A history of The Alabama Choral Directors Association

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University of Alabama Libraries

The Alabama Choral Directors Association (AL-ACDA) began in 1972 as a fledgling organization with a limited number of members. AL-ACDA’s first president was James Elson (1974-77), Chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Huntingdon College. Elson diligently worked with others to develop the initial structure for the organization. Dr. Tom Smith, at the time an Assistant Professor of Choral Music at Auburn University, followed Elson (1977-79). Smith established the first state conference in 1978, which consisted of a musical gathering where choirs from across the state of Alabama performed for each other. As the organization evolved and matured, state conventions provided an opportunity for Alabama choral directors to be introduced to the national organization, and served as focal points for professional growth and development, acquisition of teaching resources, and promotion of high quality choral music performances. According to various sources, AL-ACDA, during several significant periods of time, possessed notable connections to other state music organizations. These organizations included the Alabama Vocal Association (AVA), an affiliate of Alabama Music Educators Association, and the Tennessee Valley Choral Directors Association (TVCDA). Joining forces with these two organizations facilitated events such as the Quad-City Choral Festival, joint fall workshops, and various initiatives to increase membership. In addition to encouraging such collaborations, AL-ACDA provided leadership opportunities for members, and established growth opportunities for choral directors and their students. This research seeks to provide a recorded history of AL-ACDA from its inception to the present and to discuss the contributions of the association to choral music in Alabama. Sources will include AL-ACDA archives and publications, state records and documents, interviews with past AL-ACDA officials, historians, and members at large, and interviews with leaders from other organizations with which AL-ACDA partnered. The report will be structured according to AL-ACDA's relationships with other professional associations such as AVA, TVCDA and National ACDA, AL-ACDA's growth and development, structural and membership changes, AL-ACDA festivals, member initiatives, and AL-ACDA awards and recognition. This research will show that AL-ACDA was one of two primary entities that provided leadership and resources to Alabama choral directors in schools, churches, universities, and communities. Choral musicians associated with those organizations in turn fostered the development and expansion of performance opportunities for choristers statewide. Such leadership and service arguably significantly influenced the presence and status of choral music in the state of Alabama and beyond.

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