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Friday March 9, 2001

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UA music doctoral candidate to participate in conductor's competition

By Aaron Cowman

Arizona Daily Wildcat

While others are hitting the beaches in Mexico or California for Spring Break, UA doctoral candidate David Gardner will journey to San Antonio, Texas to participate in this year's American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) meeting.

However, this will not be the stereotypical vacation as competition awaits Gardner when he gets there. He was chosen as one of four students across the nation to compete in the choir conduction competition, which is held at the bi-annual meeting.

"It has opened up a lot of doors for me," Gardner said. "Just last week I was awarded the Music Advisory Board Distinguished Graduate Student of 2001."

Competitors received four songs to practice several weeks ago, including: "O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf" by Brahms, "Exsultate Deo" by Francis Poulenc "Gloria" from Beethoven's Mass in C Major and "Si J'avais le Bateau" arranged by Harry Somers.

"Each of them has a different challenge for the conductor," Gardner said

The choir for the competition will have already practiced the songs extensively. It will be the conductor's job to make things sound better, Gardner said.

"They're (the judging panel) not just judging how you wave your hands, but how you make changes that help the group," Gardner said.

Unlike regular performances, the choir will not face the audience. Instead, the conductor faces both the choir and the audience. Gardner said he does not feel nervous about the added attention.

"I'm used to speaking in front of audiences, and that's not intimidating," Gardner said. "The whole magnitude of who's in the audience may be intimidating."

More than 5,000 members of the ACDA will be on hand, including some of the top conductors in the nation.

"That's a pretty neat opportunity," Gardner said.

The competition lasts two of the meeting's four days, and the winners will be announced on the contest's final day. First and second place winners receive cash awards, as well as major recognition for the future.

"If I win, it will sure look good on a resume," Gardner said.

Gardner attributes much of his achievements to the University of Arizona's School of Music's choral activities director, Bruce Chamberlain.

"He has just done an outstanding job this year," Gardner said. "He has been a great help, and it has been a great experience."

One of Gardner's key goals at the meeting is to promote the UA in hopes of drawing students to the choral program.

"At the convention we are looking to boost the university," Gardner said. "It's not just a good thing for me. But, it's a great experience for the university."

After he receives his doctorate next May, Gardner hopes to go on to teach choir conduction on a university level, and perhaps one day direct his own singing group.

"That would be a dream come true," he said.