Nicole Lambrecht

It is so easy to critique yourself in the realm of constant social media bombardment and public sharing of our peers’ accomplishments. I struggle with comparing myself to others in the choral world who are doing more or succeeding at a higher level and maybe you do too. I often lose sight of the difference I am making each day in my singers’ lives. After years of having this negative self-talk, I had to ask myself: What is that higher level of attainment that I am searching for? When will it ever be “enough?” What does success even mean to me?

I recently read this quote by Emmie Rae:

What if your markers of success were how well you slept at night? How many books you read? How easily you laughed? How much time you spent storytelling, feeling warm in the arms and homes of people you adore?

Let’s look  at success through a different lens. Let’s shift the focus from the grandiose events to the smaller daily triumphs; to the student who grasps a concept or technique after weeks of practice; to the choir that dives deep into the meaning of a piece of repertoire; to the adult who joins a choir again after years of not singing.

Let’s learn to enjoy the downtime and do our best to reject the guilty feelings of not being “busy.” As someone who struggled immensely with chronic illness due to an overstimulated nervous system, I have seen not just the emotional effects, but the physical manifestations of stress as well. I have found that it is so important now more than ever to take the time for self-care and the simpler things in life: enjoying the sunshine, meditating, trying a new exercise class, or making dinner rather than grabbing a quick bite between rehearsals. If you face the same obstacles in this new way of thinking, you are not alone; in a world that praises busyness and productivity, I challenge you to prioritize rest, health, and relaxation.

Although there is so much beauty and importance in the stillness, the Central district remains a buzzing, busy area for excellence in choral music of which I am extremely proud. I would like to highlight some incredible work that my colleagues are doing below:

The St. Michael – Albertville High School Concert Choir will be performing at the 2024 Midwestern ACDA Regional Conference on February 9th in Omaha, Nebraska. The STMA Concert Concert Choir as well as Angelica Cantanti and Vocalessence will be representing Minnesota at this year’s conference.

From Joe Osowski, STMA Choir Director: “I am most excited to share our program, the hard work of our ensemble, and the pride with which these ensemble members have for the opportunity to represent our program and community. Our program centers around the theme of home from a myriad of perspectives. Home being a specific place, home being specific people or institutions, and what happens when those foundational “home” elements are lost, challenged, celebrated or altered. My favorite part about this experience is the dialogue that has occurred. It is incredibly rewarding to see students lead discussions around challenging topics, walk through this process, and be respectful of each other even when they don’t agree.

One of the biggest challenges with this type of performance is the group struggle that must occur to maintain an urgency for growth. We have been working on this program since the first day of school and have been rehearsing diligently for months to prepare a 25-minute performance. The consistency for urgency when the performance of the program is good but you continuously strive for just a little bit better every day is challenging. I’ve listed our program below. The STMA Concert Choir and I are honored to represent ACDA of Minnesota and its membership in the opportunity. I hope to see many of you there.”

Hail Gladdening Light – Charles Wood
V. We Cannot Leave – Ted Hearne
Song From The Road – Craig Hella Johnson
Poor Wayfaring Stranger – Arr. Alexander Lloyd Blake
Shall We Gather At The River – Arr. Blake Morgan

One week after Midwest ACDA, the St. Cloud State University Chamber Singers are presenting a vocal jazz performance session at the MMEA convention in Minneapolis. Vocal jazz is new at SCSU; this is the second year students have been able to perform vocal jazz and contemporary genres. The program will be a mix of jazz standards and contemporary tunes. They will be performing the Jazz Standards “Confirmation” by Charlie Parker, “Give Me the Simple Life,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.” They will also perform popular tunes by Tori Kelly and Shawn Mendes, arranged for a vocal ensemble. Their director, Dr. Lara Moline, is so incredibly proud of their progress, individual growth, commitment, and dedication to their craft and their growth as an ensemble.

This past October, over 200 singers from Albany High School, Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota, and Minnesota Center Chorale participated in a collaborative concert, which has not occurred for several years due to the pandemic.

Coming up on April 26th, Jody Martinson, choir teacher at Foley Public Schools is hosting Big Sing Adjudication Night. This is an annual weekend event of the Associated Male Chorus of America (AMCofA) for up to 10 tenor/bass choruses that is held at various sites in the multi-state district. This year will be hosted by the Cold Spring Maennerchor. The weekend includes an adjudicated recital by individual choirs on Friday night and a large massed concert on Saturday at the St. John’s Abbey Church.

So, whether you are traveling the region for special performances, rejoicing in a small triumph in your classroom, or enjoying a cup of coffee on your front porch, there is beauty in all of that for our careers and lives. I hope that you continue to pursue finding beauty and balance in your careers in the upcoming year.