multicultural repertoire with the Yale Alumni Chorus at the conclusion of the conference; wrote an article about the Festival and Symposium for the American Choral Review, an on-line publication of Chorus America