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Michael Parker will be adjudicating in the strings class for the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival.
Michael Parker is not sure why it happens, but whenever he’s adjudicating music events it seems as if he’s the same age as the kids he’s judging.
He said he can recall the “terrible nerves” he felt performing at festivals while growing up in Toronto.
“I remember what it was like when I was that age and needing the encouragement I got from my teachers,” said the former Corner Brook resident from his home in Sackville, N.S. on Wednesday.
That’s why Parker likes to return that encouragement with the students he judges and that’s something he’ll do on Monday when he adjudicates the strings class for the Corner Brook Rotary Music Festival.
The festival starts Friday and runs until April 8.
“What I try to do is talk about the joy of making music,” he said.
While he tends to leave the technical side of things up the student and teacher, he will offer any suggestions that he can.
Parker said the marks will be determined by how well the students perform to the required level of the various classes, but whatever that is the encouragement will be paramount in his approach.
“I’m not the type to sort of just criticize, it serves no purpose. It’s to help the kids out.
“It’s encouraging the kids to have the joy of playing another instrument and making music. There’s nothing like it.”
Parker studied violin and viola at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, in Banff and at Michigan State University. In addition to being a performer and a composer, he holds a masters degree in classical studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Roman studies from McMaster University.
He spent most of his professional career in Corner Brook after joining the staff at the then Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in 1977 as a professor of classics. He retired in 2007 and moved to Nova Scotia where he continues to teach part-time at Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University.
He is co-founding director of the Musikon Concert Society in Halifax that presents concerts of new Canadian music at the Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery. He also organizes the Sunday Night at the Opera presentations at Dalhousie once a month. He has been a prize-winner in several national and provincial competitions and his music has been performed throughout Canada, in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Cairo, and throughout France and the United States.
While Parker attended many a festival event while living in Corner Brook this is the first time he’s been an adjudicator. He said there was no hesitation in saying yes when asked, because to him it meant there was enough string competitors to warrant bringing someone in.
“In the past what they would do when there was just a few strings was to have the brass person or the woodwind person just fill in.”
But from looking at the classes he sees there will be violinists, guitar players and a harpist.
To Parker that means there is an interest in the string instruments.
“It’s very difficult learning an instrument, especially these days, I guess, when maybe music isn’t supported so much in the schools,” said Parker.