Choral workshop offers unique opportunity for conductors - Odessa American: UTPB

Choral workshop offers unique opportunity for conductors

By Ruth Campbell rcampbell@oaoa.com | Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 5:42 pm

A handful of choir conductors from around the Permian Basin got to learn from experts in their field as part of the West Texas Choral Workshop this week.

The workshop was hosted by University of Texas Permian Basin at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

UTPB Director of Choral Activities Frank Eychaner said only 12 to 13 people came in and out of the workshops, which ran from July 8 through July 10.

Along with Eychaner, Presenters were Charlene Archibeque, professor emerita at San Jose State University; Dave “Caz” Cazier, director of choral instruction at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington; Daniel Gutierrez from Reed Academy; and Cryse Bodine of Seminole ISD.

Cazier said he has presented at many choral workshops in the Pacific Northwest, but not in West Texas. Eychaner asked him to come and be a clinician.

“It’s a really amazing three days to come together with great West Texas choral people who are all working hard to study this art form of choral music and get better at it and learn new things. It’s also really great because I’m one of three clinicians presenters that Dr. Eychaner has bought in, so it’s great for me to hear ideas from my colleagues,” Cazier said.

He said it gave participants a chance to hear from the clinicians, share, ask questions and learn more.

“They all have really great skills and probably the neatest thing is how eager they are to learn fresh, new things, or to put things that they know into a fresh, new perspective in a way to help them excitedly prepare for the start of their next school year and do things new and better and try different things, so that’s exciting,” Cazier said.

He said the topics he presented were new topics for him.

“So that’s been really great for me to spend the last month just putting together my thoughts on paper. Like one of my sessions was on the magic of choral artistry and how we bring our human self into a piece of music and make it live and be expressive for our listener and for our students and for us. It’s something that I do, but I don’t always necessarily think about it from the perspective of how do I tell someone else what I do. So that’s very affirming for me to just help organize my process and evaluate my process and think about how I can share that with others represent that to others,” Cazier said.

Archibeque said the workshops were wonderful because each of them had time to expound on their theories and ideas for choirs. Each of the presenters also inspire each other.

Like Cazier, Archibeque said the participants were very eager.

“It’s a wide range of backgrounds and I think everybody has gotten something that they can take back and use. I think it’s been beneficial for all of the participants.

It’s always good to review things that you may have forgotten, that you used to do and reminds you of things you want to do. Also, because there’s not so much pressure, you feel a little freer to kind of say things that maybe you’ve never said before in a different way. I find it quite freeing,” Archibeque said.

She added that the workshops are completely non-critical. “It’s just all very positive, but that’s because of Frank. Frank is a very positive person,” she added.

Cindy Roberts, choir director at Hobbs High School, said this is her second year at the workshop.

“I have thought they have been fantastic,” Roberts said. “The clinicians have been very accessible and the quality of the teaching and instruction has been outstanding. Some really good conductors have been a part of the workshops these past two years.”

She added that they have helped her in her teaching, as well.

“I have gotten so many wonderful ideas both years and they’re different every year, as well, because he brings in different people from different perspectives,” Roberts said.

Eychaner said most of the people attending were from Odessa and Midland. He was a little disappointed that so few took advantage of it and doesn’t know if there will be one next year.

“The quality and the content is fantastic,” Eychaner said. “One of the reasons we do it is because it gives people a chance to interact one-on-one with clinicians, so everybody that wanted to got to sit down and enjoy a meal with them and ask questions and get their perspectives on their concerns and challenges, so the sharing of information goes on small group or large.”