Pianist Ian Parker is teaching a master class at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music on Friday, Oct. 12 and performs at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 14. (Photo submitted)

Pianist Ian Parker is teaching a master class at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music on Friday, Oct. 12 and performs at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 14. (Photo submitted)

Vancouver classical pianist Ian Parker performing at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre

Parker will also teach a master class at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music

When Ian Parker takes his seat onstage at the Port Theatre, those in attendance will hear the Vancouver pianist perform a series of compositions that repeat but sound different each time.

That’s because Parker’s program is made up entirely of variations.

“It’s so much more compositionally fascinating to hear how a composer can take a simple melody and doctor it and do incredible things with it to make it sound like these symphonic pieces,” Parker said. “But when you really dig down, it’s really just sitting on that same melody.”

On Oct. 14 Parker performs a selection of compositions by Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt, Ludwig van Beethoven, George Gershwin and Johannes Brahms.

His performance comes one week after conducting the first concert in his debut season as musical director of the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra. Parker’s always wanted to be a conductor but did not expect to be offered the role. The opportunity came to him after leading a master class at the school.

“The [academy] president came up to me and just said, ‘Ian, I want you to know that the way that you did that master class with the way that you spoke about the music, not about just technical stuff, but about the music about imagery and the way you used your hands and arms, I want you to conduct my orchestra,’” Parker said.

Despite Parker’s initial protestations, he proceeded to conduct one concert before being offered the full-time position. He said he has an understanding of all the parts of a composition thanks to his piano background, calling the piano “the only instrument that can play complete pieces, the bass, the soprano, the mids, everything.”

He said he has no experience playing the other instruments, “but I do know how I want the music to sound and I do know what colours I want to hear … so I guess what [the academy president] liked in my master class was the way I was explaining how I’d like to hear something.”

Parker will be teaching a master class in Nanaimo as well at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music two days before the concert. He said it’s helpful for students to get input from a new instructor and the class is an ideal environment for students to push their boundaries and become more comfortable before a crowd.

“The point is for you to experiment and feel what it’s like to take that risk and it’s OK if you fall and you have an accident, that’s fine. Try it again,” Parker said. “The audience is here to provide you the feeling of being onstage in a concert hall but in an experimental situation, so you’re supposed to screw up, you’re supposed to take chances and eventually you start to learn.”

WHAT’S ON … Ian Parker performs at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $40, available at the box office. He also teaches a master class at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Observer tickets $20 and available through the conservatory at 250-754-4611. Seating is limited.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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