Unbounded Voices: WSU Concert Chorale's Journey to SWACDA

In a historic moment for Wichita State University, the WSU Concert Chorale is set to make its mark at the Southwestern Region American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Convention in Denver, CO., on Saturday, March 2. This significant achievement marks the first time in 30 years that WSU will be represented at an ACDA event.

A Prestigious Platform for Choral Excellence

Dr. Ryan Beeken, Director of Choral Activities and Director of Concert Chorale, shared his sentiments on learning about the performance: "I was overjoyed and proud. The students have been working very hard over the past several years, and the program has really developed. Selection for the conference was amazing validation that things are going well."

José López, a second-year music education student, offered insights into his initial reaction, stating, "Honestly, I didn’t know what to think. At the time, I couldn’t really wrap my head around how big a deal this was. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is pretty cool. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the chance to do something like this again, probably not as a student, but maybe as a choir director."

 Riley King, a Choral Conducting graduate student, sheds light on the significance of this performance for the WSU choral program, stating, "I think it’s something to really be proud of. More than anything, as I’ve thought about it, I think it is a testament to Dr. Beeken’s work with the choirs.... This is Dr. Beeken’s fifth year, and two of those years were severely marred by COVID-19. The fact that he was able to build that in the short time he’s been here, to have three solid recordings he could send in, is a testament to the work he’s done and the work that the students have put forward in that time."

 ACDA stands as the primary professional organization for choral conducting and education, and the Southwest Region includes Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. The regional conference, held biennially, is a pivotal event in the choral world. Only two university ensembles were selected to perform, and this year, WSU Concert Chorale earned this distinguished honor.

A Selective and Blind Selection Process

The path to the ACDA stage is no easy feat. The selection process is rigorous, blind, and peer-reviewed. WSU Concert Chorale submitted a comprehensive application that included recordings spanning three years and a proposed program evaluated for the quality of repertoire, representation, and inclusion. Dr. Beeken explained the process, stating, "The blind, peer-reviewed process adds an additional layer of credence to our selection. It ensures that the decision wasn’t based upon preconceived ideas about the students or faculty at WSU. The fact that my peers at other universities across the country recognized the artistry and skill on display by the singers at WSU is especially meaningful."

About the Choir: A Community of Voices


Finding that place that just feels like home in your heart – it's an amazing feeling.
Gavi Perryman
2nd Year - Music Education

Comprising 48 voices, the Concert Chorale harmoniously blends soprano, alto, tenor, and bass (SATB) voices. The ensemble is a dynamic mix of undergraduate and graduate students, including 35 undergraduate music majors, five undergraduate non-music majors, seven graduate music majors, and one graduate non-music major. Notably, nearly forty percent of the students identify as first-generation college students and non-white, reflecting the rich diversity within the WSU community. Gavi Perryman, a second-year music education student, beautifully captures the essence of the choir's community, stating, "Finding that place that just feels like home in your heart – it's an amazing feeling. Knowing you will always have someone there to support you, no matter the choir's size. I'm pretty sure any choir mate would drop everything and be there in a heartbeat."

Dr. Beeken emphasizes the diversity within the choir, stating, "Our program celebrates the wonderful diversity within our community. It aims to champion the power of collective experiences that, when harnessed, have the true potential to make a lasting difference in the now for the betterment of tomorrow. That power resides within each of us if only we can find our voice and if others allow it to be heard."

Empowering Through Song: The Concert's Throughline

Under the theme "The power is within YOU," the concert delivers a powerful throughline, encouraging individuals to improve their circumstances, contribute to a better world/environment, and pursue their dreams. Dr. Beeken elaborates, stating, "You are enough. Just as you are. The voice within you is enough. It deserves to be heard. Your dreams matter. Give them a voice. Find and fulfill your purpose."

The WSU Concert Chorale's performance at SWACDA promises to be a transformative experience, resonating with the essence of empowerment and unity through music.


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