Prism Publishers is proud to present its featured author, Juno Award-winning pianist and recipient of the Order of Canada Patricia "Patsy" Parr.
Above Parr: Memoir of a Child Prodigy has recently been released in elegant hardcover. It contains over fifty photographs, a foreword by Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri String Quartet, and a CD attachment packed with some of "the finest chamber [music] in Canada." (Classical Music Magazine)
When the author was four years old, her mother Margaret filled in the winter days by teaching her to play the piano. One snowy afternoon, something truly remarkable happened: Margaret, an aspiring pianist, was wrestling with a passage in a Debussy piece. Playing with one of her dolls, her daughter interrupted:
"Try a B flat, mommy."
Margaret played on, and as she did, her jaw dropped. This was her first glimpse into the otherworldly musical brilliance for which her child would soon become famous.
Four years later, the shy and unassuming starlet known as "Patsy Parr" was being escorted to her hotel by the Rochester police through throngs of autograph hunters. Not yet ten years old, she had already performed as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall and the New York Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall. June Callwood, of Maclean’s Magazine, dubbed her “Canada’s #1 child wonder in music.”
Ms. Parr went on to become Canada's premiere chamber music pianist—surviving the sudden fame that few children are equipped to handle. However, like so many child prodigies, she grew up feeling that her mother's love depended upon her continued success: "I had the feeling she loved me for what I could do, perhaps to the exclusion of who I was." With remarkable honesty, she ruminates on whether these early experiences might have resulted in the intense performance anxiety from which she would later suffer as a mature artist.
Flecked with humour and personal stories about the biggest names in classical music, from Rudolf Serkin to Pablo Casals, Above Parr incites readers to ask the question: Where is the line between supporting your gifted child and pressuring them into conformity with what you imagine for them? This question is especially relevant now, as millions of parents showcase their musically gifted children on youtube, social media, and televised talent shows.
Above Parr will appeal to classical music lovers, fans of AMICI (Ms. Parr's internationally acclaimed chamber ensemble), and anyone who wants a glimpse into the struggles and triumphs of a child prodigy.