Frederick A. Binkholder, Artistic Director

CHC receives Chorus America / ASCAP Alice Parker Award

The Capitol Hill Chorale was recognized for its vibrant musical programming on April 4, when it was named as the 2018 recipient of the Chorus America/ ASCAP Alice Parker Award.

The award, named after choral composer and arranger Alice Parker, is given to a member chorus for programming a recently composed piece of work that both expands its mission and challenges its audience, according to Chorus America.

“Focusing on Eastern Orthodox liturgical music and the early American shape note and Shaker traditions, the Chorale has mounted major projects to deepen their audience’s relationship to these lesser-known art forms,” the choral association said in a statement.

Frederick Binkholder, who joined the Chorale as its artistic director in 2000, will accept the award on the Chorale’s behalf at Chorus America’s 2018 conference in Chicago in June. The award comes with a cash prize of $1,000

“The prize is a wonderful capstone on the Chorale’s 25th anniversary season,” said Parker Jayne, the Chorale’s founder. "And it particularly was nice that it recognizes the Chorale’s unique programming. Fred’s willingness to be open to all sorts of ideas for programming has lead us in directions that no one could have anticipated."

In particular, Chorus America named the Chorale’s efforts to revive, perform and record the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the lost masterwork by Zakaria Paliashvili, the father of Georgian music. The Chorale began its relationship with the works of Paliashvili back in 2009, when Jayne and Chorale member Thea Austen started transliterating the lost musical masterpiece.

The Chorale’s 2010 performance of the liturgy is believed to be the first in the original Georgian since Paliashvili completed it in 1909, as is its 2014 professional recording of the piece. Next year, the Chorale looks forward to performing the masterwork again during its 2018-2019 season, followed by an international tour to Georgia.

“It’s beautiful that we’re bringing alive something that has lain dormant for so long,” Binkholder said. “We are bringing it back to a people that were oppressed, and that is an incredibly brilliant aspect."

Chorus America also touted the Chorale’s commissioning and premiere of two major works by its composer-in-residence, Kevin Siegfried. During the 2016-2017 season, the Chorale premiered "Music of the Spheres," a five-movement work that aims to replicate the harmonics of the planets. The Chorale performed the piece with Dean Shostak, one of the only glass armonica players in the world.

Binkholder credited his “symbiotic relationship” with Siegfried with inspiring unique and innovative new works for the Chorale.

“We started out as two professionals that were working together on a commission, and it turned into a friendship in where we both know what the other person is going to do,” he said. I know what he’s going to write and he knows what he’s needs to write for us, and it’s this beautiful symbiotic relationship."

Founded in 1993, the Chorale has covered a wide repertoire ever since, ranging its Eastern Orthodox programs to regularly performing with cornettist David Jellema and his jazz ensemble. Made up of more than 100 voices, the Chorale is an independent 501c(3) organization with strong ties to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C.