Event Title

Albanian Choral Music Project

Start Date

8-11-2017 8:30 AM

End Date

8-11-2017 12:30 PM

Description

Goals In 2013, I was asked to establish a music program for students in grades 7-12 at Lezha Academic Center (LAC) in Lezhë, Albania. While teaching there, I quickly recognized that while music is extremely important in Albanian culture, there were very few potential colleagues available anywhere in the country in the areas of choral conducting or music education. I returned to Albania for five weeks in June/July 2017 to expand on my initial experiences and begin research in three broad categories: music education, choral music, and folk music. My primary purpose was to see if I could establish valuable contacts and find enough information to eventually propose a dissertation topic related to the music of Albania. (I plan to pursue a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting after completing the Master of Music at UNM, spring 2018. The DMA is not offered here.) Additionally, I hoped to return with choral music to include on my upcoming Master’s recital here at UNM, and to collect folk songs to be included in materials/curriculum aligned with my graduate work and certification in the Kodály philosophy of music education. I have maintained close contact with an Albanian family from Lezhë, as I taught several of their children and later provided assistance to them as they pursued university studies in the United States. One former student, Armelda Xhari, happened to volunteer through a program called Service Adventure here in Albuquerque for a gap year, 2016-2017. Armelda and I traveled back to Albania together and she served as my interpreter as we worked at accomplishing my research goals. Background, Topic #1: Music Education Following my initial teaching experience in Albania, I was left with many unanswered questions about what students actually learn in music classes in schools more traditional than where I taught, so it was natural to seek out music teachers on this return trip. Previously, I had been given inconsistent information and the schedule and circumstances of my employment left me with little free time to thoroughly seek answers. It was my goal to meet with music teachers in several cities and also speak with Albanian students about their musical experiences. Background, Topic #2: Albanian Choirs / Choral Music There are very few choirs in all of Albania and even fewer conductors. Through a contact via the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), I met Suzana Turku in 2014. An accomplished choral director, she had recently completed an eight-year tenure as Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism when we met. She conducts two choirs in the capital city, Tirana - Pax Dei, a semi-professional choir and the student choir at the University of Arts. She was pleasantly surprised by my interest in Albanian music and my efforts to establish a choir and music program at LAC. According to Ms. Turku, most other foreign conductors/musicians she had encountered in Albania were only interested in visiting and giving their own performances, not establishing relationships or learning more about Albanian music and culture, let alone living and teaching Albanian students as I was. I also developed a professional relationship with Gent Lazri, Director of International Choral Networking of INTERKULTUR, the world’s leading organizer of international choir competitions and festivals. Mr. Lazri resides in Germany, but actually grew up in Albania. We continue to correspond and typically meet biennially at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association. He has been a helpful resource in better understanding Albanian music and providing suggestions for other contacts in the region. Background, Topic #3: Folk Music In June 2017, I completed my third summer at the Kodály Training Center of Wichita State University (WSU), receiving Kodály certification from WSU and endorsement from the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE). Through this graduate program, I was immersed in folk songs, both American and global, as well as research and the philosophy of Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and teacher Zoltán Kodály. This provided significant inspiration for researching the incredible Albanian oral folk tradition. Of particular interest was finding children’s songs and games that could be included in my collection of global folk songs to be used in teaching inspired by the Kodály philosophy of music education. Research Discoveries I was able to make significant contacts and discoveries in all three areas of research, returning with hours of video recordings, numerous books and musical scores, and additional contacts to personally meet in future trips to Albania. Several research highlights are detailed below. • My connections were almost exclusively made via personal “I know a guy” connections. I had previously met Dr. Arbin Llozi, currently Head of the Department of Interpretation (Music Performance) at the University of Arts in Tirana. He provided me with introductions several new contacts including Dritan Lumshi, chorus master of the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, and Zef Çoba, composer/conductor/teacher and founder of the choir Rozafa Expression. Mr. Çoba, Armelda, and I spent a day together in the city of Shkodër, discussing Albanian composers, choral music, music education, philosophies of music, and left our time together making plans for a collaboration / choir exchange in June 2018. I will be conducting the Ameri

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Nov 8th, 8:30 AM Nov 8th, 12:30 PM

Albanian Choral Music Project

Goals In 2013, I was asked to establish a music program for students in grades 7-12 at Lezha Academic Center (LAC) in Lezhë, Albania. While teaching there, I quickly recognized that while music is extremely important in Albanian culture, there were very few potential colleagues available anywhere in the country in the areas of choral conducting or music education. I returned to Albania for five weeks in June/July 2017 to expand on my initial experiences and begin research in three broad categories: music education, choral music, and folk music. My primary purpose was to see if I could establish valuable contacts and find enough information to eventually propose a dissertation topic related to the music of Albania. (I plan to pursue a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting after completing the Master of Music at UNM, spring 2018. The DMA is not offered here.) Additionally, I hoped to return with choral music to include on my upcoming Master’s recital here at UNM, and to collect folk songs to be included in materials/curriculum aligned with my graduate work and certification in the Kodály philosophy of music education. I have maintained close contact with an Albanian family from Lezhë, as I taught several of their children and later provided assistance to them as they pursued university studies in the United States. One former student, Armelda Xhari, happened to volunteer through a program called Service Adventure here in Albuquerque for a gap year, 2016-2017. Armelda and I traveled back to Albania together and she served as my interpreter as we worked at accomplishing my research goals. Background, Topic #1: Music Education Following my initial teaching experience in Albania, I was left with many unanswered questions about what students actually learn in music classes in schools more traditional than where I taught, so it was natural to seek out music teachers on this return trip. Previously, I had been given inconsistent information and the schedule and circumstances of my employment left me with little free time to thoroughly seek answers. It was my goal to meet with music teachers in several cities and also speak with Albanian students about their musical experiences. Background, Topic #2: Albanian Choirs / Choral Music There are very few choirs in all of Albania and even fewer conductors. Through a contact via the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), I met Suzana Turku in 2014. An accomplished choral director, she had recently completed an eight-year tenure as Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism when we met. She conducts two choirs in the capital city, Tirana - Pax Dei, a semi-professional choir and the student choir at the University of Arts. She was pleasantly surprised by my interest in Albanian music and my efforts to establish a choir and music program at LAC. According to Ms. Turku, most other foreign conductors/musicians she had encountered in Albania were only interested in visiting and giving their own performances, not establishing relationships or learning more about Albanian music and culture, let alone living and teaching Albanian students as I was. I also developed a professional relationship with Gent Lazri, Director of International Choral Networking of INTERKULTUR, the world’s leading organizer of international choir competitions and festivals. Mr. Lazri resides in Germany, but actually grew up in Albania. We continue to correspond and typically meet biennially at the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association. He has been a helpful resource in better understanding Albanian music and providing suggestions for other contacts in the region. Background, Topic #3: Folk Music In June 2017, I completed my third summer at the Kodály Training Center of Wichita State University (WSU), receiving Kodály certification from WSU and endorsement from the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE). Through this graduate program, I was immersed in folk songs, both American and global, as well as research and the philosophy of Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and teacher Zoltán Kodály. This provided significant inspiration for researching the incredible Albanian oral folk tradition. Of particular interest was finding children’s songs and games that could be included in my collection of global folk songs to be used in teaching inspired by the Kodály philosophy of music education. Research Discoveries I was able to make significant contacts and discoveries in all three areas of research, returning with hours of video recordings, numerous books and musical scores, and additional contacts to personally meet in future trips to Albania. Several research highlights are detailed below. • My connections were almost exclusively made via personal “I know a guy” connections. I had previously met Dr. Arbin Llozi, currently Head of the Department of Interpretation (Music Performance) at the University of Arts in Tirana. He provided me with introductions several new contacts including Dritan Lumshi, chorus master of the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, and Zef Çoba, composer/conductor/teacher and founder of the choir Rozafa Expression. Mr. Çoba, Armelda, and I spent a day together in the city of Shkodër, discussing Albanian composers, choral music, music education, philosophies of music, and left our time together making plans for a collaboration / choir exchange in June 2018. I will be conducting the Ameri