Director Laureate

Chorus America's Director Laureate award is an honorary title established in 2012 to recognize individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership as a member of Chorus America's board of directors and had significant impact on the choral field. It is given periodically to an individual selected according to criteria including leadership, impact on Chorus America and the choral field, financial support, longevity of service, and ambassadorial role.


Alice Parker, First Director Laureate, 2012

Composer, conductor, and teacher Alice Parker had a profound impact on the choral field and on Chorus America. Parker was a touchstone of the choral community for over eight decades and a passionate believer in the transformative powers of choral singing. 

Born in Boston, MA in 1925, Parker began composing early. She graduated from Smith College with a major in music performance and composition, then received her master's degree from the Juilliard School where she studied choral conducting with Robert Shaw.

Her life-work was in choral and vocal music, combining composing, conducting and teaching in a creative balance. Her arrangements with Robert Shaw of folksongs, hymns and spirituals form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. Her list of published compositions has over six hundred titles, ranging from operas and large choral-orchestral pieces through song cycles, cantatas and choral suites to many individual anthems. Parker was commissioned by hundreds of community, professional, school, and church choruses and her many conducting and teaching engagements kept her traveling around the United States and Canada.

Parker served twice on the Chorus America Board of Directors, from 1990-1999 and again from 2001-2010. During a time when Chorus America's membership was expanding to serve a broader range of choral organizations, she was a powerful and persuasive voice representing the inestimable value of singing for all. 

In 1985, she founded Melodious Accord, Inc., a non-profit group which presented choral concerts, sponsors workshops, symposia, and her many professional appearances. The Fellows programs provided unique training for composers, conductors and song leaders. Parker's techniques encouraged generations of music teachers and choral conductors to think about music and the act of conducting in new ways.

Read more about Alice.

Photo of Tom Hall

Tom Hall, 2014

In addition to serving as the music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom Hall is also a broadcaster, teacher, lecturer, and writer. He is invited frequently to speak to professional and community organizations, including the Oregon Bach Festival, American Choral Directors Association, the College Endowment Association, the Baltimore Broadcaster’s Coalition, The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, the Johns Hopkins Community Conversations Series, and the Ewald Symposium of Sweetbriar College. He has interviewed prominent authors and artists at the Baltimore City Lit Festival, the Baltimore Book Festival, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Walters Art Museum. In addition, he serves frequently as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Hall is also the culture editor and co-host of Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast and the host of Choral Arts Classics on WYPR radio in Baltimore. He has appeared frequently on WBJC’s Face the Music and WEAA’s Marc Steiner Show. Hall served as the host of the Maryland Morning Screen Test from 2010-2012. In 2006, he received an Emmy Award for Christmas with Choral Arts which is broadcast annually on WMAR television. In 2007, he was named Best New Broadcast Journalist by the Maryland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in 2009, the Baltimore City Paper named him Best Local Radio Personality. For the past 31 years, he has been the director of choral activities at Goucher College and has lectured at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Baltimore, Towson University, Morgan State University, and the Johns Hopkins University. Hall previously served as president of the board of Chorus America and has been an artist-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, Temple University, and Syracuse University.


Earl Rivers, 2015

Director of Choral Studies and Conducting and Professor of Music at the UC’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), Earl Rivers’ graduate conducting program has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the U.S.A.’s leading programs. Rivers served for 20 seasons, 1998-2008, as Music Director and Conductor of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, championing new works, hosting visiting composers, and developing artistic partnerships with Cincinnati arts organizations and children’s and youth choirs. In the recent 2014-15 season Rivers celebrated 40 years as Director of Music at Cincinnati’s Knox Presbyterian Church and premiered at Knox three newly commissioned works by Robert Beaser (sponsored by Soli Dei Gloria’s Psalm’s Project), Stephen Cleobury and Dale Warland.

Recent guest conducting includes the Mozart Requiem in Vienna; J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor with South Korea’s Chang Won City Chorale and Orchestra; the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece; Arvo Pärt’s Berliner Mass with South Korea's Inchon City Chorale; Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and John Rutter’s Requiem in Carnegie Hall; and a residency and concert at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, China. Rivers served as Artistic Director USA for the World Choir Games Cincinnati 2012. He leads the Beethoven Mass in C in Florence, Italy at the June 2016 Festival Annuale dei Grandi Cori Americani Città di Firenze.

Rivers received the 2004 Chorus America Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.


Vance George, 2017

Vance George is internationally recognized as one of America’s leading choral conductors. Under his direction the San Francisco Symphony chorus has been hailed as one of the finest in the world. On their behalf he has accepted four Grammy awards, for Best Performance of a Choral Work Orff’s Carmina Burana, 1992 and Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, 1995, Best Classical Album of the year Stravinsky’s Perséphone, 2000 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, 2004. He also conducted the San Francisco Chorus and Orchestra in works ranging from Bach’s Mass in B Minor to Carmina burana. TV and film credits include an Emmy for Sweeney Todd, 2002 and soundtracks for Amadeus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Godfather III. Vance George’s work embodies the legacy of the great maestros he has known as protégé and colleague, especially Robert Shaw, Julius Herford, Margaret Hillis, Robert Page, Otto Werner-Mueller, and Mary Oyer. He has received great acclaim for his unique knowledge of musical styles, languages, vocal colors, and his synthesis of the choral-orchestral tradition. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kent State University, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chorus America.


Marshall Rutter, 2017

Marshall A. Rutter has been a strong leader and generous supporter of Chorus America, as well as a champion for professional choral singing and contemporary choral music. He served on the Chorus America board from 1987 to 1996 and chaired the board from 1993-1995, steering the organization through a period of important growth. In 1964, Rutter, an esteemed attorney, helped to establish the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He has continuously served on the Chorale’s board for more than 50 years, providing unerring commitment and support to foster its artistic growth, mission and outreach efforts. Thanks in great part to his leadership, the Chorale has become one of the world’s preeminent professional choirs. Rutter has commissioned many important choral works, including Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium in honor of his wife, Terry Knowles. In 2001, Rutter received Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.


Michael McCarthy, 2021

Mike McCarthy served on the Chorus America Board for a total of 21 years: most of that time, as treasurer and a pro bono chief financial officer.  He was a careful money manager always, and  established internal financial practices and controls to ensure that every dollar was put to good use to advance the field.  His commitment to a vibrant choral field and keeping it financially sound extended beyond Chorus America. He served as Treasurer for VocalEssence, where is also a Lifetime Board Member, and for the International Federation of Choral Music. He was also a Board Chair of the Dale Warland Singers, and the American Composers Forum. He and his wife Kay commissioned at least eight choral works by leading composers, such as “The World Beloved, a Bluegrass Mass” by Carol Barnett; “The Day is Done” by Stephen Paulus, and, most recently, Quilt Songs, featuring pieces by Alice Parker, Libby Larsen, Gabriela Lena Frank, Ysaÿe Barnwell, and Carol Barnett.   

Corty Fengler headshot

Corty Fengler, 2023 

Corty Fengler served on the Chorus America Board for a total of 18 years, beginning in 2003, leading the Development Committee for the majority of that time. During her tenure, she worked very closely with the staff, serving as a de facto fundraising consultant for the organization as well as one of our lead development volunteers soliciting support—a role she continues to fill. She developed and served as the presenter for the fundraising workshop in the early Chorus Management Institutes. She also created Chorus America’s first legacy giving program Continuo. Fengler’s career in philanthropy has included work both as a development officer and as a consultant. She served as canon for development at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and before that as director of development for the San Francisco Symphony, the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Westover School. She worked for Wellesley College during two capital campaigns. As a consultant she has provided services to nonprofits such as the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and many choruses, orchestras, schools and universities. She has served on national committees for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Alumnae Board of Wellesley College, the Board of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras and the board of Walden School, a summer music program in New Hampshire. She currently sits on the board of the Amateur Music Network, a San Francisco-based organization that creates music-making opportunities available to all, and sings in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where she has been a chorister for over 30 years.