Composer, conductor, and teacher Alice Parker says that she sang before she spoke. What an appropriate beginning for a career that has spanned almost six decades and was devoted to the creation of works for the human voice.
She started composing at the age of five, and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. At Smith College and the Julliard School, she studied composition and conducting, beginning her long association with Robert Shaw. Their many settings of American folk songs, hymns, and spirituals formed an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. Through the years she continued composing in all the choral forms from opera to cantata, from sacred anthems to songs on texts by distinguished poets. She was commissioned by such well-known groups as Chanticleer, the Vancouver Chamber Singers, and the Atlanta Symphony, as well as hundreds of community, school, and church choruses.
Miss Parker published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation, and “Good Singing in Church.” Three videos were released showing her work with hymnody. She was the recipient of four honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal, as well as grants from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Music Center. She was on the board of Chorus America.