Jim Rodde joins his own exclusive ‘five-timer’ club at national convention

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Jim Rodde

TV’s Saturday Night Live has a running joke about the “Five-timer Club,” an exclusive, fictional clique of celebs like Tom Hanks and Justin Timberlake who have hosted the 40-year-old comedy show at least five times.

Music’s Jim Rodde is a five-timer himself, but unlike New York’s SNL, Jim and the 66-voice Iowa State Singers will be “Live from Salt Lake City.

Jim conducts the Iowa State Singers, who qualified for next week’s American Choral Director’s Association national conference in Utah. It’s the third time since 2005 he has taken ISU’s mixed-choir (males and females) to the national meeting where they perform before choral directors from around the globe. Add in 1993 and 1997 when his University of North Dakota choirs were selected for the conference, and Jim is in a rare group.

I asked him to confirm that getting chosen for one of the coveted spots at the national convention is a big deal. “It’s the biggest,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle achievement for an American choir. You’re selected by your peers to sing at their national conference.” More than 4,000 choral directors will attend the conference.

The Iowa State Singers

A choir is only eligible for the ACDA conference once every four years, so competition is heavy. About 250 applied for this year and 28 were selected – including only four collegiate mixed choirs. In blind auditions, judges listened to recordings of each choir from the past three years. “They look for consistency from year to year,” said Jim, holder of the Louise Moen Endowed Chair in Music.

What makes this year’s trip to Utah even more exciting is that the ISU students won’t have to kick in their own expense money. A financial gift from College of LAS alumna Sandra Davis and her husband Lynn is taking care of the students’ travel expenses and also is permitting the Singers to stay nearer the convention venue.

Two years ago Cantamus, an ISU women’s choir conducted by Kathleen Rodde, also qualified for the national conference. It’s another indicator of the strong reputation of ISU’s choral activities.

“The number of schools with two choirs that have qualified for the ACDA national conference are few and far between,” Jim said.

— Steve Jones