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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 20 Questions for James Parker

By Michael Vincent on November 3, 2014

James Parker, pianist
James Parker, pianist

Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

James Parker is one of Toronto’s musical gems. He is at once a soloist, a chamber musician, and pianist with an incredible facility for both contemporary and traditional repertoire. He is a founding member of Canada’s premiere ensemble, the Gryphon Trio. He has performed with nearly every major orchestra in Canada, including, the Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Quebec City, Edmonton, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He has won a total of three JUNO Recording Awards, and is an Associate Professor, and Rupert E. Edwards Chair in Piano Performance at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.


What are three things that Toronto doesn’t have but should?

A good hockey team. A good mayor. A good subway system (not just [subway] lines ‘1’ and ‘2’)

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.

AC/DC, Van Halen, and Loverboy.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Mad Tom IPA from Muskoka Brewery.

Your role models?

Beethoven, Neil Peart, and Horace Mann “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

Your favourite smells?

Bacon, eggs & bacon, pancakes & bacon.

What are the three things you’d like to change about Toronto?

Get a good hockey team, get a good mayor, get a good subway system.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?

Home, Borobudur, or Antarctica.

What is your biggest phobia?

Zombie apocalypse, Harper reelected (but not politicophobia in general), and if Rogers Communications takes over Bell Canada (or vice versa).

Where did you go to school?

UBC, Banff Centre, and Juilliard.

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Hockey, beer, and piano.

Shoe of choice?

Mephisto, New Balance, and Okabashi sandals.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

Doctor, energy medicine healer, or graphic novel writer.

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone.

The character flaw in others that you can’t abide?

Religious fundamentalism/fanaticism of any denomination

How do you know when you can trust someone?

They’ve got your back on stage.

What musical instruments do you secretly long to play?

Viola  (JUST KIDDING), theremin, rock drummer.

What sport did you give up and why?

Ice hockey – I can’t skate (oh the irony!).

The strangest road you’ve ever travelled?

The Ice Highway from Inuvik to Tuktyoyaktuk.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Make doppio espresso. Make another one. Drink quad espresso.

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

Beethoven: String Quartet Op. 132 iii) Molto Adagio – Andante – Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart. Molto adagio – Neue Kraft fühlend. Andante – Molto adagio – Andante–Molto adagio. Mit innigster Empfindung, Spinal Tap: Sex Farm, and Dolores Claman: The Hockey Theme, from Hockey Night in Canada.

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent
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Ludwig Van Toronto


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