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Our Picks

Jackie's Pick: Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1

Can’t decide on your next concert? Why not take a suggestion from one of our own? From the extraordinary musicians on stage to the staff, volunteers and board members working behind the scenes, we all have personal favorites in the upcoming calendar. Pianist and Creative Partner for Summer at Orchestra Hall Jon Kimura Parker has a pitch to make for his upcoming performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Parker—affectionately called “Jackie”—exemplifies excellence and enthusiasm in equal measure. In one moment, he’s tearing up the stage in a rip-roaringly virtuosic performance of a Gershwin concerto. In the next, he’s parading onstage post-performance dressed as Captain Kirk, cracking jokes with audiences about the final frontier of music. His duties as creative partner include a deep involvement in the planning of our summer season, serving as an onstage host for several programs and performing piano concertos, solo works and chamber music. He’s a favorite collaborator of musicians—a sensitive artist who you’re going to want to hear play.

Jon Kimura Parker stands in front of the Peavey Plaza fountain smiling with arms out.
Jon Kimura Parker on Peavey Plaza

Photo by Tony Nelson

This summer—July 14, to be exact—Parker takes center stage with the Orchestra to perform some Mendelssohn. “Playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is like being shot out of a cannon,” he says. “Mendelssohn dispenses with the traditional long orchestral opening, so after only a few measures, I come out blazing with octaves, arpeggios and thrilling runs. It’s absolutely breathtaking to play.

“I often compare piano concertos to action movies, and if that makes sense to you, this concerto has more than its fair share of car chases! But Mendelssohn also finds the most tender and lyrical moments, in the first movement and throughout all of the second.

“By the way, there’s no break between movements, just transitions that keep the music going. The final movement is somehow more manic than the first! I cannot wait to play this work of sparkling genius with the Minnesota Orchestra!"

See Jackie’s Cinematic Fave