New York Choral Society presents Alice Parker’s "God is Seen" on February 23
New York Choral Society
SHAPE NOTES TAKE NEW SHAPE WITH A DUET OF DANCERS IN AN OLD BROOKLYN CHURCH FOR NEW YORK CHORAL SOCIETY’S THIRD VIDEO PROJECT, GOD IS SEEN
Choreographer Claudia Schreier Invites Audiences to See the Music of Alice Parker Through a Lens of Contemporary Ballet
NEW YORK, February 2, 2021 – The New York Choral Society, New York’s pioneering symphonic chorus that explores unique collaboration and dynamic repertory, proudly presents the third installment of their virtual season, Our Voices with the premiere of Alice Parker’s God is Seen on February 23. With a continued commitment to spotlight the artists of New York City in unique digital collaborations, this short film invites Princess Grace Award recipient and choreographer Claudia Schreier to highlight the chorus’s acapella performance with a ballet pas de deux exhibiting trust, vulnerability and partnership anchoring to the wonders of the world that instill hope of a higher power that places beauty everywhere.
A shape note hymn originally written in the early nineteenth century, a period of optimism in America celebrated in worship services and tent revival meetings, God Is Seen was reimagined by composer Alice Parker in 1967. The piece defines the beauty of the world by nature's most scenic wonders and credits a Supreme Being—that in fact God exists, is seen, and is a source of hope for a brighter future. The choreography, set on Larissa Gerszke, a dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Chalvar Monteiro, a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is designed to reflect three elements inherent to the combined score: the fundamental grounding in the shape notes, the naturalistic text, and the expressive flair of Parker’s more modern design. Set against the backdrop of a church turned theater space in Brooklyn, Schreier weaves patterns and shapes reflected in organic forms found in nature, from abstract symmetry to the wingspan of a bird.
“The tenets of a strong partnership and human connection, like the one we have created through movement, reflects further proof of the divine,” muses Schreier. “I was drawn to the idea of two beautiful, strong dancers of color moving together in an urban space in the middle of Brooklyn--Irondale Center, a location that has history as a place of worship and is now a place for artists to convene— performing to music that was forged in the rural areas of the Early Republic, set alight by Ms. Parker in the middle of the 20th century, and now created and performed under the most unusual and uniquely current of circumstances,” she continues.
“Alice Parker’s arrangement is famous and often performed,” adds David Hayes, Musical Director of New York Choral Society. “What makes our vision unique is offering listeners a chance to both hear and see the original shape-note hymn, following the musical journey of how Parker shaped and molded the somewhat rough original into a musical gem in a side-by-side comparison juxtaposed with mid-century and contemporary styles of ballet technique.”
With the full chorus including more than 150 voices, ages 19-90, God is Seen will include just 40 singers, with other members to be spotlighted in the final two upcoming season shorts; Mother to Son on March 16, 2021 and Invitation to Love, May 4, 2021. The company most recently premiered A Carol for All Children in collaboration with artist Brendan Fernandes and Peace unto Zion, in collaboration with artist Joyce McDonald, to explore themes of racial inequality, loss and hope.
All shorts will be released on both https://www.nychoral.org and the company’s YouTube page
Title: God is Seen, performed by The New York Choral Society | World Premiere
Music Credit: God is Seen, Original shape-note hymn by Captain Kidd collected by William Walker in Southern Harmony (1850) and arranged by Alice Parker (1967)
Artist Credit: Claudia Schreier
Music Director: David Hayes
Project Director: Rosanne Zoccoli
Director of Photography: Tim Cothren
Video Editor: Vito DeCandia
Sound Engineer: Carmen Borgia
Producer: Steve Heller
Length: 6 minutes
This short film features singers of The New York Choral Society performing Alice Parker’s acapella choral work God is Seen in collaboration with choreographer Claudia Schreier. Written during a period of optimism in America, Parker, along with a balletic movement vocabulary and a New York backdrop ushers in a fresh start of a new year, exploring an insight into the quest for a life of common good, simple beauty, and the hope of a flourishing society.
Share Your Audience Review. Your Words Are Valuable to Dance.
Are you going to see this show, or have you seen it? Share "your" review here on The Dance Enthusiast. Your words are valuable. They help artists, educate audiences, and support the dance field in general. There is no need to be a professional critic. Just click through to our Audience Review Section and you will have the option to write free-form, or answer our helpful Enthusiast Review Questionnaire, or if you feel creative, even write a haiku review. So join the conversation.