Collegiate Choral Festival

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trinity United Methodist Church | Huntsville, AL

The Collegiate Choral Festival is an annual, non-competitive and educational choral festival held each November. Choirs representing two and four year colleges from across the state gather to perform concert literature for each other and enjoy the opportunity of working with a nationally recognized guest clinician.  All two and four year schools in Alabama whose directors are members of ACDA are eligible to participate.  Directors who are not currently members of ACDA are encouraged to join and participate in this festival. It is a wonderful day of music making and sharing, and we hope all collegiate choirs will be able to join us!

Each participating school will have 20 minutes onstage to perform their chosen literature followed by a 20 minute offstage in-depth clinic with one of our clinicians. This time limit is established to allow a maximum number of choirs to participate. A piano will be available for use, though no accompanist will be provided.

To balance the participating choirs' scheduling needs and to insure each performing choir an adequate audience, we will perform in two separate blocks, morning or afternoon, and allow schools to eat lunch off-site as they choose. The morning block will last roughly from 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. (depending on the number of participating ensembles), and the afternoon block will last roughly 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (again, depending on the number of participating ensembles).

While all participating choirs will be invited and encouraged to attend the full day, it will be necessary for a choir to attend the entire block in which they are performing. This means that in whatever block a choir performs, morning or afternoon, they will need to be seated in the audience from beginning to the end (other than their performance time, of course!). No lunch will be provided on-site, all are free to explore the offerings in the Huntsville area.


The deadline for registration is Tuesday, October 24, 2017. The registration fee is $250.00 per school choir, or $275.00 after the October 24th deadline.

To register a choir for the Collegiate Choral Festival, please submit the following by October 24th:
1. Registration Form
2. Payment
3. Program Information

1. First, fill out the registration form. Register early! Space is limited, and requests for morning or afternoon blocks will be granted on a first come, first served basis.If you need to print a registration form to request payment from your school, or prefer to submit a paper registration, you can download one here. Confirmation of performing block will promptly be sent back via email.

2. Send $250.00 payment ($275.00 if after October 24th) by check or credit card. Make checks payable to Alabama ACDA.

Mail check to:
Dr. Andrew Minear
Box 870366
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

To pay by credit card, call Alabama ACDA Treasurer Jim Schaeffer at (334) 750-3608. The following information is required for credit card transactions: card number, expiration date, security code/CVV, and billing zip code. There is a 2.75% processing fee.

3. Email Dr. Andrew Minear your anticipated program with composers' dates and translations of any non-English text. All directors will have the opportunity to update/revise their program information until Friday, November 3, 2017.

NOTE: Your school's registration fee must be paid to participate in the festival. Payment should be made beforehand or brought to the festival. As most schools' budgets turnover around October, we understand that there may be delays in getting your payment. If you plan on participating but have complications and/or delays regarding the payment of fees, please go ahead and submit registration to reserve your spot right away and then follow up with payment as soon as possible. Space is limited.

Most schools will require Alabama ACDA to become an official vendor in order to issue checks. This is easy to do, all your school will need is the Alabama ACDA W-9 form. If your school participated in the festival last year, you should already be a vendor. If this is your first time participating (Welcome!) then forward the W-9 form to your business office so that we may become a vendor.


Guest Clinicians


TUCKER BIDDLECOMBE, (Ph.D) is Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, where he serves as conductor of the Vanderbilt Chorale and Symphonic Choir, and teaches courses in choral conducting and music education. In addition, he serves as Director of Blair's five-year Bachelor of Music/Teacher Education degree (Ma5) program offered in conjunction with Peabody College. In 2016, he was appointed Director of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, the official vocal arm of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Through creative programming and community building, Dr. Biddlecombe has re-invigorated choral activities at the Blair School of Music. Recent projects have included  Haydn’s Creation, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Brahms’ Schicksalslied, Fauré’s Requiem, Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych, and Rutter’s Mass of the Childrenperformed for Blair’s 50th Anniversary celebration. He created the annual Choral Prism concert,

which has become one of the largest-drawing student performances of the Blair concert calendar. Other highlights have included a lecture-concert on the music of Robert Shaw and Alice Parker, a fully-staged production of Bernstein’s MASS, and a centenary celebration of Benjamin Britten. In the coming year, the Vanderbilt Choral program will host the cutting-edge vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, performing a collaborative concert of William Brittelle’s Psychadelics, and Caroline Shaw’s Partita. His work with the Nashville Symphony Chorus will include chorus preparation for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), Handel’s Messiah, and a world premiere recording of John Harbison’s Requiem.

Over the course of a ten-year career as a public school music educator, Dr. Biddlecombe achieved National Board Teacher Certification and was awarded ‘Teacher of the Year’ at Lawton Chiles High School (FL). Ensembles under his direction have performed to acclaim at state and division conventions of the American Choral Directors Association. He is an active guest conductor, having conducted all-state choruses in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and New York, as well as clinics for hundreds of choirs touring Nashville. He is also a published composer and arranger with choral works printed by Alliance, Hinshaw and Walton Music. Dr. Biddlecombe’s article on specificity of conductor feedback was published in the fourth volume of the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, and he has recently conducted residencies with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and San Jose State University.

Off the podium, Biddlecombe is active as a tenor and keyboardist. He is chief collaborator in COLLEGIUM, a professional choir based at Vanderbilt, and has guest-conducted performances with Music City Baroque and the Nashville Early Music Festival. He can also be heard as tenor soloist and conductor on And the Time Is, a new recording of the music of Jack Stamp (Klavier) featuring the Vanderbilt Chorale and Wind Symphony. Biddlecombe proudly serves as organist and musician at Harpeth Presbyterian Church in Brentwood. His web initiative, the Nashville Choral Consortium, tracks each choral ensemble and performance throughout the season and serves as a hub for community, university, and church choral performance throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee.
A native of Buffalo New York, Biddlecombe is a graduate of SUNY Potsdam and Florida State University, where he completed doctoral studies in choral conducting and music education with André Thomas. He resides in Nashville with his wife Mary Biddlecombe, Artistic Director of the Blair Children’s Chorus. 



Professor Emeritus from Texas Tech University, and former choral conductor at Lawrence University, RICK BJELLA has distinguished himself as a conductor, clinician, choral pedagogue and choral arranger. He has been honored to have his choirs appear at the 2009 and 2013 National ACDA Conventions, as well as performances at Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall, and at TMEA conventions. In addition, Bjella’s graduate conductors also received finalist recognition in conducting competitions at two of the most recent National ACDA Conventions and one was awarded the Julius Herford Dissertation Prize.  

It has also been his honor to conduct and present masterclasses throughout the world and over 400 festivals and workshops in 32 states.  He is also active in the promotion of creative choral programming and is a contributing writer for the book,The Oxford Handbook of Choral Pedagogy(2017)with his chapter,  The Art of Successful Programming: Study, Selection, and Synthesis.

Bjella also served as President of the WCDA (Wisconsin) and was awarded the prestigious Lawrence Excellence in Teaching Award (2007) and the Morris Hayes Lifetime Achievement Award (2013) from WCDA. Most recently, Bjella was the recipient of a 2017 Professing Excellence Award at Texas Tech University.   Presently, he is the Artistic Director for the San Antonio Chamber Choir.



As Director of Choral Activities at The University of Southern Mississippi, GREGORY FULLER conducts the Southern Chorale and the Hattiesburg Choral Union, teaches graduate conducting courses, supervises candidates in the master’s and doctoral conducting program, serves as the chair of the Conducting Division, and is a member of the School of Music Executive Committee.  In 2004 he launched the first Southern Invitational Choral Conference, an event that now hosts over fifty participating institutions each September.  Since arriving in 2000, he has presided over growth that has more than doubled the number of vocal/choral majors at Southern Miss.

Previously, professor Fuller held academic appointments at The University of Missouri in Columbia and Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.  He has appeared in more than 20 states as a clinician and conductor and has performed at nine conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Music Educators National Conference (MENC).

In March, The Southern Chorale will appear in the world-class Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis for the Southern Division Convention of ACDA.  Dr. Fuller has organized and executed over 60 concert tours, study tours, and pilgrimages, including 28 international trips to three continents.  As a result choirs under his leadership have appeared at memorable venues, such as the Basilica of San Marino, Orvieto Cathedral, Cathedral of San Ildefonso (Merida), Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, Convent of San Bernadino of Siena (Vallodolid), Coventry Cathedral, Melk Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral, University of Orleans, Carnegie Hall, and the Disney Hall in Los Angeles.  His choirs have enjoyed short residencies in Japan and the Loire Valley of France. 

Dr. Fuller has remained active as a conductor in orchestral and wind settings.  To date, he has appeared with professional or university instrumental ensembles on more than 70 occasions.  He has also helped prepare orchestral choruses for more than 40 important performances, including presentations with the St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Mobile Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, and the outstanding Orchestras and Wind Ensembles at the University of Missouri and the University of Southern Mississippi.  In five seasons with the Sioux City Municipal Band (formerly the Monahan Post Band, a 90 year tradition), he hosted many successful and promising solo artists, including internationally acclaimed horn player, Michael Thompson.

On the podium with community choruses, Fuller started as a graduate assistant with the Choral Union in Columbia, at the University of Missouri. He eventually became the primary conductor of that organization and premiered “Phroheta Lucis”, by John Cheetham, a choral-orchestral work commissioned for the University’s Sesquicentennial Gala Concert.  In Sioux City, he quickly expanded the resources, membership, and audience of the Siouxland Master Chorale, culminating in several tours and a short residency in Yamanashi City, Japan, including a performance on Japanese National Public Television.  The Choral Union at Southern Miss is the primary orchestral chorus for the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra.  Under Fuller, the group has also performed with other regional orchestras and in various venues.  In 2007, they were a partner with the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Symphony presenting regional performances honoring important Mississippi composer, William Grant Still.  The Choral Union will premiere “An American Requiem,” by Edwin Penhorwood, in the spring of 2010.  This large-scale choral/orchestral commission coincides with the Centennial of the University of Southern Mississippi.  Fuller has recently been appointed to podium of the Meistersingers of Hattiesburg.  Dr. Fuller has organized collaborative community events in Mid-Missouri, Northwest Iowa (tri-state region), and now the Gulf Coast region. Some of the most notable presentations have been ecumenical sacred concerts with guest soloists as well as performances of major choral works with professional soloists and orchestra.

Dr. Fuller’s sacred music career spans more than three decades and has been influenced and inspired by his father, James Fuller.  Serving as a full-time church musician in Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri for over 40 years, James Fuller was regarded as model administrator of graded choir programs for children.  He fostered music education and choral excellence in churches.  As a continuing advocate for those values, Gregory Fuller organized the first Southern Hymn Festival in fall of 2008.  The event featured four guest composers, a 600-member choir from the Gulf Coast region, over 1,000 congregational participants, and full orchestra.  While in Iowa, he worked closely with the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City in planning and executing music for important liturgies.  This included the rededication of the Cathedral of the Epiphany and the ordination of Bishop Daniel DiNardo, now Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of the Galveston-Houston Diocese.  In recent years he has been the chorus master at the First Methodist Church in Gulfport and is now the conductor of the Sanctuary Choir at Parkway Heights United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Gregory Fuller grew up and attended public school in historic Jefferson City, state capitol of Missouri.  He attended Oklahoma Baptist University, in Shawnee, to earn a bachelors degree in Cello and Voice.  He then returned home to mid-Missouri to complete masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri and remains a loyal Tiger fan.  Among his significant mentors and teachers are James Fuller, Duncan Couch, James Woodward, Michael Cox, Michael Budds, John Cheetham, and Carolyn Hamlin.  He has participated in workshops and master classes with Robert Shaw, Sir David Wilcocks, John Rutter, Jere Lantz, John Paynter, and Col. John R. Bourgeois.


For more information contact the R&S Chair for College and University Choirs, Dr. Andrew Minear.