Summary - 2011 Liederkranz

"Honor the melody, honor the text" was the Alice Parker message according to Steve Demorest. Steve's analysis is consistent with that of other Liederkranz members in summing up the 2011 retreat experience.

Liederkranz met this year (2011) for the first time in a location other than Menucha (Corbett, Oregon) on the Columbia River. Scheduling the retreat for the second weekend in November to accommodate members who attended the National Collegiate Choirs conference held the first weekend of the month caused the organization to seek a retreat center at another location. St. Andrew's House on the shores of Hood Canal worked well for Liederkranz.

parkerAlice Parker, a veritable legend in choral music, was guest presenter for 2011. Incoming Liederkranz president, Joan Conlon, gave permission for reprinting her November 15 memo to Alice:

How lovely it was to have you with us at Liederkranz last weekend!  You gave us many, many gifts, but mostly you inspired us to remember the larger picture of why we sing.  We loved the improvisation you did with us, and we loved learning your wonderfully spirited compositions and arrangements.  You allowed us a glimpse of your soul, and we were fascinated by hearing your reasons for your musical choices.  I found your ideas--musical and otherwise--to be both  interesting and vast in their implications for the future.  As I said to you, I had not realized what a dangerous revolutionary you were!  Thank you so very much for sharing your ideas, your time, and your soul with us, Alice.  You gave us so much!

Past Liederkranz president, Connie Branton, had a quick wrap-up, "I want to be like Alice when I grow up!"

It’s no secret. Her current music publications state in bold print that Alice Parker was born in 1925. Obviously in great health and with the energy of one completely absorbed in learning, teaching, writing, and conducting, she presented attendees with a wealth of helpful information.

Alice’s emphasis on the conversational aspect of singing seemed to pick right up from where Vance George left off in last year’s retreat material. Melody is her passion.

Another member said he was reminded again of the "tyranny of the quarter note," as Parker talked of the give and take, stress and release within a phrase as one tries to communicate textual and musical meaning.

"One of the many wonderful things that impressed me so much was that she seems to keep 'reinventing' herself…constantly learning and always able to present new insights. No living in the past for the remarkable person…even though she can easily entertain and teach us all from that vast repository, too." (Howard Meharg)

Morna Edmundson's comments:

Alice’s joy of music-making is so much a part of her.  It was a pleasure to hear her share so much of her perspective and her story.  I want to be like her when I’m over 80!  I was particularly impressed with her confidence in singing at her age. We heard and learned so much, but two things struck me that I am going to try to hold onto:

  1. Make sure you are actually making music in rehearsal!
  2. The whole image of the circling from up high and coming closer and closer to the point where you touch ground really resonated for me.  I know she was speaking about this as a composer, but I have observed a similar thing in rehearsal as a conductor.  If I keep my choir “up high” for a while as I feed them small, distinct bits of information about how I want a piece of music to sound, they own the concepts and ultimately perform the piece much better.   IE: They will sing better if I don’t let them bash through the notes, words and rhythms quickly to the point where they can sing through the piece with no phrasing or concept of sound.  If I make sure they have bought into some small details that require them to listen and think, they will sing the whole piece better when they get to that point.  So I need to delay that moment.  By contrast, if I haven’t done my own homework and given them these small kernels of information early on, once they “land” and can sing the whole piece through, however primitively, they will go on autopilot and it’s very difficult to move them back into concepts or to make lasting changes to the style or sound.

Alice replied (November 16th): "...many thanks for a memorable weekend. What nice people! And what a lovely spot to meet - and stay, and eat! There was surely some wonderful singing in our sessions."

Guests Karen Fulmer and Twyla Brunson provided transportation to Sea-Tac following the event. They eagerly complied with the Parker request not to leave the Puget Sound area without a full seafood meal. Alice said, "My ride back to SeaTac was delightful, and enriched by a stop for a half-dozen oysters, fresh from the Sound. The final touch to a great 'tour'!"

Bonus from Alice Parker weekend - NOTES as taken by Kristina Ploeger...>


Here's the group photo...plus a few more












Liederkranz, NW - Howard Meharg, President, 208-336-6806 - Debra Glaze, Treasurer, 503-620-9024 - Howard Meharg, Webmaster, 360-693-7169