LBCC received the honor to send students to the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) 2015 National Conference in February. Three students from the choir will attend.
To be qualified to attend the conference students competed from colleges all over Oregon. Only five in total were selected.
ACDA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to choral music education. At the annual conference students, teachers, and well-known conductors gather for the opportunity to learn and inspire each other.
Attendees take part in learning sessions, educational clinics, exhibitions by representatives from the music industry, and concerts performed by honored choir groups. The convention provides students with expertise and practical skills for the profession.
From LBCC, Katharine Dunigan was selected to perform. Alyson Stewert and Kenneth McGill will accompany Dunigan for support, but are not performing.
Out of 3,300 applicants, ACDA selected Katharine Dunigan to be one of the 27 First-Sopranos of the 2015 National Collegiate Honor Choir to perform at the conference in Salt Lake City in Utah from Feb. 25-30.
Her director, Dr. James Reddan encouraged Dunigan to apply for the anonymous audition process. Each applicant was numbered and required to send an mp3 demo of assigned notes. Without any physical presentation, ACDA chose Dunigan’s voice.
“It just felt unreal,” said Dunigan.
When Dunigan received the email with the invitation, she was shocked by the result and screamed out loud at a dinner gathering with LBCC peers from the chamber choir.
“This is a good learning experience. I’ll be around different choir members and work with world famous conductors,” said Dunigan.
Dunigan grew up in a family that loves music. Her mom plays clarinet and dad used to sing for the Corvallis Repertory Singers.
“My dad has always been my inspiration and I want to live both of our dreams.”
Singing is always Dunigan’s priority, but she’s passionate in teaching. As a musical education major, she wants to teach children to sing.
“I want to teach children in the future and bring them the joy that singing brought me,” said Dunigan.
Her musical journey has been diverse.
Dunigan joined the community choir in Lebanon during her junior year of high school. In her senior year, Dunigan decided to change her career plan from physical therapy to choir. Then she was in the Oregon State Marching Band for five year after high school.
During her senior year Dunigan’s class was asked to write a report of the career they wanted to pursue and she chose physical therapy. But near the end of the year, a choir trip with Conductor Kevin Wong to Carnegie Hall in New York overthrew her original idea.
The choir concert experience amazed Dunigan, and the emotional reactions from both the performers and audience made her realize the power of choir. Her eyes immediately became watery when she recalled this memory.
“I cried. Singing a beautiful song brings out emotions, and when you are that passionate, you think it’s beautiful even when you watch it.”
Her senior report still said physical therapy was her career goal because it was too late to change, but in Dunigan’s mind, she knew she was going to make choir her career.
In Dunigan’s second term at LBCC in 2010, Director of Choral Activities Dr. James Reddan encouraged her to join the Chamber Choir.
“The choir is the best it’s ever been. We traveled, we won trophies, we even sang at the London Olympics. It keeps getting better and it’s the best I’ve ever been,” said Dunigan.
As an instructor and conductor, Reddan couldn’t be more proud of her.
“This is the first time and she’s the first student ever selected [from LBCC]. This shows her determination and hard work,” said Reddan.
However, after Dunigan received the busy schedule, she joked: ”I didn’t know I have to work this hard. I thought I just need to sing.”
Dunigan has been practicing every day since she received the songs she’ll perform. She not only needs to remember the notes, but also the lyrics which is in Latin.
The honor choir concert at the conference will be on Sunday, Feb. 28. Dunigan is going to be in rehearsal sessions nine hours per day for five days.
On a faster pace than other sophomores, Stewart already started work outside of school as a music teacher in Mill City and as a conductor for the Community Chorus.
“I want to teach music. I want to start with choir and hopefully, at my current job, get a band program set up as well,” said Stewart.
Stewart signed up for workshops that are for younger voices and aging voices. She can’t wait to learn and be a better conductor when she returns.
“I’m very excited to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform,” said Stewart. “I’m a Latter-Day Saint and have wanted to see them perform live ever since I can remember. Dream come true.”
The first time when Stewart sang in front of music faculty at LBCC, Dr. James Reddan, director of choral activities, was amazed. He casually asked why she wasn’t in choir. Stewart then joined the choir with a talent grant.
At the end of 2013, Stewart auditioned for the Chamber Choir and was admitted for Winter term of 2014.
“Being in the Chamber Choir is addicting. It can be frustrating at points, but it is something I couldn’t live without now,” said Stewart.
On the trip with the Chamber Choir to the 2014 World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, the Chamber Choir sang “David’s Lamentation” in an old and sacred church.
“The song got to the climax of the peace. We sang out,” said Stewart.
She almost cried while performing, and raw emotion and the experience taught her that she would never give up on choir.
Music composing is another interest of Stewart’s.
“I’d lose hours of sleep because I’d wake up with a song in my head but had no knowledge of how to get it on paper.”
The dilemma encouraged Stewart to approach degrees in both music education and composition.
“It’s such a great opportunity and I’m very excited,” said McGill. “I signed up for multiple sessions that will help me develop skills in choral education.”
This is McGill’s first term at LBCC. He misses his hometown of Klamath Falls and his family, but he’s happy studying in Albany.
In Junior High, McGill’s sister brought him to see a choir performance and it opened his eyes.
“That experience expanded my horizons and it was beyond music,” said McGill.
It wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school when McGill joined the school choir and found his passion for choir education. After a counselor mentioned LBCC, he researched and was intrigued by the choir program’s accomplishments. He decided to attend.
Moving away from home was a big decision for McGill. He rejected schools that offered him scholarships and this caused him to be in student loans at LBCC. But McGill has no regrets.
“I knew what I wanted and none of the schools had music majors. I just can’t do anything that’s not going to make me happy. No behind-desk jobs for me.”
McGill expressed his desire to be a successful choir teacher like Dr. James Radden, chair of music and director of Choral Activities at LBCC.
(Featured image: Katharine Dunigan, courtesy LBCC.)