A. Dennis Sparger, MUSIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR since 1986, has led the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra in over 85 performances of the major works by Bach and other composers. Under his direction the Chorus has been labeled as “right up there with the best this city has to offer.” During his tenure performances have included established soloists Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Erie Mills, Phyllis Pancella and William Warfield, and have nurtured outstanding young singers Thomas Barrett, Rochelle Ellis, Kristen Frost, Angela Horn, Lester Lynch, Mary Wilson and Sherezade Panthaki.
Under Dr. Sparger's leadership, the Bach Society introduced a Young Artists scholarship program for singers under the age of thirty; the awards have provided financial support and solo opportunities for 44 aspiring soloists to date. He also established a professional core of paid Principal Singers, bringing employment opportunities for trained choral singers. Upon his recommendation, the Board of Directors designated a position for Composer-in-Residence in 2004 to promote the creation of new works to be premiered by the Bach Society Chorus.
Dr. Sparger received his professional training from the University of Illinois where he studied with Harold Decker and was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. He received bachelor and master's degrees from Eastern Illinois University, where he studied choral music with John Maharg. He founded and was conductor of the Masterworks Chorale in Belleville, Illinois, 1974-2007, and the Masterworks Children's Chorus, 1985-1990.
He has been a state president for the American Choral Directors Association and served as a panelist for both the Illinois Arts Council and the Missouri Arts Council. His scholarly article on the 17th Century Polish composer Andrzej Hakenberger appears in the latest edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Following a career in music education, Dr. Sparger was associate producer and writer of JOY!, a weekly program of sacred choral music heard on KFUO-FM CLASSIC 99, from 1999 to 2010.
In 1998 Dr. Sparger was presented with the prestigious award named for his mentor, the Harold A. Decker Award, by the Illinois chapter of ACDA. He was named Choir Director of the Year by the St. Louis chapter of the American Guild of Organists in 2003, and was honored as one of Eastern Illinois University's 50 Outstanding Graduate Alumni in 2005. In 2008 Dr. Sparger was selected to participate in a Liberty Fund colloquium on Redemption and Human Freedom in Bach's St. Matthew Passion. He is a member of ACDA, Chorus America and the National Society of Arts & Letters, and serves on the board of Artist Presentation Society and the advisory board of the St. Cecilia Academy.