(March 6, 1997, Gazette)
Dr. Parker is associate professor of classics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook. Evenings and weekends, he's a composer of classical music. This year, his works will be performed in places as varied as Corner Brook, Fredericton, and Flagstaff, Ariz. His newest composition, Six Lowly Variations on the Flying Dutchman (in Canada), premiered in Corner Brook and St. John's in late January. Later this month comes the release of a new CD.
"Three of the projects are Cabot-related productions," he explained.
The first of these was the Sinfonia Concertante tour. Sinfonia, the chamber group of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (NSO), took Sinfonia Concertante (which the NSO commissioned from Dr. Parker and premiered in 1993) to six locations in the province.
The Avalon East District Band, an all-star high school band directed by Grant Etchegary, has commissioned a composition from Dr. Parker to mark the 500th anniversary of John Cabot's landing. This new work, entitled Terra Incognita (The Unknown Land), will tour the province in June.
He explained that for a while he thought he might never compose again.
"I've had a year-and-a-half of a dry spell," he said. "I honestly thought that was it, that there was no more music."
But with the superb recording session for Lyre and evidence of continued interest in his work from a variety of sources -- including a summer music festival in New Brunswick which has commissioned a work based on an aboriginal theme -- Dr. Parker, composer, is back, and he's busier than ever.
"It's very important for a composer to get ongoing feedback and encouragement," he said. "That encourages you to keep going, to keep creating."
Dr. Parker is also project co-ordinator for Lyre, which means he's involved in preparing the 26-page booklet that includes translations of the vocal pieces into French and Italian. When he's not working on commissions, he tries to attend as many of the performances of his work as he can.
"They take one course and then they get hooked," Dr. Parker laughed. "Many continue, and do two or three courses from me."
Does he ever feel torn between the classics and classical music? Not for one minute.
"I went to Banff in 1991 for a sabbatical. The plan was to spend some time doing nothing but write. I was there just to write music, and I had no classics to worry about. All my worldly needs were taken care of -- and I just dried up," he admitted ruefully. "I've come to recognize that I need both classics and music in order to do either one successfully. It's hectic and frantic at times, but it's the way I have to live."
-- with files from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College