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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Parker Makes Stravinsky Ballets One Man Band

Igor Stravinsky made an original piano version of his ballet "Petrushka," so why would someone else make one?

"Well, I played it as a student, and I remember thinking, you know, I would actually trill this octave, not that one," says Jon "Jackie" Kimura Parker.

Parker has made a solo piano version of the entire ballet, not just a few scenes.

"Stravinsky wrote a concert ending, and it is amazing, but there were so many missing moments of it that I loved...even my daughter said, 'Oh, the Bear Dance is missing!'"

Parker's playing is outstanding and almost unbelievable - but there is NO overdubbing on this new cd.

"I use a technique that Franz Liszt created, using an affect to create 'three hands' and I felt like I needed four hands at times!" (watch the hd video below to see Parker's explanation clearly).


The disc begins with 2013's most famous classical music centenarian "The Rite of Spring." In Parker's own version for solo piano - Stravinsky made a four-hand version, but never a solo piano version - Parker uses bits of his own manuscripts, a two piano score, and even the orchestral score to bring out the drama and dance of this beloved work.

"If everything works out, I will publish a score sometime, but I'll have to write it down first!" jokes Jackie.

His interpretation is as lively as any orchestra and precise as any piano duo version, but again, he is all by himself.

"When I played the piano duo version with friends, I'd say, 'that line isn't in there', and write it in."

We're lucky Parker persevered and made his own version, it is a delight to hear - check it out on Spotify below.

What's next for this Rice University professor and performer? Another piano work, orchestrated famously by Ravel, he'll interpret Pictures At An Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky!

He also has a "Fantasies" disc on the way including Schubert, Schumann, and William Hirtz's "Wizard of Oz Fantasy," based on themes by Harold Arlen.

John Clare is comfortable behind a microphone, streaming video or playing violin. A former broadcaster for NPR, John has previously worked with Voice of America, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and stations in Kansas, Nevada, California, and Pennsylvania.