Donna Parker, a native of Los Angeles, California, began her organ studies at the age of 7. Four years later she was introduced to the theatre organ and, at thirteen, began her classical organ instruction with Richard Purvis, Organist and Master of Choristers Emeritus and Honorary Canon of San Francisco’s famed Grace Cathedral.
Donna quickly established a name for herself on the concert circuit as a very capable performer for one so young. She made her first recording at 15, was appointed the first Official Organist for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, and toured Southern California in concert as a product specialist for Conn Organ Company. Through arrangements made by George Wright, Donna began studying harmony and arranging with Gordon Kibbee while also studying theatre organ stylings with Lyn Larsen. While in high school, she appeared at Universal Studios in Southern California, providing holiday season entertainment, and combined her love of sports and music by serving as Organist for the Los Angels Sports Arena, playing for professional ice hockey and tennis teams.
Donna attended California Polytechnic State University at Pomona, California, majoring in organ. Subsequently, she moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she performed at Organ Stop Pizza. This began an association that would last for many years with restaurants centered around entertainment on large theatre pipe organs, including The Roaring 20s in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, Indiana, The Organ Grinder in Portland, Oregon, Uncle Milt’s in Vancouver, Washington, and Organ Stop Pizza in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona.
Donna has actively promoted the theatre pipe organ art form over the years including television appearances on CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, PM Magazine, and numerous entertainment news spots. She has conducted master classes nationally and abroad, and has worked with public school districts to incorporate this all-American art form into their music history curriculum. In 1996 Donna was honored by being named Organist of the Year by the American Theatre Organ Society. She was elected to serve on the international board of directors of the ATOS for six years, where she headed the scholarship committee that assisted students studying theatre organ. After a hiatus, she is once again serving on the board as the Publisher of the Theatre Organ journal--the official publication of ATOS, as the Public Relations chair, and as a core faculty member of the ATOS Summer Youth Camp. Donna also manages a limited private teaching and coaching schedule as well.
Combining her business acumen with her love of church music, Donna served as marketing manager for Rodgers Instrument Corporation of Hillsboro, Oregon for almost eight years until the latter part of 1997. Subsequently she worked in institutional sales representing Allen Organ Company and Steinway & Sons, advising colleges, universities and places of worship on how to meet their music program needs.
Besides an active solo concert schedule, Donna is a member of Trio con Brio with colleagues Jonas Nordwall and Martin Ellis, performing in special venues across the U.S. that can accommodate three instruments for each performance. Their CD recording, “In the Key of Three” has received international acclaim, and they have just released their new “Tales from the Chambers.”
Donna has numerous highly acclaimed recordings to her credit including her latest release, “The Lady Elsinore.” Her concert performances take her to well-known venues across the United States and abroad. International appearances include Canada, Vienna, Austria--where she performed for a national broadcast on the ORF--Australia, New Zealand, and Japan--where she had the distinction of performing the first organ concert at Tokyo’s famed Casals Concert Hall.
Taking theatre organ music to a whole new audience, Donna performed at the Tropicana Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey for two years, where she provided daily holiday concerts in The Quarter, and has performed as a staff organist at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for the Walt Disney Company. Donna was invited to perform at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley, California--the only National Park with a pipe organ.
In 2009, Donna performed as a featured soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on the newly installed Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis for the Yuletide Celebration Concert series. She returned for the 2010 Christmas season, which marked the series’ 25th anniversary, with Maestro Jack Everly conducting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and guest host Sandi Patty. This is the second largest Christmas concert series in the United States, second only to Radio City Music Hall in New York.
© Trio con Brio 2014