Friday, April 12, 2024

SOAL: The only choir from Tennessee to perform in ACDA Southern Region Conference


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Featured photo courtesy of Angela Tipps 

Story by Annabelle Cranfill

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ACDA is a national organization primarily for choir directors. Church, community and children’s choirs are also included among schools and universities. The conference alternates from regional to national every year. SOAL is attending the Southern Region Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, from Feb. 21 to Feb.24.

Choirs are invited through an application process. The directors submit three pieces of music from the past three years to be reviewed. 75 choirs sent in applications, SOAL being among the select 15 to attend.

Formally known as the Women’s Chorale, SOAL changed its name to welcome anyone with a soprano or alto range. Inclusivity continues with around 60% of the choir not being music majors. There is no audition to be a part of SOAL either. A lot of members join simply because they miss highschool choir or love to sing.

MTSU senior Grace Holland has been involved with SOAL since her freshman year and values the variation of students.

“We have everything from animal science to dance to theater,” Holland said. “We have everybody, which is really cool.”

Angela Tipps, Master Instructor in the School of Music, directs both SOAL and its tenor bass counterpart, TEBA. This is her 20th year conducting SOAL and fourth year conducting TEBA. She will be bringing 48 students from SOAL to perform at ACDA.

SOAL has been to ACDA once before, in 2018. In 2020, COVID-19 set everything a step backwards as Tipps could not even rehearse with her full choir in the room. After hearing her students rehearsing in the fall of 2022, Tipps saw the improvement in her choir and knew that they were ready to apply again.

In preparation for the conference, SOAL has been rehearsing for an hour and a half twice a week for the past semester and a half. The choir began rehearsing some of the music at the beginning of the current semester and songs SOAL has been singing for over a year.

ACDA will be a learning experience for the students. SOAL will be to listen to various different choirs and to learn new skills by performing together.

“It’s a good chance for the kids to experience choral music as a listener, but to also participate in it and I just know we’re going to come back with a new sense of what it means to be a performer,” Tipps said.

The conference will be four days full of concerts, interest sessions and masterclasses. SOAL will be performing on the third day, Feb. 23, in a concert session with three other choirs.

SOAL will be performing five songs that spread the message of hope. Each piece of music has something to do with the theme. The topic branched off from Emily Dickinson’s poem “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” which is used in a piece of music SOAL will be using as their centerpiece in their ACDA performance.

The “Hope'”design is by freshman SOAL member and graphic design major Lillian Hajny.

“‘On the Strangest Sea’ is our centerpiece because I like to plan concerts like a meal,” Tipps said. “You need a main course. You need an appetizer and a salad, and then something after the main course and then dessert.”

Violin, bass, drums and piano will join SOAL on stage as they perform. Faculty and both undergraduate and graduate students will be playing these instruments. Some of the music includes light movement with it.

“I hope they come away with some friendships and some deeper connections to other people that they just don’t have time to see,” Tipps said. “I hope they’ll come in with a sense of professionalism.”

The SOAL Chorale is preparing to apply to the national conference next year to hopefully represent MTSU once again. In the meantime, SOAL will perform what they brought to ACDA in concert on Feb. 29 in Hinton Hall, right inside the Wright Music Building.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell and Assistant Lifestyles Editor Shamani Salahuddin, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Instagram at MTSUSidelines or on X at @MTSUSidelines.

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