Jon Kimura Parker to receive honorary doctorate from UBC

On May 30th, world-renowned pianist and former School of Music student Jon Kimura Parker, O.C, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, from the University of British Columbia in recognition of his countless contributions to the world of classical music.

WATCH: Pianist Jon Kimura Parker plays and discusses Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1.

Parker has played as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, the Beijing Concert Hall and Sydney Opera House, and has given command performances for Queen Elizabeth II and the prime ministers of Canada and Japan. In addition to his performances as concerto soloist and and recitalist, Parker performs regularly with the Montrose Trio and frequently appears on television and radio.

A Vancouver native, “Jackie” Parker studied at UBC School of Music before transferring to Juilliard School in New York. In interviews he has credited his formative musical education for his career as a performer and educator spanning four decades.

Parker studied with Edward Parker and Keiko Parker privately, Lee Kum-Sing at the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia, Robin Wood at the Victoria Conservatory, Marek Jablonski at the Banff Centre, and Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School. He won the Gold Medal at the 1984 Leeds International Piano Competition.

"For UBC faculty, staff, and students, Jackie Parker is synonymous with fond memories of his early days in Vancouver, our gratitude for his visits and friendship to UBC over the years, and above all, enthusiastic admiration for his outstanding artistic accomplishments and exemplary character,” says Richard Kurth, Director of the School of Music. “This honorary degree salutes Parker as a marvelous artist and citizen, as a Vancouver native and a musical ambassador to the world.”

The recognition is full of memories and meaning for Parker:

“As a youngster growing up in Vancouver, a real highlight for me was to attend student and faculty recitals in the UBC Recital Hall. As a teenager I began piano studies with Professor Lee Kum-Sing and was incredibly excited to continue those studies with him at UBC. I learned repertoire while at UBC that I still perform today, and it was at UBC that Mr. Lee helped me transition from a pianist into a musician, with the glimpse of what it might be to become an artist. I can’t say enough about what I learned from him."

"I experienced the piano department in full: I occasionally attended Robert Silverman’s intense studio classes, and recall the wonderful encouragement of Robert Rogers, who once, with a twinkle in his eye, pointed out that I was about to walk onstage to play a noon hour recital without the benefit of shoes. I befriended student composers and played their works, and took advantage of my wonderful colleagues in opportunities in chamber music. Professor James Schell even managed to convince me to enjoy singing, and I still silently pronounce “eggshell” in my head when I encounter the word “excelsis”.

"I am thrilled beyond measure to receive an Honorary Doctorate from UBC and it truly brings me full circle to my days at UBC when I started to truly appreciate music in its fullness and wonder."

Parker is Professor of Piano in the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He lives in Houston with his wife, violinist Aloysia Friedmann and their daughter Sophie. 

For further information about Parker’s remarkable and diverse accomplishments, please visit



WATCH: Jon Kimura Parker, Lindsay Höhn, Lucas Sanchez and Richard Brown experiment with piano and percussion in the two finales from Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring."