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New York Choral Society presents Alice Parker’s "God is Seen" on February 23

 New York Choral Society presents Alice Parker’s "God is Seen" on February 23


New York Choral Society




Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 12:00pm



New York Choral Society


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. 

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