Dr. Danica Hoffart 


Affiliation: Red Deer College; Kokopelli
Presentation: Interest Session
Title: Choral Leadership on the Edge (with Scott Leithead)
Abstract: Beyond musical knowledge, a keen ear, and clear gestures, choral conductors must be strong leaders in order to inspire their singers and bring their art to life. Though traditional choral practice has concentrated power at the podium, recent scholarship on leadership has demonstrated that sharing power with followers can increase buy-in and yield extraordinary results.

This session is based on Dr. Danica Hoffart’s doctoral research on Scott Leithead’s leadership of Kokopelli. In her research, she finds that Leithead’s success in leading his choirs stems from his approach to leadership which combines the principles of Transformational Leadership (Bass 1985, 1998), specifically the core components of Idealized Influence, Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized Consideration with Ubuntu, a southern African philosophy of humanism which has often been associated with the Zulu-Xhosa maxim "umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" — “A person is a person through other people.”

Hoffart and Leithead team up to present these concepts and the practical ways in which they can be used within the choral context to empower choristers, cultivate community, and enhance creativity and innovation. Choral directors will be challenged to rethink traditional choral leadership, and seek opportunities within their own choral ensembles where they can decentralize power from podium, and instead lead on the edge.

Biography: Dr. Danica Hoffart has been on the faculty at Red Deer College since 2001, where she teaches voice, musical theatre, music history, ear training, and directs the Chamber Choir. She has been the musical director for the theatre department’s cabarets and numerous productions including The Wizard of Oz, South Pacific, Footloose, Cabaret, and The Sound of Music. In addition to her teaching, Dr. Hoffart maintains an active adjudicating and performance schedule. She holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts in Music from the University of Alberta, and a PhD in Music from the University of Calgary.