Jon Kimura Parker

1996 National Arts Centre Award

"Jackie", as he is universally known, is happy to say that it was piano competitions, first in Canada and then a stunning win at Leeds in 1984, which helped launch his career. But the true test has been the growth and expansion of that career once the spotlight from those events had turned elsewhere.

These days find him playing with some of the world's finest orchestras and conductors, earning praise for his "brilliant technique, exquisite tone, and thoughtful musicality". Last season's tour with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Trevor Pinnock came to a triumphant finale at Lincoln Center. Although now recording more, his greatest motivation remains "the response from a live audience", a visceral connection he discovered as a child listening to Rubinstein. A boundless enthusiast, he has recently been making the audience connection in new and different ways. New Year's 1995 found him playing in Sarajevo, where a listener moved to tears brought home to him the power of music.

In Canada he makes short tours with "Piano Six," brainchild of Janina Fialkowska, as one of six leading Canadian artists who take their music to smaller communities for only token fees. This year the ebullient Parker will play Arctic Bay and Iqaluit in the Far North.