The Helen Kemp Award
for Lifetime Commitment to Excellence in Choral Music
The Helen Kemp Award, initiated in 2010 and named in honor of its first awardee, honors an individual who, through teaching, performing, and sharing, exhibits a lifelong passion and commitment to the choral art.
2016 Awardee: Alan Harler
Maestro Harler served for many years as Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chairman of Choral Music at Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music, as well as Artistic Director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. He is an active conductor both in and outside of the United states, having performed regularly at the Festival Casals in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Aspen Choral Institute, and has given master classes and conducted performances in Taiwan and China under the sponsorship of the Taiwan Philharmonic Association. And he was the first Temple University conductor to earn invitations to regional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and National Collegiate Choral Organization.
Harler is a strong advocate for new American music. He was founder and director of the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble of Indiana. During his tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he commissioned and premiered 48 new compositions including such major works as David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous (2008), Andrea Clearfield’s The Golem Psalms (2006), Charles Fussell’s High Bridge (2003), James Primosch’s Fire-Memory/River-Memory (1998), Roberto Sierra’s Lux æterna (1996), Jan Krzywicki’s Lute Music (1995), Robert Stern’s Returning the Song (1994), Cynthia Folio’s Touch the Angel’s Hand (1994), Charles Fussell’s Specimen Days (1992) and Robert Moran’s Requiem: Chant du Cygne (1990).
He conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994. With the Temple University Concert Choir, he has presented many Philadelphia premieres, including Moran’s Hagoromo, Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem, and Arvo Pärt’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem. Maestro Harler has prepared choruses for many of the country’s leading conductors, including Riccardo Muti, Klaus Tennstedt, Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, and Wolfgang Sawallisch.
Harler has led many master classes in conducting, and currently serves as a Conducting Mentor with the Conductors Guild, making himself available for consultation with young conductors internationally. In 2009 Alan Harler was honored with Chorus America’s prestigious Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Art, and the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia’s Honorary Lifetime Membership for a Distinguished Contribution to the Musical Life of Philadelphia.