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1 JON KIMURA PARKER Critical acclaim for the artist Mr. Parker performed the often virtuosic piece with commitment, finishing with a bang. -The New York Times While Parkers technical facility was more than a match for this concertos fiendish technical demands (is there any other piece of piano music that has so many trills?), even more impressive was his control of touch and tone. There were moments where he was hammering on the symphonys 9-foot Steinway, but there were also moments (especially in the second movement Adagio un poco moto) where he seemed to caress the tone out of his instrument, not only making the piano sing, but at times making it whisper. More often, however, he made the piano roar, and the enthusiastic audience did the same at the works conclusion. Their reward was an encore: the final movement of Beethovens Piano Sonata No. 23, the beloved Appassionata. Parker introduced it as his favorite sonata and offered an interpretation that, like him, is best described as fearless. -San Diego Union-Tribune Once in a while, a concert pianist comes across as both virtuoso and versatile If anyone could pull off a piano recital from Beethoven to Billy Joel, rocking the house on his way out, Jackie Parker would be it. Jon Kimura Parker (was) the commanding soloist in Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto. The Canadian pianist has the technical chops to tame this behemoth, and he also has the strength and suppleness of line, variety of touch and generosity of feeling to make its many tunes take wing. Bravos all around. -The Chicago Tribune The Canadian pianist delivered a powerhouse performance of Rachmaninoffs mighty Third. In addition to surmounting the works knuckle-busting complexities, Parker brought the requisite big sonority as well as the poetic sensibility for this music. -The Chicago Classical Review As soloist for Shostakovichs Piano Concerto No. 1, Jon Kimura Parker distinguished the rendition with his impassioned and vigorous playing. This eccentric and irreverent work abounds in dramatic effects, which Parker exploited successfully, at times virtually bounding from the bench. -The Houston Chronicle Parker is an agile, communicative pianist. -The Philadelphia Inquirer Mr. Parker was an insightful, energetic soloist -The New York Times Parker was a sure-fingered guide through Rachmaninoffs masterpiece. His pacing and voicing made the most of the composers scintillating creativity and emotional generosity. -The Pittsburgh Tribune

2 JON KIMURA PARKER PAGE 2 Parker's conception of the piece was as an ongoing, heated conversation on a single subject, with gestures brought out by subtle dynamic and tempo shifts. In places in which some pianists pour it on, or when the macabre Dies irae motif appears, Parker pulled back to allow the character of the individual variations to come through. It was a masterful performance, one that synthesized the work while emphasizing its differences. -The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette On a performance of 24 variations of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" The soloist was Jon Kimura Parkerhis Tchaikovsky was big-boned but elegant and a bit of a technical miracle, so clean and clear was his playing. He didn't get carried away, physically he rose up off the bench only a couple of times, toward the end of the work but he demonstrated plenty of power and plenty of engaging musicality, as needed. -The Classical Voice of North Carolina The piece de resistance was Parkers highly accomplished performance of Tchaikovskys First Piano Concerto afterward the audience was on its feet, calling the musicians back five times. -The Kansas City Star At the same time, one never had the sense of Parker trying to beat his hapless Steinway into submission. Even during dramatic sections, his playing always struck me as sincere, expressive and deeply musical. It was a performance that gave the Rachmaninoff due respect, and for that alone Parker deserved a heartfelt ovation. -The Rochester Democrat

3 JON KIMURA PARKER San Diego Story June 7, 2015 Parker and Francis Open Mainly Mozart Festival at Balboa with Panache BY KEN HERMAN With newly minted Mainly Mozart Festival Music Director Michael Francis on the podium Saturday (June 6), the first festival orchestra concert of the 2015 season catapulted the packed Balboa Theatre audience into an ebullient mood. A combination of Francis bracing tempos, pianist Jon Kimura Parkers keyboard wizardry, and the orchestras ever reliable finesse produced a rewarding musical trifecta. Although no one would judge a serious novel after reading only the first chapter, I came away with some clear first impressions of the new maestro (I was unable to attend his Mainly Mozart debut in 2014). On the podium Francis proved a busy, detail-oriented conductor, diligently exploiting contrasts and quite unafraid of the extreme ends of the dynamic continuum. He did appear to be a speed freak, however, not unlike the proverbial teenager who is given the keys to a Ferrari and immediately takes it out to see just how fast it will go. From this elite chamber orchestra Francis elicited a tightly focused ensemble that was able to provide him with the super-charged tempos he appeared to relish. Since Mozart marked the final movement of his Symphony No. 35 (Haffner)the flashy program openerPresto, it would be pointless to complain about its breakneck tempo, and Francis certainly made it work. But the last movement of Beethovens Seventh Symphony, marked Allegro con brio, became more than vigorous in his hands. Its breathless tempo projected a frantic edge that seemed at odds with Francis genuinely thoughtful and artfully structured journey through the first three movements of the Seventh. I was particularly taken with the second movement, the Allegretto, where he drew soulful sighs from the low strings and a myriad of cleanly outlined colors in the deft fughetta. In his program notes Francis aptly described this movement as a stately dance, and I also heard in it a stately procession wending its way through the Balboa. The heart of this program was Jon Kimura Parkers sparkling account of Mozarts C Major Piano Concerto, K. 467. Although K. 467 is one of the most frequently played of the nearly 30 Mozart piano concertos, Parker made it sound fresh and vibrant, full of surprising details and engaging turns, without seeming the slightest bit fussy. Speed and clarity may be virtues than piano teachers preach endlessly, but Parker demonstrated that it is equally important to communicate the purpose of every technical feat, and intention animated his performance from the first notes he played. Individuals of a certain age will recall the concertos delectable middle movement as the theme from the film Elvira Madigan, and Parker gave its dulcet melody a slightly otherworldly character, which Francis had the orchestra mirror precisely. The purist side of my brain began to complain about Romanticizing Mozart, but I decided to shut that down and simply enjoy the magic of the moment. At intermission, some colleagues raised reasonable eyebrows about Parkers cadenzas, which certainly pushed the stylistic borders of the Classical period with more complex harmonies and textures than appear in music from the 1780s. But Mozart left no written-out cadenzas for this concerto, so either the performer must use or concoct a cadenza

4 Jon Kimura Parker San Diego Story June 7, 2015 page 2 of 2 that would pass the scrutiny of a Music Theory teacher who specialized in 18th-century harmony or go for broke and improvise in such an amazing fashion as to enrapture the audience, which is what Mozart and his colleagues did in their time. Parkers rousing cadenzas bubbled over with surprises and allusions to other Mozart works (I noted the opening motifs from Symphony No. 40 in the first movement cadenza), keeping us in delightful suspense, wondering what he would do nextexactly what a cadenza should do. Bravo! For his encore, Parker offered his wistful, nuanced take on Scott Joplins rag, Solace.

5 JON KIMURA PARKER Musical Toronto November 18, 2014 A Veteran Virtuoso Continues to Climb High BY JOHN TERAUDS Many a domestic fantasy at this time of year involves good company around a crackling fireside. The encircling gloom and chill cry out for a fine storyteller to keep the onset of winter at bay. For some, the storyteller is a favourite video game. For others, a novel, or binge-watching a series on Netflix. But as the northwesterly wind has been getting ever more inhospitable, Ive found evening solace in the arms or, more accurately, the hands of pianist Jon Kimura Parker. The veteran virtuoso continues to climb high in his ongoing explorations of the toughest-to-scale peaks in the pianistic repertoire. While his spectacular keyboard adaptations of Igor Stravinskys big ballet scores left me slack-jawed in admiration for his incredible technical skills, Parkers latest album, Fantasy, freshly pressed in time for the holiday season, goes beyond inspiring awe to enchant with each play. Fantasy is not just a technical showcase, but a big, clear picture window of a musician with a rich soul and great artistic depth. It is also a fantastic example of programming that entertains as well as edifies. Parker mixes two works that are demanding technically as well as artistically Franz Schuberts Wanderer Fantasie (in C minor, D760) and Robert Schumanns Op. 17 Fantasie with two extravagant modern spins on material from the musical stage: the Wizard of Oz Fantasy by William Hirtz (adapted by Parker for two hands instead of four) and Fantasia alla Cavalleria Rusticana by Calogero D Liberto, one of Parkers graduate students at Rice University in Texas. Rounding out this fantastical album is Mozarts unfinished D minor Fantasia (K397) complete with Parkers own tastefully improvised ending. There is plenty of impeccably prepared and cooked musical meat here to satisfy the serious listener, as well as more frothy stuff to add some smiles, if not outright laughter to the 75 minutes of programming. Liberto and Hirtz have both incorporated familiar tunes from the source works into the sort of pianistic fireworks that leave recital audiences shouting for more. Mozarts Fantasia is brilliantly paced and modulated as Parker gracefully negotiates the pieces abrupt shifts and turns. But for me the biggest treats are the Schubert and Schumann, which open and close the disc. Playing the notes is never enough and never more so than in these two great works of the early Romantic repertoire. Both pieces sprawl in the same way that Goethes Werther just cant seem to get enough angst as he stumbles through his unhappy hearts journey. The greatest interpreters figure out how to organize the sprawl to let each story unfold seemingly naturally in its modulations from minor to major, from explosive outbursts to moments of introspection when time is meant to stand nearly still.

6 Jon Kimura Parker Musical Toronto November 18, 2014 page 2 of 2 Parker more than meets the challenge in crisply tailored interpretations that simultaneously embrace the Romantic angst at the root of both composers intentions, while never making the music sound excessively melodramatic. In short, Parker has made these great musical stories even more compelling, seemingly effortlessly which is a great storytellers true secret weapon. This is a fabulous effort that also happens to be beautifully produced, with a rich, satisfying sound from a Hamburg Steinway piano.

7 JON KIMURA PARKER Houston Chronicle October 24, 2014 Houston Symphony's vivid Debussy tone-paintings overshadow Monet works BY STEVEN BROWN Showcasing the kinship between Claude Debussy's music and Claude Monet's paintings offers eye-opening possibilities: Both men filled their works with color and atmosphere. But the Houston Symphony hasn't matched up the right works for this weekend's concerts, titled "Ravel and Debussy" to shed light. The orchestra combines "Images," a set of five Debussy tone-paintings, with projections of works from "Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River," which opens Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The two sets of masterpieces mostly work at cross purposes, though. Debussy's score, which the Houston Symphony performed with verve Thursday, brings energy and action to the forefront. Monet's paintings primarily showcase the riverside landscapes' serenity. Only when misty Monet images accompany Debussy's diaphanous "The Perfumes of the Night" do sight and sound work together. The setup at Jones Hall put Monet at a disadvantage. Rather than use the screen that nearly fills the Jones Hall stage above the musicians, the orchestra projected the paintings onto the smaller side screens to the sides. As vast as Jones Hall is, much of the audience had little more than a postage-stamp view. But Debussy's tone-painting emerged vividly as the orchestra and conductor laureate Hans Graf reveled in the score. The musicians filled "In the Streets and on the Roads" and "The Morning of a Festival Day" with flashing colors and vivacious rhythms. Suave woodwind solos and soft, full sonorities delivered the seductiveness of "The Perfumes of the Night." In "Jigs," the orchestra's half-shades captured the shadowy undertones that make this a far cry from the exuberant jigs of J.S. Bach and "Riverdance." And the orchestras's light, deft strokes captured the mercurial atmosphere of "Round Dances of Springtime." The even subtler tone-painting of Maurice Ravel's "Mother Goose" came across only intermittently. The lilting clarinet and rumbling contrabassoon made an engaging pair as Beauty and the Beast; thanks to the orchestra's richness, "The Fairy Garden" made a luxuriant finale. Yet many of Ravel's murmurs and shimmers sounded colorless if they came across at all. My hunch is Jones Hall's acoustics, which work against delicate tones' projection, put up a barrier. Ravel's rowdy Piano Concerto in G major rang out with no trouble, though. Pianist Jon Kimura Parker, a professor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, dug into Ravel's brash chords and whirlwind filigree. When the music turned lyrical, he gave it an entirely different aura, cozy and relaxed. Graf and the orchestra matched Parker's flashiness and subtlety. And when individual players were spotlighted, they stepped up winningly, especially in the English horn's long-breathed solo in the slow movement and the bassoon's whirlwind in the finale. Parker and the orchestra painted an action-packed picture.

8 Jon Kimura Parker Houston Chronicle October 24, 2014 page 2 of 2

9 JON KIMURA PARKER Rochester Democrat & Chronicle March 7, 2014 Review: Christopher Seaman brings new life to RPO BY DANIEL J. KUSHNER Christopher Seaman returned to the Eastman Theatre stage to lead the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in works by three titans of orchestration. The difference in the RPO under the direction of Seaman, the symphony's conductor laureate, was immediately noticeable. Under his baton in a concert that will repeat Saturday night, the sound was suddenly more tight and lean. Hector Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture showcased the nimble precision in the violins, the effortless whimsy from the woodwinds and the regally brash performance from the brass section. All of these were good omens for the Beethoven and Bruckner compositions that were to follow. In the opening movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2, the players' musicality was direct and thorough. Seaman elicits a profundity and depth of feeling from the orchestra that few others are able to achieve. Seaman is by no means a "flashy" conductor. He is, however, a highly perceptive interpreter of the score able to synthesize the various orchestral layers into a sonic statement replete with honest emotion and unhurried clarity. And, of course, he is a familiar leader, having been the RPO's music director for 11 years. Piano soloist Jon Kimura Parker's performance was strong, with sharp technique and a sensitivity to lyricism. In the second movement, the musical mastery exhibited by both Parker and Seaman took the form of a subtle serenity not necessarily a characteristic one would typically associate with Beethoven's orchestral works. Here the ensemble sounded full without being overbearing, perfectly poignant without overshadowing Parker. The final movement of the concerto seemed the ideal aural snapshot of youth and vitality. A jocular, dance-like quality permeated the orchestra and added zest, and Seaman's firm conducting ensured that the sound never muddied. Despite the RPO's achievements in the previous two pieces on the program, the evening's success hinged on the performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 6. From the outset of the work, the orchestra exuded intensity and energy, at the height of musicality, showing a renewed sense of purpose. An initial premonition of dread in the basses and violins gave way to a mercurial trajectory. A light pastoral air quickly became a vaguely unsettling brass fanfare before eventually transitioning to an exquisite, limber bass ostinato. There was a oneness not just rhythmically but also in spirit that the listener does not always hear from the RPO. The brass section was in fine form, and the strings sounded as if they were in high-definition.

10 Jon Kimura Parker Rochester Democrat & Chronicle March 7, 2014 page 2 of 2 The "Adagio" was characterized foremost by a kind of aching humanity audible in the music, implicitly communicated during the dolorous string melodies and the majestic prayers of the French horns. The "Scherzo" was sprightly, with the interplay between a trio of woodwinds (oboe, flute and clarinet), violins and basses particularly enchanting. As in the first movement, the "Finale" juxtaposes moments of menacing portent with a frolicsome lightness. With Seaman at the helm, the listener could hear the import inherent in every note.

11 JON KIMURA PARKER Los Angeles Times August 18, 2013 Review: Master musical minds have a lot to say at SummerFest BY MARK SWED LA JOLLA SummerFest, one of the country's most significant chamber music festivals, devoted its annual program of new work Friday night at Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art here to three American masters. The composers Steven Stucky, David Del Tredici and John Harbison are major figures and had never before appeared together on a program. Their works had something to say. But the one thing the evening wasn't happened to be what it was called: "Musical Crossroads." The composers (in their 60s and 70s) have been based throughout their distinguished careers on the East Coast; all use a traditional musical language; all have won Pulitzer Prizes. Seeing what is on the mind of three major musical minds is, of course, an excellent theme for a program, and the premieres only became a problem when looked at in the context of this summer's SummerFest at large. Nowhere will you find music by women or by composers outside the United States and Europe (other than a token nod to Latin America). That said, "Musical Crossroads" was not in itself irrelevant to our time or place. Del Tredici happens to be a native of Northern California and a UC Berkeley graduate. Andr Previn, while music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the 1980s, appointed Harbison and Stucky as composers-in-residence of the orchestra, and Stucky's association with the L.A. Phil continued throughout Esa-Pekka Salonen's 17 years as music director. Stucky's Southern California connection remains particularly strong. Next summer, the Ojai Festival will premiere his opera based on, of all things, Charles Rosen's "The Classical Style," an erudite study of the music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. And Stucky's new piece, a sonata for violin and piano that opened Friday's program, did indeed hark back to the classical style. Best known as a vibrant orchestral colorist and as a composer with an imaginative sense of musical form and gesture, Stucky seems to have followed the example of such notable 20th century predecessors as Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Morton Feldman of adopting a late-period neo-Classicism. His sonata's first movement judiciously balances dramatic and lyric themes. The third movement delights the ear with its spiky, sneaky opening, but it too has the character of a classical scherzo. The short, slow middle movement is the odd heart of the work, however. An elusive melodic line in the violin hints at emotion perhaps too intense for notes and rhythms. If classical, this is the visionary late-Beethoven version of classical. The performance by violinist Cho-Liang Lin (SummerFest's artistic director) and pianist Jon Kimura Parker was life- affirming. Also neo-Classical, Del Tredici's "Bullycide" proved even more life-affirming. But what made the piece special was that both those qualities seemed at first encounter counterintuitive. The composer's inspiration was a sequence of suicides by gay teenagers who had been bullied. Perhaps Del Tredici had hoped to curb painful memories of his own experiences with bullying as a teen (which he described in his program

12 Jon Kimura Parker Los Angeles Times August 18, 2013 page 2 of 2 note) by choosing a classical model, Schubert's "Trout Quintet," as his starting place. But as a composer of gloriously over-the-top pieces based on "Alice in Wonderland," Del Tredici has never been one for holding back. And there was simply no stopping Del Tredici in "Bullycide." He needed at least one more instrument than Schubert, so he added violin along with the string, bass and piano. He begins the piece with a hook, a thrillingly good tune and writes as though he can't bring himself to let go of it. A fugue that follows sets the pulse racing. A litany of names of the dead teens, read by the musicians in ghostly voice, is ghoulish but somehow deeply sweet. Rage is released by overplaying on muted strings in a section titled "Strangled Voices." But Del Tredici refuses to take off his glitter while mourning, as if the way to wound the bullies were to dazzle and daze them with bright light. It is a brilliantly effective score, and it got an exuberant performance from the Shanghai Quartet, pianist Orion Weiss and bassist DaXun Zhang. On the other hand, Harbison's "Crossroads" (hence the evening's title) a setting of three poems by Louise Glck for mezzo-soprano (Jennifer Johnson Cano), oboe (Peggy Pearson), string quartet (the Linden) and bass (Nico Abondolo) is as restrained as "Bullycide" is animated. The texts are about loss and are more oblique than direct. Harbison sets them without fuss, true to Glck's disturbingly direct poetic style. The meaning appears beneath the surface. Harbison introduces each poem with the same instrumental interlude, but each time it feels as if there is more music in it. This is typical of a composer who rarely makes a strong first impression and rarely fails to make a strong second or third one. This score needs to be lived with. The concert ended with an effective performance of Bartk's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion. Joyce Yang was the excitingly flashy young first pianist while Joseph Kalichstein was the grounded, mature second one; the pairing reminded me of the recording by Bartk and his wife. The fine percussionists were Markus Rhoten and Steven Schick. With Bartk, you know where you are going. There are no stop signs at his intersections. Crossroads are crossed via an intricate route, from being spooked at first to dancing the night away by the end.

13 JON KIMURA PARKER the Whole Note June 2, 2013 Modern and Contemporary: Rite - Jon Kimura Parker BY CHRISTINA PETROWSKA QUILICO Rite is an exciting CD of world premiere transcriptions of Stravinskys Rite of Spring (1913) and the complete ballet Petrouchka (1911) by pianist extraordinaire Jon Kimura Parker. There have been numerous transcriptions of the Rite, notably, by Stravinsky himself, Sam Raphling and Dickran Atamian. There are countless CDs and YouTube versions of three movements from the ballet Petrouchka. Emil Gilels, Grigory Sokolov, Alexis Weissenberg, Maurizio Pollini are excellent, Yuja Wang and Lang Lang with huge followings less so. What makes Parkers version of Petrouchka a must listen is his remarkable and sensitive adaption of the complete ballet for solo piano. The focus is not so much on the pianistic fireworks of the famous dances but more on the pathos and lyrical qualities of melodic passages and the storyline. His attention to detail in transcribing is impeccable and his performance is never rushed but unfolds with singing lines and capricious humour. The ballet breathes in shapes and emotions. I realized at the end of the piece that I had not thought about the orchestra or the dancers because Parkers transcription works beautifully as an extraordinary solo piano piece. This is definitely a welcome addition to the piano repertoire. May 29, 2013 is the 100th anniversary of the Rite of Spring premiere performance in Paris, France. Today The Rite of Spring is one of the most influential works of the 20th century. Claude Debussy knew the work well and played it with Stravinsky in the four-hand duet version. Stravinsky himself worked on the score from the piano so it is no surprise that it works well as a solo piano piece. Jon Kimura Parker discovered Stravinskys piano duet version, which was used for ballet rehearsals. He felt that it was less fastidious with details than I had expected. Parker then began to add instrumental lines that had been left out. Other solo piano versions were deemed either too minimal or unplayable. I like Parkers version with the encompassing layers of sound, from extreme delicacy and poignant colour to raw sensuality and primitive power. His performance is virtuosic both technically and artistically. I also agree with Parkers quote about his own inspiration for this project. Playing the Rite of Spring at the piano I am reminded of the day that I saw an exhibition of Picassos pencil sketches side by side with the finished paintings. Despite the absence of colour the angular power of the lines had even a greater impact. We can use the same words about this CD which is excellent and I recommend it highly.

14 JON KIMURA PARKER allmusic May 21, 2013 Review: Rite- Jon Kimura Parker BY BLAIR SANDERSON Transcriptions of Igor Stravinsky's ballets have been available to pianists since the composer arranged Le Sacre du printemps for two pianos and adapted three movements from Petrouchka for solo piano. These first versions obviously influenced Jon Kimura Parker's transcriptions, though it's fair to say that his purposes in reworking the material are quite different than Stravinsky's. In the interests of making Le Sacre du printemps practical for rehearsals, Stravinsky left out some inner parts to make the music easier to play; in preparing Petrouchka as a recital piece, he left out large portions of the work, reducing it down to three scenes. Parker approaches both works from the other direction, as orchestral masterpieces to be respected and translated as closely and as completely as possible into keyboard music, and he strives to re-create all the colors, textures, and moods in these transcriptions for a single performer. Parker's performances on this self-produced album are extraordinary demonstrations of his skills as an arranger and as a virtuoso performer, because the music is fully idiomatic for the keyboard, yet for the most part sounds orchestral and retains most of the complexity of Stravinsky's multilayered writing. That all of this is possible on one piano, and that Parker remains faithful to the sounds and the spirit of these ballets, is nothing short of astonishing, and makes this CD a valuable addition to any Stravinsky collection.

15 JON KIMURA PARKER Tampa Bay Times May 18, 2013 Nearly 100 musicians to play Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' for Florida Orchestra BY JOHN FLEMING It was 100 years ago this month that the Rite of Spring had its infamous premiere in Paris. As the lore and legend goes, the ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky caused a riot. "The music was very loud, Nijinsky had to scream the counts to the dancers from the wings and people were throwing things into the pit," said Tito Muoz, reading from the New York Times review of the Ballets Russes performance on May 29, 1913. The scene should be a bit calmer when guest conductor Muoz leads the Florida Orchestra in the daring Stravinsky masterpiece that revolutionized Western music. What was shockingly new and edgy a century ago is now almost routine thanks, in part, to its starring role in Disney's animated classic Fantasia though the work is always a special occasion for any orchestra by virtue of its size alone. In the orchestra's two season-ending performances next weekend, there will be 99 players on stage, including five each in the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon sections. Also two Wagner tubas, joining the other seven horn players, plus two regular tuba players, five trumpets and a bass trumpet. So Rite of Spring is huge. But what most impressed Muoz the first time he looked at the score was its riotous rhythms, the constantly changing time signatures. He was in high school and working as a clerk in a sheet music store across the street from Carnegie Hall in New York. "I remember going into the orchestral section and pulling out a score and opening it up," he said. "My mind was blown. I'd never seen anything like that written down on paper, how complicated the rhythms were." Muoz, 29, who grew up in Queens, will be conducting Stravinsky's score for the first time in its full orchestration, though he brings some interesting previous experience with the music. In 2011, he conducted a staging of the ballet at the Opera National de Lorraine, the company in Nancy, France, for which he is music director. "I conducted a reduction in France because we couldn't fit everyone in the pit," he said. "In Florida, it's going to massive. The sound will be big." Originally, when Muoz inherited the orchestra's season finale from Stefan Sanderling, who made an early exit as music director, Rite of Spring wasn't on the program (Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony was the centerpiece). "When they asked me to do this week, I thought, 'My God, this is it. The 100th anniversary. We've got to do this,' " he said. The following week Muoz will conduct the work again with the Rochester Philharmonic, and then in August, he will conduct performances by the Joffrey Ballet with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Center in Ohio. Muoz has listened to a lot of recordings of Rite of Spring, including an early one conducted by Stravinsky himself ("He was not the clearest conductor") and another by Pierre Monteux, the Frenchman who conducted the ballet's premiere. Monteux was a teacher of David Zinman, the American conductor who was one of Muoz's teachers.

16 Jon Kimura Parker Tampa Bay Times May 18, 2013 page 2 of 2 "Monteux had a very grounded presence on the podium," Muoz said. "His technique was very efficient, very clear. That can be very comforting for musicians, especially in a piece like this." One of the famous Rite of Spring recordings, from 1958 by the New York Philharmonic under music director Leonard Bernstein, was recently rereleased in a newly remastered version by Sony Classical. It's a sumptuous, exciting affair, but there's an interesting footnote to the performance that can be seen by taking a look at Bernstein's conducting scores that are available online at the Philharmonic's digital archive. All his life Bernstein used the version of his mentor, Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Serge Koussevitzky. Because Koussevitzky had trouble with the tricky rhythms in the score, especially the final movement's Sacrificial Dance, in which a virgin dances herself to death, he had the great musical polymath Nicolas Slonimsky re-bar it for him so he could beat time at, say, a steady 4/4 tempo instead of the constantly changing meters, as in, for example, a stretch of successive bars of 3/16, 2/8, 1/16, 4/8 and so on. Slonimsky's shortcuts are clearly marked in lines from the top to the bottom of the score. "Nowadays, everyone conducts it the way Stravinsky wrote it," Muoz said. "The players learn it that way too. Once you learn it the way Stravinsky wrote it, it makes sense. Fifty or 60 years ago, orchestras had trouble with the score. Now they can play it in their sleep." A fascinating new recording of Rite of Spring is of a solo piano version, transcribed and played by Jon Kimura Parker. That Stravinsky's complex score can somehow be represented with just 10 fingers is impressive enough, but Parker's performance is also compulsively listenable. It reveals things you don't hear in the orchestration. "Most of the fast sections, like the Sacrificial Dance, come through with a rhythmic bite that is difficult for an orchestra to do because there are simply too many players," Parker said. "I liken it to comparing a black and white sketch and a color painting. Despite the absence of color, a black and white image can be graphically more striking." Parker, who began working on his Rite of Spring reduction seven years ago, has performed it in Seattle, Toronto and elsewhere. On one level, it makes a lot of sense because Stravinsky composed at the piano, and certain parts of his score lie comfortably under two hands, such as the driving chords the Augurs of Spring near the beginning. "I feel that when you hear it at the piano it's a very direct and personal experience," Parker said. "In a way, the piece actually sounds more modern, because sometimes the colors of the instruments can mask the highlights. And then there is just the attitude of the music, like in the Game of Abduction section, which is so fierce and swirling and exciting. There is an incredible joy I get in playing it."

17 JON KIMURA PARKER The SunBreak May 10, 2013 Jon Kimura Parker Takes on Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev & Stravinsky. BY PHILIPPA KIRALY Put Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition on any piano recital program and you know its a big piece. Add some Rachmaninoff to thatwell, hes known for lavishly harmonized pieces with lots of notes. What about a Prokofiev sonata as well? A really fast and tricky one? This is already a tough program for the pianist. But, Wednesday night on the UW Presidents Piano Series, Jon Kimura Parker capped it by playing all these works and including his own transcription for one person of Stravinskys complicated orchestral work, The Rite of Spring. The evening was an awesome physical feat for any performer, but at the very end, Parkers fingers were as nimble, as accurate, his touch as relaxed, his playing as clean and rhymic as it all had been at the start. And after it, he played an encore, a quiet, rippling Rachmaninoff prelude. Prokofievs dynamic Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, which changes moods continually in its packed eight minutes, was just a well-played curtainraiser for The Rite of Spring. I confess to having had misgivings about what The Rite would sound like on the piano. What about all the changes in instrumental timbre, the emphasis and the meaning of using one instrument over another that Stravinsky built into it? Stravinsky had written a piano four-hands version for use in ballet rehearsals in 1913, but left out many of the colorful details. Parker had discovered this in college, he told the audience, persuaded friends to play it with him, and tried to add in the left-out bits. Eventually his friends said, in effect, Do it yourself, and in 2004, he did, working out the logistics of putting an entire orchestral score into ten fingers, including cross rhythms and dynamics in different fingers. At times, he said, it would have been useful to have seven or eight hands. He managed amazingly with two. I ate my misgivings as I listened to his performance. Yes, the eerie sound of the high bassoon wasnt there, but instead what we heard were all sorts of inner details of harmony that often get obscured in the sound and propulsion of the orchestra performance. Parker rarely pounds the piano, only when the music demands it, and even then it is still music, not key-bashing. It was a riveting experience to watch him play this familiar work and what he did with those ten fingers as the work bloomed under them into its tale of spring rising and human sacrifice. He conjured up bell-like sounds, savage sounds, peace or spikes or agitation and a multitude of rhythmic changes. It never sounded as though it was hard to do as he transcended the difficulties and created a musical experience. At times when there was a pause in the musiconce long enough for him to wipe the sweat off his face with a red handkerchiefnot a sound emanated from the audience. In intermission, I said to a colleague, Im exhausted for him. She agreed and said she expected Parker was soaking his hands in cold water at that moment.while I thought he must be doing it lying down because, after intermission, the rest of the program was almost as challenging. He began with Rachmaninoffs Prelude in G Minor: thoughtful, crisp and clean becoming dreamy and smooth and back again. Then, as with The Rite, he talked a bit to the audience about Pictures at an Exhibition. In contrast to The Rite, Mussorgsky intended this solely for piano, and it was orchestrated by several renowned composers after.

18 Jon Kimura Parker The SunBreak May 10, 2013 page 2 of 2 In this second extremely familiar work, Parker showed no fatigue as he painted in music the pictures at his friend Hartmanns exhibition. He brought out the childrens shrill voices, the chicks little beaks tapping their shells, the argumentative discussion between the two Polish Jews, the gloom of the Catacombs, the weirdness of Baba Yagas hut and the majesty of the Great Gate of Kiev, all joined with the everchanging Promenade. It was another enthralling performance and at the end, Parkers playing was as precise and clean as at the start. Only a couple of times did I wonder if he had blurred a note. Parker, now 53, is still at the height of his powers, a consummate musicians musician who appeals equally to audiences. This was an extraordinary concert, one to remember and savor. And to savor it further, you can find his transcription of The Rite recorded by him this year, in honor of the works centenary.

19 JON KIMURA PARKER The Seattle Times May 9, 2013 Jon Kimura Parkers Rite packed with power A review of the May 8, 2013, piano recital by local favorite Jon Kimura Parker at the UW Presidents Piano Series. BY MELINDA BARGREEN Its a big month for Russian music, with a Russian Spectacular at the Seattle Symphony through next week and a spectacular Russian recital Wednesday evening by pianist Jon Kimura Parker. Parker, whose recital concluded this seasons Presidents Piano Series, strode onto the Meany stage to greet an enthusiastic hometown crowd (he hails from Vancouver, B.C., but has performed extensively in Seattle, and his wife, Aloysia Friedmann, grew up here. His mother-in-law, the oboist and retired UW faculty member Laila Storch, actually performed The Rite of Spring twice under the baton of composer Igor Stravinsky). Chatting informally with the audience, Parker established a relaxed, friendly vibe and then knocked everyones socks off with a powerhouse recital of jaw-dropping intensity and finesse. The all-Russian program offered tough, uncompromising repertoire, most of it originally written for full orchestra, and all of it so technically demanding that playing it qualifies as an extreme sport, so to speak. Parker performed his own transcription of Stravinskys The Rite of Spring, a work so explosively difficult that it would be the centerpiece of any pianists program. And then he followed that with a viscerally exciting reading of Mussorgskys mighty Pictures at an Exhibition. Just to round things out, there were two shorter Russian pieces composed for the piano: Rachmaninoffs martial Prelude in G Minor, and the dizzying, high-energy Sonata No. 3 of Prokofiev. The Prokofiev sonata established the tone of the recital: tremendous virtuosity, tonal variety and sheer firepower. It was the Rite that riveted the ear, with the orchestral sonorities and driving rhythms all realized on the keyboard by a pianist/transcriber who seemed at some points to have at least four hands. So great was the intensity of the performance that Parker stopped at one midpoint to mop his brow before continuing. From the opening melody of the Rite (and Parker somehow managed to make the pianos melody sound like a bassoon) to the final Sacrificial Dance, Parker expanded the normal expressive range of the keyboard, from a delicate whisper to a thunder that rocked the house. Here, and also in the Mussorgsky, he drew an enormous variety of colors and textures from the piano, in the punchy percussive effects of the Rite as well as the delicate traceries of the Tuileries movement of Pictures. He offered an unusually robust account of Mussorgskys Bydlo movement, and let the chords linger sumptuously in The Old Castle. The massive sonorities of The Great Gate of Kiev were so forcefully rendered that it sounded as if Parker had a cannon or two under the piano lid. Not surprisingly, a recital this good brought several noisy standing ovations from an audience that has always been particular connoisseurs of the keyboard. Parker returned with Rachmaninoffs exquisitely gentle Prelude in G Major, as a kind of benediction for his fans.

20 JON KIMURA PARKER Musical Toronto April 25, 2013 Keyboard Thursday album review: Jon Kimura Parkers remarkable Stravinsky transcriptions reframe the relevance of a bygone art BY JOHN TERAUDS Great artists have obsessive personalities, and pianist Jon Kimura Parker is no exception. His weakness? The angular, visceral ballet scores of Igor Stravinsky. And what better time than the spring The Rite of Spring turns 100 to show off Parkers (literal) handiwork in impersonating a symphony orchestra. Parkers new album is the ultimate in DIY: It is self-produced, recorded at Rice University in Texas, where he has been teaching for many years now; and the transcriptions of the full ballet scores of The Rite of Spring and Petrouchka (premiered in 1911, two years before Rite of Spring) are the pianists own. Parkers work is nothing short of spectacular, both in terms of translating a complex orchestration into something for 10 fingers on 88 keys and in terms of making it sound compelling. Since his Leeds piano competition win more than a generation ago, Parkers calling card has been a magnetic combination of dazzling technique and the sort of friendly charisma that practically compels a person to offer to buy him a beer at the closest pub right after the show. These Stravinsky transcriptions shed light on a completely different aspect of the artist: his obsession with translating the circumscribed sound and action of a felt-covered piano hammer hitting metal strings into a wider tonal and rhythmic world. There is one more thing Parker is doing here, and I couldnt put it into words succinctly until I read the pianists own (very short) notes on the project inside the CD case (I always read the notes after listening at least once, then listen again): To create the transcriptions of both ballet scores I worked from a multitude of sources, including full orchestra scores, arrangements by Stravinsky himself, Vladimiar Leyetchkiss, Sam Raphling, and Fred Cohen, and many live performances and orchestral recordings. Listening to an orchestra was an important part of the process for me: a score shows what everybody plays, but a live performance gave me a better idea of what one actually hears. And there we have it: This pianist has tried to distill the experience of listening to The Rite of Spring and Petrouchka rather than the ballet scores themselves. There is no question that, after hearing a Valery Gerghiev-conducted performance of Rite, the piano version, no matter how expertly rendered, is a bit threadbare, perhaps a bit too percussive. Petrouchka has its head-banging moments, too. But in Parkers hands, there is nearly an infinite degree of percussive, all sorts of subtle layering of little textures, careful breaths and seamless rhythmic transitions all happening while, on the surface, his fingers fly and crash through hundreds of notes, often at breakneck speed.

21 Jon Kimura Parker Musical Toronto April 25, 2013 page 2 of 2 Piano transcriptions were born before the age of reproduction. If people wanted to hear their favourite opera arias or symphonic moments, someone had to start with the piano in the parlour. In the age of iTunes, the very best most amazing recording of any given classic is a finger-tap away. So instead of a more-or-less fair facsimile or a so-so substitute, Parker declares the transcription to be a way to hear the music in a new, different and eye-opening way. Bravo. You can find out more about the album here.

22 JON KIMURA PARKER Rebecca Davis Public Relations April 9, 2013 Jon Kimura Parker Releases "Rite" Parker celebrates the centenary of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and the tragic story of Petrouchka, with his own blazing new transcriptions On April 9, 2013, pianist Jon Kimura Parker will release a recording of his fierce new transcription of The Rite of Spring in time for the works centenary in May coupled with his transcription of Stravinskys Petrouchka on his first new solo album in a decade. The music that shocked Paris in 1913 is now standard concert fare. Young conductors know they must conquer the score as a literal rite of passage. But it is undeniably quixotic to play Igor Stravinskys The Rite of Spring at the piano. In live performances of his transcription of The Rite of Spring, Parker has been unanimously praised for the thrilling way in which he tackles the complex orchestration with just two hands. It was dizzying to watch his hands dance and careen across the keyboard, wrote the Toronto Star. At times at was as if Serge Diaghilevs ballet were there in spirit, as well. The Utah Chronicle went on to say Parker did not miss a beat, a theme, a gesture, a mood or the general feeling of the masterwork. It was breathtaking. Since college days, the primitivism in The Rite of Spring held special appeal to Parker as he began discovering the continuum of classical music that followed Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. In particular, having grown up on Genesis, Rush, and Frank Zappa, Parker was drawn to its ever-changing rhythmic patterns. He began by tackling The Rite by ear but his obsession with playing this music at the piano began in earnest when he discovered Stravinskys piano duet arrangement. I noticed that Stravinsky, having arranged the duet primarily to facilitate ballet rehearsal, was less fastidious with details than I had expected, wrote Parker. I became engrossed in adding instrumental lines that had been left out. From there, it was a natural evolution to try to manage it all myself. The Rite of Spring has been arranged for solo piano before, in versions so bare as to be unsatisfying, or so inclusive as to be unplayable. However, it is well known that Stravinsky often composed at the piano, and many sections in The Rite bear this out. Parker notes, Playing The Rite of Spring at the piano I am reminded of the day that I first saw an exhibition of Picassos pencil sketches side by side with the finished paintings. Despite the absence of color, the angular power of the lines had even greater impact.

23 Jon Kimura Parker Rebecca Davis PR | Rite April 9, 2013 page 2 of 2 Petrouchka (1911) presented a different challenge for Parker, in that Stravinsky had already created a virtuoso solo piano suite from selected moments of the ballet. In the process of relearning Three Movements from Petrouchka for concert performance, Parkers daughter noticed that her favorite section of the complete ballet, the Bear Dance, was missing. In addition to putting that back in, Parker subsequently added the percussive rattling that separates each act. This led to a glissando-like run down the slippery slope of playing the whole ballet, ultimately recreating how he heard the orchestra in performance. Of a live performance of his Petrouchka transcription at Ravinia, the Chicago Classical Review raved With a nothing-held-back, physically involved performance, Parker served as a musical storyteller, bringing his solo- piano take compellingly to life. He vividly captured the bustling, evocative, ever-changing character of this ballet, not to mention its all-important rhythmic punch and driveNeedless to say, this was extraordinarily complex and challenging music, and while Parker did not exactly make it look easy, he certainly pulled it off with sure-fingered lan." Parker will perform his transcription of The Rite of Spring in concert this April and May in Oregon, Kansas, Washington and Ontario. Details about Jon Kimura Parkers complete spring 2013 dates can be found here.

24 JON KIMURA PARKER Seen and Heard International February 10, 2013 Distinguished Playing in American Festival Concert BY SIMON THOMPSON Bernstein, Gershwin, Adams: Jon Kimura Parker (piano) Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Peter Oundjian (conductor), Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 8.2.2013 (SRT) Bernstein: Overture to Candide Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F Adams: Harmonielehre American music is an enormous and ever-growing genre, but there is a certain sound that I tend to associate with it when I hear it. Like all these things, its a limited definition based on generalisations, but for me 20th Century American works are characterised by a particular quality of brightness. Perhaps I notice it because it appeared at a time when the mainstream of European music was moving away from melodic and harmonic clarity, but for me that brightness is distinguished by aspects such as gleaming brass, sparky winds, chattering percussion and surging strings. Of course, Bernsteins Candide overture has all these qualities in spades, but once I picked them up my ear was tuned into these aspects in all three of the works on tonights programme and, happily, each section of the RSNO gave a distinguished showing in each category. The other, perhaps even more defining characteristic of American music is the preponderance of snappy rhythms. Its these that Gershwins concerto primarily relies on, and it was to the credit of the RSNO that it was so comfortable with the syncopations of the work; if anything they revelled in the idea that the music was slightly off centre. Beyond the scene-stealing rhythmic moments the concerto has moments of genuine beauty, and the strings inhabited a world of lush romanticism that linked the concerto back to its heritage rather than forward to the world of jazz. Jon Kimura Parker, who knows Oundjian from their days at the Julliard, brings this music to life as if it were his very own. His playing is incisive and exciting, and thrillingly accomplished in the technical aspects, but he tackled everything with an all-important sense of good humour, something that spilled over into his encore a rollicking rendition of the theme to The Simpsons. This programme is music for which Oundjian seems to have a special passion, and it showed in the way he shaped each movement of the concerto. The second was supple, with the phrases seeming to flow seamlessly into one another, while the third was precisely controlled, for all its rhythmic adventurousness. He clearly has a particular sympathy with Adams mighty Harmonielehre, the pulverising thrill-ride that formed the second half. Adams work, inspired by some rather unusual dreams, came at the end of an 18-month long period of writers block, and in many ways its a comment on the process of coming out of that creative drought. The massive, throbbing opening gives way to Adams trademark rippling tintinnabulations before a slow movement full of angst and pain. Named The Anfortas Wound, this movement is a comment on the depression and pain that Adams was feeling during that period, and it shows. The finale brings beautiful relief, but it is hard-won, a struggle that is not completely resolved until the resolutely optimistic final chord of E flat. Adams best work seems to operate through contrasts of sweeping lyricism and trance-like undulations which are both hypnotically beautiful and fabulously exciting. Its not music with which I automatically associate the RSNO, but the sheer kaleidoscope of colour that they unleashed tonight was overwhelming, and by the size and length of the

25 Jon Kimura Parker Seen and Heard International February 10, 2013 page 2 of 2 ovation it must surely have won over many audience members who knew little of the work beforehand. Oundjian paced each movement with masterful knowledge of the score and the structure, be it in the massive arc of the first movement or the spellbinding, magically evocative universe of the last. I wonder if this is to be the area of music which he chooses to make his own with the RSNO? Our next opportunity to find out will come at the end of April with another American Festival, this time with Copland, Barber and more Adams. I cant wait!

26 JON KIMURA PARKER The Seattle Times January 24, 2013 Jon Kimura Parker shines with Vancouver Symphony | Classical review BY MELINDA BARGREEN A review of the VSO and conductor Bramwell Tovey, with guest pianist Parker, in Seattle on Jan. 23, 2013. One of the particular joys of Benaroya Hall since its 1998 opening has been the occasional appearance of touring orchestras on its mainstage: great as it is to hear the Seattle Symphony on a regular basis, its also exciting to compare and contrast. On Wednesday the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and its music director for 13 seasons, Bramwell Tovey, ventured over the border for a concert in the Special Performances series at Benaroya. As an added attraction, the VSO brought along Vancouver-born pianist Jon Kimura Parker, a huge favorite in Seattle (hell return to play a Presidents Piano Series recital at Meany Theater in May). The program was cleverly balanced to assuage potential audience consternation over the new work the U.S. premiere of Edward Tops Totem with the familiar strains of the Grieg Piano Concerto that followed. Rounding things out was Prokofievs Symphony No. 5, a hard-charging and colorful work that is a pretty good indicator of any orchestras strengths and weaknesses. The Dutch-born Top (who lives in Vancouver) composed Totem in three movements, each underscored with a primitive and propulsive energy. Top, who discussed the new piece with Tovey onstage before the downbeat, used terms like the fear of being followed in the forest and death metal to describe atmospheres in Totem, which requires such percussion instruments as a siren and a thunder sheet. The piece employs lots of tone clusters, drumming, and eerie string effects, but it sounds more like a collection of soundscapes than a work with structure and direction. Parker gave the Grieg Concerto a masterly touch, extracting every ounce of drama from the declamatory passages of the opening and the visceral excitement of the first-movement cadenza, ending the movement at such a spectacular pitch that the audience burst into startled applause. Parker built the crescendos with great skill, brought out the charming folk dance elements, and attacked the virtuoso passages with tremendous verve. Some of the most telling moments came with Parkers uncannily perfect sense of exactly when and how to place a soft, delicate note taking just a little extra time in the lyrical F-major section of the third movement. Tovey was with Parker all the way, but the orchestra sounded a little unfocused and tentative in the concerto, with some ragged entrances. When the players reassembled for the Prokofiev finale, however, the orchestra emerged as a supple ensemble with a big unified sound, impressive and mostly unified brass, and plangent, expert woodwinds with lots of character. Tovey got a terrific performance out of his players, using a very expressive left hand to elucidate details, and delineating the propulsive beat with no-nonsense clarity. A resounding ovation brought an encore, Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5. Parker had earlier played an encore, too: a virtuoso version of Danny Elfmans Theme from The Simpsons. This ought to charm appreciative listeners as the VSO heads south on a two-week concert tour.

27 JON KIMURA PARKER Seattle Weekly January 24, 2013 Vancouver Symphony Brilliantly Enlists Homer, Marge, and Bart's Skateboard BY GAVIN BORCHERT Vancouver Symphony with pianist Jon Kimura Parker Bramwell Tovey, cond. Benaroya Hall Wednesday, January 23 For years I've thought the opening title music to The Simpsons, arranged for piano, would make a great recital encore. Last night, out of the blue, Jon Kimura Parker played exactly that, and it worked just as I'd imagined. Though he introduced it, oddly, by saying it was a piece "you won't recognize unless your taste in TV is as bad as mine"-- which is ridiculous, considering it's one of the most acclaimed comedies of the past quarter-century. It was like apologizing for liking Casablanca. Or Revolver. Parker was here with the Vancouver Symphony to play Grieg's Piano Concerto, splendidly. Conductor Bramwell Tovey loves extremes of tempo; the slow passages in the outer movements were slo-o-o-o-ow, but ecstatic, beautifully controlled, never sounding arbitrary or micromanaged, and Parker was fully in sympathy with his approach. (Not surprisingly, the end of the concert's dessert encore was Brahms' Hungarian Dance no. 5, which jolts between contrasting tempos with even more of a whiplash effect.) Tovey pulled a neat trick in the concerto's final chord, which I'd never heard; after the initial attack, he potted down the orchestra slightly, except for the brass, letting them shine through for a moment, then crescendoing everyone else back up. Opening the evening thrillingly, in its third performance after its Saturday world premiere, was Totem by the VSO's Dutch- born composer in residence, Edward Top. It made a few allusions to Europe, specifically to the postwar Polish school: tensile string glissandos and sustained wind chords as cool and aloof as a Hitchcock blonde. But the rest of the piece was built out of logs and hide, full of earthy thwacks and snaps from the percussion (including, at one point, four players on four hand-held drums) and gutsy sound effects from the other sections. All three concise and compelling movements, "Angst," "Rite," and "Mosh," left me wanting more. I can't think of any other music like the breathtaking closing minute of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony from 1944. As the full orchestra winds up, in chugging Soviet-factory rhythms, suddenly half of it drops out for a few bars; then there's a further sudden reduction to just the first-chair strings and a bit of percussion, the energy level unrelenting nevertheless. It's the most extraordinary zoom-in/magnifying effect, exactly like that "Powers of Ten" short film we all saw in elementary school: a view first of your whole body, then of cells and mitochondria, then of bustling carbon atoms. This was the piece Tovey brought to really show off the orchestra, and he generated climaxes of blazing brilliance and an overall sound of great presence and richness. I've heard some glorious noise in that hall from the Seattle Symphony going full-bore, but this was something else. Since the classical-music industry a few years back converted to the Church of Dudamel, you'd be forgiven for assuming that performances of this freshness, impact, and vibrancy are attainable only by conductors who can't yet legally buy beer. But here was Tovey (positively antediluvian at 59!) spurring the VSO to sound amazing.

28 JON KIMURA PARKER Georgia Straight January 21, 2013 Jon Kimura Parker shows profoundly beautiful focus with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with pianist Jon Kimura Parker. At the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, January 19. Continues on January 21 BY ALEXANDER VARTY In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight, pianist Jon Kimura Parker confided that he keeps a signed photograph of Norwegian composer Edvard Griega gift from violinist and autograph collector Joshua Bellon the wall of his studio. Its an apt totem, for the Vancouver-born musician made his orchestral debut playing Griegs Piano Concerto in A Minor with the VSO, in 1980. The piece also announced his arrival on the international stage a few months later, when he appeared with the Boston Pops. But is it possible to deduce something about Parkers performance style from the other signed headshots he displays at home in Houston, Texas? Beyond his obvious brilliance as a pianist, there seemed little to link him to jazz giant Chick Corea. But like Elton John, Parker does sometimes come across as an amiable ham, from his effusive, grinning entrance to his habit of levitating briefly after every passage of showy finger-play. These mannerisms were briefly off-putting during Parkers return to the Orpheum stage, and to the Grieg concerto, this weekend. On reflection, though, they have more to do with his ebullient personality than his musicianship; as one might expect, his performance of Griegs lone piano concerto was suave, flawless, and at points even thrilling. It helped that Parker had similarly impeccable support from the VSO, under Bramwell Toveys almost balletic direction. The orchestra has been at peak form in recent performances, and it seems this will continue through its upcoming tour of the western United States, during which it will reprise this weekends program. Fine as it was during the Grieg, the orchestras subsequent performance of Sergei Prokofievs Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major was arguably even better. Frankly, I dont care for the score. Although VSO commentator Don Andersons program notes cite its impression of optimism and carnival-like atmosphere, the 1944 work sounds lugubrious to me, its seeming good humour forced and its folkloric sequences leaden. Yet as Tovey and the orchestra worked their way through its four movements, a vivid series of images came unbidden into my mind. The stamping of Russian troops trudging homeward through snow. Mothers mourning sons who did not come home. Boxcars full of klezmer musicians bound for the gas chambers of Treblinka. Prokofiev himself, dancing obeisance on Stalin while his wife and sons shivered in Siberian captivity. Ugly images, brought to life by ugly music performed with profoundly beautiful focus. Quite remarkable, really. Also remarkable was VSO resident composer Edward Tops concert-opening Totem. The regional implications of the works title were reflected in its occasional use of First Nations rhythms, but Top also worked items of personal significance into his score: a sentimental Dutch song handed down through his family, and the aggressive blastbeats of thrash metal he thrilled to as a teenager. Transmogrified by the composers active imagination and keen sense of sonic detail, they helped make the piece a considerable pleasure, albeit one that was all too brief.

29 JON KIMURA PARKER The Vancouver Sun January 21, 2013 VSO's tour repertoire sure to please BY DAVID GORDON DUKE Vancouver Symphony Orchestra January 19 and 21 Orpheum Theatre This week conductor Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra launch a winter tour of several western states, a major undertaking that will see the orchestra perform in some eight centres in just under two weeks. But first the regular Orpheum audience got a chance to sample the tour offerings: judging from the performance on Saturday evening, American audiences should brace themselves for a program of hurricane intensity. Specially written for the tour is a new work by VSO composer in residence Edward Top called Totem. Cast in three short movements, beginning darkly with Angst, this is flashy, highly-spiced music, just the right sort of contemporary calling card for the orchestra. Top has an ear for orchestral colour second to none. Much of the work reflects an earthy neo-primitivism; a sense of ritual permeates the central movement, Rite, and in its particularly effective climactic moment four percussionists pick up frame drums. The concluding segment, Mosh, lives up to the contemporary allusiveness of its title with lots of heat, followed by an enigmatic, cool, edgy, and very beautiful closing. Soloist for the tour is British Columbia's distinguished gift to the world of pianists, Jon Kimura Parker, who has a long association with the orchestra. His rendition of the always popular Grieg Piano Concerto is powerful and practised, honed to a fine edge and dazzlingly effective. Parker's work steadily increases in depth, colour and subtlety as the years go on, but he can still deliver white-hot intensity: witness his thrilling first movement cadenza, or the blazing final coda. Here is a performance with soloist, conductor, and orchestra all on exactly the same high emotional pitch. It could be argued that Sergei Prokofiev's Soviet era symphonies have been overshadowed by those of his rival, Dmitri Shostakovich; certainly his Fifth Symphony might at first seem a quirky choice to take on tour. Judging from Saturday's reading, it's a near-perfect showcase for our orchestra. The Fifth is a thick, complex score with a highly personal sound, often brash and noisy. But it is also one of Prokofiev's singular masterworks, a unique testament of a composer who certainly knew his own mind. And what an orchestral workout! Tovey understands the work's epic sweep, its bitter ironies, and its off-centre range of colours. The VSO players deliver with care, commitment, and enthusiasm, bywords for the entire program, an enterprise that demonstrates the VSO at the top of its game.

30 JON KIMURA PARKER Vancouver Sun January 14, 2013 Lessons Learned: Pianist Jon Kimura Parker always up for a challenge Jon Kimura Parker may be an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, but that doesnt mean hes above rocking out to Rush. BY SHAWN CONNER Jon Kimura Parker may be an internationally acclaimed concert pianist, but that doesnt mean hes above rocking out to Rush or humming a little Taylor Swift. In this weeks Lessons Learned, Parker, whose current projects include working on a solo transcription of Stravinskys Rite of Spring, talks about the two pianists who changed his life, his biggest challenge and his new-found appreciation of NFL football. A professor of piano at Rice University, Parker has lived in Houston for the last 10 years and makes it back up to his hometown of Vancouver once or twice a year, often to play with the VSO, which hell do once again (performing the Grieg Piano Concerto) later this month. When warming up before a concert, many performers focus on the technical difficult passages. I tend to play the whole work through from beginning to end. Sometimes I do this on the most hideously out-of-tune upright pianos in concert hall basements! If I am performing from memory I go through a mental checklist of all the dangerously confusing spots. Most importantly, I make sure to have something to eat. I hate playing hungry. Ive also learned that while the conductor is my most important musical ally when I perform with orchestra, my most practical ally can be the piano technician. Theres a lot of last-minute fussing that can hugely help my performances! Having actually organized and pulled off a family vacation to Hawaii over the holidays, I feel like Im currently balanced. But the truth is, a work/life balance is very difficult to maintain, and I tend to overwork. Despite being 53, I tend to think of myself as an emerging artist! Im always looking for some other challenge or some concert Ive never played. Im profoundly grateful for being able to do work that reflects humanity. I couldnt manage work that revolved around numbers on a computer screen, for example. To know that a musical performance has touched someone makes everything about being a musician worthwhile. Sometimes I walk down the street and look at peoples faces and try to imagine what music they most like to listen to. But I would probably be wrong as often as I would be right. I met two pianists who changed my life. The first was concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein, whom I met backstage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre when I was 12. I was utterly resolved to do what he did to communicate joy through music. In my 20s I met legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson several times. He knew that I worshipped him. He inspired me in exactly the same way: I was once so close to him at the Blue Note Jazz Club [in New York] that I heard him grunting with pleasure at a particular turn of phrase. I was raised in Vancouver for the first 20 years of my life, in North Burnaby. Other than a trip to Tokyo to visit relatives when I was a teenager, I travelled infrequently. I absolutely assumed that all cities were as beautiful and diverse as Vancouver, and I still chastise myself for not appreciating it enough when I lived there. I love the mountains, and the ocean, and forests, and of course all of that is on Vancouvers doorstep. From a musical perspective, my mother particularly inspired me to be disciplined and my father showed me what music could mean emotionally. I cant

31 Jon Kimura Parker Vancouver Sun January 14, 2013 page 2 of 2 imagine being successful as a pianist without both of those influences in equal amounts. I did go through a massive rebellion phase of wanting to be much more hip than my parents, whose only musical pleasure was classical. I still listen to a lot of rock when Im not working! Growing up, I was a huge Pink Floyd fan. Some of my grad students, who are older and with whom I have a lot of conversations about music, happened to know I like classic rock, and asked if Id save a Sunday evening in December, but didnt tell me why. We end up at the Toyota Center. I wondered, Why are we here? And we walked in and it was Rush! The last time I heard Rush live I think was in Vancouver in 1977. And it was the same three guys, and they were amazing. They finally did Tom Sawyer. That was great, that was the first rock concert Ive been to in a long time. Now that my daughters 13, I was actually humming a Taylor Swift song the other day, which I never thought would happen. But she plays it all the time so I couldnt help it. At 13, my daughter Sophie shows a maturity, wisdom and sense of humour that I couldnt have dreamed of when I was at that age. But then at 13, all I did was practice the piano. Against all odds Ive become an NFL fan and follow the Houston Texans and almost understand how the game works. Im watching Downton Abbey and reruns of Alias with my family. My morning ritual is coffee with the Last month I had the opportunity to visit an observatory at the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. You feel like youre in heaven up there, looking down on Earth and upward towards the sky. I love places that give you a sense of the Earths majesty. My biggest challenge was 25 years ago: quitting smoking. I waited until I had the flu and then smoked until I was completely ill, so that I would always remember my last cigarette as being a miserable experience. I still draw on (no pun intended) that experience to remind me that I can accomplish anything. We have three pets. Oscar, contending for worlds most flexible, loving and relaxed cat. Scout, a tuxedo cat, whose slight general nervousness reflects my own, and Ricky, a terrier mix whose general enthusiasm for life is quite inspiring! Im grateful that Ive had years of opportunities to share what I love about music. Theres nothing like it.

32 JON KIMURA PARKER International Musician December 10, 2012 Jon Kimura Parker: Travels the World Bringing Piano Concertos to Life As a concert pianist, Jon Kimura Parker of Local 145 (Vancouver, BC) travels to a different venue most every weekend, giving 60 or 70 concerts each year. Hes also professor of piano for Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Houston. We caught up with him when he was commuting between Houston and China for performances of Beethovens Piano Concertos No. 3 and No. 4. This is a very exciting tour; Im playing as a soloist with the three most important orchestras in ChinaChina Philharmonic in Beijing, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Guangzhou Symphony, he says explaining why he just couldnt pass up the opportunity, despite the fact that he was in mid-semester and preparing for a student concert in early December. So, hes flying back and forth for weekend concerts on the other side of the world. A dedicated educator, Parker took on his position at Shepherd about 11 years ago. He had just turned 40 and felt drawn to teach. I started to feel a responsibility to pass on the legacy because I benefited from great teaching, explains the musician whose own instruction began with his mom and uncle, both piano instructors. Raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Parkers family never missed a Vancouver Symphony performance. They first took note of Parkers musical abilities when he unexpectedly plucked out a CBC theme song on the piano at age three. Parker fondly remembers his first performance with Vancouver Youth Symphony at age five, despite getting lost in the violin section on his way to the piano. In first grade, he told his teacher that he was going to be a concert pianist just like Rubinstein, one of three early piano influences that Parker names. I listened to his recordings, and he graced the then-small city of Vancouver with live performances on a regular basis, says Parker, adding that he even met Arthur Rubinstein backstage. What I loved about his playing was that his love for music clearly affected everybody in the hall. Other early piano influences are surprisingly not classical, and include Oscar Peterson and Elton John. Peterson was arguably the worlds greatest ever jazz pianist, says Parker. I have endless admiration for him. He radiated incredible joy when he played. Elton John was responsible for me making friends in middle school, explains Parker. I was kind of a piano nerd and socially a little uncomfortable. I learned the whole Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album by ear and could play the tunes for kids in my class. Today, an autographed copy of the album hangs in his office at Shepherd. Sharing Wisdom Rather than distracting him from his performance career, Parker says that teaching has benefitted his own playing. The fact that I have to clearly verbalize my ideas, makes the ideas clearer to me, and because I spend so much time listening in a very focused way, Ive fine-tuned my ability to listen in all sorts of circumstances, including when Im giving a concert, he says.

33 Jon Kimura Parker International Musician December 10, 2012 page 2 of 3 Working with students also takes Parker back to his own youth. I want to be inspiring to my students, but the fact is that they inspire me, he concludes. Their view of music reminds me of the energy and fresh approach I had in my 20s. That puts me back in touch with my younger self, which is very important. So, Parker, in turn, shares the wisdom that comes from 25 years of performing recitals, chamber music, and as a concert soloist, something he refers to as the best of both worlds. [As a concert soloist] it is a huge artistic responsibility presenting a work like that on stage, and at the same time collaborating with a conductor and an orchestra. Everybody on stage is important and involved in the music, he asserts. Among Parkers personal favorite concertos to perform are Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, Beethoven No. 3, Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and Gershwin Concerto in F. I like to play the ones where the orchestra is as involved as I am, he concludes. One of the key skills he tries to pass on to his students is how to make the music their own without straying too far from the composers intentions. You have to first get a feel for how much the composer is inviting you to be personal, he explains. Schumann, and to an almost similar extent, Chopin, really invite a performer to be personal. With Debussy, to a large extent, you should submerge your personality and try to do what he asked you to do. Modern Audiences Of course, there are other things he considers in his approach to each performance, which must cater to an evolving modern audience. Today, an audience in America responds well to a style of playing where they are brought into the music, says Parker who uses sound and timing to help draw them in. My idea of a piano recital is to try and create an atmosphere that we are all together in a drawing room. I often talk to the audience just enough to break the ice. That way you invite people into the experience. To that end, Parker has created a series of Concerto Chat videos (available at Thats part of my personal mandate to explain what makes a piece interesting, he says, adding that the videos are also a marketing tool for orchestras, which use them to promote single ticket sales on their websites. Thats another thing that has changed, Parker continues, explaining that today fewer people are subscription holders. An orchestra is much more dependent on single ticket sales, so a program has to be interesting on its own merits. And because of these changing dynamics, Parker is thankful that the union is around to support orchestras. The union is extremely important to me, he says. I think the union has done so much for the health of orchestras in this country, and for musicians to feel that they are treated well. Finally, he says, exposing children to the music is more critical than ever. When Im traveling I spend quite a bit of time playing in schools and educational programs, he says, asserting that most of them wont stay with music, but it familiarizes them with something they will come back to as tomorrows audience. Almost everybody I meet after a concert tells me about their experiences taking piano lessons, yet almost none still play. However, they have an appreciation for the physicality of playing and for music as an art form, and that translates to them coming to concerts. Life on the Road The life of a concert pianist is solitary and unique among professional musicians. Every instrument they perform on is different, and its critical that they be flexible and able to quickly adapt. I often arrive in a city late on Wednesday, meet the conductor for the first time on Thursday, have an afternoon rehearsal, and then Friday we have a dress rehearsal and concert, he says. So, in a very short time we need to collaborate on a major piece of music in a meaningful way. Being able to make that relationship work quickly, to have artistic conviction, and at the same time, a certain degree of flexibility, is a big part of traveling and playing concertos, he adds.

34 Jon Kimura Parker International Musician December 10, 2012 page 3 of 3 The other person I have to communicate with effectively is the local piano technician. There are a lot of little things that can be done to make a piano sound more Rachmaninoff friendly or more Mozart friendly, explains Parker. Some of that you can do yourself as a pianist, but you really want your technician to feel motivated to make it work as best as they can for you. Looking back on hundreds of performances worldwide, two stand out in his mind. The first time I played Carnegie Hall I was playing the Prokofiev Piano Concerto, and I was probably 27 or so. My heart started pounding so fast I thought I might pass out, he says. When I started to play, I felt at home and the concert went really well. After that I thought, You know, if you can survive Carnegie Hall, you can always look back on that and feel a little better about whatever you are nervous about, and I often do. However, the concert he is most proud of wasnt performed in a fancy hall. In 1995, he was invited by the relief organization AmeriCares to perform with the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra at a New Years Eve concert following the Dayton Peace Agreement. I accompanied an airlift on a C-130 transport plane, put on a flak jacket, and was taken by armored car to my hotel in Sarajevo. The whole thing was truly surreal, he says. The concert hall was damaged; they got enough electricity to have light, but there wasnt much heat. I was amazed there was a good Steinway that had not been damaged. I played the Beethovens Emperor Concerto. At the end of the performance, an elderly Bosnian women came backstage eager to speak with me, says Parker. Through a translator she told me that she wanted me know that, during the second movement, for a few brief minutes, she realized that she had forgotten about the war. And I thought, Thats why Im a musician. Everything Ive done as a musician added up to that one statement. Ill never forget how I felt and everything about that experience. As memorable concerts go, that takes the cake. Despite living in the US for the past 30 years, Parker remains a member of his original Vancouver local. Its a way of identifying with my roots, he says, adding that he still has close musical ties to the city. In fact, this January he will be touring the US as soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Its a huge honor to be part of that tour. Ill be playing the Grieg Piano Concerto, the very first piano concerto I performed with them back in 1980. Parkers 2013 calendar is already booked through May with more than 30 performances, yet he still finds time for other projects. To celebrate the centennial of Stravinskys Rite of Spring, I have recorded my own arrangements of the complete ballet, he says, adding he wasnt sure if it could be done when he first tackled the project, working from the full orchestral score. The CD will be available early in the new year and he will be performing it at a recital series, Doing Rite by Stravinsky, throughout the spring.

35 JON KIMURA PARKER The Oregonian September 23, 2012 Oregon Symphony review: Collaboration with pianist Jon Kimura Parker well worth checking out BY JAMES MCQUILLEN The Oregon Symphony had pianist Jon Kimura Parker back in town to help kick off its subscription season over the weekend, and while Carlos Kalmar and the orchestra played gracious host to their guest while he was at the keyboard, they reserved a fair bit of the evening's limelight for themselves. A favorite of Portland audiences and a genial presence on stage, Parker offered a crystalline performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, with power and drama suited to the music's minor mood and frequent storminess but also with effortless bright energy in its virtuosic solo part. As is often the case with his most intensely dramatic music (parts of "Don Giovanni," for example, which share the concerto's D minor modality), Mozart conveyed emotion and drama while also drawing you to how brilliantly he himself was pulling the whole thing off. Parker's fleet runs, pristine ornaments and magnificent cadenzas gave the same sense; however portentous the material, the playing was still a joy. Balance was nicely modulated, both between soloist and ensemble (though orchestral swells threatened to swamp the piano at times) and between Parker's hands. In the concerto as well as in the encore, Mozart's Rondo "alla Turca," even the simplest figures in the left hand emerged clearly again the densest textures in the right. Kalmar led the orchestra in gracious, responsive and carefully shaped accompaniment. After intermission, the night belonged to the orchestra, and the players were in top form. They led off with Andrew Norman's "Drip" (an abbreviation of the original title, "Drip, Blip, Sparkle, Spin, Glint, Glide, Glow, Float, Flop, Chop, Pop, Shatter, Splash"), a giddy four minutes of near-mayhem with an impish vibe akin to Carl Stalling's soundtracks for Warner Brothers cartoons. Made like a tossed salad, according to Norman, the piece consists of fragments ranging from blaring trombones to individual notes on a solitary woodblock thrown together in seemingly random fashion. Like Stalling's work, it was genuinely funny (there was laughter in the audience, a rare occurrence at a symphony concert) but also complex and technically challenging. The performance was as tight as the construction of the piece itself. They went on to an enthralling reading of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances," an exercise in wringing the maximum sumptuous tone color from the orchestra. As in the Mozart, tempos seemed perfectly calibrated--especially the slow movement, which was just fast enough to maintain buoyant energy and forward motion but slow enough to give a sense of lingering over every delicious harmony and sonority. Sections and soloists shone: the low strings were darkly radiant, the percussion incisive and the brass solidly focused. Captivating individual contributions were abundant, notable those of principal flute Jessica Sindell, new concertmaster Sarah Kwak and the uncredited saxophonist (Kim Reece, if I'm not mistaken). The program, which also included Hugo Alfvn's "Midsommarvaka" ("Midsummer's Vigil," also known as the Swedish Rhapsody No. 1) was all over the map, but the music was both gorgeous and viscerally thrilling -- well worth checking out in its last performance if you're free Monday night.

36 JON KIMURA PARKER U~T San Diego May 2, 2012 Pianist Jon Kimura Parker enraptured by Rhapsody BY JAMES CHUTE Parker will perform Gershwin with San Diego Symphony this weekend There are few pieces in the classical music canon with the popularity and character of George Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue. It stands alone, said pianist Jon Kimura Parker, who will perform the Rhapsody this weekend at Copley Symphony Hall with the San Diego Symphony and conductor Jahja Ling. It has a very special place in the world of music. Written in 1924 for Paul Whitemans band and premiered by Whiteman with Gershwin as piano soloist in a New York City concert titled An Experiment in Modern Music, the piece was an immediate sensation. It has been appropriated countless times since by everyone from Phish to Woody Allen, who reinforced the works relationship to New York by using it in the film Manhattan. Parker has played, and taught (now at Rice University in Texas), the piece for more than three decades. Here are a few of his observations: On Gershwin, who composed the piece in five weeks and may have improvised portions of it in the premiere: The thing thats so endearing about the story of Gershwin is how desperately he wanted to be taken seriously in the world of classical music. Rhapsody essentially established his classical credentials, and he went on to write several piano concertos, solo piano pieces and ultimately his opera, Porgy and Bess, in addition to the many songs and musicals that made him famous. On his earliest memories of the Rhapsody, which is available in dozens of recordings, including several historic recordings of Gershwin playing it: A recording of the Rhapsody by Philippe Entremont, of all people, was the first recording that I owned. I listened to that a lot when I was a kid. There was also a wonderful Andr Previn recording. On his interpretation, which has loosened up over the years: I think Ive gotten maybe a little freer playing the piece. When I first learned it when I was about 21, I played it much more from the standpoint of a classical pianist. One of the things Ive realized is, Rhapsody in Blue unlike the traditional one cadenza that so many concertos have has a whole bunch of them. There are several extended segments where the piano plays solo, and that allows you a certain degree of freedom. On the universality of Rhapsody: I played, and this would have been in the late 90s, Rhapsody in Blue in Berlin, in the Berlin Philharmonie, with the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra. I was walking on stage and I thought, OK, here we have a Japanese-Canadian piano soloist, with a Ukrainian-Russian conductor and a German orchestra, playing music that has at least some of its roots in African-American music as written by a Jewish New Yorker. Thats Rhapsody in Blue. It transcends everything.

37 JON KIMURA PARKER & CHO-LIANG LIN The New York Times April 27, 2012 Pianist Parker to play with symphony A John Harbison Sonata at Alice Tully Hall BY ALLAN KOZINN New-music fans who object when musical organizations present contemporary works in special concerts, where they wont intrude on the classics the New York Philharmonics Contact! series, or the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centers Kaplan Penthouse concerts, for example would have approved of the way the society presented John Harbisons new Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano on Tuesday evening at Alice Tully Hall. The work, which the society commissioned as part of a consortium, was given its world premiere at the concert by the violinist Cho-Liang Lin and the pianist Jon Kimura Parker, and it was surrounded by two staples of the Romantic canon: Beethovens Trio in E flat (Op. 1, No. 1), for which Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker were joined by the cellist Gary Hoffman, and Brahmss Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor (Op. 60), with the violist Richard ONeill filling out the ensemble. Apart from the programmatic vote of confidence that surrounding Mr. Harbison with Beethoven and Brahms represents, having Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker perform in all three works afforded a measure of continuity that the societys concerts do not always have, and in a way, that was a sign of confidence as well: a way of saying that the ensemble sees Mr. Harbison as part of a historical continuum. Mr. Harbisons sonata is substantial, if not especially groundbreaking, and though its language naturally sounds dissonant in this context, it is never much harsher than early Stravinsky. Indeed, Stravinsky appears to have been on Mr. Harbisons mind: fleeting passages have both the acidity and rhythmic jaggedness of the fiddle writing in LHistoire du Soldat. But Mr. Harbison also takes a formal approach to structure, pacing and musical development that ties him to Beethoven and Brahms. His piece is in five distinct but connected movements, including a slow, lyrical aria as its heart and a closing rondo, to which Mr. Harbison appends a meditative postscript. And when Stravinskys influence is soft- pedaled, others shine through. Some of the piano writing, for instance, is bright, rollicking and jazzy, and both musicians are given opportunities to show off their strengths and flexibility. Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker made a strong case for the score in an energetic, unified reading. Those qualities also enlivened the Beethoven and Brahms performances, which benefited as well from the supple characterization that familiarity can bring. In the Beethoven Mr. Parkers crisply focused pianism captured this early works playfulness and sparkle, just as the shifting balance of warmth and brightness in Mr. Lins and Mr. Hoffmans tone caught the young Beethovens nods to courtly propriety and bursts of rebellious assertiveness. In the Brahms the ensembles robust interplay countered the works gravitas without thoroughly dispelling it. The vigor with which Mr. Parker pounced on themes in the scherzo was especially striking. So was the ensembles decision to prize passion over drive in the finale.

38 JON KIMURA PARKER Houston Chronicle April 12, 2012 Pianist Parker to play with symphony BY COLIN EATOCK Like most concert pianists, Houston's Jon Kimura Parker gives performances all over the world. This season alone, his engagements take him from England to Hawaii. Yet Friday-Sunday he'll be commuting between Jones Hall and his home in Southampton to play Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 1," with the Houston Symphony and guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado. "It's funny to be living here and to be driving to rehearsals from my home," he says from his studio at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, where he teaches. "I was thinking I should pack a suitcase and drive to the airport and back - just to get in the right mood." Yet a concerto gig with the Houston Symphony is nothing new for Parker. Since 1994, he's appeared with the orchestra six times, in repertoire ranging from Mozart to Gershwin. In fact, it was through his first performances with the Houston Symphony that Parker got to know Houston. His warm reception encouraged him to move his family to the city, from New York, 11 years ago. However, it was a hard decision at the time. "In 1999, I was approached by several faculty members at Rice," he recalls. "They said, 'There's an opening for a piano professor - would you be interested?' I wrote back and said, 'I'm not really sure. I live in New York, my wife is a very successful freelance musician here, and we've just had a baby.'" He accepted Rice's offer - with "a tiny amount of paranoia about leaving New York" - but soon found his fears of career death were quite unfounded. "In the end, it didn't really matter. The whole notion that a classical musician has to live within a stone's throw of Carnegie Hall just isn't true anymore. And I soon discovered very quickly that there are all sorts of exciting things going on in music all over the country that don't happen in New York." Despite his absence from Manhattan Island, Parker continues to perform there regularly. On April 24, he'll appear in a program presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Parker isn't a native New Yorker. He's originally from Vancouver, B.C., and is well known in Canada for his performances from one end of the country to the other - even in the Arctic territories. As well, he's from a remarkably musical family. Jon (or "Jackie," to friends and family) is the oldest musician in his generation. His younger brother, James Parker, is the pianist in Toronto's Gryphon Trio - and a cousin, Ian Parker, is a pianist who divides his time between New York and Vancouver. Today, Parker finds his teaching position at Rice very rewarding. "I have a wonderful class of students," he says. "They're spectacularly gifted. One of them is giving his New York debut this month, and another just gave his Paris debut. And what's particularly exciting for me is preparing them to perform - because the preparation is something I've had a lot of experience with. I've been there, and I know what they're going through."

39 Jon Kimura Parker Houston Chronicle April 12, 2012 page 2 of 2 And Parker and his family have put down roots. His wife, Aloysia Friedmann, is a violinist and violist who plays with the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. (She's also the director of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival in Washington.) Their daughter, Sophie, is now in the seventh grade and enjoys singing in the HGO's children's chorus. "We just got a puppy," Parker adds, "so I'm discovering that Houston has lots of good dog parks." He's also earned the admiration of Houston's musical community, through his concerto appearances, solo recitals and chamber-music performances. William VerMeulen, principal hornist of the Houston Symphony, says Parker is one of the finest classical musicians in town. "Jackie is unique," he says, comparing him with several other piano legends. "He combines the technique of Vladimir Horowitz with the touch of Artur Schnabel - and the stage personality of Elton John. With the Houston Symphony, he's always a stand-out." Looking back on his arrival in Houston, Parker had one more worry - which happily proved unfounded. Ironically, he was afraid that his move to the city could spell the end to his engagements with the Houston Symphony. "It's standard practice," he explains, "for orchestras to have some sort of exclusivity agreement that states the soloist can't perform in the same city for several months before and after their engagements with the orchestra. So when I moved to Houston, I made the assumption that my days as a Houston Symphony soloist were numbered because I perform at Rice several times a year." But for Parker, the Houston Symphony has waived the usual exclusivity conditions. "I'm very touched that the Houston Symphony still engages me as a soloist," he says. "It means a lot to me personally to play with this orchestra."

40 JON KIMURA PARKER Nashville Examiner March 30, 2012 Jon Kimura Parker brings house down at Nashville Symphony's Concert BY LINDA BREWER Last night the Schermerhorn Symphony Center presented the Nashville Symphony with Jon Kimura Parker performing Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op 43." Guest conducting the concert was maestro Gilbert Varga, son of the celebrated Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga. The first thing that caught your attention if you happened to be amongst the full house at the elegant Schermerhorn Center may very well have been the demeanor of the renowned Varga, with his joyfully energetic body movements, encouraging nods of the head and the elegant baton technique for which he is quite well known. It seemed as if Varga paid special mind to each orchestra section, made eye contact with every individual member of that section and with purpose and distinct guidance, led and inspired the Nashville Symphony to go beyond playing music albeit always beautifully performed music to paint a picture in your mind of village people dancing spritefully to the sounds of a Hungarian folk dance in Zoltan Kodalys Dances of Galanta; inspired by what Zoltan described as the most beautiful seven years of his childhood, spent in a small Hungarian town called Galanta. The true excitement of the evening began when internationally renowned pianist and professor of piano at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Jon Kimura Parker sat down to his piano to play Rachmaninoffs Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagani, Op. 43. The audience remained in rapt attention as Parkers fingers seemed to dance magically through all 24 variations of the Rhapsody, and roared with approval and applause in what seemed a two or three minute standing ovation. The orchestra finished the evening with Cesar Francks Symphony in D Minor, which begins softly, an air of mystery prevalent, with the plucking of strings and the mournful sounds of the harp, and ends with a vibrantly dramatic atmosphere. Up next at our most beautifully designed and decorated music venue, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, is David Higgs on organ in a special event on April 1 at 2:00 p.m., followed by Steve Wariner April 5-7, as part of the always fun Pops Series, conducted by the irrepressible Albert-George Schram. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

41 JON KIMURA PARKER The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle November 18, 2011 RPO brims with Latin gusto BY STUART LOW The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra swayed nimbly from Latin dances to a Mozart concerto Thursday, joined by the excellent pianist Jon Kimura Parker. Conductor Arild Remmereit led a program even more varied than originally planned. Parker was going to play Samuel Barber's Piano Concerto. But a tight schedule left him just enough time for a dress rehearsal a big risk for such a demanding showpiece. So he substituted the familiar Mozart Concerto No. 20 in D minor. Parker's performance was commanding: elegant phrasing, quicksilver runs and operatic expression in the Romanza. He produced a great range of tonal color with amazing economy of means, relying on forearm and wrist weight even in louder passages. His brisk tempi never compromised accuracy or eloquence. He often downplayed the outer movements' stormy character. And the RPO's woodwinds were hard-pressed to keep pace with his fitful torrents of triplets midway through the Romanza. But he and Remmereit nailed the finale's sudden, impish brightening of mood. Parker came back for an encore: Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G major. This salon piece, all gossamer and summer breezes, was tossed off with heart-on-sleeve sentiment. The concert in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre also featured two contrasting works by modern Latin composers. The Berkeley-based Gabriela Lena Frank is a masterful colorist with a keen ear for exotic orchestration and high-adrenalin rhythms. Her Three Latin-American Dances packed more energy than a shot of Brazilian espresso. The raucous Jungle Jaunt unleashed an all-out orgy for percussion. The Highland Harawi contrasted a somber Bartok cello theme with a furiously spinning interlude. The final Mestizo Waltz was more traditional. Its braying trumpets and galloping rhythms could have accompanied a toreador movie. Remmereit danced on the podium and brandished his baton with such gusto, you almost expected a bull to charge from backstage. He conducted with verve and precision, and the RPO's dynamic playing made you want to yell "Ole!" For all of their visceral appeal, Frank's dances left you with little sense of an individual voice. The opposite was true of Roberto Sierra's Sinfonia No. 4. The Puerto Rican-born composer has a truly original musical language, though not one that you can cuddle up to. Much of the Sinfonia sounded brash, dissonant and blazing with unstoppable energy. The RPO played it with aplomb. It began with pounding kettledrums, violently rippling violin figures and apocalyptic brass outbursts. The third movement's haunting slow melody fought its way through an Amazonian thicket of chirps, cymbal clashes and plucked strings. And the finale practically begged listeners to do a salsa dance in the aisles. But they had to wait for Ravel's Bolero to see some actual dancing. Two women from Treeline Dance Works twirled by each corner of the stage as RPO players took turns with the sinuous melody. Many boomers in the audience must have recalled Bo Derek's infatuation with Bolero in the movie 10. I always found the piece numbingly repetitive and Derek's acting as bland as a lukewarm pierogi. But Thursday, I couldn't stop cheering.

42 JON KIMURA PARKER & CHO-LIANG LIN D Magazine November 16, 2011 FrontRow Classical Music Concert Review: A Light, French Musical Evening Finds Its Swagger BY WAYNE LEE GAY One might, at first, feel a little misled by the designation of the mostly-French, totally Francophile program Tuesday at Bass Performance Hall as An Evening in Paris. There was little hint of chestnut blossoms or can-can dancers or moonlit fountains. But, on a more profound level, the repertoire selected for this collaboration of violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Jon Kimura Parker was very much a reflection of a time when Paris had become a focus of reexamination, of deepening of shadows, and of realization of both the incredible possibilities and horrible realities of the early twentieth century. Parker and Lin devoted the bulk of the evening to four substantial multi-movement works, opening with the most light- hearted of the group, the Suite Italienne arranged by violinist Samuel Dushkin from Stravinskys Pulcinella Suite, which in turn was derived from Stravinskys ballet Pulcinella of 1919, which was in turn based on melodies from the eighteenth-century Italian composer Giovanni Pergolesi. Light-hearted, yes, but light-hearted in reaction to both the First World War and the ponderous late romanticism that preceded it. Parker and Lin immediately revealed the wonderful combination of energy, imaginative timing, and precise execution this music demands. They retreated briefly toward the more conventional expectations the title An Evening in Paris might convey with Jascha Heifetzs transcription of Debussys dusky song Beau Soir (for which violinist Lin conjured a strikingly dark timbre) and the Stravinsky-Dushkin arrangement of Stravinksys Tango before moving back to a more serious tone with Debussys Sonata for Violin and Piano form 1916an austere work apt to surprise any listener whos expecting Clair de Lune or Afternoon of a Faun. After intermission, Lin and Parker returned with the evenings second full-fledged Sonata for Violin and Piano, this time by Poulenc, who, as a younger contemporary to the three other composers on the program, produced a music in which the sense of contradictory trends was even greater. In this performance, the listener could sense a triumph of (or, maybe, surrender to) pure, kinetic intellectualism. An all-Ravel section closed the evening, beginning with two short, delicate crowd pleasers (the Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faure and the Habanera) followed up by the Sonata for Violin and Piano. Once again, the opulent impressionism we associate with the composer was far behind. The most striking of many beautiful moments arriving in the gently jazzy middle movement, expertly shaped by this amazing piano-violin team. For an encore, the duo returned to the Tango motif but departed fromParis for a beautifully broad exercise in that genre from late-twentieth- century Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla.

43 JON KIMURA PARKER & CHO-LIANG LIN TheaterJones November 16, 2011 French Connection BY GREGORY SULLIVAN ISAACS Jon Kimura Parker and Cho-Liang Lin take the Cliburn Concerts audience to heavenly heights, via Paris. It would take a whole thesaurus of superlatives to properly describe the concert at Bass Hall in Fort Worth on Tuesday. Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist Cho-Liang Lin, under the auspices of the Cliburn Concerts, presented "An Evening in Paris," but it was really an evening in a musical heaven. Before the first notes were played, just looking at the program was enough to intrigue. They presented four major works that were all written in approximately the same era by composers that were either French or French-connected. There were three sonatas and one pseudo-sonata. Claude Debussy's 1917 sonata was his final completed composition. The leaner textures of this work and the fantastical writing in the second movement in no way hide the composer's harmonic innovations but points to the neo-classical movement that was to come. That movement was ushered in by the piece that opened the program, Stravinsky's 1920 ballet Pulcinello, in a 1925 arrangement by the violinist Samuel Dushkin. Dushkin knew Stravinsky's style from the inside out, he played the premiere of the composer's violin concerto, and his arrangement perfectly caught the mood of the larger work. Maurice Ravel's Sonata dates from 1922 and was dedicated to Debussy's memory. In it, he mimics the leaner textures of Debussy's sonata while looking forward with a bluesy second movement (which is actually entitles "Blues"). A later work, but still in the same neo-classical line, is Francis Poulenc's 1942 Sonata. Here, Ravel's blues are traded for the caf or bote style, as demonstrated so beautifully in the Intermezzo movement. Simply put, although there was nothing simple about it, the performances on Tuesday evening were faultless. The Parker/Lin pairing caught the distinctive differences of each composer and composition. Hearing them together, so expertly played, was both an inspiring and enlightening experience. Those in attendance will never think about these works in the same way again. The program surrounded these monumental works with some related bonbons. They played an evocative Heifetz transcription of Debussy's song Beau Soir and two pieces by Ravel, his Berceuse sur le non de Gabriel Faure and a student work, Piece en form de Habanera. One other selection had a personal relationship to Lin that he related from the stage. He bought his first Stradivarius violin from Dushkin's widow. While he was there to pick it up, she offered him an arrangement of a Stravinsky tango that her husband had written and that was still in manuscript form in a drawer. She asked if he would like it. Silly question. Also on a more humorous note, Parker gave some background on the discovery of Ravel's student work, the Habanera, which was played earlier. "Unfortunately, unlike the Dushkin, we didn't get the manuscript from Mrs. Ravel," he quipped. (Mrs. Ravel? That would be the composer's mother?) A tango by Astor Piazzolla was a fiery encore.

44 JON KIMURA PARKER & CHO-LIANG LIN Fort Worth Star-Telegram November 15, 2011 Familiar musicians are a treat as a duo BY OLIN CHISM FORT WORTH -- Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist Cho-Liang Lin are familiar faces in Dallas-Fort Worth, but they are generally heard separately rather than as musical partners. The audience at Tuesday night's Cliburn at the Bass concert saw and heard them together, and it was quite a treat. Their program was titled "An Evening in Paris." It featured music by composers who were either French or were intimately associated with that great city. For me, the high point of their remarkably varied program was its conclusion. A brilliant performance of a masterpiece, Maurice Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Piano, displayed their individual gifts as well as their spot-on teamwork; they were on the same wavelength all the way. Not the least of their gifts is the ability to impart a sense of personality through the music they play. For Americans, this would certainly be true of the middle movement of three: Ravel titled it Blues; it's one of several nods by the composer in our direction. It highlights the violin, and Lin imparted just the right mood. Another winner was Claude Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano, the composer's last completed composition -- he wrote it as he was dying of cancer. This was atmospherically played by Parker and Lin. The first movement of the work seems a little melancholy, but the final two movements are more life-affirming. You'd hardly guess the circumstances of its creation. Igor Stravinsky was represented by two Samuel Dushkin arrangements: Suite Italienne (probably the most familiar work of the evening to most of the audience) and a rarity, Tango, which is a witty take on the dance, with a cute ending. Another take on a dance was Ravel's Cuban-flavored Piece en forme de Habanera. A Jascha Heifetz arrangement of Debussy's lovely Beau Soir (somewhat akin in mood to Claire de Lune), Ravel's Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faure (another brief, lovely work) and Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Violin and Piano rounded out an interesting program. Parker and Lin had a discerning audience; several professional violinists from North Texas were in attendance.

45 JON KIMURA PARKER & CHO-LIANG LIN bachtrack November 15, 2011 Cosmopolitan Paris: An evening with Cho-Liang Lin and Jon Kimura Parker BY EVAN MITCHELL Whats in a name, or for that matter, a label? Why does music sound German, American, French, or Russian? Violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Jon Kimura Parker presented a duo recital at Fort Worths Bass Hall Tuesday evening, titled An Evening in Paris. Their thoughtful program consisted of works by French composers of the early twentieth century, and also by (long-time Parisian) Stravinsky. This kind of open-ended theme typically leads an audience to draw its own conclusions. Here, though, these works resonated (and contrasted) with one another in a way that was telling; the modernity of Modernism and its contemporaneous movements in the arts, and indeed the Frenchness of French music, were not one-dimensional but rather the result of a variety of influences and cultures. Grossly oversimplified, the French aesthetic in the arts prizes finely crafted beauty on the surface. This stands (so the dichotomy goes) opposed to the Germanic ideal of emotional truth being buried deep within a work, waiting to be interpreted. The pieces heard this evening by Stravinsky, Debussy, Poulenc, and Ravel all shared certain aspects of the archetypal French sound. Their source material and inspirations, however, ranged from South American popular music to Baroque suites to the World Wars to the blues. The substantial works were: the Suite Italienne, arranged by Stravinsky and violinist Samuel Dushkin, comprising an introduction and five neo-Baroque movements based on the ballet Pulcinella; Debussys Sonata for Violin and Piano, dating from the years of the First World War; the Poulenc Sonata for Violin and Piano, written during the Second and full of anguish (it memorialized Federico Garca Lorca); and Ravels Sonata for Violin and Piano, the most remarkable aspect of which is the second movement, Blues, replete with banjo-esque strumming on the violin and swung bass riffs in the piano part. These larger works were interspersed with several charming shorter ones: Debussys song Beau Soir, transcribed by Jascha Heifetz; a tango arranged by Stravinsky and Dushkin; and two pieces by Ravel, the Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faur and the Pice en forme de Habanera. The works were cleverly woven together. There was the Debussy mlodie, a work when the composer was 16, coupled with the Violin Sonata, the final work he completed. The Ravel set matched a late masterpiece (the Violin Sonata) with one from his student years (the Habanera), and also the Berceuse, in which Ravel used solfge syllables (Do, Re, Mi, etc) to make a tune out of the older composer Faurs name. The most interesting link between works on the program was a personal one connecting the two transcriptions done by Stravinsky and Dushkin. After their performance of the Suite Italienne Mr. Lin told the fascinating story of his connection to the Tango, the other Stravinsky-Dushkin arrangement. In 1983, after deciding on his first violin purchase, Mr. Lin went to pick up the instrument from one Mrs. Dushkin. The violin had belonged to her late husband, and before leaving her home Mr. Lin was given the manuscript to this unpublished work, which, like the Suite Italienne, had been a showpiece for the duo on their 1932 tour of Europe. Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker were at the height of their powers Tuesday evening, in playing that combined immaculate precision with great introspection, varied colors, and sincerity. While hypersensitive to detail and in command of myriad timbres, moments like the outbursts of pathos in the Allegro vivo of Poulencs Sonata and the glorious release of the major-harmony climaxes in the Ravel Sonatas otherwise demure Allegretto were rendered with warmth and

46 Jon Kimura Parker & Cho-Liang Lin bachtrack November 15, 2011 page 2 of 2 vigor. The dramatic pacing of the evening, both over the course of the sonatas themselves and especially in comparison with the casual grace of the short pieces, lent such straightforward statements of emotionality even greater poignancy, set in relief against the cool, shimmering surfaces ever-present in the recital. To bring things truly full circle, the duo played an arrangement of stor Piazzollas Libertango as an encore. (Mr. Lin announced the work, admitting to having caught the tango bug.) Somehow this was a most fitting end to the evening a piece by an Argentinian, with an auxiliary relation to only one brief work on the program, an appropriation of Latin music by two Russians living in Paris. Piazzollas music is closer than many composers to vernacular styles, but still dressed in formal European trimmings for the concert hall. As an epilogue to an evening of highly cosmopolitan works, the tango served as a reminder that boundaries in art music genre, nationality, or a host of other criteria are, while convenient in principle, never clear.

47 CHO-LIANG LIN & JON KIMURA PARKER Oregon Music News July 15, 2011 Parker, Lin, and Hoffman create magic with Brahms Piano Trios BY JAMES BASH Pianist Jon Kimura Parker, violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and cellist Gary Hoffman gave spellbinding performances of the three piano trios of Johannes Brahms on Monday evening (July 11). Their concert, presented by Chamber Music Northwest, rocked the full house at Kaul Auditorium with warm-hearted, lyrical, and edge-of-the-seat playing that makes audiences listen with the utmost intensity. During their entire performance, very few coughs occurred, and I didnt hear a single dropped programs or cell phone interruption. The high-caliber playing of this threesome resulted in superb performances in which the ensemble sounded as one, yet each individual was distinct. Highlights of the Brahms Trio No. 2 in C Major included seamless exchanges between the players in first movement, the understated Hungarian flavor of the second, the highly articulated and nervous quality of the third, and the stormy dynamics in the fourth. In the hands of Parker, Lin, and Hoffman, the melody at the beginning of the Trio No. 3, in C Minor was like a beautiful aria. The ensemble excelled in creating hushed tones, immaculate pizzicatos, leisurely moods, and dramatic, full-throated cries that gave an immediacy to Brahmss music as if it were written just yesterday instead of 125 years ago. The Trio No. 1 in B Major also received superb treatment from Parker, Lin, and Hoffman. One of the terrific moments in the first passage occurred when the violinist and cellist played the exact same notes so that each one sounded larger. The light, repetitive theme in the second movement sparkled. In the third, the piano perfectly echoed as if from a distance passages from the strings, and the fourth topped it all off with themes that expressed sadness and happiness at the same time. Parker, Lin, and Hoffman have just the right chemistry whenever the get together. They were marvelous last year at the festival when they played Brahmss Trio No. 3 in C Minor (reviewed here), and I hope that they will return to Chamber Music Northwest next year.

48 JON KIMURA PARKER St. Paul Pioneer Press February 10, 2011 Minnesota Orchestra booms with Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich BY DAVID HAWLEY If the movie "Shine" introduced you to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3, be advised that Jon Kimura Parker did not lose his sanity when he performed it Thursday with the Minnesota Orchestra. And if you're old enough to remember the Cold War, be advised that nobody bellowed "communist propaganda!" during conductor Andrew Litton's reading of Shostak-ovich's Symphony No. 12, subtitled "The Year 1917" to commemorate the Bolshevik Revolution. The program, which gets its final performance tonight, is a particularly luscious and compelling one, since neither of its big works are heard that often, particularly the symphony, in a live performance. And if it's big sounds you want, this is your concert. To hear Parker play the "Rach 3" is a particular pleasure. He's a wonderfully balanced, intelligent pianist who never seems affected in his playing. He knows how to be emotive or bombastic both necessary objectives in this piece but you never get the feeling he's laying it on for the crowd, even if the thunder of the third movement prompts him to rise off his seat to smash the big chords. And, of course, he can roll out a cascade of rippling runs that shimmer like golden silk. Litton opened the second half of the evening with a short "Intro to the 12th" exegesis in which he argued that Shostakovich was being enigmatically subversive when he wrote the symphony in the early 1960s, not just turning out poster-painted Soviet propaganda as was alleged by Western critics of the time. Parsing this symphony to find anti-Stalinist layers beneath its programmatic surface is nothing new, but it was interesting to listen to Litton break out the musical themes. But the real source of interest is the whole of the symphony, with its conventional structure conveying an exciting, anxious swirl of sensations. And bombast: It's the major boomer of the Shostakovich canon. What: Minnesota Orchestra performing Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich When: 8 p.m. today, Orchestra Hall. Tickets: $84-$24, at

49 JON KIMURA PARKER & LYNN HARRELL Peninsula Reviews January 17, 2011 Dynamic Duo Cellist Lynn Harrell & Pianist Jon Kimura Parker BY LYN BRONSON Sometimes in a concert the programmed works are so magnificently performed, with such authority, charm and inevitability that we are taken on a very special and magical journey. It was just such a concert that we enjoyed yesterday afternoon at Sunset Center as the Carmel Music Society presented in recital two great musicians cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Jon Kimura Parker. So completely at the top of their form, so relaxed in their onstage presentation , so attentive to demands of the music, their playing seemed as natural as breathing. Unlike political elections, we dont have exit polls at concerts, but if we had, the results on this occasion would have revealed how much the members of the audience had responded to the emotional stimulation and spiritual uplift of the music. There was an exciting buzz in the air during the intermission and in the lobby at the end of the concert. This was a concert to remember and treasure for years to come. The two most substantial works on the program were the Brahms Sonata No. 2 in F Major for Cello & Piano and a solo performance of Beethovens Appassionata Sonata, Op. 57, and they were glorious! The Brahms Cello and Piano Sonata in F is unusual for having been composed in four-movements, a format more commonly found in string quartets and symphonies. Moreover, the scope, breadth and intensity of this great work gave us the impression we were listening to a grand symphony played by two musicians. Not only was this performance rendered in the grand manner, it was also an example of ensemble playing of the highest order. Great chamber music playing is essentially an example of the high art of listening, with Harrell and Parker demonstrating throughout how acutely each musician listened to the other. And they made it all look easy and natural. The other great work on the program, Beethovens Appassionata Sonata was, we can assume, familiar to virtually everyone in the audience. Was there a sense of dja vue? No, there was not, for Parkers performance was so big, bold and totally convincing, we enjoyed it as though we were hearing it for the first time. The most amazing part of this performance was the difficult final movement. It was technically secure, as you rarely hear it, and the virtuosity, of which there was ample evidence, was strictly organic to the music and never drew attention to itself. The way Parker wound up the coda in the final two pages whipped up the audience to frenzy of applause and a standing ovation. But, there was more to the program. The opening work, Chopins Introduction and Polonaise Brilliante Op. 3, is a relatively minor work written before Chopin reached the age of 20. Thanks to the excellent program notes by Scott MacClelland, we learned that the version we heard in this concert included an expanded and revised cello part, courtesy of the great cellist Emanuel Feurermann. It was a charming performance full of delicious piano filigree and elegant cello playing. Harrell performed one unaccompanied solo, the Suite in D Minor, BWV 1008, by Johann Sebastian Bach. The ultra- pianissimo beginning in the opening moment of this Suite was startling in its simplicity and purity. However, it turned out merely to be a foreshadowing of the extraordinary shaping of phrases and manipulating the textures he achieved throughout. This was some of the most elegant and super musical Bach playing we had ever heard. Another gem on the program was the Seven Variations in E-flat Major on Bei Mnnern, welche Liebe fhlen from Mozarts The Magic Flute. When this piece begins, you have the feeling it is very conventional and a bit of a pot

50 Jon Kimura Parker Peninsula Reviews January 17, 2011 page 2 of 2 boiler, however, as it moves from variation to variation, the sly humor kicks in and surprises. This was a delightful performance. The audience response at the end of the program consisted of thundering applause and a standing ovation. Speaking to the audience, Harrell announced one encore. He said there were two great composers in the nineteenth century who almost exclusively wrote piano music, Chopin and Rachmaninoff, and both composed substantial works for cello, but not violin, he added. To honor Rachmaninoff Harrell & Parker played the one magnificent encore, the slow movement in e-flat minor from his cello sonata. More than one member of the audience reported tears in their eyes and a lump in their throat, so sublime and moving was this performance. Incidentally, there was an unfamiliar page turner during this performance. Parker introduced him as Peter Tuff, the newly-hired Executive Director of the Carmel Music Society. Wow! Now thats a distinguished page turner, and he is also a fine singer in his own right.

51 JON KIMURA PARKER The Denver Post November 21, 2010 Last-minute pianist was key to fine CSO performance BY KYLE MACMILLAN Horacio Gutierrez is certainly a fine pianist. But he is also prone to cancellations, as his spotty attendance record in Denver makes all too clear. When the Colorado Symphony announced last week he would not be able to perform his two concerts this weekend because of illness, it was his third missed engagement here in less than a decade. Fortunately, though, the orchestra was able to secure the last-minute services of Jon Kimura Parker. And Saturday evening, he brought his reliably high-caliber playing to Ludwig van Beethoven's well-known Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58. Parker delivered an anything-but-routine interpretation, suffusing the slow second movement with an unexpected dose of mystery. He topped off his appearance with a delicately moving version of Edvard Grieg's Nocturno as an encore. That was just one of the attractions of this eclectic, slightly overpacked program, which began with the symphony's first-ever performance of Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu's Symphony No. 1. This striking 1942 work, which Martinu wrote in the United States, has an unquestionably modern flavor. If it remains solidly tonal with little of the strident avant gardism of some other composers of that time, it is nonetheless a complex, unconventional piece. Guest conductor Arild Remmereit gave voice to the symphony's emotional sweep and revealed the unlikely coherence among its four highly diverse movements. Especially memorable was the thrilling, madcap kineticism of the scherzo and richly evoked harmonies of the haunting third movement. The Norwegian maestro fittingly ended the concert with a vibrant, full-bore performance of selections from the "Peer Gynt" Suite by Grieg Norway's greatest composer. The concert will be repeated at 2:30 p.m. today.

52 JON KIMURA PARKER Calgary Herald November 5, 2010 Mozart Festival: A Little Night Music with Jon Kimura Parker BY BOB CLARK The music of Mozart from near the beginning of his career to very close to the end was the focus of a Calgary Philharmonic program on Thursday at Jack Singer Concert Hall that clearly made Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker a close runner-up to the composer in audience affections. The Mozart Festival concert began, singularly enough, with a performance of the famous Piano Sonata No. 16 in C Major, K.545 - performed the way many of us tried in vain to play as piano students (and many a long-suffering teacher wished we had). The flash of liquid scales in the opening Allegro, the finely expressive playing in the ensuing Andante, and a sense of playfulness that came with a hint of drama in the final Rondo - it all sounded so wonderfully intimate coming from the splendid fortepiano lent for the occasion by the University of Calgary. "I've never played on a fortepiano before," Parker told us from the stage immediately after he had finished playing the piece - much to our astonishment and amusement. Furthermore, he added, "I've actually never played that sonata before. I must be the only pianist who never played it as a kid." Next came the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Major (K.40) whose three movements, written when Mozart was 11, were based on thematic material borrowed from as many composers of the day. "It's remarkable that it comes from somebody that young," said Parker, before taking his place at the keyboard - of a concert grand, this time. A spirited little compendium of light and shading, Parker's committed performance, with the sympathetic support of the CPO under music director Roberto Minczuk, made the most of the material, without a trace of condescension, or of anything cursory in the approach taken to the piece. If we hadn't already known the work was by Mozart, would we have guessed? Undoubtedly, from some of the key progressions, for example, the musical figurations, and the sudden (albeit brief in this piece) shifts in mood - all pre-figuring the later Mozart we're familiar with. After the concerto and the enthusiastic response of the large crowd in attendance, we were treated to a seemingly impromptu reading of a movement from Mozart's E-flat Major sonata K.282, a work dating from 1774 when the composer was 18. Before sitting down again at the keyboard, Parker spoke about his relationship to the sonata - he had once upon a time programmed it often, but had not seen the sheet music in 12 years, he said - and about the conventional wisdom that we never forget the music we learn early on, "but the music we learn later on, we forget more quickly." "I'm about to see if that's true," he said, and launched into a beautifully articulated account of the movement. The second half of the concert kicked off with what is arguably the most universally recognized piece in the Mozart canon - the serenade for strings known as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik ("A Little Night Music").

53 Jon Kimura Parker Calgary Herald November 5, 2010 page 2 of 2 It was a well-shaped performance that had the orchestra's upper strings on their feet (literally), if not their toes. Maestro Minczuk took a vigorous approach to the work's four movements, opting for tempos that kept things moving right along through to the conclusion of the sunny finale, without sacrificing dynamic subtlety and detail. Thursday's Mozart Festival celebration finished on a particularly strong note - with the Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K.595, written in the last year of Mozart's life (1791) and premiered at a concert that was to represent the ailing composer's last public appearance. Prior to playing it, Parker explained that because Mozart had increasingly favoured the woodwind section in the scoring of his piano concertos, it was deemed appropriate by Maestro Minczuk to move the CPO winds to the front of the orchestra (beside the double basses) for the No. 27. It proved an inspired move, especially given that the orchestra's wind players are as good as they are - which they proved again on Thursday. After pointing out that musicians have generally settled on "resolved and serene" as an apt description of Mozart's final work for piano and orchestra, Parker sat down and proceeded to show why. There was a sense of immediacy to his interpretation, and at times, dialogue - perfectly balanced by Maestro Minczuk's impeccable choices of tempo - that made Mozart's music seem, well, compellingly and urgently personal, in a way. In the solo passages, above all, Parker was able to draw impressively on Mozart's uncanny ability in the later concertos to make major keys sound almost minor in their profound emotional effect on the listener. To hear such things was a glorious, heartwarming experience for all present.

54 JON KIMURA PARKER Globe & Mail October 7, 2010 At the TSO, Samuel Barber is no longer edgy, but full of life BY KEN WINTERS The Best of Barber Toronto Symphony Orchestra Jon Kimura Parker, piano Gil Shaham, violin Peter Oundjian, conductor At Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Wednesday An evening of the music of that gentle American Samuel Barber may not, in prospect, set your blood pumping. But in reality, with the right program and the right people to bring it all to life, as we heard Wednesday night, it can provide some distinctive and touching musical satisfactions, and even some robust excitements. True, the only relative novelty was the Symphony in One Movement, which dates from 1935, but which never quite caught on during his lifetime, muscled aside by the tougher vanguard of Stravinsky, Bartok and Schoenberg and the catchier things of Prokofiev, Poulenc and Britten. But now that vanguard and chic are no longer dominant, we can listen to Barber from a different perspective. In Wednesdays revival by Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Barbers serious, compact, youthful symphony fell freshly on the ears. Oundjian and the orchestra opened the second half of their concert with it in an assured, elegant reading that did it proud. Especially memorable were the third sections haunting oboe solo, so beautifully managed by associate principal Keith Atkinson, and the superb passacaglia (increasingly elaborate variations above a persistent repeated bass) that Barber invented to inhabit the final section. The rest of the program was tried and true Barber. The famous Adagio for Strings, adapted from the second movement of the 25-year-old composers 1935 string quartet opened the concert, followed by the 1962 Piano Concerto, Op. 38, with Jon Kimura Parker as the soloist. The concert ended with the 1940 Violin Concerto, Op. 14, with Gil Shaham as soloist. Both concertos are repertoire staples by now, but both choices of soloist were inspired. The music benefited enormously. A newly svelte but still ebullient Kimura Parker rode the bristling bravura of the piano concertos outer movement like a true champion, matching panache with high clarity. He approached the lovely central slow movement with an appropriately simple and sensitive singing style. The final notes of the propulsive last movement catapulted him straight off the piano bench into embraces with Oundjian and the evenings concertmaster, Jonathan Carney, and his exuberance and joy encompassed the whole cheering audience.

55 Jon Kimura Parker Globe and Mail October 7, 2010 page 2 of 2 The Violin Concerto is a considerably less brazen and bossy work than the Piano Concerto. Its appeal lies in its touching and elegant lyricism a lyricism that underlies even the dazzling glitter of its finale. In the performance of Gil Shaham (pictured at the top of this story), it seemed to have found its very soul. I hadnt heard Shaham in several years, and I was astounded at how his art has been refined and deepened. His exquisitely tuned and delicate sound merged with the orchestra and floated above it with the rhythmic lan and grace of a swallow, fleet and fine and inseparable from the interior musical impulse. Among other exceptional refinements were some thrilling pianissimi such as I have seldom heard. Each of the three movements emerged with an individual aura, a distinction I would not have thought the work possessed after hearing it in other performances. Shaham revealed the essence of this music, and Oundjian and the orchestra rose to his revelation. So did the audience.

56 JON KIMURA PARKER Toronto Star October 6, 2010 Toronto Symphony serves up blazing birthday cake to Samuel Barber BY JOHN TERAUDS The Toronto Symphony Orchestras 100th birthday cake for composer Samuel Barber was a blaze of candles on Wednesday night at Roy Thomson Hall. The evening, entirely devoted to the music of this American master, was a succession of Wow! moments from an intensely atmospheric beginning to a blazing end. Superbly led by music director Peter Oundjian, this was our citys flagship orchestra at its very best. It served up impeccably rendered interpretations of a representative sample of Barbers work, spanning his early days as a composer in the 1930s, to the pinnacle of his success and popularity in the early 1960s. (He died in 1981, following a long creative dry spell.) The evenings program was given additional heft and interest by two spectacular soloists: Canadian Jon Kimura Parker, playing the Piano Concerto, and American Gil Shaham, in the Violin Concerto. The concert began with an intensely luminous reading of Barbers most famous piece: the Adagio for Strings, which he adapted out of the slow movement of his nearly forgotten String Quartet in 1935. This is one of those chestnuts thats been played and heard so many times that its contours are often too slick and worn. Oundjians supremely focused direction gave it a shape so clear, that it felt like one could reach out and touch it. The music sounded as fresh as if the ink were barely dry on each musicians score. The orchestra and its conductor were equally impressive in the Symphony No. 1, created a year later. Oundjian introduced it to the audience as a masterpiece, then proceeded to show us exactly why this is so. It is an architectural wonder clad in strands of gorgeously wrought melody. The two concertos were equally captivating, thanks to magnetic performances from the two soloists. Parker tossed off the fierce piano part with panache and a big dollop of lyrical aplomb. Shaham used his bow as a light sabre, casting intense beams of sunshine on this already-luminous showpiece. Simply put, neither a birthday celebration nor a concert could possibly get any better than this uplifting, energizing night at the symphony. Missing these performances is your loss. Wednesday nights concert was recorded by CBC Radio 2 for future broadcast. Oundjian and the TSO reprise the Symphony and the Adagio on Saturday night, in a program that also includes George Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue, played by Parker.

57 JON KIMURA PARKER Delaware News Journal October 2, 2010 Delaware Symphony Orchestra's emotional program brings whoops of approval BY BETSY PRICE Bet you can't sleep through tonight's Delaware Symphony Orchestra concert. You might be lured into thinking you could by the opener, John Adams' "Tromba Lontana," a lyrical four-minute piece, but by the time you get to Adams' maniacal "Short Ride in a Fast Machine," you will know there's no shortcut to the Land of Nod. Pianist Jon Kimura Parker will then turn in a tour de force rendition of Samuel Barber's "Concerto fo Piano and Orchestra, op. 38." On Friday night, It brought whoops of approval -- and the audience to its feet. They applauded so long and so loud that he returned to perform again. "I'd like to play the quietest thing I know," he told the audience, drawing a big laugh. It was "Solace" by Scott Joplin, another "great American composer," as was Barber, who hailed from nearby West Chester, Pa. The second act opens with Barber's "Adagio for Strings," a piece of music familiar to anyone who's seen a state funeral or watched death scenes in movies or television in the last four decades. The piece, which maestro David Amado restored to Barber's recommended running time of eight minutes, felt more like a loving lament than the usual inconsolable farewell. The concert ended with a blast: Respighi's "Pines of Rome," which built through four movements into a wall of sound, drawing more whoops of approval. Amado chose the Adams' fanfares because they were conceived at the same time, calling them "kind of yin and yang," and they were. The calm of the first contrasted beautifully with the madness of the second, with small details -- chimes in the first answered by knocking drums in the second -- connecting them. The same contrast was true of Barber's concerto, written toward the end of his career, and the adagio, written at the beginning of it. Amado, who said he wants to help audiences draw connections between pieces of music, succeeded partly because the choice of music took the audience on an emotional journey. The wary stillness of "Tromba Lontana," with its crystalline trumpet solos, gives way to the raw, racing energy of "Short Ride." That segues into Barber's demanding concerto, which seems to alternate between anger and regret. "Adagio for Strings" offers a soothing release -- only to jump into "Pines of Rome," which begins with the laughter of children and ends with a Roman legion arriving on stage. The concert features several unusual points. Musicians leave the stage to play offstage; one group of brass plays from the balcony in "Pines of Rome" (it was fun to watch Amado direct the orchestra with his right hand, and the balcony with his left). And a recording of nightingales singing appears in "Pines of Rome," the same recording specified by Respighi when the piece debuted in the 1920s.

58 Jon Kimura Parker Delaware News Journal October 2, 2010 page 2 of 2 Friday night's concert saw the debut of violinist Dayna Anderson, the country's youngest concertmaster. DSO Executive Director Lucinda Williams followed her onstage to ask the audience to acknowledge the Grammy-nominated orchestra, which they did with huge applause -- reflected in big grins on the musicians' faces. Then Amado arrived, and with a flick of his arm, the symphony launched into the national anthem -- which the audience sang loudly enough to be clearly heard over the music. Someday, they should record that.

59 JON KIMURA PARKER The Oregonian July 24, 2010 Classical review: Schoenfield's sonata is a work of its time BY JAMES MCQUILLEN Paul Schoenfield's Sonata for Violin and Piano, co-commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest and given its Northwest premiere Friday night at Kaul Auditorium, is a work of its time. For one thing, Schoenfield delivered it to violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Jon Kimura Parker via email in the form of a PDF file; like much of classical music itself, the legends of manuscripts delivered with the ink still wet just moments before a premiere may be a thing of the past. More important, like the postmodern literature of David Markson that inspired the first movement (which borrowed the title of Markson's novel Vanishing Point), it overflowed with fragmentary allusions. As Parker told the audience before taking to the keyboard, the duo asked Schoenfield about the one of the more overt of these, a quote from Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto, and the composer replied with a long list of all the pieces he'd mined for material: another Beethoven concerto; works by Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Frdric Chopin and Franz Liszt, among others; and a variety of songs including "My Darling Clementine." In Parker's telling, the exchange recalled the familiar scene in the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons in which Tennessee and Chumley consult Mr. Whoopee, who then opens the door of his ridiculously overflowing closet to extract answers. But the sonata also fit seamlessly in the program alongside works of Mozart, Schumann and Brahms with its rich harmonic language, compositional rigor and traditional four-movement formal structure ending with an Eastern European-influenced rondo. Schoenfield adeptly worked his gathered snippets into an engaging whole-on hearing the piece, his enthusiasm for mathematics seemed unsurprising-and Lin and Parker played it as though it had been in the repertoire for ages, negotiating the denser passages with ease and familiarity and helping to draw the disparate references into unified, beautifully shaped phrases. The Schoenfield was part of an evening of consistently exemplary chamber playing that began with Milan Turkovic (former Vienna Philharmonic principal bassoonist) and Gary Hoffman in Mozart's B-Flat Major Sonata for Bassoon and Cello. Opinions vary about Kaul's acoustics, but this combination worked especially well there, with every detail of the fine phrasing and balance coming through clearly. Pianist Hyeyeon Park, one of the young artists invited this year for mentoring and performance with CMNW, took the stage with clarinetist David Schifrin and violist Toby Appel for Schumann's Mrchenerzhlungen ("Fairy Tales"), in a performance that captured nicely the sometimes nave, sometimes moody character of the infrequently performed pieces. Hoffman joined Lin and Parker for Brahms's C Minor Piano Trio, a gorgeous, rhapsodic finale for the summer festival's penultimate program.

60 Jon Kimura Parker The New York Times May 5, 2010 Works Made on the Wings of Inspiration BY VIVIEN SCHWEITZER Richard Termine for The New York Times Deadlines, poverty and ambition have long been motivating factors for composers, as for many artists. But according to the program book for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centers concert at Alice Tully Hall on Sunday afternoon, the featured works were not driven by prosaic concerns but composed on wings of pure inspiration. Dvorak was inspired to write his Sonatina in G for Violin and Piano (Op. 100) after visiting Minnehaha Falls in Minnesota, where he is said to have scribbled a melody on his shirt cuff; he used it in the Larghetto. The work, which Dvorak composed for two of his children (aged 10 and 15), weaves echoes of folk tunes and black and American Indian songs into its four movements. The pianist Jon Kimura Parker and the violinist Cho-Liang Lin played it graciously and with considerable charm. Paul Schoenfield, in his engaging Sonata for Violin and Piano, which received its New York premiere on Sunday, also draws on various strains, like jazz, pop music and folk traditions. The four movements Intermezzo, Vanishing Point, Romanza and Freilach deftly encompass Gypsy fiddling, a Transylvanian wedding song, Baroque counterpoint, snippets of Liszts Piano Concerto No. 1 and dance hall music. The harmonically rich Intermezzo, an elegiac violin melody, elegantly played here by Mr. Lin, unfolds over low, dissonant rumblings in the piano. Mr. Lin and Mr. Parker performed the often virtuosic piece with commitment, finishing with a bang in the propulsive Freilach. (The Yiddish term denotes a joyous song or dance.)

61 Jon Kimura Parker The New York Times May 5, 2010 page 2 of 2 William VerMeulen, on French horn, joined Mr. Parker for Schumanns cheery Adagio and Allegro in A flat for horn and piano, a short work written during a healthy and productive period in Schumanns life. Mr. VerMeulen fumbled a few of the more difficult passages but otherwise offered a spirited performance. The program concluded with Brahmss Trio in E flat for horn, violin and piano, written during a working holiday in Baden, a spa town near Vienna. The musicians offered a nuanced performance, and Mr. Parker played with particular sensitivity in the opening of the third-movement Adagio. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs Beethovens violin sonatas on May 13 at the Rose Studio, Rose Building, 165 West 65th Street; (212) 875-5788,

62 Jon Kimura Parker San Diego Union-Tribune April 26, 2010 Parker, Ling take Beethoven to new heights BY JAMES CHUTE E AR N IE GR AF T O N / U N I O N - T R IB U NE The last time Jon Kimura Parker was in town, it was for the La Jolla Music Societys SummerFest, when he put on a Star Trek uniform, joined in a multipianist version of the theme from the iconic TV show, and even did a memorable impression of McCoy, exclaiming, Dammit Jim, Im a concert pianist, not a Saturday at Copley Symphony Hall for the belated opening of the San Diego Symphony Orchestras Beethoven Festival, Parker boldly went where few men have gone before, substituting for an ailing Yefim Bronfman. Bronfman is slated to return next weekend and the symphony will twice repeat a program identical to Saturdays: the Concerto No. 5 and Symphony No. 8. But no matter what Bronfman does, it may be a bit anticlimactic, given Parkers stunning performance, which was matched by conductor Jahja Ling, who also had an inspired outing. The festival was originally scheduled to kick off last Thursday, but Bronfmans illness, according to the symphony, forced the cancellation of that concert and prompted the engagement of Parker and pianist Orli Shaham, who will perform this Thursday. The musicians, who were in the pit of the Civic Theatre on Friday for La Traviata, seemed to relish the opportunity to finally delve into Beethoven on Saturday (they were back at the Civic on Sunday for the operas final performance). From the F major chord at the beginning of the Symphony No. 8, which opened the program, it was clear the orchestra came ready to play. You name it the incisiveness of the strings, the warm, burnished quality of the wood the playing was crisp and alert.

63 Jon Kimura Parker San Diego Union-Tribune April 26, 2010 page 2 of 2 That undoubtedly had a lot to do with Ling, who showed a complete command of the score. This was Beethoven straight up, with few twists. Ling may have pushed the tempos toward their extreme (or toward Beethovens own metronome markings), but the orchestra handled it with ease, never sounding rushed or out of breath, only energetic. And at the end of the first movement, when he relaxed the tempo just slightly (despite the absence of any indication in the score), rather than sounding self-conscious or affected, it worked beautifully, as the music seemed to evaporate into thin air. As for the musical jokes that are famously part of this score, Ling avoided outlining or drawing attention to them, but wisely just let them speak for themselves. While there may not have been any belly laughs, there were plenty of smiles when the final movement, Allegro vivace, raced to a close before intermission. It would be unfair to say the second half belonged to Parker as it was a remarkably collaborative interpretation of the Concerto No 5, the Emperor. Parker and Ling were not only on the same page; they matched each other paragraph for paragraph, sentence for sentence, word for word. Each phrase passed from orchestra to piano and back again seemed at times to explode, at other times to gently meld into the next phrase. Consider the concertos opening, where there are a series of rhapsodic passages for solo piano, launched by a single chord from the full orchestra, and each culminating in a single chord. It sounded as if from one mind as the piano line reached its exact apex and, at that precise moment, the orchestra would sound. Throughout the entire concerto there was that same compelling singularity of musical purpose, whether in the most dramatic moments of the opening movement, the sublime portions of the second, or animated, rollicking passages in the third. While Parkers technical facility was more than a match for this concertos fiendish technical demands (is there any other piece of piano music that has so many trills?), even more impressive was his control of touch and tone. There were moments where he was hammering on the symphonys 9-foot Steinway, but there were also moments (especially in the second movement Adagio un poco moto) where he seemed to caress the tone out of his instrument, not only making the piano sing, but at times making it whisper. More often, however, he made the piano roar, and the enthusiastic audience did the same at the works conclusion. Their reward was an encore: the final movement of Beethovens Piano Sonata No. 23, the beloved Appassionata. Parker introduced it as his favorite sonata and offered an interpretation that, like him, is best described as fearless.

64 Jon Kimura Parker November 15, 2009 Jon Kimura Parker Shines from Beethoven to Billy Joel BY L.H. TIFFANY HSIEH Once in a while, a concert pianist comes across as both virtuoso and versatile. That was the case at Koerner Hall on Nov. 8. The pianist was Canadas own Jon Kimura Parker, whose afternoon recital began with two well-known Beethoven sonatas. The Pathtique (Op. 13) and Appassionata (Op. 57) are two of Beethovens most beloved piano sonatas. Parker played both pieces with conviction and a clear sense of structures that kept the big picture in focus. With Beethoven, rests are just as important as notes, and while Parkers rests seemed peculiarly long at times (for example, the Grave in Pathtique), they created extra tension and drama in the beautiful, intimate Koerner Hall. The sound he produced from the shiny black Steinway was warm and luminous, but the contrast in dynamics was overwhelmed at times, especially in loud crescendos. The slow movements were simple and lovely, his voicing and tonal imagination unmatched. Parker displayed flawless techniques and overactive fingers in the fast movements. However, while his finale in the Appassionata was thrillingly bang-on, it makes one puzzle as to why the infamous hand-crossing passage in the first movement of the Pathtique was not, with the secondary theme in the bass coming in late each time. Overall, Parkers Beethoven was slightly over-pedaled, but it worked well in the stormy Appassionata. After intermission, Parker introduced the audience to an entirely different program, which he said he had chosen to reflect Koerner Halls inclusion of a wide variety of music. He began the second half of the recital with three pieces composed by American jazz pianist Chick Corea: Night Streets, Where Have I Known You Before?, and Got a Match?. Parker said he wanted to try something different and, while he didnt improvise, he showed off his groovy side with equal flair nevertheless. Next, it was John Adams China Gates. Written in 1977 with young pianists in mind, gates is a borrowed term from electronics and reflects the moments when the two modes in alternates in China Gates. Here, Parker gave a sensitive reading of the score and produced a poetic undulating realm that was both rich and subtle in colour and texture. The final piece of the program was Stravinskys Petrushka arranged by Parker, who retranscribed it according to my own ears and technique, and with an effort to reproduce more of the orchestral colours. As well, hes added a few of

65 Jon Kimura Parker November 15, 2009 page 2 of 2 the sections that Stravinsky left out when he condensed the ballet into the piano suite, such as the Bear Dance, his 10- year-old daughters favourite. Parker gave his Petrushka a folksy swing that was riveting from beginning to end. The recital concluded with two encores: Rachmaninoffs Prelude in G major, a piece Parker said he first learned at the Royal Conservatory of Music when he was 15, and Billy Joels Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, his high school anthem. If anyone could pull off a piano recital from Beethoven to Billy Joel, rocking the house on his way out, Jackie Parker would be it.

66 Jon Kimura Parker & James Ehnes July 23, 2009 Duo together at last in stunning show BY JOHN TERAUDS Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist James Ehnes perform in one of finest concerts of the year James Ehnes, left, and Jon Kimura Parker make a spectacular pairing. Serious music usually takes a summertime break in Toronto. But that didn't stop an upstart downtown festival from giving us one of the finest concerts of the year Tuesday night. It took 15 years for two Canadian stars pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist James Ehnes to co-ordinate their performing schedules. Given the spectacular results at the Carlu (the once-legendary Eaton Auditorium), one can only hope that this was the beginning of a long and frequent collaboration. The duo opened the fourth annual Toronto Summer Music Academy & Festival, which runs to Aug. 13. Organizers could not have picked a finer way to showcase the quality of musician that artistic director Agnes Grossman has attracted. The venue itself was a fine place to start. The Art Deco Carlu is an aesthetic and acoustic gem. Now run as a venue for private functions, it could and should be a North American destination concert venue, as it was in the days when it sat atop a flagship department store at College Park. As for the concert, it was hard to imagine hearing a finer violin-and-piano duo than Ehnes and Parker.

67 Jon Kimura Parker & James Ehnes July 23, 2009 page 2 of 2 The program mixed light and heavy, gently moving us from pleasant relaxation to serious music, then back again. With the exception of a 1778 Sonata by Mozart (in G Major, K. 301), the program focused on music of the last 100 years. Rarely heard is the haunted Sonata No. 1 by Sergei Prokofiev, which dates from the end of World War II. Ehnes and Parker shaded the long, four-movement piece with a remarkable expressive range. They made the complex, difficult score sound and look effortless. They did the same for Maurice Ravel's 1927 Sonata for Violin and Piano, which is really three very different pieces of music with one title. The middle section, "Blues," straight out of Tin Pan Alley, was given a particularly elegant buildup. Ehnes showed off his lightning bow and fingers in the closing "Perpetuum Mobile." A palette-cleansing treat was Air, by American composer Aaron Jay Kernis. It is a piece of dreamy introspection that could be a current-day counterpart to Ralph Vaughan Williams' perennially popular Lark Ascending. The gorgeous playing and stimulating program were a hopeful sign that the rest of the festival will be equally inspirational. There are chamber music concerts by some of the world's finest musicians, as well as advanced students, Tuesdays through Saturdays (details at Parker and Ehnes repeat their stunning program at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival on Saturday (details at

68 Jon Kimura Parker Chicago Tribune June 22, 2009 Rains fail to dampen fervor of Grant Parks Burnham premiere BY JOHN VON RHEIN As if heeding a Daniel Burnham-esque call for renewed civic dedication in the face of adversity, a hardy band of listeners stuck out a drenching thunderstorm to witness the world premiere of a new Burnham-inspired oratorio Friday night in Millennium Park. This Grant Park Music Festival event gave a soggy send-off to the yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the architect's Plan of Chicago. A noisy cloudburst cleared the Great Lawn and forced many to seek shelter at the back of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. While it was hardly the most auspicious launch for "Plans," American composer Michael Torke's oratorio drew a committed performance from the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, and vocal soloists, under Carlos Kalmar's direction. City and state dignitaries, including Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard M. Daley (heard via tape recording), lent their imprimatur to the kickoff. The 40-minute choral work, commissioned by Grant Park to honor both the Burnham Plan centennial and the festival's 75th anniversary, constitutes a big public statement. As with many occasional pieces, its materials are simple and direct, designed (consciously or unconsciously) to go down easily with Grant Park's diverse urban audience. Torke drew his text from Burnham's famous speech that begins, "Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood." Each of the five movements is based on a sentence from that speech. Key words such as "order" and "beauty" are repeated by the chorus and soloists in vocal lines that range from staccato declamation to exultant unisons. These phrases rise and fall over dappled, pulsing, post-minimalist orchestral lines that reflect a canny sense of instrumental color. Repetition reinforces Burnham's noble rhetoric. Too bad that, despite amplification, only about half of the text emerged clearly above the downpour. Too bad, as well, that Torke's harmonies at times lapse into banality. The strongest section is the third, "Long After We Are Gone," in which the voices of Jonita Lattimore and Bryan Griffin intertwined beautifully, sometimes in canonic motion. Her luscious soprano had both float and amplitude, while his tenor retained its robust lyric quality regardless of the pressure he applied to it. If "Plans" is utterly conservative compared with the artistic daring displayed by the park's gleaming new Burnham pavilions, its fervent waves of choral and orchestral sound give post-modern voice to the great urban planner's earnest vision for Chicago in the century of modernism. The scale of the music matches the scale of the city's magnificent front yard. That the premiere came off as well as it did was a tribute to the unique resilience of the fine, weather-proof musicians of Grant Park. The diehards who stuck out the storm gave the piece and its composer an ovation. Director Christopher Bell, whose chorus covered itself with glory, deserved the lion's share of applause.

69 Jon Kimura Parker The Chicago Tribune June 22, 2009 page 2 of 2 Also apparently immune to external distraction was Jon Kimura Parker, the commanding soloist in Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto. The Canadian pianist has the technical chops to tame this behemoth, and he also has the strength and suppleness of line, variety of touch and generosity of feeling to make its many tunes take wing. Bravos all around.

70 Jon Kimura Parker Chicago Classical Review June 20, 2009 With unplanned weather, Torkes Plans receives ardent if soggy premieres BY LAWRENCE A. JOHNSON Its always a great idea to make big plans, but its sometimes difficult when the weather doesnt cooperate. The Grant Park Music Festival premiered Plans by Michael Torke Friday night, a work commissioned by the festival as part of the city-wide events marking the centennial of Daniel Burnhams Plan of Chicago. A raging thunderstorm and heavy rains drenched Millennium Park during the performance, yet, in the game tradition of Burnham, the show went on, with many hardy souls remaining in the exposed seats bundled up under umbrellas. With Bill Kurtis as master of ceremonies, an array of Illinois officials and dignitaries were introduced before the performance, with Mayor Daley sending his greetings via recording from Switzerland. Governor Quinn seemed relieved to be at an occasion that was more celebratory than political, wryly noting, Ive been governor for two months and two days, and its seemed like twenty years. Plans is written on the large scale, a 40-minute choral symphony for soprano and tenor soloists, chorus and orchestra. The text comes from Burnhams eloquent words from his visionary 1909 civic plan, notably the celebrated advice, Make no small plans.

71 Jon Kimura Parker Chicago Classical Review June 20, 2009 page 2 of 2 Cast in five movements, the music reflects Torkes user-friendly style, with the opening section Make Big Plans, displaying broad melodies for chorus against restless, quasi-Minimalist orchestral counterpoint. The second movement, Noble Diagrams, offers a tolling bell-like consonance in the choruss eighth-note phrases. The two soloists are to the fore in Long After We Are Gone, the nostalgic music evocatively rendered by Jonita Lattimores lush soprano and Bryan Griffins youthful, vibrant tenor. Our Sons and Grandsons is the most characteristic movement with its slow wind-up to an explosion of competing, sharply rhythmic choral and orchestral riffs. The finale, Your Watchword, begins in a stately consolatory fashion, soloists, chorus and orchestra rising to an effectively joyous yet dignified conclusion that manages to avoid bombast. Plans is an appealing, melodic, and smartly crafted work that deserves a concert life beyond the local interest and ceremonial occasion of its Chicago premiere. Even with the meteorological distractions and short rehearsal time, Carlos Kalmar led a well-prepared, energetic and communicative performance, and Christopher Bells chorus sang with conviction and agility. Clarity of words was sometimes wanting from the chorus members and Lattimore, though that may have been in part due to the amplification that from the left front seats, cast a metallic edge over the sound. The bait for the concert was Rachmaninoffs Piano Concerto No. 3 with Jon Kimura Parker as soloist, written the same year as Burnhams document. Parker is one of those artists that tend to get taken for granted, and on Friday night, the Canadian pianist delivered a powerhouse performance of Rachmaninoffs mighty Third. In addition to surmounting the works knuckle-busting complexities, Parker brought the requisite big sonority as well as the poetic sensibility for this music. The rains came during the final movement, yet Parker showed supreme grace under pressure, undistracted by the intensity of rain and thunder, which provided a kind of climatological accompaniment to the acceleration and mounting excitement of the final bars.

72 Jon Kimura Parker Houston Chronicle November 14, 2008 Review: Symphony shines on Russian sojourn BY EVERETT EVANS The sunny side of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky thats the guiding principle, more or less, of this weekends Houston Symphony program at Jones Hall. The program showcases merry, comparatively early compositions of two Russian masters more readily identified with somber and melancholy works, such as Shostakovichs Babi YarSymphony and Tchaikovskys Pathetique. Even more unexpectedly, this musical sojourn through Russia also includes a brief detour to East Texas. Dont ask how, but it all seemed to fit together perfectly at Thursdays opening of the program, which repeats tonight and Sunday. As soloist for Shostakovichs Piano Concerto No. 1, Jon Kimura Parker distinguished the rendition with his impassioned and vigorous playing. This eccentric and irreverent work abounds in dramatic effects, which Parker exploited successfully, at times virtually bounding from the bench. Actually a double concerto, the work boasts a secondary solo role for trumpet, which Mark Hughes dispatched with crisp definition and mellow tone. The Lento second movement proved especially appealing. Maestro Hans Grafs delicacy in leading the strings through the movements slightly attenuated opening theme set the stage for Parkers most artful and restrained playing, at times lingering lovingly over a note or phrase. The Allegro con brio finale showcased Parkers dexterity in its busy keyboard work. Graf maintained control even as this rousing movements continuous acceleration built excitement by suggesting a runaway train hurtling out of control. The program closed with a masterful rendition of Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 2, which employs several folk tunes from the Ukraine, then known as Little Russia hence the works subtitle Little Russian. Grafs command and balance of the orchestral forces sustained unity through the four movements while projecting the works charm, spirit and nationalistic flavor throughout. After the haunting initial statement of the first movements main theme, a driving energy took hold, powering its brisk development. The Andantino marziale second movement was perfectly realized. The performance conveyed the main themes nobility of spirit and indefatigable jauntiness. The orchestra treated the wistful alternate theme with a graceful legato that always segued seamlessly back to that insistent march. To the bounding third movement, unusually vivacious even by the standards of a Tchaikovsky scherzo, the orchestra brought dynamism and precision. The rich, round sound and exciting pacing achieved by Graf and his musicians gave the potent finale its full measure of power and grandeur. From the stately initial statement of its main theme, through the brisk development, to the gently swaying second theme, the zestful, triumphant spirit prevailed. As often in the closing stretch of a Tchaikovsky finale, the coda builds and builds till you think theres nowhere else to build to. But Graf is sufficiently shrewd as both conductor and showman to pitch the final measures for optimal impact without making one feel that Pyotr Ilyich stretched things just a bridge too far.

73 Jon Kimura Parker Houston Chronicle November 14, 2008 page 2 of 2 Graf opened the concerts second half leading Tobias Pickers Old and Lost Rivers, which the orchestra commissioned and premiered in 1986. Inspired by rivers in East Texas, the piece has some of the nostalgic mood and harmonics of Aaron Copland. The orchestra gave a gently evocative reading. Brett Mitchell, the orchestras assistant conductor and American Conducting Fellow, opened the concert capably leading three short pieces by Shostakovich. He caught the playful novelty of Tahiti-Trot, Shostakovichs created-on-a-dare arrangement of Tea for Two, from Vincent Youmans 1925 Broadway hit No, No Nanette. Mitchell also led two excerpts from Shostakovichs score for the 1955 film The Gadfly: the warmly lyrical Romance and the exuberant Folk Festival, allowing the musicians to revel in its racing rhythms and brilliant orchestral colors.

74 Jon Kimura Parker Philadelphia Inquirer July 24, 2008 Orchestras surprising encore a perfect fit BY PETER DOBRIN Choosing an encore can be a squidgy business, and on a night such as Tuesday at the Mann Center, with the air still vibrating from a voluble Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, pianist Jon Kimura Parker offered exactly what was least expected: a quiet Joplin rag called Solace. It was a risk. The Mann's lawns were thickly populated for the Philadelphia Orchestra's annual all-Tchaikovsky program and fireworks - or rather, fireworks and all-Tchaikovsky - and crowds were already milling about when Parker started his encore. But Solace's contemplation, it turns out, was just what this moment needed. For three or four minutes, a bittersweet rag served as a compelling foil to the brass fanfares and cannon blasts of the rest of the evening. It's also what Parker did with the piece that made it so arresting. On the page, the music is simple enough for an intermediate piano student to decipher. In performance it's an utterly sophisticated sleight of ear. In this take, Parker erased the bar lines and took written note values as mere suggestions. He cheated time beautifully, delivering the piece to a realm of looseness and meditation that showed why Joplin is widely thought of as a kind of genius. I also loved Parker's approach to the second movement of the Tchaikovsky. With Andrew Grams on the podium, it was brisk and hopeful. Orchestra flutist David Cramer and oboist Peter Smith were especially fine and mellow. What is it about Cramer lately? Stepping into the first- chair spot a lot this past season, the veteran player seems only to have deepened as an artist. He has presence, authority, and an unusually warm sound. It once again reminds us how generously stocked some of the orchestra's sections are, beyond the principal desks. Parker is an agile, communicative pianist. What his tone is like was not entirely clear to me through the Mann's sound system, which can sometimes make the piano sound tinny. Still, he came across as the author of some interesting interpretive ideas. Regarding interpretation, at the start of three movements from Tchaikovsky's suite from The Sleeping Beauty, I was afraid that Grams, 30, might not have a lot going on. Some spots lacked any sense of instrumental balance, and at times the conductor, making his Philadelphia Orchestra debut, was more impressively aerobic than musical. But at some point, things just clicked. He and the orchestra made an unspoken deal to make music together, and in a climactic moment in The Sleeping Beauty, excerpts from The Nutcracker, and even in the monstrously over-done 1812 Overture, Grams made a personal imprint that gathered up a spirit of generous approval from the musicians around him.

75 Jon Kimura Parker New York Times June 23, 2008 For One Night, a Feeling of Caramoor on the Seine BY STEVE SMITH Almost as soon as American music was weaned of its early dependency on German models it developed an adolescent crush on France. George Gershwin, of course, celebrated the allure of Paris. The relationship was consummated by the influential pedagogue Nadia Boulanger and her distinguished line of American students, chief among them Aaron Copland. Susan Stava for The New York Times Alisa Weilerstein performed with the Orchestra of St. Lukes at the Caramoor International Music Festival in Katonah, N.Y. Ms. Weilerstein had been in Caramoors mentor program. Inspired by this historical connection, pieces by Gershwin, Copland, Leonard Bernstein and the French composer Gabriel Faur grandfathered in for having taught Boulanger were strung together for the opening concert of the Caramoor International Music Festival on Saturday night. The title of the program, Americans in Paris, was something of a stretch given the pieces included. There was a more significant theme lurking in this performance by the Orchestra of St. Lukes, though admittedly one not as readily adapted for a gala dinner and post-concert party. Of the three soloists, two the cellist Alisa Weilerstein and the clarinetist Igor Begelman were students in Rising Stars, Caramoors mentor program, founded in 1992 as a way for promising young players to work with seasoned professionals. The third, the pianist Jon Kimura Parker, was a Rising Stars mentor. Caramoor is abundantly blessed with immediate charms, not the least being its verdant setting and comfortable evening climate. The Orchestra of St. Lukes plays reliably well and sounds remarkably good in the festivals open-air Venetian Theater. But the excellence of the Rising Stars program provides a reminder that creature comforts dont overshadow artistic ideals.

76 Jon Kimura parker New York Times June 23, 2008 page 2 of 2 The concert opened with Bernsteins Paris Waltz from Candide, after which Ms. Weilerstein was featured in Faurs lgie and Bernsteins Three Meditations from Mass. Watching Ms. Weilerstein can feel a bit like spying on someones most intimate moments, so unguarded and impassioned are her expressions. Her sound in both works was rich and throaty, her phrasing gracious and singing. She thundered impressively in the agitated threnody that erupts midway through the Faur, and was appropriately spidery and brittle in the third Meditation. Mr. Begelman too is an emphatically physical player. In the gentle opening section of Coplands Clarinet Concerto he swung his horn in curls that matched the shape of his phrases. A busy cadenza with an ascending lick borrowed from Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue led to a bouncy second movement colored with slurs and growls. Boulanger declined to take Gershwin as a student, despite Ravels advocacy. Who knows what effect her drilling might have had? Theres no covering the structural awkwardness in Gershwins Piano Concerto in F, but his melodic generosity and rhythmic verve more than compensate. Mr. Parker was an insightful, energetic soloist; Michael Barrett conducted ably, and the second movement included stylish contributions from Krista Bennion Feeney, the concertmaster, and the principal winds and trumpeter. The audience roared in approval after the first movement and again at the conclusion. For an encore Mr. Parker recalled Ms. Weilerstein and Mr. Begelman for a gently jazzy arrangement of Gershwins Summertime.

77 Jon Kimura Parker Pittsburgh Tribune April 28, 2007 Pianist, symphony excel in Rachmaninoff masterwork BY MARK KANNY Winning contrasts abound in this week's Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts led by Pinchas Zukerman. The program's centerpiece, literally and figuratively, is Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker scored a triumph in his Heinz Hall debut on Thursday, providing a more rewarding experience than superstar Lang Lang achieved here four seasons ago. Rachmaninoff's Paganini Rhapsody is the work of a genius firing on all cylinders. The theme comes from Nicolo Paganini's 24th Caprice for solo violin, which is a set of variations. The tune has inspired many other composers to write variations on it, but none has equaled Rachmaninoff's level of combining virtuoso display with fantastic variety of emotions. Parker was a sure-fingered guide through Rachmaninoff's masterpiece. Lang Lang has great technique and an appealing personality, but Parker is the sounder musician. His pacing and voicing made the most of the composer's scintillating creativity and emotional generosity. Zukerman and the orchestra were dynamic partners for Parker, producing whispers of sound no less than full-throated climaxes. Parker played a particularly fitting solo encore, a bravura fantasy on themes from Harold Arlen's music for "The Wizard of Oz." It was composed by William Hirtz, a friend of the pianist since their days together at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. The composer is the son of past symphony violinists Al Hirtz and Sarah Gugala, whose brother, Edward Gugala, was also a symphony violinist. Zukerman opened the concert with a delightful performance of Antonin Dvorak's Serenade for Winds, Cello and Bass. The extended solos of oboist James Gorton were exquisitely shaped and sustained. The conductor's excellent tempi were seized by the musicians for playing that was full of personality, including but not limited to solos by clarinetist Michael Rusinek, bassoonist Nancy Goeres, hornist William Caballero and cellist Anne Martindale Williams. After the intermission that followed Parker's encore, Zukerman led a generally superb performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Symphony No. 36, known as the "Linz." The conductor's approach mixed emotional warmth with sufficiently lively tempi. The strength and agility of the second violins added greatly to a performance that featured wonderful solos by oboist Cynthia DeAlmeida, bassoonist David Sogg and hornist Ron Schneider. The only drawback, which became predictable, was Zukerman's preference for a ritardando at the end of every movement, even the finale, which should end with undimmed brio. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

78 Jon Kimura Parker Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 27, 2007 Music Review: Conductor mum, but pianist speaks in PSO concert BY ANDREW DRUCKENBROD Musical performance is another word for communication, so it's hardly surprising a pianist with a background as a TV and radio host would be good at it. Soloing yesterday with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall under Pinchas Zukerman, pianist Jon Kimura Parker took a role of storyteller with the 24 variations of Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini." Parker, who has hosted programs on classical music for Canadian TV and radio, was as fluent with the piano as he was later with the microphone, introducing a special encore. This was no idle connection. Parker's approach was to treat the work rhetorically. It's virtually the opposite treatment of the piece Lang Lang did here in 2003. The Chinese pianist focused the attention on the beauty of the piano writing; Parker sought to make the piano part of the shifting orchestral texture that delineated the variations. Both approaches have their merits and probably fit both pianists best. Parker captured all sorts of interplay with the orchestra, including with concertmaster Andres Cardenes, that Lang Lang plowed over. But when the famed Eighteenth Variation arrived, if memory serves me, Lang Lang turned it into an almost holy moment. Parker somewhat downplayed it, treating the throwback Romantic melody as part of a greater whole. The point is not to compare pianists, but to show just how different a performance can be and still succeed. In the end, Parker's conception of the piece was as an ongoing, heated conversation on a single subject, with gestures brought out by subtle dynamic and tempo shifts. In places in which some pianists pour it on, or when the macabre Dies irae motif appears, Parker pulled back to allow the character of the individual variations to come through. It was a masterful performance, one that synthesized the work while emphasizing its differences. This marked Parker's first appearance since 1981 (!), but the bet is he will be back. That he gave a virtuosic encore in honor of the late PSO violinist Albert Hirtz, written by his son William Hirtz ("Fantasy on the 'Wizard of Oz' "), didn't hurt. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

79 Jon Kimura Parker Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 27, 2007 page 2 of 2 "Rhapsody" was sleek under Zukerman's baton, with good balance and appropriate tempos. But the rest of his conducting lacked a spark. With the talent of the PSO, Dvorak's Wind Serenade is one of those pieces that doesn't need much more than the setting of tempo, which really is all Zukerman gave. Actually, the first two movements of the work inspired by the great Bohemian wind band tradition was a little fast, especially the sousedska, a Czech folk dance. Rather than single anyone out, suffice it to say the musicians not only adjusted but gave an impressive reading. Zukerman's interpretation of Mozart's Symphony No. 36, "Linz," was tepid. Here is a master violinist and violist who seemed content just to cue in orchestral phrases. The result was adequate but emotionless. Zukerman's laissez-faire style of conducting, heard now for years at Heinz Hall, simply isn't very exciting -- even if exquisite on occasion. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

80 Jon Kimura Parker Classical Voice of North Carolina February 9, 2007 NC Symphony, Jon Kimura Parker, & William Henry Curry Light up Meymandi Hall BY JOHN W. LAMBERT The NC Symphony is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season with a series of short works it calls "North Carolina Postcard Commissions." These are little vignettes, mostly, that depict in music some aspect of life in the Old North State. The latest of these pieces to be brought forward is "Over Looking Glass Falls," by composer, banjoist, and professor Paul Elwood, a Kansan (b.1958) who currently teaches at Brevard College. Transylvania County, where Brevard is the principal metropolis, is home to hundreds of waterfalls, and Looking Glass Falls is among the most spectacular. Elwood's prize-winning background in traditional music has facilitated his creation of a particularly effective, often hauntingly evocative work in which its eloquent symphonic language is enriched with Appalachian flavor and color. Elwood and NCSU professor and conductor Randolph Foy provided pre-concert commentary on the new work, helping set the stage for its second performance it received its official premiere the previous evening, in Southern Pines. A string trio from St. Mary's School entertained elsewhere in the venue while patrons waited to get into the hall. When Resident Conductor William Henry Curry stepped onto the podium, there were no additional remarks; instead, Elwood's appealing music began at once. It was played by a lightly augmented orchestra. The score is richly punctuated with percussion, including mallet instruments and rain sticks. Concertmaster Brian Reagin plays several attractive fiddle tunes (and seemed to enjoy figuratively letting down some of that "long hair"). One can imagine the power of the falls, the noise the water makes, the halo of mist rising above. Low brass instruments seem to portray strong undercurrents. Toward the end, Reagin and Principal Bass Leonid Finkelshteyn left the stage for some remoter fiddlin' and slappin'; this section gradually came into focus over the orchestra; having them merely off to the side but still on- stage might have made more sense. "Over Looking Glass Falls" ends quietly, as rain begins. There was polite applause, and Elwood seemed very pleased. Thus far, the new works in the "Postcards" series have proven to be winners, in the eyes of CVNC's critics. But all new music merits revisiting, so here's hoping the entire series will be played again and recorded, too, in a complete set. But meanwhile, they're all short enough to stand playing twice on their introductory programs.... The first half continued with one of the most enduringly popular concerti in all of Western art music: Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, the one made famous by "Tonight we love" and War Bonds concerts a generation ago and that wily Texan Cliburn, in case there's any possibility of a question.... The soloist was Jon Kimura Parker, whose work has been savored in this area on previous occasions, in a solo recital at Duke and with the NCS. His Tchaikovsky was big-boned but elegant and a bit of a technical miracle, so clean and clear was his playing. He didn't get carried away, physically he rose up off the bench only a couple of times, toward the end of the work but he demonstrated plenty of power and plenty of engaging musicality, as needed. Curry and the orchestra met him blow for musical blow, from the rousing introduction to the fleet finale, in which the playing from all concerned was truly breathtaking, thanks to the absolute precision with which the music was executed. It was quite a show and much, much more: for once, the war horse appealed in part due to its inner beauty. The standing ovation led to a single, serene encore: Joplin's "Solace" (known as "A Mexican Serenade"). NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

81 Jon Kimura Parker Classical Voice of North Carolina February 9, 2007 page 2 of 2 Following the intermission, the concert continued with Carl Nielsen's brilliant Symphony No. 5 (1921-22). Curry had clearly crawled into its skin, and his brief spoken introduction went miles toward making its unusual form, structure, and moods and mood swings palatable. Nielsen is in some respects an acquired taste, in part because performances of his music are so rare. This two-movement but multi-part score, which Curry dubbed "The Heroic Symphony," depicts the struggle of good with evil, the latter portrayed by the snare drum, brilliantly played by Kenneth Whitlow. This post WWI work thus suggests and in some respects anticipates Shostakovich's WWII "Leningrad" Symphony, wherein there is comparable use of percussion.... In the case of this great Nielsen Symphony, good ultimately triumphs, and the finale builds and builds in a way that suggests Mahler without the latter's longwindedness. We'd benefit from explorations of more music by this Great Dane, but till the NCS takes up the thread again, readers can get a quick fix in Chapel Hill on February 22, when UNC concerto compeition winner Wonkak Kim and the UNCSO essay Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto, his last completed orchestral work. See our calendar for details. It's a shame that Curry gets so few subscription concerts. He's the artistic leader who helped our state orchestra retain stability through the final years of the previous MD, the seasons of conductor tryouts, and the first part of the Llewellyn era. Curry is a fabulous all-'round musician who, like the greatest of the great, pours his heart and soul into everything he touches. This concert, with a new work, a familiar potboiler, and a virtually unknown classic, was typically superb, and the response of the near-capacity crowd demonstrated audience appreciation of the guest soloist, our fine orchestra, and Curry in roughly equal measure. Bravo! NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

82 Jon Kimura Parker The Kansas City Star September 11, 2006 A soaring start Guest conductor David Robertson travels from St. Louis to lead orchestra with deft musical confidence. BY PAUL HORSLEY Champagne flowed, new musicians abounded, and the animated audience teemed with young faces. The Kansas City Symphonys season opener Friday at the Lyric Theatre was a celebratory affair, which is appropriate considering the rapid increase in ticket sales and public interest in the orchestra during the last year. But the concert, which opened the ensembles 25th season, soared chiefly from solid music-making and an outstanding solo performance by 46-year-old Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker. Michael Stern was not on hand to open his second season as music director, having remained by his wifes side in New York to await the couples two-week-overdue baby. Instead, David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, showed himself to be a supple, sensitive and deftly musical leader through the evening. Granted, Wagners scrumptious Overture to Die Meistersinger was brass-heavy and one could have used more bite in the crisp wind passages. But a lively spirit and quick pulse buoyed the proceedings past opening-night jitters. More problematic (and more interesting) was Dvoraks episodic and often inward set of Symphonic Variations, rarely programmed and hardly my idea of opening-night fare. Its a work that showcases solo and small-ensemble playing and revels in folksy tunes, waltzes, marches and comically petulant outbursts. Robertson negotiated the rapid changes of mood and texture with expert skill while maintaining a warmth. But the piece is such a stop-and-start patchwork, however marvelous its individual parts, that few performances can sustain a logical flow from start to finish. This one almost did, lagging only in the slow middle section. The piece de resistance was Parkers highly accomplished performance of Tchaikovskys First Piano Concerto, with Robertson a sanguine but well-tempered accompanist. The pianists approach to The Most Famous Piano Concerto Ever was sunny leisure in place of Russian hypertension, which lent the piece surprising freshness. The first movement flowed with sweep and melodism that eschewed flash, with a wonderful sense of pulse that lent backbone. The Andantino semplice was just that (semplice meaning simple), with a fanciful approach to the rapid middle section. The finale was played by the book until the end, when Parker dug ferociously into the massive final octaves for maximum effect. Afterward the audience was on its feet, calling the musicians back five times until Parker finally sat to play an encore, a solo-piano version of Billy Joels Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, played in the best of nightclub styles. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

83 Jon Kimura Parker Rochester Democrat January 7, 2005 Pianist gives difficult piece its due respect Pianist Jon Kimura Parker, who performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Thursday night at the Eastman Theatre, made challenging piece sound magnificent. BY JOHN PITCHER The Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 has a reputation that's decidedly mixed. Among pianists, the "Dreaded Rach 3" is both revered and feared for its great technical difficulty. It demands extraordinary speed, power and endurance, so much so that the ability to play it bestows upon a pianist a certain macho status, like being the guy with big muscles at the beach. Yet there's also a certain Rodney Dangerfield quality to the Rach 3, given that this is a piece that's always had a hard time getting any intellectual respect. Highbrow critics generally dismiss it as bombastic and sentimental. Only a truly dazzling performance can elevate this trivial music or as former Chicago Tribune critic Claudia Cassidy liked to say, the Rach 3 is "cheap unless it's magnificent." Pianist Jon Kimura Parker, who performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.3 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Thursday night at the Eastman Theatre, made it sound magnificent. He also made it sound, well, downright respectable. The magnificence, of course, had everything to do with Parker's stupendous technique. The Rach 3 requires the pianist to produce Niagaras of sound while playing streaming cascades of notes it's like the musical equivalent of a fast-moving, treacherous waterway and Parker proved to be equal to the task. It was hard work, and throughout the evening one watched with sympathy as the pianist repeatedly wiped sweat from his brow. But there was never any question but that Parker could deftly dispatch any difficulty. At the same time, one never had the sense of Parker trying to beat his hapless Steinway into submission. Even during dramatic sections, his playing always struck me as sincere, expressive and deeply musical. It was a performance that gave the Rachmaninoff due respect, and for that alone Parker deserved a heartfelt ovation. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

84 Jon Kimura Parker Rochester Democrat January 7, 2005 page 2 of 2 Thursday's concert under guest conductor Daniel Hege featured one performance that allowed the RPO as a whole to be a collective virtuoso. The orchestra's rendition of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler was thrilling. Hege's rendition of Haydn's Symphony No. 85 was a bit overly polite for my taste it was elegant but lacking in drama. NE W Y O R K | L O S AN G E L E S

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