Pacific Southwest Intercollegiate Choral Association
Minutes of the 2017 Director's Meeting

PSICA Board Meeting


Pasadena Presbyterian Church


Cristian Grases

Mary Breden

Seth Houston

Desiree La Vertu

Josh Talki

Niké St. Clair

Shawna Cross Stewart

Paul Smitt (chair)

Donna Di Grazia

Christopher Peterson


Rayvon Moore

Scott Rieker (recording)

Joseph Huszti

Jeff Gilbert

Beth Spillman

Frank Basile

Kevin Garnica


Charles Kamm (sabbatical)

Nancy Sulahian (medical leave of absence)

Wyant Morton

Call to Order

1:02 PM

Paul Smith (CSUN) called the meeting to order and welcomed those in attendance. He thanked everyone for supporting him through dealing with the death of his stepmother, which coincided with planning the festival.


Introductions followed, Jeff Gilbert (CSUN graduate student; hosted lunch); Gery (sp), Josh, Ashley (CSUN graduate students); Beth Spillman (CSUN graduate student who organized the festival); Donna Di Grazia (Pomona College); Christopher Peterson (CSUF); Rayvon Moore (CSUF graduate assistant); Scott Rieker (USC 2nd year DMA student); Cristian Grases (USC); Frank Basile (LMU accompanist); Mary Breden (LMU); Seth Houston (UCI); Desiree La Vertu (Occidental); Josh Palkki (CSULB); Kevin Garnica (Cal Poly Pomona accompanist); Niké Sinclair (Cal Poly Pomona); Shawna Stewart (Biola); Joeseph Huszti (UCI professor emeritus)

Joseph Huszti

Paul Smith took time to honor Joe Huszti and his 37 years of service to PSICA, who “reflects what PSICA is about,” who inspired Paul Smith when he first joined PSICA.

Then Huszti spoke. He first attended PSICA in 1960 when he was at Bakersfield College. When he began at UCI, at the end of September 1977, he was invited to PSICA by Frank Pooler. Huszti then provided reminiscences about his career and the great number of iconic conductors in Southern California with whom he interacted. Huszti concluded his remarks by offering to help in any way he can.    


The following corrections were made to the minutes of last year’s meeting:

Financial report by Mary Breden was presented, but she was not in attendance due to illness

St.Clair moved to accept minutes as amended. 2nd by Di Grazia. Approved by voice vote.


Corrections were made to the website by Chris Peterson (See "Membership Roster" page for updated information)

St. Clair has a digital copy of the roster and will send to Grases, to be updated for next year. (This was later changed. Peterson noted that the website is more up-to-date than the roster. He will update the roster when updating the website and send to all members electronically.)

Treasurer’s Report

Paper copies of the Treasurer’s Report were distributed. CSUN up to date with membership dues now, after being a year in arrears. The check requisition has been made, and a check will be mailed to Eugene Rogers, clinician. The festival stayed within its budget last year. However, the group was informed that every festival’s costs are different, based on the individual situations at the hosting institution. The report concluded that PSICA is in a healthy financial situation

Grases asked for a definition of the “merchant discount fee” listed in the report. It is the fee for accepting credit card payments and is for every payment paid by credit card. Since it is minimal compared to total budget, it is not assessed to individual member institutions paying by credit card.

Di Grazia moved to accept Treasurer’s Report. 2nd by St. Clair. Approved voice vote.

Mary Breden

A plaque was presented to Mary Breden to honor her continued service to PSICA. Smith wanted to do honor her before she decided to retire from her position and to recognize her continued work.

Then Breden spoke. She began her relationship with PSICA as a singer with and is now a conductor. She called PSICA an “exciting and unique organization” that—remarkably—has 14 member schools, yet no one has to spend the night to attend the festival. She stated that PSICA has “such a wealth of riches of choral music in Southern California.”

Eugene Rogers

Smith met Rogers while on tour. He has taught many places. He recently received the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which is accompanied by a $50,000 grant. Rogers conducted the Men’s Glee club with the Detroit symphony. He led the Georgia All-State last week.

Then Rogers spoke. He stated that it was an honor to be here and is considering implementing the PSICA model in Michigan. He is presenting two sessions today: The Singing Conductor and Music and Social Justice. He is hoping to help students take something away from his sessions today. He will be sending recordings of his comments to all of the conductors in lieu of written comments.

New Business                  

Smith stated he was concerned that PSICA is becoming very comfortable with the festival at Pasadena Presbyterian. He reminded the organization that it is designed to showcase the work of its members, often in their own venues.

Spillman (festival coordinator) stated it was nice to meet everyone. She listed all schools in attendance. She stated that Nancy Sulahian will be here for festival but was not meeting due to medical issues. She indicated that rooms are assigned to each choir and hosts will show people to room. Hosts will collect music when they meet the choir and are at disposal of the choir. The host will pick the choir up 5-10 minutes before sound check. The choirs are to meet in sanctuary at 6:20PM. She provided a seating chart for church seating, and traffic flow will be the same as before. She instructed the director not to leave valuables in warm-up room during the concert.

Smith asked where to place the hymn sing in the event. By consensus, it was agreed to place it in the middle after the presentation to Huszti.

Breden stated that it was customary to for all directors to receive copies of everyone’s comments. The directors agreed to find a way to get the comments transcribed and shared.

St. Clair stated she was concern about the length of the program. Her component of the program will be over 10 minutes, and she wondered if everyone could shorten their individual programs slighlty to keep the festival short enough that Eugene could make his flight. There was consensus that individual programs should remain unchanged. The directors want to hear each other, but—as a comporomise, it was suggested that applause be limited to the end of each school’s performance, which Smith will announce at the concert. Everyone was encouraged to stay within the 10 minute time slot.

Breden stated that she wants to be sure that every director receives a recording of the entire festival, not just their choir.

Palkki recommended uploading everything to Dropbox or Google Drive.

Huszti received plaque in honor of his service PSICA. Houston will stand up with Huszti during the presentation during the concert representing UCI.

Gilbert stated that he paid for the luncheon out-of-pocket and requested $25 from every school, paid to him personally.

It was noted that Chapman University declined membership in PSICA. PSICA is looking to return to 14 members. It was decided last year to have a guest ensemble every year as the 14 choir. There was no guest ensemble this year. The invitation is at the discretion of the host school.


Grases noted that next year, USC will be hosting the festival on-campus at USC in Bovard Auditorium, which is “a wonderful venue.” Z. Randall Stroope will be clinician for next year, and the date will be March 3, 2018. Grases and Breden are working to build a handbook. They want to have a vetted draft by to present member schools by this time next year. They will send a draft in November for comment.

Stewart stated that Biola has changed their academic calendar and will be on Spring Break every year for first weekend of March and stages their opera during that time period. That will conflict with PSICA if the festival is consistently held the first weekend of March.

Grases stated that they will be creating a timeline regarding when the directors can expect items with respect to the festival.


The meeting adjourned at 2:09 PM

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