Pianist, Jon Kimura Parker’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious! In this episode we talk about his special family history of piano playing, important moments on the stage, experiences with the Tchaikovsky and the many hats he wears throughout the year.
Known for his passionate artistry and engaging stage presence, with multiple solo appearances at the Berlin Philharmonie, London’s South Bank, the Sydney Opera House, and the Beijing Concert Hall, Jon Kimura Parker continues to perform to great acclaim. Conductors he has recently worked with include Marin Alsop, Teddy Abrams, Claus Peter Flor, James Gaffigan, Hans Graf, Giancarlo Guerrero, Jeffrey Kahane, Andrew Litton, Tito Muñoz, Gianandrea Noseda, Larry Rachleff, Lahav Shani, Bramwell Tovey, Xu Zhong, David Zinman, and Pinchas Zukerman. A true Canadian ambassador of music, Mr. Parker has given command performances for Queen Elizabeth II, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Japan. He is an Officer of The Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian honor. In the past two years Jon Kimura Parker was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto, and awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of British Columbia.
He performs as duo partner regularly with James Ehnes, Aloysia Friedmann, Lynn Harrell, Jamie Parker, Orli Shaham, and Cho-Liang Lin, with whom he has given world premieres of sonatas by Paul Schoenfield, John Harbison and Steven Stucky. He performs regularly with the Miró Quartet, and is a founding member of the Montrose Trio with violinist Martin Beaver and cellist Clive Greensmith. The Washington Post’s review of the Montrose Trio’s first tour in 2015 proclaimed them “poised to become one of the top piano trios in the world.”
As a member of the outreach project Piano Plus, Mr. Parker toured remote areas including the Canadian Arctic, performing classical music and rock’n’roll on everything from upright pianos to electronic keyboards. In commemoration of his special performances in war-torn Sarajevo in 1995, he was a featured speaker alongside humanitarians Elie Wiesel and Paul Rusesabagina at the 50th Anniversary of the relief organization AmeriCares.
An unusually versatile artist, Mr. Parker has also jammed with Audra McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, and Doc Severinsen, and performed tangos on two pianos with Pablo Ziegler. To celebrate Canada 150 he performed alongside jazz greats Benny Green and Bill Charlap in a tribute concert honoring Oscar Peterson. Mr. Parker also co-founded Off The Score, a quintet with legendary Police drummer Stewart Copeland, featuring both original compositions and fresh takes on music of Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky.
An active media personality, Mr. Parker hosted the television series Whole Notes on Bravo! and CBC Radio’s Up and Coming. His YouTube channel showcases the Concerto Chat video series, with illuminating discussions of the piano concerto repertoire.
In the past two seasons Mr. Parker appeared at Carnegie Hall in Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3, and was guest soloist at the Kennedy Center in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and streamed on medici.tv. He also performed Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 with Jeffrey Kahane and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Grieg Concerto with Bramwell Tovey and the New York Philharmonic, Gershwin’s Concerto in F with James Gaffigan and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Bernstein’s Age of Anxietywith Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony.
A committed educator, Jon Kimura Parker is Professor of Piano at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. His students have won international piano competitions, performed with major orchestras across the U.S., and given recitals in Amsterdam, Beijing, New York and Moscow. He has lectured at The Juilliard School, The Colburn School, The Steans Institute, New York University, and Yale University. Mr. Parker is also Artistic Advisor of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, where he has given world premieres of new works by Peter Schickele and Jake Heggie.
Jon Kimura Parker Parker is Artistic Director of the Honens International Piano Competition, which in its search for “The Complete Artist” awards the largest prize of its kind. Mr. Parker has recorded music of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Chopin and PDQ Bach for Telarc, Mozart for CBC, and Stravinsky, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Di Liberto and Hirtz under his own label. His recent CD Fantasy features Fantasies of Schubert and Schumann, as well as the sensational Wizard of Oz Fantasy by William Hirtz, receiving this praise from Classical Candor: “The reading is riveting. Parker scores with another favorite recording of the year.”
“Jackie” Parker studied with Edward Parker and Keiko Parker privately, Lee Kum-Sing at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia, Robin Wood at the Victoria Conservatory, Marek Jablonski at the Banff Centre, and Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School. He won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Leeds International Piano Competition. He lives in Houston with his wife, violinist Aloysia Friedmann and their daughter Sophie.
This is the recording that Mr Parker discusses in the Podcast episode.