Parker, Ling take Beethoven to new heights

Jon Kimura Parker performs with the San Diego Symphony during the Beethoven Festival on Saturday night at Copley Symphony Hall.

REVIEW | 04.26.10 | By James Chute,  | San Diego Union-Tribune Arts Editor The last time Jon Kimura Parker was in town, it was for the La Jolla Music Society’s 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, I’m a concert pianist, not a …”

Saturday at Copley Symphony Hall for the belated opening of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Festival, Parker boldly went where few men have gone before, substituting for an ailing Yefim Bronfman.

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Mentoring Brilliant Young Talent

Dr. Parker coaching Lucy Chang at Rice University

As Professor of Piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Jon Kimura Parker has to strike a balance between his performance schedule and his class. LizPR asks how he does it:

LizPR: How did you come to teaching as part of your career? JKP: It’s natural to teach the occasional master class here and there while on the road, and I’ve always enjoyed the chance to get closer to a musical community where I am performing. But taking on a class of students is another matter entirely. Each has particular strengths, specific areas for growth, different responses to different styles of teaching, and a wide range of potential. It’s a huge responsibility as I am really the guardian of their musical growth. Continue reading

The Adventures of Concerto Man!

Concerto Man!

By any measure the 2010-2011 season will be an extraordinary one for Jon Kimura Parker. Ask any pianist to name the top five difficult piano concerti, and chances are you will see Rachmaninoff 3rd, Brahms 2nd, and Barber on that list. Imagine performing all three in one season, and adding everything from Tchaikovsky 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, to Grieg, Mozart 27, and Beethoven’s “Emperor.” It’s not hard to see why Jon Kimura Parker has earned the nickname “Concerto Man.”

LizPR sat down to speak with Jackie about this daunting schedule.

LizPR: Are you out of your mind? How does this kind of schedule happen? JKP: It can come about in many ways. First of all, orchestras are much more selective about programming than they used to be. You’re less likely to see “Subscription Series No. 7” and more likely to see, for example, “Made in America,” which pretty much implies the Gershwin or Barber concerti, at least in terms of mainstream repertoire. If my concerts fall on Valentine’s Day weekend, I’m often asked for Rachmaninoff 2nd, or perhaps Mozart 21 (which famously added atmosphere to a romantic movie that apparently nobody’s ever seen: “Elvira Madigan.”) Continue reading

Jon Kimura Parker Shines from Beethoven to Billy Joel

REVIEW | 11.15.09 | By L.H. Tiffany Hsieh | Scena 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 Canada’s own Jon Kimura Parker, whose afternoon recital began with two well-known Beethoven sonatas.

The Pathétique (Op. 13) and Appassionata (Op. 57) are two of Beethoven’s 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 Parker’s rests seemed peculiarly long at times (for example, the Grave in Pathétique), 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. Continue reading

Pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist James Ehnes perform in one of finest concerts of the year

James Ehnes, Violinist

REVIEW | 07.23.09 | Toronto Star 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. Continue reading

Rains fail to dampen fervor of Grant Park’s Burnham premiere

REVIEW  |  06.22.09  |  Chicago Tribune 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. Continue reading

With unplanned weather, Torke’s “Plans” receives ardent if soggy premiere

REVIEW  |  06.20.2009  |  Chicago Classical Review

It’s always a great idea to make big plans, but it’s sometimes difficult when the weather doesn’t 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 Burnham’s 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. Continue reading

San Diego Symphony finely attuned to Gershwin

REVIEW  |05.23.09  |  San Diego News Network Today and tomorrow mark the San Diego Symphony’s final performances in this season’s Jacobs’ Masterworks Series at downtown’s Copley Symphony Hall. That means you have just two more chances to hear music director Jahja Ling and the orchestra join pianist Jon Kimura Parker in what is surely one of the finest interpretations of Gershwin’s Concerto in F that the orchestra has ever presented.

How do I know? I attended last night’s performance of the appealingly eclectic program, which includes Harbison’s “Remembering Gatsby: Foxtrot for Orchestra” and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.

Harbison’s “Foxtrot” – a skillful blend of dark sonorities and 1920’s-style party music – is part of a larger orchestra work by the composer who also wrote an opera based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. A man sitting near me was so taken by the dance band beat that he couldn’t resist tapping his feet. Continue reading

Harrell, Parker show is tops; THE BEST: Recital was the most beautiful performance in 20 years.

Lynn Harrell, Cello

REVIEW  |  12.08.08  |  Anchorage Daily News If you missed the recital by Lynn Harrell and Jon Kimura Parker on Saturday, I grieve for you.

The Anchorage Concert Association-sponsored program by cellist Harrell and pianist Parker should have taken place in a more intimate space than Atwood Concert Hall; but the Discovery Theatre was occupied.

The hangar-size hall was about half full, so the mezzanine and balcony were closed and everyone moved to the main floor for what turned out to be a magical evening by two of music’s most generous souls.

I could write rhapsodically about the warm and sensitive sound of Brahms’ First Cello Sonata, the precision of the counterpoint in its finale and the unity of spirit and rhythm in Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 4, which followed. Either and both were among the cream of performances ever given in our city. Continue reading

Symphony shines on Russian sojourn

REVIEW  |  11.14.08  |  Houston Chronicle

The sunny side of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky ­- that’s the guiding principle, more or less, of this weekend’s 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 Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique.

Even more unexpectedly, this musical sojourn through Russia also includes a brief detour to East Texas. Don’t ask how, but it all seemed to fit together perfectly at Thursday’s opening of the program, which repeats tonight and Sunday. Continue reading



"Mr. Parker was an insightful, energetic soloist...the audience roared in approval."
-The New York Times



“absolutely top-notch music-making, as fine as one could ever expect to hear…they (the Montrose Trio) are poised to become one of the top piano trios in the world.”
-Washington Post

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