Chora Link - MAY 2020
In this issue: free music reading class, Kelly Rocchi and the Nazareth Area High School vocal program, hospice singing by the Gatehouse Singers
and Tom Shellenberger, links to past and future webinars,
Facebook groups of interest, and the summer events list.
Peggy Dettwiler,

ACDA Eastern Region President
Dear ACDA Eastern Region Members, 

As we continue to cope with our physical distancing measures, we all have had numerous opportunities to hear and share information and ideas through Webinars and Zoom meetings. I think many of us are moving away from the shock about the loss of singing together into ways we can enjoy it again with new methods or approaches. Hopefully, in the end, we will have grown from the experience of these challenging days since early March!

At the end of this newsletter, I share links to Webinars, past and future. Check them out. The other portion of this ChoraLink presents the work of choral colleagues whose mission shows how singing can enhance the well-being of those enduring struggle in daily life. 

In the April ChoraLink, I invited submissions of virtual projects led by our colleagues in choral music. Kelly Rocchi, Choral Director at Nazareth High School, responded about a wonderful project where she has been FaceTiming with nursing home residents on a daily basis and is also using this as an assignment for her high school singers. Check out her Youtube link where she shares virtual choir activities.

This channel highlights performances from the Nazareth Area High School Vocal Program with Kelly Rocchi, director

Also, in our April newsletter, I highlighted a couple of ensembles who sing at the bedside to comfort people on their final journey. Little did I know that another Lifetime ACDA member, Tom Shellenberger , has led a group inspired by the Hallowell singers since 2008. He lives just 45 minutes from my house!

Here is his story.
“In 2008 I put together an ensemble of about 50 singers with the sole purpose of serving hospice patients in the Williamsport Area, the Gatehouse Singers. The name was drawn from the local hospice, "The Gatehouse," a small facility in the Divine Providence Hospital. The impetus for me was an article I had read in a periodical about the Hallowell Singers in Brattleboro, Vermont. I read all I could get my hands on regarding palliative and hospice care.

After meeting several times with the Gatehouse Hospice administrator, Alex Nesbitt, I began to contact singers from choirs in the United Churches of Lycoming County and invite them to our first rehearsal in May of 2008 at Covenant Central Presbyterian Church in Williamsport. I prepared dozens of packets of a cappella choral music with hymns, folk songs, inspirational songs, and, of course, songs of comfort. When we gathered for the first rehearsal, some of the first words out of my mouth were "we will sing no sad songs. Patients and their families have enough ‘sad’ in their present existence.” I remembered a paraphrase of a Biblical excerpt that Brahms used in his Requiem: "I will not leave you comfortless.” These words gave us all comfort and inspiration. No one wanted our first rehearsal to end. I gave them each a packet of about 20 songs, ALL a cappella.

After about a half-dozen rehearsals in 2008, four of us traveled to Brattleboro, Vermont, to attend a workshop on hospice singing which included discussions about service and commitment, a music exchange, and a program presented by the Hallowell Singers led by Peter Amidon. Peter and Kathy Leo were my contacts for hospice singing matters that might arise for us in Williamsport. Kathy has written a marvelous book: ON THE BREATH OF SONG -- THE PRACTICE OF SINGING FOR THE DYING , a wonderful book that documents the beginning and ongoing singing of the Hallowell Singers. ( )

And so our Gatehouse Hospice Singers have done, over the years, between 250 and 300 sings at bedsides in hospital and in private homes. It's an extreme honor to bring comfort to those who are “close;" and to their families, who are usually right there with us. Our book of about 40 tunes is very familiar to most of our singers, and we sing a cappella. We strive to sing songs of comfort, joy, and inspiration, and remembrance: everything from "Amazing Grace" to "It is Well with My Soul" to "Danny Boy" to "Sentimental Journey" (for our Greatest Generation) & "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Love Me Tender" for married couples. This is a ministry to us....a ministry of service through music.”

Thank you, Tom Shellenberger!
And here are some links to past and future Webinars with information about singing in the age of COVID-19.

ACDA/NATS collaborations:

Diversity Initiatives:

For church musicians:

RI/ACDA panel discussion:

ACDA/PA summer online:
ACDA members are also encouraged to join the following Facebook groups. They are offering some wonderful online sessions:

ACDA Diversity Initiatives - Arreon Harley-Emerson, Chair
ACDA International Activities - T. J. Harper, Chair
My sincere best wishes for continued research and sharing so that we can rejoin our family of choral music-makers!

Peggy Dettwiler

Send the information to and it will be
featured in the June issue of ChoraLink - no charge. Photos and links welcome.
Whether or not you attended the 2020 ACDA Eastern Region Conference, you can hear and/or watch most of the wonderful performances by ordering a recording from Soundwaves Recording!

Spring/Summer Calendar for Eastern Region
CONNECTICUT - Spring Webinar Conference: Virtual Choir; Reading Session fo ALL and Advocacy through Innovation - May 30, 2020. 10:00 am - 12:00 pm. Clinicians: Melanie Cometa, Cara Bernard, Frank Martignetti. Leslie Imse and Amanda Hanzlik.

Song-Writing Workshop Overview & Reading Session, June 9, 2020. 7:00 pm. Clinician: Jim Papoulis. SIGN UP HERE

DELAWARE - Delaware Choral Festival. CANCELED.

Children's Honor Choir. POSTPONED

Choral Festival at the Beach, June 18-19, 2020. POSTPONED TO JUNE 2021

Voices United Conference, August 6-8, 2020. ONLINE ONLY - No in-person attendance.

 MARYLAND/DC - Voices United Conference, August 6-8, 2020. ONLINE ONLY - No in-person attendance.

MASSACHUSETTS - Summer Conference , July 12-15, 2020. CANCELED

NEW JERSEY - E lementary and Junior High Honor Choir Festival. CANCELED.

 Summer Conference , July 27-28, 2020. CANCELED.

NEW YORK - Summer Conference , August 15-18, 2020. CANCELED.

PENNSYLVANIA - ZOOM Webinar: Teaching Choir Online and Virtual Happy Hour , June 7, 2020. 7;00 - 8:30 pm. Clinicians: Janet Galván, Jordan Shomper, Lee Saville-Iksic, Matthew Klenk. Zoom link sent by email on June 1.

ZOOM Webinar: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Topic TBA, online panel and Virtual Happy Hour, July 5, 2020. 7:00 - 8:30 pm.

ZOOM Webinar: A Socially-Distanced Choir Rehearsal (live or online) and Happy Hour (hopefully in-person), August 2, 2020. 7:00 - 8:30 pm.

Summer Conference, August 2-4, 2020. POSTPONED TO AUGUST 1-3, 2021. Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, PA.

RHODE ISLAND - Wine and Conversation (virtual event), June 12, 2020
SIGN UP HERE (information to be found at

VERMONT - Gather at the River Summer Conference, June 2021 - Burlington, VT

State Chapter Links