Twenty-eight outstanding vocal groups from across the western states and abroad (including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, England’s Alamire and the House Jacks) will descend on Santa Barbara for a three-day international choral festival beginning Feb. 19 and continuing to Feb. 22 as part of the American Choral Directors Association Western Division conference, to be held in Santa Barbara for the first time.
Among the many outstanding performances open to the public will be the first appearance in Santa Barbara of the renowned Los Angeles Master Chorale, directed by Grant Gershon.
The ensemble will perform at 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Granada Theater, in the Finale Concert — a tribute to Morten Lauridsen, one of America’s greatest composers and the conference honoree.
Other professional vocal ensembles performing during the conference include Alamire, one of Europe’s most highly regarded early music groups (which will perform in the Old Mission at 5:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20) and the acclaimed male ensemble, Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine de Cuba, which will sing a variety of pieces from classical to modern Cuban pop (at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Granada).
At 9:45 Friday, Feb. 21, The House Jacks, a professional a cappella group of considerable fame, will conclude the day by performing their specialty — "rock band without instruments." Started By Deke Sharon in 1991, this group is well known to those who love the finest of small professional a cappella groups.
A free pre-conference Santa Barbara Welcome Concert will be held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, featuring four local choirs who ranked high in the conference audition process: the Westmont Chamber Singers, the Quire of Voyces, the Adelfos Ensemble and the Westmont Concert Choir.
This American Choral Directors Association Western Division festival is actually a large conference of choral directors, choirs, and music lovers that takes place in even-numbered years, alternating with a national conference held during odd-numbered years. Various locations are selected for the Western Division conference, with recent locations being Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Phoenix and Sacramento.
Steve Hodson, current Western Division president and a professor in Westmont’s Music Department, heads up a significant number of local organizers. Working closely with Hodson is Gary Unruh, a former Western Division president and music professor emeritus from CSU Fresno. A committee of 25 primarily local volunteers have various leadership responsibilities that will guide a multitude of events during the conference.
Throughout the conference itself, which begins officially Thursday morning, a variety of invited choirs (chosen from a group of 110 choirs that auditioned) representing five western states (Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and California) will perform at the Granada Theater and Ballroom of Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort. Over the course of the festival, a total of 28 select choirs of all types, configurations and ages are scheduled to perform. Those attending the entire conference can attend a variety of talks on topics ranging from “How the English Sing” to “The Evolution of Vocal Jazz Ensemble Repertoire” to “Achieving Artistic and Technical Excellence in Your Community Choir” to “Music of the Muslim World.”
People interested in registering for all or part of the conference itself can do so at the ACDA Western Division website or at the conference registration desk at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 and continuing through the three days of the conference.
People interested in attending individual performances can do so by purchasing single-event passes at the ACDA Western Division website; Chaucer’s Bookstore; Granada Books; at the free Welcome Concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Our Lady of Sorrows church; or at the conference registration desk in the Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort once the conference begins.