Choral / Opera Room Rehearsal Dr. Tucker Biddlecombe and the Boychoir Mr. Ken Berg and the Boychoir Dr. Judy Bowers and the Girls Choir

Young Voices Festival 2023

The 2023 Young Voices Festival will be held at the University of Alabama on April 28-29, 2023, and will be led by the following clinicians:

Boychoir: Dr. Craig Hurley, Spivey Hall Young Artists
Girls Choir: Dr. Bridget Sweet, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Mixed Choir: Maria Ellis, owner of Girl Conductor and director of The Sheldon's City of Music All Star Chorus

We are so excited to welcome this dynamic slate of conductors, and we hope you make plans to bring your students for a great weekend of singing and learning. We had a great and safe festival last year, and we anticipate everything proceeding as normal again this year.

Birmingham auditions will be held at Simmons Middle School on Saturday, February 11; we plan for auditions in Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville, and Florence to happen around the same time. We welcome and encourage auditions from all over the state.

Mixed Choir Audition registration and rehearsal tracks will be available on January 2. The audition registration deadline is January 20.

Festival Registration forms (for all choirs) will open March 1. The Festival Registration deadline will be March 20.

Please email Meredith DeVore with any questions or concerns. If this is your first year bringing students, we can connect you with another teacher to guide you through the registration process. Looking forward to another great Young Voices Festival experience!

The Young Voices Festival Committee
Meredith DeVore:
Lisa Latham
Amanda Slay

Please contact us with questions or concerns at

The Alabama ACDA Young Voices Festival is a unique opportunity for 4th-9th grade public school, homeschool, community, and church choir students in the state of Alabama. The Young Voices Festival offers choral students a challenging opportunity to perform advanced choral literature under the direction of nationally recognized music educators.

Held every spring since 1993, 4th - 9th grade students are eligible to participate in one of three choirs: Junior High Mixed, Girls' Choir, and a Boychoir. Each choir is under the direction of a renowned guest clinician over the course of this two-dayday event. Rehearsals begin Friday afternoon, and students present a final public concert on Saturday afternoon.

Students in 4th-6th grades wishing to participate will be chosen by their teachers and should be registered by March 12th. Google registration forms for the two children's choirs will be available at A director may bring a maximum of ten students for each of the two children's choirs. If a teacher teaches at two schools, or at a school with an elementary and middle school campus, a director may bring ten from each school or section of the school. All singers should know all of their music before arriving in Tuscaloosa for the festival.

Director Festival Registration
Student Festival Registration

The Mixed Choir audition registration deadline is January 27th. 7th-10th graders audition for the Mixed Choir. (4th-6th graders sing in Girls Choir or Boychoir and should be chosen by their directors.)

Directors should complete the Student Audition Registration Form AND the Director Audition Registration Form. Registration is NOT complete until payment has been received.

Mail payment to:
Jordan Banks
ACDA treasurer
Berry Middle School
4500 Jaguar Drive
Birmingham, AL 35242

**PLEASE NOTE: this is a new address: check with your bookkeeper to ensure that payment is not mailed to Jim Schaeffer at SPHS.**

You may pay with a credit card by emailing Jordan Banks and requesting an online invoice. There is a fee of 3.5% +15¢ for all credit card transactions.

The audition fee is $10.00 per student and includes rehearsal recordings, which will be sent through Google Drive upon your payment. An invoice/confirmation email will be sent upon receipt of the Google form.

Auditions are planned in the following locations:
Birmingham – Saturday, February 11, 2023 – Simmons Middle School
Montgomery – TBD
Mobile – TBD
Huntsville – Date TBD – Buckhorn Middle School
Florence – Date TBD – Mars Hill Bible School

We welcome auditions from all over the state and intend to hold auditions in the cities listed. If the city closest to you is listed as TBD, please be assured that we want your singers to participate. Wehav e some flexibility to schedule auditions at times that will work for all involved.

7th-10th grade students will audition in groups and will audition on a portion of every song. Students will hold music for their audition, should be very familiar with all of the music, should be able to match pitch, and should sing with confidence. Students must have original copies of each piece at auditions. Unlimited students may audition from a school, but we ask that directors do their best to bring a balance of voice parts to audition.

All boys in 4th - 6th grade may participate in the Boychoir. Treble music is performed by this group. ACDA member directors may select up to twelve boys to register for this choir. Students selected to participate should exhibit appropriate attitude, behavior, musicality and the ability to sit through long rehearsals Vocal parts should be equal. Please check the vocal parts listed with the songs to be performed. Sixth grade students may not participate in the Junior High Girls or Mixed Choir.

All Girls in 4th - 6th grade may participate in the Girls Choir. Current ACDA members may register up to twelve select girls to participate in this choir. Students selected to participate should exhibit appropriate attitude, behavior, musicality and the ability to sit through long rehearsals. See the list of songs to be performed for the correct voice parts needed. Students should be evenly divided between voice parts. Sixth grade students may not participate in the Junior High Mixed Choir.

The Junior High Mixed Choir is for students in 7th -9th grade and performs SATB music. Directors may bring an unlimited number of students to audition, however, directors are encouraged to balance the audition group by voice parts. Voice parts are indicated with the songs to be performed. Directors must be ACDA members. Please check the voicing of songs to be performed by the Junior High Mixed Choir.

All choirs combine to perform one song to conclude the performance.

The link to the Festival Registration Form will be available starting March 1 for 7th-9th grade students accepted into the Mixed Choir and 4th-6th grade students chosen by their directors for the Girls Choir and Boychoir. Registration is due March 21. Festival registration is $45 per student with a $40 school fee. Elementary choir recordings will be sent via Dropbox after registrations are received. Your registration is complete when your payment is submitted to the same address above.

Please read the following information carefully and feel free to share with colleagues: The registration deadline for those who wish to participate in the Mixed Choir is January 20th. A Google registration form submission will be required, but registration is not complete until money has been mailed to Jim Schaeffer, ACDA treasurer, Spain Park High School, 4700 Jaguar Drive Birmingham, AL 35242. The audition fee is $10.00 per student and includes Dropbox rehearsal recordings. An invoice will be emailed upon receipt of the Google form. Once accepted to the choir, there is a $40 school fee and $45 student fee.

All music lists are available under State & Festival Lists at Music should be ordered separately by each director.

BOYCHOIR Purchase JWPepper Packet
We Will Sing for Joy Based on Sonata, K. 64 Domenico Scarlatti (Unison) arr. Helenclair Lowe, Choristers Guild ID CGA202
Deshi (Two-Part) Brent Pierce, Brent Pierce Choral Works ID 35-20500
Three Quotes By Mark Twain (Two-Part) Andrea Ramsey, Santa Barbara Music Publishing ID SBMP892
Shenandoah (Two-Part) arr. Rollo Dilworth, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 08552226
Grow, Little Tree (Two-Part) Andrea Ramsey, Santa Barbara Music Publishing ID 10425343
Goliath (Two-Part) Joseph Marth, Fred Brock Music ID 8738253
Come Sing With Me (SATB) Ken Berg, National Music Publishers ID 08761862

GIRLS CHOIR Purchase JWPepper Packet
The Cloud (Two-Part) Victor C. Johnson, Shawnee Press ID 431149
Shady Grove Appalacian Folk Song (SSA Divisi) arr. Robert I. Hugh, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 00124456
Baraka na Wewe (Two-Part) Victor C. Johnson, Choristers Guild ID 11100075
Sound the Trumpet (from "Come, Ye Sons of Art") (Two-Part) Henry Purcell / arr. Robinson, Carl Fischer LLC ID CM9236
The Bumblebee (Two-Part) Sally K. Albrecht, Alfred Music Publishing ID 45377
Come Sing With Me (SATB) Ken Berg, National Music Publishers ID 08761862

MIXED CHOIR Purchase JWPepper Packet
Lovely Day (SATB Divisi) arr. Robert T. Gibson, Alfred Music Publishing ID 48841
When Dreams Take Flight (SATB) Rollo Dilworth, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 00254541
I Choose Love (SATB) Mark A. Miller, Choristers Guild ID CGA1491
Festival Sanctus (SATB) John Leavitt, Alfred Music Publishing ID SV8821
O Happy Day (SATB) Edwin R. Hawkins / arr. Roger Emerson, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 00121025
Come Sing With Me (SATB) Ken Berg, National Music Publishers ID 08761862

Dropbox rehearsal recordings will be included with ALL audition registrations as well as festival registrations. Recordings will be emailed to all registered directors upon the receipt of completed (paid) registration. Please note that this is a change and there is a slight price increase due to this service. We hope this will alleviate the headache of sending a different check for rehearsal recordings.

A block will be reserved for Young Voices at the Hotel Capstone in Tuscaloosa. Ask for the Young Voices Festival rate.

In February of 1993, two middle school teachers approached the Alabama ACDA Board about sponsoring a choral festival dedicated to younger choral students and their directors. Founders of this festival recognized the need to promote a statewide event that would provide a high level of choral instruction and performance for youngsters in upper elementary and middle school. The Alabama ACDA agreed and enthusiastically voted to endorse the Young Voices Festival. For over 25 years the Young Voices Festival has been committed to providing a positive, quality choral experience for young singers in the state of Alabama.

The first Young Voices Festival was held in 1993. Three choirs for students in 4th - 9th grade was the original format. The two day event had over 350 students from across the state participate in the first festival. The Young Voices Festival has evolved to include four choirs for students 4th - 9th grade and a performance by the combined choirs to conclude the concert. The 1999 Young Voices Festival saw the original 'Children's Choir' split into a 'Children's Girls' Choir' and a 'Boy Choir'. With over 800 young students participating annually in the YVF it is clear the Alabama ACDA Young Voices Festival will continue for a very long time!

All Young Voices participants should be current members of the American Choral Directors Association. Click Here to join. This information will be checked before students are allowed to audition. Please pass this information along to teachers in your areas, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Meredith Devore:
Shirley Ellison:
Lisa Latham:


Director Festival Registration
Student Festival Registration

Young Voices

  • When:April 28 - 29, 2023
  • Where:Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Who:4th-9th Graders
  • How:Register Above


Guest Clinicians

  • Craig Hurley, Boychoir
    Spivey Hall Young Artists
  • Bridget Sweet, Girls Choir
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Maria Ellis, Mixed Choir
    The Sheldon's City of Music All Star Chorus


Bridget Sweet

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Maria Ellis

The Sheldon's City of Music All Star


Guest Clinician Bios

Craig Hurley is the conductor of the Spivey Hall Young Artists, the preparatory choir of the nationally renowned Spivey Hall Children’s Choir. The Young Artists were proud to perform at the 2018 GMEA In-Service Conference in Athens, Georgia. Dr. Hurley has served as a guest clinician for several honor choirs throughout the southeast. He currently serves as the Georgia ACDA President-Elect and is the artistic director of the annual Spivey Hall Elementary Honor Choir and Spivey Hall Summer Music Camp.

Dr. Hurley is the music specialist at Ford Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia. He has presented sessions at the Music Educators Association in-service conferences for Georgia, Florida, and Alabama as well as the Southern Division ACDA Conference in 2020. Under his direction, the Ford Elementary Chorus performed at the 2015 GMEA In-Service Conference. Dr. Hurley was honored as Teacher of the Year in 2002, 2016, and was the 2020 Cobb County Elementary General Music Teacher of the Year, and the 2021 GMEA Music Educator of the Year.

Dr. Hurley is an active researcher whose articles have been published in the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, Research and Issues in Music Education, ChorTeach, and Teaching Music Magazine. Research interests include music literacy, the child’s singing voice, and expressive choral performance pedagogy. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Shorter College, a Master’s of Early Childhood Education from Berry College, and a doctorate in music education from The University of Georgia.

Collen McNickle Bridget Sweet is Associate Professor of Music Education at University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. After completing her Bachelors Degree in Music Education at Western Michigan University, Dr. Sweet enjoyed a successful tenure as a middle school choir teacher for nearly ten years. Her interests in adolescent music education intensified during her Masters and Doctoral programs in Music Education at Michigan State University, which contributed to her research focused on characteristics of effective and exemplary middle-level music teachers. Prior to her work at the University of Illinois, Dr. Sweet was Assistant Professor of Music Education at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA. At the University of Illinois, Dr. Sweet teaches secondary music education pedagogy, including choral methods and literature, graduate courses in music education, as well as a course focused on the development of healthy practices for all musicians. She is a Licensed Body Mapping Educator through the Association for Body Mapping Education.

Dr. Sweet continues to work extensively with adolescent singers as a teacher, clinician, and conductor; she has been invited to conduct middle and high school All-State Choirs and Honors Choirs in many states. Dr. Sweet 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 (2020, Oxford University Press). Dr. Sweet’s research interests include middle level choral music education, [assigned at birth] female and male adolescent voice change, musician health and wellness, intersections of LGBTQ+ topics and the music classroom, as well as intersections of motherhood and academia. Her research has appeared in publications of Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, Choral Journal, International Journal of Music Education: Research, Journal of Research in Music Education and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. She has authored chapters within The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research in American Music Education (2014) and The Oxford Handbook of Care in Music Education. Dr. Sweet was initiated as a Friend of the Arts to the Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity (2021). She is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Bulletin of the Council of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Research in Choral Music, Journal of Research in Music Education, and Qualitative Research in Music Education.

Maria A. Ellis is a passionate educator and conductor. She is the owner of Girl Conductor LLC, a company that creates diverse music education resources and currently serves as the Director of The Sheldon’s City of Music All-Star Chorus. Maria is an active clinician, adjudicator and presenter throughout the United States and abroad. She holds a B.M. in Music Education emphasis on Voice (K-12 Certified) Degree from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. She has served as the Arts and Administrative Fellow for The St. Louis Symphony and has served as the Community Engagement Manager for The St. Louis Children’s Choirs. Maria is the host of the Award Winning Show "Bach and Beyoncé" on Classic 107.3 The Voice for the Arts in St. Louis and is a host for the St. Louis Symphony "Live at Powell" broadcast. Maria is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Music Educators, Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, where she is chair of the RIDE (Race, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity) Committee and holds Level 3 Certification from the CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education. Maria is the wife of Marion Ellis and the mother of Aria, Kendal and Noah Ellis.