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 Young Voices Festival committee has missed seeing you and your students, and we are looking forward to the rich tradition of YVF returning on April 28-29, 2023, at the University of Alabama.

We have re-invited the slate of conductors from 2020/2021, as we are excited for our students to work with them. Dr. Bridget Sweet from Illinois Urbana Champaign had agreed to conduct the Girls Choir, but she is unable to be with us this year due to a family conflict. With that change, our conductors this year will be:

Boychoir: Tyson Askew, Heard County Schools
Girls Choir: Dr. Colleen McNickle, Arkansas State University
Mixed Choir: Dr. Craig Zamer, Tennessee Tech University

In this uncertain time where we're still dealing with COVID, it remains challenging to make concrete plans for months in the future. However, we are planning for YVF with the hope that we will be able to have an in-person festival in as normal a manner as possible. We have kept the health and safety of our singers, clinicians, accompanists, directors at the front of our decision-making process, and that will continue. We are hopeful that we can balance safety and singing together, as we are all learning to do. We will keep you updated.

Please email Meredith with any questions or concerns.

Looking forward to singing together again!

The Young Voices Festival Committee
Meredith DeVore:
Shirley Ellison
Lisa Latham

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.

Audition Form

Auditions for the Mixed Choir (grades 7-9) will be Saturday, February 12, 2021 at Simmons Middle School in Birmingham, AL. Other cities will be added as needed. Girls Choir (grades 4-6) and Boychoir (grades 4-6) will consist of students selected by their teachers.

7th-9th 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, and should be able to match pitch and sing with confidence. 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.

Cantate Jubilate! (Unison/Two-Part) Jeff Reeves, Shawnee Press ID 35030477
I've Been to Haarlem (Three-Part Treble) arr. Ken Berg, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 08748850
The Jumblies (Unison/Two-Part) Jill Friedersdorf & Melissa Malvar-Keylock, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 00123665
Shenandoah (Two-Part) arr. Rollo Dilworth, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 08552226
Three Black Socks (Unison) Valerie Showers Crescenz, Hinshaw Music, Inc. ID 08764470
Come Sing With Me (SATB) Ken Berg, National Music Publishers ID 08761862

Nanuma (Song of Greeting) (SSA) arr. Mark Burrows, BriLee Music Publishing ID BL1119
When I Grow Up (SA) Connor Koppin, Must be ordered from
Turn the World Around (Two-Part) arr. Mark Hayes, Shawnee Press ID 35029991
Natsu No Yo Wa (In the Summer Night) (SA) Ruth Morris Gray, Heritage Music Press ID 15/3825H
Walk Through Life (Two-Part) Pinkzebra, Pinkzebra Publishing ID 1906014
Come Sing With Me (SATB) Ken Berg, National Music Publishers ID 08761862

Nda Wana arr. Michael Barrett, Santa Barbara Music Publishing ID SBMP1389
Music Spread Thy Voice Around (SATB) G. F. Handel / arr. Linda Spevacek, Heritage Music Press ID 15/1876H
Jabberwocky (SATB) Sam Pottle, Heritage Music Press ID 15/2088H
A Patch of Light (SATB) Jacob Narverud, JN Music ID JN1385
I Sing Because I'm Happy (SATB) arr. Kenneth Padden/adapt. Rollo Dilworth, Hal Leonard Corporation ID 00124479
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 Fill out the Director Festival Registration Form, Student Festival Registration Form, and submit your payment to complete your festival registration.

Young Voices

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


Guest Clinicians

  • Tyson Askew, Boychoir
    Georgia Elementary Schools
  • Colleen McNickle, Girls Choir
    Arkansas State University
  • Craig Zamer, Mixed Choir
    Tennessee Tech University


Colleen McNickle

Arkansas State University


Craig Zamer

Tennessee Tech University


Guest Clinician Bios

Tyson J. Askew was impacted by the world of music through his elementary music teacher and a strong foundation in church music. His gift for music and passion for teaching lead him to later obtain a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Auburn University. A native of the state of Alabama, Mr. Askew currently resides in the state of Georgia where he teaches elementary music. The vibrancy taken from his former elementary music teacher lives today within him. Mr. Askew desires that all elementary students have access to a quality, motivating, and exciting musical experience.

Mr. Askew has previously served as a High School and Middle School Choral Conductor, Community Choir Director, Assistant Marching Band Director, and as a Director of Church Music. He has served as a clinician and an adjudicator for vocal and instrumental festivals and competitions.

With a conviction to see all children have the same musical experience as he did, Mr. Askew pursued his master’s in education to focus on policy, curriculum, and development in music education. He is currently a doctoral candidate researching motivational and inspiring relationships between students and teachers and the outcomes they produce. Mr. Askew’s classroom is a replica of his developments in research as his music classroom is full of high energy kinesthetics and enthusiasm. Along with teaching, he has developed music education curriculum and instruction on the district level. As an author and researcher, Mr. Askew continues to use his voice to advocate for the need and importance of music education in all K-12 schools.

Collen McNickle is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Arkansas State University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate music education courses and conducts Scarlet Voices and the Singing Statesmen. With a PhD in Music Education and Choral Cognate from Michigan State University, Colleen’s scholarly interests include music educator wellness and interdisciplinary choral education. Colleen previously taught middle school and high school choirs, piano, ukulele, and music theory in Illinois and earned her BA in Music Education from Augustana College and her MME in Music Education from the University of Illinois.

An active clinician, Colleen has presented research and practice sessions at the Symposium for LGBTQ Studies and Music Education, Music and Wellbeing Conference, Desert Skies Symposium on Research in Music Learning and Teaching, the Big Ten Academic Alliance Music Education Conference, the American Choral Directors Association North Central Conference, the New Directions in Music Education Conference and at state music educator conferences in Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia. Upcoming presentations include “Wellness Starts with Me”: Choir Teacher Wellness Experiences and Perceptions at the SMTE 2021 Symposium on Music Teacher Education and Butterflies, and Jitters, and Sweaty Palms, Oh My! Understanding Performance Anxiety at the 2022 SWACDA "Together" Conference.

Craig Zamer is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Tennessee Tech University where he directs a non-auditioned Concert Choir and the Tennessee Tech University Chorale,Tennessee Tech’s top auditioned choir. Dr.Zamer also teaches undergraduate courses in choral conducting, choral literature, and secondary choral methods.

Dr. Zamer received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Virginia Tech University. He also holds the M.M.E. and Ph. D. degrees in Music Education and Choral Conducting from The Florida State University. Before his graduate work he taught high school choral music at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County, Virginia.

In 2018 Dr. Zamer debuted in Carnegie Hall conducting choirs from Tennessee and Mississippi in a performance of Dan Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with full orchestra. Dr. Zamer has been an invited clinician, conductor, and adjudicator in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia. Dr. Zamer has conducted abroad in Austria, China, the Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.