The National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Choral Music initiative is designed to celebrate our national musical heritage by highlighting significant American choral composers and their works of the past 250 years. Stanton’s Sheet Music is proud to present this series highlighting the composers and their works featured in this groundbreaking project.
Composer and conductor Alice Parker (born 1925), now living in Massachusetts, says she sang before she spoke – an appropriate beginning for a career spanning nearly six decades and dedicated to the music of the human voice. Parker began composing at age five and wrote her first orchestral score while still in high school. Later she attended Smith College and The Juilliard School, studying composition and conducting. She was associated for many years with Robert Shaw in arranging spirituals, folk songs, and hymns that have become part of the standard choral repertoire around the world.
Parker has received literally hundreds of commissions from choruses all over North America and composed major vocal works from cantata to opera, including sacred anthems and songs to texts by distinguished poets. Her own group, the 16-voice Musicians of Melodious Accord, has presented an annual concert series in New York City since 1985, and recorded several albums. Parker conducts workshops and lectures in the U.S. and abroad. She has written several books and received four honorary doctorates.
During his long and distinguished career, Atlanta-born Robert Shaw (1916-1999) became one of the world’s most respected and beloved choral directors. His Robert Shaw Chorale, founded in 1948, set high standards for choral singing, toured the world, and made dozens of best-selling recordings, four of which were awarded Grammys. His many arrangements of spirituals and other choral music are among the best-known in the repertoire. Dear People, an authorized biography, captures Shaw’s legacy as an innovative interpreter of masterpieces of the classical canon who inspired an entire generation of choral singers and conductors.
Carol of the Birds
Haul Away, Joe
He’s Gone Away
Saints Bound for Heaven
Seeing Nellie Home
Sometimes I Feel Like a Moanin’ Dove
What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?