Music with Minnesotans: Pete and Carol Parshall

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
April 24, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — We might call Pete and Carol Parshall choir groupies, but they can personally attest to the great magic of singing themselves.

They were students at the University of Minnesota in the late '50s and wanted to sing in one of the exclusive ensembles, the University Chamber Singers. The two laugh today telling the story of auditioning not individually but organized in quartets, then sent off with a madrigal to return the next day and show what they could do.

Well, both Carol and Pete were successful. They showed they could sing in tune, read music, and had nice voices sing so they got in the ensemble.

But maybe most importantly that experience marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship - and marriage - that has been fed by a deep love of singing.

In fact the Parshall's wedding was musical. All Bach - an organ recital followed by so much singing, the service was incidental to the music. Pete likes to say that they only recently discovered one piece in their wedding "concert" is not by Bach but of "doubtful attribution" and wonders - with a twinkle in his eye - if this reflects on their decades-long marriage. Have they been living in sin all these years?!?

I met Pete and Carol through Jordan Sramek of The Rose Ensemble who says the group affectionately refers to the couple as "Mom and Dad" because their friendly faces - but musical discerning minds - are in the second row of every concert.

And if they cannot make a concert for some reason, they will likely be invited to a dress rehearsal. Jordan says that if he sees Carol's smiling face he knows they must be doing something right!

Pete and Carol have lived in many places and taken their singing with them. In New York, the Parshall's sang with harpsichordist Paul Maynard of New York Pro Musica Antiqua where they really felt the pinch sight reading some of the hardest music written.

This skill helped when they began regular madrigal reads with friends. very old-fashioned, but so satisfying, to spend an evening eating, drinking, catching up and then working through difficult scores. A great way to really bond with friends!

Pete and Carol Parshall's playlist:

Thomas Tallis, The Lamentations of Jeremiah - Tallis Scholars

Michael Praetorius, A Child is Born in Bethlehem - the Waverly Consort

Johannes Brahms, Vineta - RIAS Chamber Choir

Traditional, Ergheu Diado - Bulgarian State Female Choir

Traditional Ukrainian; arr: J. David Moore - Kolyskova - Dare to Breathe

Sergey Khvoschinsky, Bogoriditse Devo - The Rose Ensemble

Next week I'm joined by Grace Tangjerd Schmitt, the president of Guild Incorporated, a community based mental health organization. She brings a marvelous playlist, many pieces by composers who had their own struggles with mental disease.

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