Repertoire and Standards committees provide support, vision, and resources for every major area of choral works within the ACDA. They play an important role in serving their respective choral genres, providing
- Excellence among colleagues
- Professional growth
- Choral music in the lives of people
Jessica Chen, Children’s & Community Youth
Jessica Chen is the choral director at the Green Vale School, an independent elementary/middle school on Long Island, where she directs six choruses and teaches general music. The Green Vale Voices, which she founded, has earned gold ratings at NYSSMA and has performed at Carnegie Hall, CitiField, and the Barclays Center. Ms. Chen is also the choral director and organist at the First Presbyterian Church of Oyster Bay, where she started an annual masterwork concert series. Ms. Chen has served as guest conductor for the All-County Festival in Suffolk County. As a clinician, she has presented sessions including How to Teach Boys with Changing Voices and Icing on the Cake: Ways to Take Your Choral Concert to the Next Level. She also sings with the eVoco Voice Collective. Ms. Chen holds degrees from Yale University (B.A. in Music) and New England Conservatory of Music (M.M. in Piano Performance).
Christine R. Howlett is an Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Vassar College where she conducts the Vassar College Women’s Chorus, Vassar College Choir, and teaches music theory and voice. Her choruses have sung at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and have toured overseas in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. The Vassar College Women’s Chorus performed at the National Collegiate Choral Association at Yale University in 2009, and at the ACDA Eastern Division Conference in Philadelphia in 2010. The ensemble is delighted to perform at the upcoming Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. Recent commissions include Three Songs from the Parlour by Eleanor Daley, Night City by Tarik O’Regan and, for a consortium of women’s choruses, Cassiopeia by Timothy Takach.
Ms. Howlett is the Artistic Director of Cappella Festiva, an auditioned choral ensemble with a thirty-eight year history of performing in the Hudson Valley. In 2006, she co-founded the Summer Choral Festival at Vassar College and the Cappella Festiva Treble Choir, an auditioned choral ensemble for treble voices ages 8-17. She was recently named music director of the Danbury Concert Chorus in Connecticut and is in demand as a guest conductor and adjudicator. She directed the New York All-State Women’s Chorus in 2011 in Rochester, NY.
Ms. Howlett is active as a soloist and choral singer. In collaboration with Patrick Wood Uribe, violin, and Holly Chatham, piano, the trio recently released Love Raise Your Voice to critical acclaim. The recording contains new and commissioned works for soprano, violin, and piano by Carson Cooman, Tarik O’Regan, Richard Wilson, and others. Ms. Howlett has sung in ensembles under Simon Carrington, Alan Gilbert, Jane Glover, Paul Goodwin, Matthew Halls, Paul Hillier, Lorin Maazel, Andrew Megill, and Helmut Rilling, and has performed with professional ensembles including the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Chorus, the New York Choral Artists, and most recently, the Carmel Bach Festival Chorus. She studied Vocal Performance at the University of Toronto, and earned a Master’s Degree in Early Music Voice Performance and a D.M.A. in Choral Conducting from Indiana University.
Susan Avery, Community Choir
Dr. Susan J. Avery, associate professor of music education at Ithaca College, was the former director of vocal ensembles and department chair of Waterloo High School for 24 years. She received her BM from the Eastman School of Music, MM from Ithaca College and a PhD from Eastman, where she was awarded the Eastman Graduate Teaching Assistant Prize for excellence in college teaching. Dr. Avery conducts elementary, junior high and senior high honors, All-County and Area All-State Choruses throughout New York State; judges solo vocal and All-State Vocal Jazz as well as choral major organizations for the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA); and gives clinics and workshops on the local, state and national levels in the field of music education. While teaching at Waterloo, her men’s ensemble Just Us was chosen to be the opening performing ensemble at the New York State School Boards Association’s state convention. Dr. Avery’s choral ensembles consistently received high awards at festivals and her students participated in all levels of local, state and national ensembles. She currently conducts the Seneca Singers (an adult choir in her hometown of Seneca Falls) and directs the faculty-staff choir voICes on the Ithaca College Campus in addition to her teaching duties. Dr. Avery accompanies the summer conference Director’s Chorus and reading sessions and has served NYSSMA as Piano Chair, High School Classroom Chair, Assistant Choral Chair; and the Choral Chair for New York State. Susan is a charter member of the North American Coalition for Community Music.” Her research on adult rehearsal preferences was presented at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Lifelong Learning Symposium in April 2005 and two posters sessions (for original research/best practice) were given at Society of Music Teacher Education in September 2005. She has published in American Music Teacher, The School Music News, Music Educators’ Journaland contributed to MENC’s Benchmarks in Action: A Guide to Standards-Based Assessment in Music.
José “Peppie” Calvar, Ethnic & Multicultural
José “Peppie” Calvar is Assistant Professor and the Assistant Director of Choral Activities at the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. His duties include directing the Hendricks Chapel Choir, and teaching choral literature, conducting, and music theory. Annual performances of Holidays at Hendricks are broadcast on WCNY and its radio and television affiliates throughout the region. He also serves as Artistic Director of the Syracuse Chorale, a non-auditioned mixed choral ensemble, serving singers of all experience levels from across the Central New York area. Dr. Calvar holds degrees from the University of South Carolina, Georgia State University and East Carolina University. He performs frequently as a baritone both as a soloist and as a chorister, and cantors regularly at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. Recent vocal highlights include singing for high Mass at The Vatican, and Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood CA. A frequent guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator, he has conducted high school honor choirs in New York, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and high schools, colleges, churches and civic organizations nationwide. He has performed as a percussionist before the American Bandmasters Association, and as a soloist for the Charlotte Symphony. He has collaborated in Jazz recordings as a vocalist, percussionist and pianist. An accomplished composer, he has received commissions from the New York State Council for the Arts, the Syracuse City School District, the Syracuse Children’s Chorus, the Charlotte Symphony, and The Firebird Arts Alliance among others. Many of his choral compositions are published by Colla Voce Publications and performed worldwide. His Mass of Reconciliation for chorus, soloists and jazz orchestra is currently available on CDBaby.com, and has enjoyed recent performances at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and in Myrtle Beach, SC. He annually serves as reader for the AP exam in Music Theory and recently served as producer on A Blue Ridge Baroque Christmas, which features the premiere recording of Antonio Lotti’s Gloria No. 1, a collaboration between the VOX Choral Ensemble and the NC Baroque Orchestra. Calvar is an active member of NAfME and ASCAP, and he serves as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Multicultural and Ethnic Music for the New York State Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.
Gary Lee, High School
Gary Lee has been on the faculty at Lancaster High School for the past thirty-four years where he teaches Music Theory and directs the school’s five choirs, including the well-known Lancaster High School Concert Choir. Lancaster High School houses over two thousand students, of which nearly 400 sing in one of the school’s choirs. Mr. Lee’s choirs have consistently achieved Gold and Gold with Distinction awards at New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) evaluation festivals. He also directs the school’s annual musical production.
Gary received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Rosary Hill (Daemen) College of Buffalo, and his Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Canisius College of Buffalo. As a performer, Mr. Lee has sung with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on their ‘Stained Glass’ series, with the Buffalo Choral Arts Society, as a cast member of Musical Revues that have appeared at several WNY venues including the Lancaster Opera House, and as a featured soloist with The Lancaster Town Band for their Summer Concerts in the Park. As a conductor, he has enjoyed the privilege of serving as guest conductor for several All-County and All-State Honors Choirs at all grade levels. In 1998, Mr. Lee was the recipient of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Erie County Council of Music Coordinator’s Outstanding Choral Director Award.
Mr. Lee is an active member of The American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), is on the Executive Board for the Erie County Music Educator’s Association (ECMEA), and is an adjudicator for soloists and choirs as well as past State Chair for Chorus, for The New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA).
Jeff Welcher, Jazz
Mr. Jeffrey Welcher received his Bachelor of Music Education degree the Crane School of Music at Potsdam College in Potsdam, N.Y and his Master of Music Education degree from West Chester State University in West Chester, Pa. Mr.Welcher is currently adjunct professor at Syracuse University where he serves as the director of Windjammer, the vocal jazz ensemble at SU, and teaches jazz voice studio lessons. He is also a student teaching field supervisor for the Setnor School of Music. Mr. Welcher has conducted festival choirs throughout New York state as well as all-state jazz ensembles in Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
For 23 years he was Vocal Music Director at Oneida High School in Oneida N.Y. where he conducted Concert Choir, Freshmen Boys Chorus, Girls Chorus, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Choir and two contemporary a cappella groups. Before that Mr.Welcher taught Jr/Sr High Vocal/General Music Teacher at Greene Central School, Greene NY.
Mr.Welcher served as New York State School Music Association Conference Vocal Jazz Ensemble chairman for the 1997-98 and 2001-2002 conferences. He is a certified NYSSMA Vocal Jazz Adjudicator, is on the NYSSMA Manual committee as vocal jazz editor and is a certified judge for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.
Mr.Welcher was a member of the teaching staff for Summer Vocal Institute at Providence College from 2003 to 2007 and the ACDA Eastern Division Repertoire and Standards Committee Chairman for Vocal Jazz from 2000 to 2006. He was the 2003 recipient of the Syracuse Symphony Musicians Award for Outstanding Choral Director.
Recently Mr.Welcher served as coordinator for the 2010 Eastern Division High School Men’s Honor Choir, February 2010. He served as guest conductor for the choirs at Colgate University, Fall 2010. Mr.Welcher has performed with the Syracuse Vocal Ensemble since 1998. He is an active jazz vocalist/pianist and church musician.
James Ludwig teaches choral music at Herricks Middle School and directs a collegiate choir at the Webb Institute. He has also conducted choirs in the Middle Country School District and has served as guest conductor for All-District and All-County Festival Choirs.
Ludwig began his musical education as a chorister in the Choir of Men and Boys of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, and continues to work as a professional singer in the New York metropolitan area. He holds degrees from Queens College, CUNY (MME) and Berklee College of Music (BM). His choral compositions are published by Hinshaw and GIA and have been performed by professional, school, and church choirs in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
Jared Berry was recently appointed to the faculty of North Shore High School where he conducts the choirs and co-teaches IB Music. Prior to his appointment at NSHS, he was on the faculty as Director of Choirs at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, where he conducted six choirs, and taught music theory (introduction and advanced placement) and piano class. During his summers, Mr. Berry serves as the Assistant Director for Administration at the New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Choral Studies, a summer residential program housed at SUNY Fredonia, that brings together seventy high school students from across the state to further study vocal arts.
Outside of academia, he serves as Artistic Director & Conductor of the Babylon Chorale, a premiere eighty-five voice community choir presenting annual holiday, classical, and pops concerts. Additionally he is the Choir Manager and a singer in the Long Island based eVoco Voice Collective, a chamber choir of auditioned singers, conductors, and educators. He has appeared twice as a Music Director at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Harrogate, England: SavoyNet’s 2014 production of Thespis (second place), and Blue Hill Troupe’s 2015 production of Patience (first place).
Currently he is the Male Choirs Repertoire & Standards Chair and Webmaster for the New York chapter of ACDA, and the Honor Choir Chair for the 2016 Eastern Division Conference in Boston, MA. Mr. Berry holds degrees from the University of Georgia (M.M., Choral Conducting) and Hofstra University (B.S.Ed., Music Education). www.jaredberry.com
Malcolm J. Merriweather is the Choral Associate at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City and the Bruno Walter Associate Conductor of the New York Choral Society. He is a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting at the Manhattan School of Music under Kent Tritle. He leads a professional career as a baritone, conductor and teacher.
Merriweather began his professional musical training as a chorister in the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, in Buffalo, New York. He attended Syracuse University where he earned a Bachelor of Music in music education, summa cum laude. He was honored as a Visual and Performing Arts Scholar and a Remembrance Scholar.
Merriweather earned a Master of Music degree in choral conducting at the Eastman School of Music. He has served as organist and choirmaster at the Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene (Episcopal) in downtown Rochester, NY, and Director of Music at Asbury First United Methodist Church, Rochester, NY.
He received a second Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the studio of Rita Shane, dramatic coloratura soprano at the Eastman School of Music. The baritone has had solo engagements with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, New York Choral Society, Norfolk Chamber Choir, Gregory Kunde Chorale, Voices, Bach Vespers Choir and Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has been a fellowship recipient with the festivals at Norfolk, CT and the Tanglewood Music Center. A supporter of new music, Merriweather has premiered works by John Liberatore, Ju Ri Seo, Douglas Fisk and James Adler.
A passionate music educator, Merriweather enjoyed serving as the Artistic Director and Conductor for the Rochester Boys Choir and is currently on the faculty at St. Thomas More Play Group in Manhattan. He is the New York ACDA Repertoire and Standards Chair for Music and Worship and has conducted festival choirs throughout the Eastern United States. For more information, please visit www.malcolmjmerriweather.com.
Philip Silvey is Assistant Professor of Music Education at the Eastman School of Music where he directs the Women’s Chorus and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education. He has served as guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator in a variety of states and directed all-state choruses in Maryland and Virginia. He is a contributing author for the textbook series Experiencing Choral Music and Teaching Music through Performance in Choir, Volumes II and III. His writings appear in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, and Arts and Learning Research Journal. His original choral compositions and arrangements have been performed by all-state and national honors choruses.
VACANT, Two-Year Colleges
Vernon Huff is Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education at The State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in elementary and secondary choral methods, choral literature, and conducts the Women’s Choir and University Chorus. With ten years of public school teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, he has taught in California, Ohio, and South Carolina. In 2006, he earned National Board certification in Choral Music, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood.
While earning his DMA in choral conducting at Arizona State University, he served as conductor of the ASU Men’s Chorus, lead teaching assistant, and for one year, Choral Ensembles Coordinator. He earned the MM degree in choral conducting from The Ohio State University, where he received the Outstanding Graduate Student – Performance Division award, and conducted the Mastersingers and directed the Lyric Opera Chorus. His baccalaureate degree is in choral music education from Furman University.
Huff has conducted clinics, adjudicated festivals, and conducted choirs in numersous states across the country. His research focuses on the music of William Dawson, and the development and evolution of the Spiritual.