Every two years, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) hosts its Eastern Region Conference to bring together the best singers and choral directors from around the East Coast. This conference hosts many presentations and concerts for the group’s 4,000 members across the Eastern region to come together and “seek to create sound waves that travel further in different directions, fostering diversity and inclusivity in ways that resonate with more people,” per the ACDA website. Among these performances are the esteemed High School Honors Choir and Gospel Honors Choir, which take the best singers from grades 10 to 12 across the Eastern region. This year, two Walpole High juniors, Aden Levenson and Autumn Mathews, were selected.
This September, upon the recommendation of the Walpole High chorus teacher, Kendra Nutting, Levenson and Mathews each submitted an audition for the conference choirs. After weeks of after school preparation, Mathews and Levenson felt ready for the audition.
“I felt pretty confident going into the audition as I had prepared and knew my music,” said Mathews. “I have auditioned for many festivals in the past, which helped me know what they were looking for, and auditioning is always a great opportunity and experience even if you don’t get in.”
Unlike recent music festivals the pair have participated in, the ACDA conference is especially exciting because it will be one of the first held in person since the beginning of the pandemic.
“I miss the power and beauty that comes from large choirs, as I have not been able to perform in person with a large auditioned choir since middle school,” said Mathews. “Last year I made Districts and All-State, but they were both 6 hour long zoom calls, which was not very fun.”
As they each prepare for the conference this February, Mathews and Levenson anticipate the opportunity to work with some of the best choral directors in the nation. Mathews will work with Raymond Wise, a professor of African-American Diaspora Studies and Music at the University of Indiana in Bloomington and founder and President of Raise Productions’ Center for the Gospel Arts, as a member of the gospel choir. Levenson is excited to work with conductor Eugene Rogers, an associate professor of conducting at the University of Michigan and a two-time Michigan Emmy Award winner, a 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, and a 2015 GRAMMY Award nominee.
“Although I love singing with everyone in my Concert Choir class, I think that the opportunity to sing with some of the best young choral singers in the Northeast is going to be a very eye-opening experience that will help me to better appreciate the beauty of choral music, said Levenson. “I am very excited for the opportunity to meet a bunch of new high schoolers from across the Northeast and bond with them in our shared passion for singing.”