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Parker, Alice

Alice Parker, internationally renowned composer, conductor and teacher, studied composition and conducting at Smith College and the Juilliard School where she began her long association with Robert Shaw.  The many Parker/Shaw settings of American folksongs, hymns and spirituals from that period form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world.

Her list of published compositions has over five hundred titles, ranging from operas through song cycles, cantatas and choral suites to many individual anthems. She has been commissioned by hundreds of community, school and church choruses, and her works appear in the catalogs of a dozen publishing companies.  Each year she tours the United States and Canada, leading performances and workshops on improvisation, rehearsal techniques and score study.  To take part in one of her SINGS is to have a rare experience of group improvisation, remarkable for its high level of musical sound.

In 1985, with the founding of Melodious Accord, Inc,. she focused her activities on  the heart of vocal music: the melody.  The Musicians of Melodious Accord, a sixteen-voice professional chorus, has  released fourteen albums in the last two decades.  Through the Melodious Accord Fellowship Program, mid-career professional musicians are brought together for inspiration and refreshment in their teaching, composing and conducting under her mentorship.  The organization also sponsors workshops,symposia, Parker appearances, and publishes an e-Newsletter.

Now a resident of western Massachusetts, Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation and church music.  The Anatomy of Melody (2006) and The Answering Voice (2014) set forth her views on a compositional universe that begins in song, and flowers in musical conversations..The Melodious Accord Hymnal (2010) contains brief versions of many American folk hymns, as well as her own settings of contemporary poets.  The second edition of her classic essays on song leading and congregational singing, Melodious Accord: Good  Singing in Church, appeared in 2013.

Alice Parker has served on the Board of Directors of  Chorus America and was named their first Director Laureate.  In 2013  she received the Robert Shaw Award from the American Choral Directors Association and in 2015 the Harvard Glee Club Foundation Medal.  Named Distinguished Composer of the Year 2000 by the American Guild of Organists, she is also a Fellow of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada.  She is the recipient of six honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal as well as grants from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the American Music Center.

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