jon kimura parker tackles 10 questions

this saturday, sunday, and monday, keyboard megastar jon kimura parker sits in with the oregon symphony to help officially open their 2012/13 classical season.  p-town is lucky to host him, and the beavs is lucky to have him tackle 10 questions for the blog.  let’s get to it, shall we?

you’re scheduled to perform mozart’s piano concerto #20 with the band ~ how would you describe this music?

Mozart 20 is the “Bad Boy” of Mozart piano concertos.  If you have a vague notion of Mozart being polite, this masterpiece of drama, darkness, and dissonance will convince you otherwise.  It’s truly operatic.  Every time the music begins to promise sunshine, there’s a plot twist and the scene changes.  Even the 2nd movement, titled Romanza, is interrupted by a truly violent outburst.  Eventually Mozart turns the tables on everything and ends in a surprising spirit of optimism.

i happen to love bad boys – cannot wait to hear you play this thing!  let’s see… rachmaninoff’s symphonic dances also grace the program.  what are your thoughts?

This is his last work and dispels everyone’s popular notions of the composer.  Although there are the kinds of melodies that made Rachmaninoff famous throughout his lifetime, the overall flavor also veers into darkness and mystery.  The end of the Symphonic Dances may be the most exciting moment in all of orchestral music.  It’s earth-shattering.  You’ll be looking around for microphones and speakers, but rest assured that it’s all unplugged!

the most exciting moment in all of orchestral music?!  wow, that is quite a bold statement mr. parker… you have my little heart thumping with anticipation!  i’m thinking i need a drink after your response – what are you having?

Assuming you don’t want to pay for a glass of ’82 Petrus, I’d order a Bombay Sapphire martini with a twist.  Of course, in Portland, I might ask for a beer recommendation.

now you’re talking.  and as luck would have it, another fresh hop season is upon us!  okay, don’t get me started on beer.  next query: suppose i have 48 hours in vancouver (canada‘s, not america‘s) ~ what should I do?

After a morning latte, head to the Museum of Anthropology near the campus of the University of British Columbia.  There is no other museum like it in the world.  Find a Japanese noodle shop for lunch and have a big, steaming bowl of ramen.  Drive to Granville Island and walk around the shops and market.  Go to Tojo’s for dinner and submit to whatever he wants to serve you.  The next day, drive to Stanley Park and walk around the seawall.  For lunch, hit Japadog and try something you’ve never heard of.  Resist returning to Tojo for dinner and try Vij’s Indian.

yum!  alright, i’ll ask you the same question i asked *james ehnes a while back: you are a member of the order of canada ~ what are your responsibilities and, more importantly, do you have a sword?

Sword?!  Wouldn’t that have been cool… I was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999, and I consider it the single greatest honour (note Canadian spelling) that I’ve ever received.  There are no responsibilities attached to it except to continue to be a good citizen of Canada.

officer parker, what is your favourite piano to play?

I have a baby grand Steinway, the only piano that I’ve ever owned personally, that I just love.  I bought it from a student in my 2nd year at Juilliard, and it has a beautiful sound and a friendly touch.  Ironically, it’s a piano I’ve never performed on professionally!  Such is a pianist’s lot…

nice.  hey, if you could invite 3 composers out for dinner, who would you choose?

Mozart: we’d go for a beer and shoot pool.  Brahms: I’d just want to say thank you over a Linzertorte mit schlag.  Frank Zappa: ’nuff said.

uh-oh: i hear wolfgang’s a bit of a hustler – watch out!  tell me, what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

Personally I love sitting in the balcony and scoping out the orchestra with binoculars, but it’s also fun to sit up very close and see the coordinated efforts of dozens of violinists performing as one.  A symphony orchestra offers the sheer sonic glory of so many musicians performing live on acoustic instruments ranging from the piccolo to the tuba.  When you’re there live, the music envelopes you and just takes over.

you play as many as 100 concerts in a single year, which is kind of insane for me to even think about.  do you get butterflies anymore before a gig?

I get a little nervous before almost every performance.  Generally it’s ‘good’ nerves, the kind that kick up your adrenalin and push you to greater heights.  Occasionally the ‘bad’ nerves creep up, like when you’re playing in Carnegie Hall, or playing for live television, or playing anything for the first time.  But still, it’s a necessary part of being onstage.

okay, last question: what are you expecting from the oregon symphony?

Nothing less than perfection!

done.  mr. parker, on behalf of all those beaver readers out there, i can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your crazy-busy schedule and offering up some truly brilliant responses.  sooo looking forward to your upcoming show!

now, about those fresh hops…

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