from James B. Kinchen, Jr.
2014 North Central Division Conference, Des Moines, Iowa
Our conference theme is:
"CELEBRATING CHORAL DIVERSITY—
our many songs, our many paths, our many voices."
Our mission is to present a vibrant, growth-facilitating, inspiring, and memorable conference that will honor much of the "process orientation" of the very successful 2012 conference, while creatively focusing on and celebrating the many aspects of diversity in our choral community and our choral practice.
We will seek to attend, examine, honor, and celebrate diversity in the choral art in all the ways that it occurs, and in all the ways that it gives variety, interest, inclusiveness, accessibility, relevance, vitality, and strength to our choral community. This includes the construction of "diversity" – racial, ethnic, and cultural – that most obviously and immediately comes to mind. As a multicultural nation within a global community, we are challenged to expand our horizons – the canons of our literature, the diversity of our performance practices, the inclusiveness of our choirs, the cultural sensitivity of our pedagogy, the demographics of our audiences – in ways that will better reflect these realities.
But we will also aim to engage "diversity" in broader ways. For example, I think we do well to appreciate that for those of us who succeed in our choral teaching and performance, there is not necessarily a "one size that fits all." There are varied approaches, philosophies, and pedagogic styles among us. If we dare to utter with any credibility the words "best practice," we must quickly pluralize it. We are anything but a monolith!
And beyond the diverse ways in which any of us may personally actualize "the choral art," consider the many variables in our own different choral settings that further make us diverse. There are the many different levels, from elementary and children's community choirs at the young end, all the way to those who experience the joy of choral singing at a much more mature life-stage. Within our various institutional choral endeavors, consider all the different levels of interest and expertise.