Alice Parker receives the New Rhythmus Award
Alice Parker, one of the world’s most accomplished and tireless advocates for the choral art, received the New Rhythmus Award from the Providence Singers. The award was presented Friday, June 4, 2010, during the Singers’ Spring Gala at the Casino in Roger Williams Park.
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Providence Singers has honored choral composer, arranger, editor, conductor, and educator Alice Parker as the 2010 recipient of the organization’s New Rhythmus Award. Parker received the award Friday, June 4, 2010, at the Providence Singers’ end-of-season Spring Gala at the Casino in Roger Williams Park.
“Alice Parker understands the vital connection between the human voice and the human condition,” said Allan Erickson, chair of the Providence Singers Board of Trustees. “She has helped countless singers and choral organizations explore, enhance and enjoy the fundamental musical satisfactions that come with choral singing.”
The Providence Singers created the award in 2008 to recognize individuals who have made significant national contributions to advancing the choral art. It was first presented to jazz great Dave Brubeck and his principal collaborator and librettist Iola Brubeck. Parker is the second recipient of the award.
Parker was part of the Providence Singers “American Masterpieces” choral festival in 2007, a national project supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. She led a community sing for a diverse audience at the Columbus Theater on a Sunday afternoon.
“Alice Parker’s performance in that community setting was an awesome demonstration of the human voice and the power of choral singing,” said Andrew Clark, artistic director of the Providence Singers. “She sang and the audience sang in response, back and forth — tentatively at first, but ultimately with a strength and cohesion that surprised everyone except Alice.”
A Boston native, Alice Parker majored in music performance and composition at Smith College. She continued her studies at the Juilliard School, where she earned a master’s degree, studying choral conducting with Robert Shaw. In a long and productive collaboration, Shaw and Parker created a body of work that continues as an important part of the international choral repertoire.
Her life-work has been in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. She has composed in many forms — operas, cantatas, sacred, secular, vocal and instrumental — and has made 13 acclaimed recordings.
In 1985, she founded Melodious Accord Inc., a nonprofit group which presents choral concerts, sponsors workshops, symposia, and her many professional appearances. The Fellows programs of Melodious Accord have provided unique training for composers, conductors and song leaders. Her techniques have encouraged a generation of music teachers and choral conductors to think about music and the act of conducting in new ways.
“We are living in a culture that doesn’t value melody, one that seems to have lost touch with this primal means of expression. ... We’ve lost the basic, easy connection between speech and song that makes speech musical and song communicative,” Parker wrote in her 2006 book, The Anatomy of Melody. “Individual participation is the key to reawakening.”
The New Rhythmus Award
Established in 2008, the New Rhythmus Award honors individuals — composers, musicians, conductors, choirs, vocal artists, music educators, choral advocates of all sorts — who have helped maintain choral singing as the most popular participatory art form in the United States.
The award takes its name from the text of Proud Music of the Storm, Carlyle Sharpe’s setting of the Walt Whitman poem. The work, for chorus and orchestra, was commissioned by the Providence Singers and given its world première in the fall of 2001. More ...