Moody Music Building David Mandt Interest Session Professional Development at Lunch Clinician Interest Sessions In the Recital Hall

Summer Conference Planning In Full Swing

Our Alabama Choral Directors Association Summer Conference will take place on Monday and Tuesday, July 15-16, 2019. Please mark your calendars to reflect these dates. The conference will include much of what we return for year after year: interest sessions by Alabama choral directors, reading sessions that encompass all ACDA Repertoire & Resources (R&R) areas, food, fellowship, and fun.

NAfME Members: Alabama ACDA will cover ACDA membership for AVA (Alabama Vocal Association) members who are attending the summer conference for the first time. Include a completed ACDA Membership Form with your registration.

All attendees are invited to a Monday evening pre-concert social from 5:15-7:15pm. The 3rd Annual after-concert Karaoke Fest will be held at Wilhagan’s following the concert. Come share your talent, or just come and (tastefully) criticize everyone else’s!

Summer Conference

  • When:July 15-16, 2019
  • Where:Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Who:ACDA Members
  • How:Register Now

Parking Pass

Guest Clinicians

  • Bridget Sweet
    University of Illinois
  • Tesfa Wondemagegnehu
    St. Olaf College


Guest Choirs

  • Mississippi River Chorale
    J. Reese Norris, Director
  • Highland Consort
    Frederick Teardo, Director

Summer Conference Registration Fee

Student (Full-Time)


Active Member


Retired Member


Guest of Member



Tesfa Wondemagegnehu

St. Olaf College

Bridget Sweet

University of Illinois

Guest Clinician Interest Sessions

Session 1: "Diversity: Such a Tricky Word"
Conversations on the buzzword *diversity* in our school music programs and real talk on how we can be more responsive music educators.

Session 2: "Music on Justice for Your Church Music Program" A brief overview of the Justice Choir Movement and a roadmap on how to incorporate justice-themed music in your church music program.

Session 3: "ABC's of Vocal Pedagogy" A crash course and resource introduction to the world of vocal pedagogy. Aimed for a "Music Education - Instrumental background, but teaching choir at their school" crowd, but definitely a fun refresher for us all!

Session 1: "Adolescent Voice Change: Thinking Outside the Voice Box"
Teaching adolescent choral students, especially those experiencing voice change, involves considerations of physical development, cognitive and brain development, emotional aspects, and humor. Music educators and music classes can make powerful, meaningful, and lasting differences for changing voice students, both female and male. Throughout this session, adolescents will be advocated for as inquisitive, humorous, loyal, capable, and important people.

Session 2: "Adolescent Voice Change: The Female Voice"
The purpose of this session is to bring attention to the adolescent female changing voice. This session aims to empower adolescent female singers and validate their voice change experiences at a very pivotal point in their lives; to reinforce that females, too, can persevere through this challenging developmental process; and to stress the importance of the choral teacher’s role in navigating this experience for female choristers. Discussion will include an anatomical and physiological dialogue about vocal function and voice change, a brief overview of research and publications focused on female voice change, psychological and emotional ramifications of voice change for female singers, and strategies for working with female singers experiencing voice change.

Session 3: "Healthy Music Practices: Maintaining Longevity in the Choral Music Education Profession"
Session Handout
This session is intended to promote healthy musical and lifestyle habits and choices for all music educators and their own students, as well as provide strategies towards developing healthy music practices. Focus will largely be maintained on general self-care but will also touch on the four target areas identified by the Health Promotion in Schools of Music Conference as crucial for musicians: voice care, hearing conservation, musculoskeletal issues, and psychological issues.

Guest Clinician Bios

With a love of music as big as his last name, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu has been sharing joy and a vision for equity and justice through song for over a decade. Through a triumvirate of teaching, conducting, and performing, he has found a way to transform both students and audiences and to reach those seeking resolutions of peace, equality, and respect … through music.

Tesfa Wondemagegnehu serves as the conductor of the Viking Chorus and the Chapel Choir at St. Olaf College. He maintains an active voice studio and teaches Music & Social Justice with the goal of helping bridge the gap of social injustice through music, dialogue, and inspiring participants to take action in their communities. Wondemagegnehu most recently was the Director of Choral Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Minneapolis, where he co-founded the Justice Choir movement with noted composer Abbie Betinis. In the summer of 2018, Tesfa served as guest conductor of the children’s choir at the Aspen Music Festival, leading them in a week-long journey on the Justice Choir Songbook.

Born and raised in Memphis, with an impressive collection of opinions on barbecue, Tesfa learned early on from one of his mentors that “Excellence is never an accident.” And, consequently, he has not left much to chance. Through the love and dedication of music teachers with whom he has studied, and an abundance of grit and determination, Tesfa has risen to be one of the most sought-after conductors and educators in the country and is on the cutting edge of music-related social justice movements throughout the United States.

​Tesfa has conducted and given masterclasses, workshops, and clinics both nationally and internationally. In 2017 he co-led the American Choral Directors Association’s national high school honor choir, working collaboratively with Eric Whitacre. In June of 2017, he was named the composer-in-residence for Choirs of America at Carnegie Hall, where he had the opportunity to conduct and lift over 600 voices in singing the world premiere of his composition May the Road. Wondemagegnehu made his Severance Hall debut in 2017, co-conducting with Cleveland Orchestra Chorus Master Dr. Lisa Wong a choir comprising high school students from the Cleveland area, and in 2016 he worked with Los Angeles Master Chorale artistic director Grant Gershon, co-conducting their 1,000 student honor choir in the majestic Walt Disney Concert Hall.

​Tesfa holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance from the Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performing from the University of Memphis. While teaching high school, Tesfa was named Orange County Public School Teacher of the Year and received the Macy’s National Magic of Teaching Award. This award celebrated an innovative voice program started at Freedom High School in Orlando, where the class participants, who received free voice lessons and vocal coaching, obtained over $3 million in college scholarships from some of the most prestigious music schools in the country.

​Tesfa’s time in Minneapolis began as the Assistant Artistic Director of VocalEssence while concurrently serving as the Manager of the Choral Works Initiative and the Choral Stream™ at American Public Media. During his tenure at APM, he was named founding artistic director of The Radio Choir from American Public Media.

​Wondemagegnehu is the curator and editor of a new choral series with Hinshaw Music Publications and is celebrated as an accomplished arranger and composer. Many of his compositions have been performed by regional choirs and all-state choirs throughout the country.

​Tesfa has been inspired by all of his students throughout his career. His latest prodigy, daughter Aïda Hope, born in 2017, is influencing him daily with new developments, all the while wrapping him around her tiny finger. It is still to be determined whether she will be a world-famous opera singer, a renowned conductor, or the ultimate grill master, but, nevertheless, she will be fierce.

​American Public Media’s Vaughn Ormseth has this to say about Tesfa: “He believes choral music transformed his life, saved him, so his passion for it is on a cellular level. He loves the formal tradition of the art form, but plugs his own kind of electricity directly into it. He has a millennial’s impatience with systems.” And so, with music’s undeniable power and potential to save lives, and the impatience to wait for others to make change, Tesfa will continue to transform the world with his vision and determination in education, justice, and joy.

Bridget Sweet is Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois where she teaches music education pedagogy, including choral methods and literature, middle-level general music methods, graduate courses in music education, as well as a course focused on the development of healthy practices for all musicians. Dr. Sweet has worked extensively with adolescent singers as a teacher, clinician and adjudicator. She wrote the books Growing Musicians: Teaching Music in Middle School and Beyond (2016, Oxford University Press) and Thinking Outside the Voice Box: Adolescent Voice Change in Music Education (2019, Oxford University Press). Her research interests include middle level choral music education, female and male adolescent voice change, educating and empowering adolescent music students, and intersections of diversity and the music classroom.