The Family Reunion
This mixture of drama and music, of minimal scenery and maximal recollection, or song and speech, is an American adaptation of an old and universal form. It is a nostalgic celebration of one of the few tribal rites to survive in our restless, fragmented civilization. Even those whose family gatherings were not dignified with the title ‘reunion,’ remember – or wish they could remember – that interaction of generations, that consumption of food, that outpouring of anecdote, that friendly or caustic rivalry, that sea of memories.
Of such is our story. There is no plot: the family gathers, eats, plays, sings and departs. The gentle drama is concerned with the things that unite us rather than divide us, personified by archtypical characters and family groups. Our musical heritage of the mid-nineteenth century sustains and directs the action: folksongs, marches, dances, children’s games, hymns and spirituals provide a rich variety of moods and rhythms. The work is designed to be performed by community, school or church choruses, using as many age groups as possible. All the instruments are portable, enabling the players to take part in the action. The chorus plays an important role, singing folksongs which become the accompaniment for the soloists. These solo roles, from Grandfather down to the youngest child, demand far more ensemble work than singing alone.
So join us, at an outdoor spot somewhere in these United States, sometime between 1850 and 1950. Let Grandfather and the Young Couple, taciturn Uncle Billy and hearty Uncle Charley, the Great-Aunts and all the children welcome you into their midst for an hour, so that you too may remember how it was ‘when we were young’.
Alice Parker and Melodious Accord
Composer, conductor and teacher Alice Parker was born in Boston, MA in 1925. A graduate of Smith College and the Juilliard School, she has led an active life composing, conducting and teaching focused on melody and on the human voice. Her own compositions include 4 operas, more than 40 cantatas, many choral suites and hundreds of anthems and settings of folk music.
Now a resident of western Massachusetts, Parker has published several books including The Anatomy of Melody, Folksong Transformations, Creative Hymn Singing and Reflections on Song: My Musical World. Five videos have been released showing her work with hymns and folksongs. The Alice Parker Music Company makes her unpublished works available. She is the recipient of five honorary doctorates and the Smith College medal, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other major donors. Her techniques have encouraged a generation of music teachers and choral conductors to think about music and the act of conducting in new ways.
Melodious Accord, Inc., established in 1985 draws composers, performers and listeners into a creative dialogue through ongoing workshops, symposia, fellowships and SINGS. The Musicians of Melodious Accord, a sixteen-voice professional chorus, has presented concerts in New York City, and recorded more than a dozen albums of choral music.