Phil Burkhart: Austin Symphony presents world renowned pianist

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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It is our great pleasure to present to the Austin community one of the greatest living pianists, Jon Kimura Parker, in a performance on Sunday, Feb. 25, in Knowlton Auditorium at Austin High School starting at 2 p.m.

Parker will be performing the jazzy Concerto in F by George Gershwin. Those familiar with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue will find the two pieces remarkably similar in style. Both are highly entertaining and reminiscent of the music of the Roaring Twenties.

The orchestra will also perform a piece by the first famous female black composer, Florence Price, and two movements of the Symphony No. 2 by Rachmaninoff. Tickets are available at Coffee House on Main, Hy-Vee and online at

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Parker is known for his charisma, enthusiasm and dynamic performances. Although he has performed with major orchestras throughout the world and is a creative partner with the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, he actually has local connections. His wife, Aloysia Friedmann, studied violin with celebrated violinist and Austin native Richard Roberts. Aloysia and Jon Kimura were also close friends with former ASO violinist Blair Lawhead.

But there is more!

As part of their educational outreach, the Austin MacPhail Center for Music is sponsoring a Masterclass with Parker and area student pianists on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. in Knowlton Auditorium. At this event Parker will coach students in advanced piano technique. No ticket is required for this event.

While we are on the subject of piano performance this is a good time to remind you of the other events happening in our community. On March 2 we have two events. The Hormel Historic Home will hold its Harris Competition Concert and Awards Ceremony at 2 p.m. in Knowlton Auditorium. Plus, MacPhail is sponsoring the Austin Piano Festival, featuring Grammy-Award winning pianist Geoffrey Keezer at 7 p.m. in Knowlton Auditorium.

Austin High School Jazz One will also perform at this event along with MacPhail faculty Paul Babcock, Greg Byers and Jacob Burkhart. Our community is developing a reputation for great piano playing!

Part of our mission at the Austin Symphony is to give our community members an opportunity to experience world class musicianship. Please join us for the educational Masterclass on Saturday and the amazing performance on Sunday.