Jon Kimura Parker
Creative Partner for Summer Programming, Marilyn and Glen Nelson Chair
Known for his passionate artistry and engaging stage presence, pianist Jon Kimura Parker has performed regularly at the Berlin Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, London’s South Bank, the Sydney Opera House and the Beijing Concert Hall. In 2019, he was appointed the Minnesota Orchestra’s first-ever Creative Partner for Summer at Orchestra Hall, a new role in which he is serving as a creative force behind the Orchestra’s summer festival and appearing each summer as a host, performer and personality. He is also artistic director of the Honens International Piano Competition and artistic advisor for the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival.
In the summer of 2022, Parker oversaw the Minnesota Orchestra’s first Summer at Orchestra Hall festival, an exploration of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music and influences. Last summer, he led four weeks of programming with the Orchestra celebrating “Music in Motion.” During the festival, Kimura collaborated with the breaking collective BRKFST Dance Company, featured in concerts with singer-rapper-writer Dessa, presented his second iteration of the Grand Piano Spectacular, and performed Felix Mendelssohn’s First Piano Concerto and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini as well as various chamber works. Parker will return to Minnesota to lead the Orchestra’s summer festival in 2024.
Additional Highlights of Parker’s 2022-23 season encompassed a full slate of performances across the United States and Canada, including presentations of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Colorado Symphony, Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Toledo Symphony, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with both the Reno Chamber Orchestra and San Antonio Philharmonic. In November 2022 he toured across Italy with the Montrose Trio, which he founded with Martin Beaver and Clive Greensmith. Following their first tour in 2015, The Washington Post described them as “poised to become one of the top piano trios in the world.”
A collaborator in a wide variety of styles, Parker has performed with Doc Severinsen, Audra McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, Pablo Ziegler and Sanjaya Malakar. As a founding member of Off the Score, he also performed with Stewart Copeland—the legendary drummer of The Police—for the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival’s 20th anniversary season, featuring his own arrangements of music by Prokofiev, Ravel and Stravinsky. He has accompanied Frederica von Stade, Susan Graham and Luca Pisaroni in recital.
A committed educator, Parker is professor of piano at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. His students have won prizes in major competitions internationally and given concerto performances in the United States, Europe, Russia and China. He has also lectured at the Juilliard School and given master classes at Yale. He chaired the jury of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition in 2022.
Parker’s discography of a dozen albums features music ranging from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Frédéric Chopin to Samuel Barber, Stravinsky and John Adams. His most recent recording Fantasy, built around Hirtz’s Wizard of Oz Fantasy, was described by Musical Toronto as giving “a big, clear picture window of a rich soul and great artistic depth.” His YouTube channel features a series of Concerto Chat videos that explore the piano concerto repertoire. In addition, his Whole Notes series, featuring performances of great composers, is available on Amazon Prime Video. He is now recording master class videos for Tonebase on major works of the piano concerto repertoire.
Parker has studied with Edward Parker and Keiko Parker, Lee Kum-Sing at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia, Marek Jablonski at the Banff Centre and Adele Marcus at the Juilliard School. Winner of the Gold Medal at the 1984 Leeds International Piano Competition, Parker is an Officer of The Order of Canada and has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of British Columbia and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto.
Known to friends new and old as “Jackie,” Parker is married to violinist/violist Aloysia Friedmann, and their daughter Sophie graduated from Rice University in 2021.