On Saturday, March 5th, the 2016 OMEA-OCDA Elementary Choir Festival was held at The University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. This festival is in its fifth year, but this year marked the first collaborative event between OMEA and OCDA. Due to the enthusiastic support of the OCDA board and the OMEA board, as well as OMEA’s East Central Region, OMEA Districts 4, 6, and 8; and the Jackson High School Choral Boosters, this event was fully and generously funded. In fact, the event was extremely successful fiscally-speaking, coming in at more than $1100 under budget.
A record high number of nine choirs participated this year, ranging in age from third grade through sixth grade singers. All nine of these groups are non-auditioned, their numbers range from 50 to 135 members, and their rehearsal times vary from once per week for 45 minutes, to five days per week for 48 minutes. All groups did a tremendous job and performed to a full house all day long.
The two clinicians, both of whom are experts in the children’s chorus world, were Dr. Lisa Wong of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus and The College of Wooster, and Mrs. Jennifer Call of The Oberlin Choristers. NAfME Immediate Past President, Nancy Ditmer, was the Master of Ceremonies, and Dr. Grant Cook of The University of Mount Union, was our host. The beautiful choral facilities at Mount Union were the perfect venue for the day, and several music education students from Mount Union and The University of Akron were gracious and helpful assistants throughout the day.
Each choir performed three pieces of repertoire, worked in a ten-minute on-stage clinic with one of the clinicians, and joined with two other choirs to perform a combined piece, Mark Patterson’s “If.” This piece was commissioned by OCDA in honor of the fifth annual festival, and the first collaboration.
It is the shared goal of both OCDA and OMEA to see this festival grow and expand throughout the state, reaching all five regions of Ohio, to serve and be accessible to as many elementary teachers and students as possible. This year’s festival is the perfect starting point to accomplish such a worthy goal.