Patricia Parr, born in Toronto, Canada, received her early training from Mona Bates (piano) and John Weinzweig (composition). At the age of fourteen, she continued her studies with Isabelle Vengerova (piano) and Gian-Carlo Menotti (composition) at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, followed by two years of post-graduate work with Rudolf Serkin.
As Patsy Parr, and not yet ten years old, she made her orchestral debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Sir Ernest MacMillan, followed by two appearances with the Rochester Civic Orchestra and another with the New York Philharmonic at a Pops Concert in Carnegie Hall. At this time, she was also well known as a recitalist performing throughout Ontario, often including her own compositions in her recitals.By 1955, Parr had appeared numerous times with the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra (Promenade Concerts), and in 1957 was invited to replace Solomon with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Walter Susskind on their subscription series. Additional appearances with the Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras followed.
In 1959, she made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, and this marked her thirtieth orchestral appearance with a major orchestra. Over the years, she continued to perform in recital and with orchestras (including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Toronto Symphony). For the centennial celebrations of Massey Hall in Toronto, Parr was invited to perform (forty-seven years after her debut in that hall) as soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.
In 1974, Patricia Parr returned to Toronto accepting a full-time teaching position at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. During this time, Parr organized and developed a highly successful chamber music series that involved faculty members and alumni.
This “Faculty Artist Series” became not only a credit to the faculty of music, but a major part of the musical life of Toronto. With her colleagues, she participated in many of these concerts, and with Lorand Fenyves played most of the extensive violin and piano repertoire, including all the Beethoven violin and piano sonatas, which were recorded for broadcast. Although, in 1993 she took an early retirement from the University of Toronto to pursue performing activities, she continued to accept a few students at the Faculty of Music.
Presently, she enjoys coaching aspiring young artists, teaching motivated young students, adjudicating young pianists’ recitals and serving on juries for competitions. Parr’s love of chamber music prompted her to form several trios—Trio Concertante based in the US with Charmian Gadd, violin, and Fritz Magg, cello (toured Australia in 1975 and 1979) and the University of Toronto Faculty Trio with Lorand Fenyves, violin, and Vladimir Orloff, cello; and in 1986, together with clarinetist Joaquin Valdepenas and cellist David Hetherington, she established the AMICI Chamber Ensemble (www.amiciensmble.com).
These founding members toured Atlantic Canada, Eastern Europe and Mexico, and in 1988 they launched an annual series of concerts in Toronto, combining their talents with national and international guest artists and performing a wide range of the chamber music repertoire. Committed to playing works by Canadian composers, AMICI always include Canadian compositions in their programming, many of which are commissioned. They are heard frequently on CBC Radio and their ten CD’s appear on Summit, Naxos and CBC labels. Parr celebrated twenty years with AMICI in 2008.
Over the years, Parr has participated at many festivals, collaborated in recital with numerous instrumentalists and often appeared as guest pianist with notable quartets including the Guarneri, Orford, Mendelssohn, St. Lawrence and Vermeer Quartets. Recently, she has extended her musical interests to take on a major role in the development of an outreach educational program, Reaching Out Through Music. While studying musical instruments and singing in a choir, inner city children in Toronto are discovering how a love for music can enrich their lives.
In 2009, Ms. Parr was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. In June 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.