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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 26 Questions for Richard Reed Parry

By Michael Vincent on November 7, 2014

© Guillaume Simoneau - Deutsche Grammophon)
© Guillaume Simoneau – Deutsche Grammophon)

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.

Born in Toronto, Richard Reed Parry grew up in a household full of a medieval music and a capella singing. After moving to Montreal, he studied music and dance at Concordia University, and while there, co-founded the indie rock band, Arcade Fire. Between his busy schedule with the band, Parry recently returned to his roots as a composer – releasing his debut chamber music CD Heart and Breath with Deutsche Grammophon last June, 2014. The album features yMusic, Kronos Quartet, Nico Muhly, and Bryce Dessner. Heart and Breath is available on iTunes.


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

Margaret Atwood as mayor, Olivia Chow as mayor, or anybody excellent as mayor.

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.


Name your favourite concert hall/venue in Toronto.

The Tranzac, but that’s mostly because I grew up in that place and have an entire childhood’s worth of lovely memories that took place there.  (It used to be the hub of the Toronto trad-folk scene).

Name your favourite concert hall/venue anywhere.

The Hollywood Bowl, LA, specifically when there’s good orchestral music being played.

Your role models?

Joseph Campbell, John Cage, and Brian Eno.

Your favourite sound?

Rain on the roof of a cabin, heard from inside same cabin.

Your least favourite sound?

Trucks braking.

Your favourite smells?

Rain on asphalt, Creosote, and Moss.

Your first three record store purchases?

Twin Peaks soundtrack, C+C Music Factory, and Tom Waits’ Bone Machine.

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

Japan, and then I’d go straight to Onsen town.

Whose musical style do you covet?

Dallas Good.

Where did you go to school?

Toronto, Cambridge England, Jerusalem, Ottawa, and Montreal.

What did you major in as an undergraduate?


The cliché that you overuse?

“This is the best thing I’ve ever heard”.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

Contemporary dance.

Your ancestry?

Pennsylvania Quaker all the way back on my mother’s side, British/Scottish/Welsh from my dad.

Your three favourite films?

Blade Runner, Kikujiro, and Punch Drunk Love.

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

The Muppet Show.

Your major character flaw?


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


What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Time of No Reply by Nick Drake.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?


What sport did you give up and why?

Fencing.  Couldn’t find anyone my age who was into it at the time.  (11 years old)

The first album that made you love music?

Magical Mystery Tour.

Three pieces, songs, or arias that you could listen to on repeat for an hour?

Landscape by Andrzej Panufnik, String Quartet in Four Parts by John Cage, Edgar Meyer’s performance of the Bach unaccompanied Cello Suites on double bass.

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

Each of those last three.

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent
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