College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3 Page: 78
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Richard Sparks joined the faculty at UNT in 2009, having built both a distinguished
academic and professional career. He was a faculty member at Mount Holyoke College
(1980-83) and Pacific Lutheran University, where he was director of choral activities from
1983-2001. At PLU he led the Choir of the West, one of the top undergraduate choirs in the
country, on regular tours and also made eight recordings with that ensemble. He also founded
the Choral Union, which performed the major choral/orchestral repertoire with professional
orchestra, ranging from Handel's Israel in Egypt, Mozart's Requiem and Mass in C minor,
and Verdi's Requiem to Britten's War Requiem. Sparks' DMA is from the University of
Cincinnati and his dissertation (Swedish A Cappella Music Since 1945) won the ACDA's
Julius Herford Award in 1997. It was then published as The Swedish Choral Miracle-Swedish
A Cappella Music Since 1945. He worked with the renowned Swedish Radio Choir in 2002,
and again in 2007 and 2008-the first North American in more than 40 years to conduct that
ensemble. During that time Sparks also prepared the Swedish Radio Choir for a performance
of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev
which was released as a DVD recording on the BIS label. Sparks has been active in the
professional world: guest conducting the Anchorage Music Festival for several years (his first
year substituting for an ailing Robert Shaw conducting Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem),
Portland Symphonic Choir, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Northwest Chamber Orchestra,
Exultate Chamber Singers in Toronto, as well as the Swedish Radio Choir. In 2006 he was
the first non-Canadian conductor to be invited to conduct the Canadian National Youth
Choir. In 2008 he was music director/conductor for a production of Monteverdi's Orfeo in
Edmonton with period instruments. After guest conducting Pro Coro Canada (Edmonton,
AB) in 1996 and 1998 he was invited to become their artistic director, which he led from
1999-2011. His last concert on Good Friday was a performance of Bach's St. John Passion. A
professional chamber choir, Pro Coro has toured regularly across Canada and broadcast on
CBC Radio. Pro Coro has regularly commissioned new works, performed the great works
of the a cappella repertoire, and performed choral/orchestral repertoire with the principals
of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In addition he led a period instrument performance
of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers. He founded Seattle Pro Musica and led three ensembles
from 1973-80, conducting more than 70 programs in seven years. The Pro Musica Singers
performed both a cappella works and major works with orchestra, the Bach Ensemble
did Bach cantatas and other baroque chamber, orchestral, or choral works once a month,
and the Chamber Orchestra performed repertoire from Haydn and Mozart through works
by Stravinsky and Britten, plus newly commissioned works. Sparks also led the Seattle
Symphony Chorale from 1990-94 (preparing the choir for nine recordings on the Delos
label). He was founder and artistic director for Choral Arts from 1993-2006, with whom he
made three recordings on the Gothic label. Choral Arts also appeared with the Mark Morris
Dance Company (Dido and Aeneas), Seattle International Music Festival under Dimitri
Sitkovetsky (Handel Acis & Galatea), and as guests on several series, including those of
the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Arts West, and Vancouver Chamber Choir.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 3, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114725/m1/78/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.