"Alice Parker is a national treasure: America's reigning queen of choral music."
--American Record Guide
Composer, conductor and teacher Alice Parker was born in Boston, MA in 1925. She began composing early, and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. She graduated from Smith College with a major in music performance and composition, then receiving her master's degree from the Juilliard School where she studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw.
Her life-work has been in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. Her arrangements with Robert Shaw of folksongs, hymns and spirituals form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. She continues composing in many forms, from operas to cantata, sacred anthems to secular dances, song cycles to string quartets. She has been commissioned by such groups as the Vancouver Chamber Chorus, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Chanticleer. Her many conducting and teaching engagements keep her traveling around the United States and Canada.
In 1985, she founded Melodious Accord, Inc., a non-profit group that presents choral concerts, sponsors workshops, symposia, and her many professional appearances. The Fellows programs have provided unique training for composers, conductors and song leaders. She has made eleven acclaimed recordings with the Musicians of Melodious Accord, a sixteen-voice professional chorus. The group has received generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copland Foundation, and the New York State Council for the Arts.
Alice Parker serves on the Board of Chorus America, and was recently honored by the dedication to her of the Eastern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Her techniques have encouraged a generation of music teachers and choral conductors to think about music and the act of conducting in new ways. No less an authority than Robert Shaw himself has said of Parker that "…she possesses a rare and creative musical intelligence."
Now a resident of western Massachusetts, Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation and Good Singing in Church. Her book The Anatomy of Melody: Exploring the Single Line of Song was released by GIA in the Fall of 2006. Five videos have appeared, showing her work with hymns and folksongs. She is the recipient of five honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal.