Richard Sparks is the principal conductor of “The Benedict Sixteen,” the Benedict XVI Institute’s sixteen-voice professional choir. In addition he will lead the East Coast premiere of the Mass of the Americas at the iconic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on November 16.
The Bay Area 2019 season for the Benedict XVI Institute under Richard Sparks’s musical leadership includes an All Soul’s Day Requiem Mass for the Homeless Dead at St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Nicholas Day prayer service featuring the O Antiphons at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park.
Richard Sparks distinguished career includes:
- Founding Seattle Pro Musica in 1973 and in seven seasons conducted over 70 different programs with three ensembles.
- Principal Conductor of the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival.
- Director of Choral Activities at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and led the Choir of the West from 1983-2001
- Conducting Seattle Symphony Chorale for four years.
- Conducting the Seattle Symphony Chorale for nine recordings on the Delos label including a Grammy-nominated recording of Hanson’s Lament of Beowulf.
- Founder andartistic director of Choral Arts Northwest for 11 years, making three CDs on the Loft/Gothic label.
- Artistic Director of Pro Coro Canada, a professional chamber choir in Edmonton, Alberta, from 1999-2011.
- Professor of Music and Chair of the Division of Conducting & Ensembles at the University of North Texas for 10 years. Many of his performances can be found on YouTube, including a Vivaldi Gloria with over two million views, Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, and the 1725 version of the St. John Passion.
- Experience with both traditional Gregorian Chant and Anglican Chant
Richard’s latest book, The Conductor’s Toolbox: Transforming Yourself as Musician and Conductor, can be found at GIA Music.
Sparks is one of the few Americans invited to work with the famed Swedish Radio Choir in 2002, 2007, and 2008, including preparing the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem for a performance with Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic,which is on DVD with BIS Records. He has also guest conducted the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, and the Anchorage Music Festival among many others.
Archbishop Cordileone and the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship are honored that Richard Sparks brings his distinguished talents to the B16 mission of offering great and elevating works of sacred music, both old and new, in the context in which they were made to be heard: as prayer, not performance.
Rebekah Wu, Choir Administrator