Main Events

joan-litman-crop-colorMini-Conference with Joan Litman
Multicultural Songs and Singing Games: A Revolutionary Perspective
Thursday, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm | $75/Members, $100/Non Members

Woven together with songs and singing games from Latin America and the Middle East, the presentation will offer revolutionary insights: the mandate for cultural context, cultural and historic sensitivity vs. political correctness, inclusion of less visible members of our community. Stimulating curiosity and creativity is a moral imperative in 21st century music education! Middle school students from the Mustard Seed School, Hoboken, NJ, will assist.

Joan Isaacs Litman, is the founding Artistic Director of Cantigas Women’s Choir in Hoboken, NJ. She has been a music educator and choral director in the New York metropolitan area for many years. With a longing to stimulate interest and appreciation of less understood cultures, Joan has focused her research on traditional songs of the Middle East in cultural context. In recent years she has taught and guest conducted in Spain, Syria, Lebanon, Japan, Hong Kong, Argentina, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Joan is currently engaged in the study of two strands of music pedagogy: first, the messages or cultural context, often concealed in the lyrics of traditional songs; and secondly, strategies to encourage student creativity in modifying singing games. For many years she served on the music faculty of the United Nations International School in Manhattan. Joan is a presently Artist-in-Residence at the Mustard Seed School, where she is also a founder and Music Director Emerita. Joan is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Capital University with Kodaly certification from the Kodaly Center of America and additional study in Kecskemet, Hungary. She has been a student of choral artistry under Paul Salamunovich, Lenke Igo and Leonardo San Juan. Joan has served on summer course faculties of New York University and Capital Univesity. Joan was named OAKE’s Educator of the Year in 2009. Joan is the proud mother of two grown children; Emily and Peter, both of whom are teachers.

ysaye-barnwell-crop-colorOpening Ceremonies
Thursday, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, open to public
Keynote with Ysaye Barnwell

Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell PhD, MSPH is a native New Yorker who has lived in Washington, DC since 1968. Dr. Barnwell studied violin with her father for 15 years beginning at age 2 ½, and majored in music through high school. With this background, she went on to earn the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Speech Pathology (SUNY, Geneseo, 1967, 1968), Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Pathology (University of Pittsburgh, 1975), and the Master of Science in Public Health (Howard University, 1981). Dr. Barnwell has been awarded four Honorary Doctorate Degrees, and the 2014 Humanitarian Award from the Washington Choral Arts Society. Dr. Barnwell joined Sweet Honey In The Rock® in 1979 and recently retired from the ensemble after 34 years. Dr. Barnwell is the Curator/Composer of the FORTUNE’S BONES: THE MANUMISSION REQUIEM® which began as a year on project culminating in two performances at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland in 2012. She has, for the past thirty years spent much of her time offstage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition” has been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, and a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists and historians. In May of 2016, President Obama nominated Dr. Barnwell for membership on the National Committee on the Arts which the Senate must confirm. Four axioms have proven significant in Barnwell’s life. To whom much is given, much is required. As one door closes, another door opens. Everything matters. Say YES!

Opening Ceremonies
Thursday, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, open to public
Opening Concert with The Young People’s Chorus of New York City

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City® (YPC) is a multicultural youth chorus internationally renowned not only for its superb virtuosity and brilliant showmanship, but as a model for an inclusive society that is being replicated globally. Founded by Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow in 1988, this groundbreaking program harnesses the power of music to fulfill the potential of every child and has established the youth chorus as a significant and often untapped instrument for making music. Over 1,600 children from ages 7 to 18 participate annually in YPC. Four hundred choristers sing in its core after-school program, and under the direction of Associate Artistic Director Elizabeth Núñez, over 1,100 children participate through YPC’s satellite program in 15 New York City public schools, in addition to more than 120 children in YPC’s two thriving after-school community choruses in Manhattan’s Washington Heights and at Goddard Riverside Community Center.

Choir For web smallerNational Conference Choirs Concert
Saturday, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | $25/GA, $5/Student
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

This is the culminating event of the National Conference – an opportunity to experience the exhilaration of being an integral part of a highly artistic performance – either as a performer or as an audience member. This year’s directors are Fred Meads (National Children’s Choir); Lynnel Joy Jenkins (National Youth Choir); Rollo Dilworth (National Chamber Ensemble); and Susan Glass (National Concert Women’s Choir).

The Kimmel Center is a 15 minute walk along Broad Street from the Conference Hotel. The entrance to the Kimmel Center Parking Garage is located just south of the Broad Street entrance to the building and can be accessed only by cars traveling south on Broad Street. Parking may be pre-purchased online for either the Kimmel Center Garage or the Avenue of the Arts Garage. Pre-paid parking is available most weekends and weekday evenings. Pre-paid parking is not available on all performance dates. For more information, please go to

Ticket and Parking Information: Tickets will be sold during the conference at the Registration Desk only, tickets will not be available at the door. Seating is first come, first serve, general admission.