Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Thursday, June 7

Alice Parker and ChoralQuest

Synopsis

Boston-born American composer Alice Parker is one of the most respected figures in the world of choral music. A Juilliard graduate, she studied with the legendary choral conductor Robert Shaw and collaborated with him in a series of folk-song arrangements that are performed by choruses all over the world.

Parker was approached by the American Composers Forum to write a new work for their “Choral Quest” series specially designed for middle school children. Parker was intrigued by the challenge of writing for that age group, realizing that many scores written for elementary schools would be too easy for middle schoolers, but works written for high school choirs might be too difficult. Also, parts written for middle school boys would have to accommodate voices in the process of changing from treble to tenor, baritone, and bass.

Parker collaborated with students from the Amherst Regional Middle School Choir in her home state, and found some Native American texts that intrigued her, including one that began “What I am, I must become.” That text seemed perfect, since, as Parker put it, “Children that age have so much ‘becoming’ to do… what they don’t realize—yet—is that is true for all of us, all of our lives!”

That text became the first of a three-part suite entitled “Dancing Songs,” premiered by the Amherst Regional Middle School Choir and their director David Ranen on today’s date in 2011.

Music Played in Today's Program

Alice Parker (b. 1925) Dancing Songs Minnesota Boy Choir ChoralQuest promotional CD

Additional Information

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