Conductor, composer Alice Parker to educate, then lead performers _lowres

The legendary Alice Parker.

Imagine taking a driving lesson from Mario Andretti.

That’s the kind of treat that lies in store for more than 150 local vocalists lucky enough to spend a few hours in a workshop this Saturday with choral music superstar Alice Parker.

The 89-year-old Boston native has dedicated her life to composing, conducting and teaching music. With 13 acclaimed recordings and over 50 years of instructing vocalists around the world under her belt, Parker’s arrangements are performed in choruses all over the globe, including those she completed with internationally famed conductor Robert Shaw, whom she studied with at the Julliard School.

Alice Parker’s choral workshop will take place on Saturday, Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and will be followed by a free public concert on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 3 p.m. Both events will be hosted at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception at 130 Baronne Street.

Participants in the workshop will include 150 voices from the choirs of New Orleans Vocal Arts, Loyola University, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, John Calvin Presbyterian Church and Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception. The weekend is sponsored by the New Orleans Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Parker says the goal of her teaching is to get back to basics.

“I want them to relate to the music as if they were a small child,” she says of her future students. “The way I see it is a page of music is like a recipe. You don’t eat the recipe; you have to make something with it.”

For this workshop Parker will be tossing the written music aside in favor of what she says is the original way music was taught. “They will listen with their ears, and then echo what I’m doing,” she said.

The result, she feels, is an empowered musical group that is able to add some spice to traditional favorites.

“The first time I ask them to echo back I typically get a rather dull response,” she said. “So then I echo back what they did and then do it again the way I want it. After two or three times it will start to come together, then we’ll maybe try some harmonizing, make it into a round, dress it up a little.”

The dressed-up version will then go on display at the free public concert this, Sunday, Jan. 11 at 3 p.m.

The concert will include some audience participation, as well as several of her own arrangements, hymns and anthems.

“It’s a perfect event for the whole family — both those that love to sing and that one relative that never sings,” Parker said. “It’s a celebration of the power that music has to move us all.”