Celebrating a Teacher Who Helped Open New Horizons

Philip Parker ATU
Philip Parker

The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble will honor the 47-year career of ATU Department of Music faculty member Philip Parker during a concert at Witherspoon Auditorium on Sunday, April 28.

The performance will begin at 2:30 p.m. Admission will be open and free to the public. Dr. Daniel A. Belongia, ATU director of bands and professor of music, will conduct the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

“Professor Phil Parker’s name will forever be synonymous with the proud history of instrumental music at Arkansas Tech University,” said Belongia. “Over the course of his incredible 47 years of service, he has become an icon of musical leadership, family, faith and a mentor to countless in our community and profession. He has built a legacy of inspired students and music, and has earned his place in the story of ATU alongside his colleagues Witherspoon, Cooper, Anders, Casey, the Futterers, Barrow, Kiehl and so many others who have been fortunate to call Phil a colleague and friend. We will miss him terribly, but know he will remain a fixture at ATU events and look forward to hearing about adventures to come with his beloved Kim and cherished family.”

One of the pieces on the program is a Parker composition entitled “Dialogue for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble.” Dr. Nathan Mensink, ATU assistant professor of music, will appear as a soloist on saxophone.

Parker, professor of music, has served on the ATU faculty since 1977. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wichita State University and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University.

Applied percussion, music history, music theory and composition are among the courses that Parker has taught at Arkansas Tech. He is the long-time director of the ATU Percussion Ensemble and is a former director of the ATU Jazz Ensemble.

As a percussionist, Parker was timpanist with the Fort Smith Symphony for 27 years. He was a member of the Wichita Symphony for three years and has performed with the Arkansas Symphony, Pine Bluff Symphony, the River Valley Jazz Reunion and as soloist with the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

Parker composed “A New Horizon,” which was performed at the opening of ATU’s Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center in 1999, and “Celebration,” which was commissioned and debuted as part of the ATU centennial. “Celebration” was later performed by the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble during its 2021 appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

A past composer-in-residence for the Fort Smith Symphony, Parker has earned an Arkansas Arts Council fellowship, two prizes from the National Flute Association and two ATU Faculty Awards of Excellence, both in the scholarship and creative activity category. Parker and Dr. Mostafa Hemmati are the only ATU faculty members to earn multiple ATU Faculty Awards of Excellence in the scholarship and creative activity category.

Parker won second prize in the 2009 College Orchestra Directors Association International Composition Contest at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He received a chamber music commission from the National Symphony Orchestra as part of its American Residency program and he earned honorable mention in the 2013 Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer competition.

In addition to the Parker composition, other pieces scheduled for the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert on April 28 are “Zoom” by Scott Boerma, the third movement of “Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble” by Frank Ticheli, “Sure-Fire” by Catherine Likhuta and “Sunflower Studies” by Nicole Piunno.

Likhuta, Piunno and Parker will be on hand as guest composers. The ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble performances of “Sure-Fire” and “Sunflower Studies” will be consortium premieres of those compositions.

Additional soloists will include ATU student clarinetist Tess Butler on the Ticheli work and Evan Mino from the ATU faculty on horn for the Likhuta composition.

The weekend of April 26-28 will include an opportunity for the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble to record its program as part of the Pat and Roger Wattam Recording Series.

Learn more about the ATU Department of Music at www.atu.edu/music.