Presenting on behalf of Past President Caron Daley, ACDA-PA President Liz Colpo announced the winners of the 3 ACDA-PA awards at the summer conference banquet held in Hostetter Chapel on the campus of Messiah University on August 1, 2022.
Outstanding Young Conductor Award Carlos Casilla Carlos Casilla graduated (summa cum laude) with a master’s degree in choral conducting from Louisiana State University, where he studied with Dr. John Dickson. Casilla currently serves as Director of Choirs and PreK-12 Performing Arts Department Chair at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr. His work has received high praise, and the choral program under his leadership has grown in both size and quality. (Students are known to make room for choir with “Mr. Carlos” in their busy schedules.) Additionally, Carlos serves as Director of the York County Senior Honors Choir (for which he travels between Philadelphia & York during the Choir’s rehearsal and performance season.)
Eileen M. Hower Memorial Award Alexis Farrell
Alexis Farrell began teaching at Palmyra Area Middle School in 2006, At PAMS, Alexis provides instruction for 6th-8th grade concert choirs, 6th grade general music classes, and the Palmyra Area Middle School select ensemble:“Cougar Noise”. Alexis’ choirs have performed at the ACDA-PA Fall Conference, Penn State Harrisburg’s choral clinics, the PA State Capitol, and with the Central Pennsylvania and Hershey Symphony Orchestras. Alexis has also served as a guest conductor, and served on our board for many years as R & R Chair for Middle School/Junior High Choirs.
Elaine Brown Award for Choral Excellence Dr. Anthony Leach
Dr. Anthony Leach is Professor Emeritus of Music & Music Education at Penn State University, where he served as conductor of the Penn State University Choir from 1994 through 2015, and taught undergraduate & graduate courses in choral music education. Leach has served as guest conductor for festivals world-wide and was co-conductor of the World Youth Choir sponsored by IFCM in 2004. Perhaps most famously and enduringly, Dr. Leach is the founding director of Essence of Joy, an ensemble that celebrates music written by African and African-American composers. In 1999, Leach added a similarly focused community-based ensemble, “Essence 2”... and six years later, he created the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers, an extension of Essence for his former students. Throughout a distinguished career, Dr. Leach has championed the rich African and African-American choral music tradition through hundreds of performances, 7 recordings, numerous African-American Music festivals, and numerous commissioning projects.
Tony received the Penn State’s “President’s Award for Engagement with Students” in 2007. He served as Penn State University Laureate in 2009-10, received Chorus America’s Brazeal Dennard Award in 2017, received the Penn State “Lion’s Paw Association Award” in 2018, and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Lebanon Valley College (his undergraduate Alma Mater), in October 2019.
Tony has been re-appointed as director of Essence of Joy through next June. He also continues to serve as conductor of the Essence of Joy Alumni Singers and Essence 2, in addition to serving as Director of Music, Worship and the Arts at Monumental AME, in Steelton, PA.
* * * * * * * * * * About the ACDA-PA Awards:
The Eileen M. Hower Memorial Award is presented to a choral music educator who has been teaching for more than 15 years that has a proven record of commitment to developing voices, particularly at the middle school level.
The Outstanding Young Conductor Award recognizes the efforts of a new or aspiring choral director who, in their first 3 to 5 years of experience has already demonstrated outstanding leadership or musicianship in the field of choral music.
Having the first in-person conference since 2019 afforded ACDA-PA the opportunity to premiere winning compositions from the 2020 and 2022 Choral Composition Competitions.
At the Opening Concert on July 31, The Susquehanna Chorale, under the direction of Linda Tedford, premiered "Close Thine Eyes" by 2020 winner Geoffrey McKain. On August 1, the Choir for All Honor Choir, directed by Marques Garrett, premiered both 2022 winning selections: "All Night I Could Not Sleep" by Laurel Luke Christensen (non-student category); and "The Violet" by Maira Myers (student category).
Congratulations to the winning composers, and thank you to our performers for their excellent performances!
Contest chair Peter de Mets, ACDA-PA president Liz Colpo, Maira Myers, Laurel Christensen, Honor Choir conductor Marques L.A. Garrett