Faculty Profile

Dr. Jani Parsons

NMS Piano Faculty

Praised for her “combination of tenderness and vivacious energy” (San Francisco Chronical) and “sheer virtuosity” (LA Splash), Canadian pianist Jani Parsons has established herself as a musician of warmth, brilliance, versatility, and vivid expression. An active soloist and chamber musician, Jani is a founding member and artistic director of Latitude 49, a mixed chamber ensemble in residence at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), and previously served as pianist for Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble praised by the New York Times for their “conviction, authority, and finesse”.

As an avid performer and supporter of living composers, Jani has worked directly with various composers including Steve Reich, Dan Visconti, John Zorn, Stacy Garrop, Marc Mellits, Roshanne Etezady, Augusta Read Thomas, Jared Miller and Caleb Burhans and has premiered upwards of sixty new solo and chamber works. A sought-after chamber musician, Jani has appeared with members of Bang On a Can All-Stars, Eighth Blackbird, and New Music Detroit as well as members of the Chicago and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Performances across North America include the Chan Centre for the Arts (Vancouver, British Columbia), the Banff Centre for the Arts, Detroit Symphony Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, the Ravinia Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago) and at various educational institutions including the New England Conservatory, Indiana University, Southern Mississippi University, and Northwestern University among others. 

Upcoming projects include performances with Latitude 49 at Detroit Symphony Center, Western Kentucky University, UIC, and across the Midwest as well as performances at The Juilliard School in New York City premiering a new work by composer Jared Miller in collaboration with the critically acclaimed Attacca quartet. Further collaborations this season include duo performances with oboist Merideth Hite, Chicago-based pianist Andy Costello, percussionist Chris Sies, and a western-Canadian tour with violinist Timothy Steeves. Most recently, she can be heard on Excelsior, Fifth House Ensemble’s debut recording on the Çedille label praised by critics for its “spirited music-making of the finest kind” (San Francisco Chronicle). 2016 will feature two commercial releases including an album of French music for oboe and piano with Merideth Hite and Latitude 49’s debut album featuring six daring new commissions. She has been featured on CBC radio, wfmt, and can be heard on the Tzadik label and Çedille Records. 

Originally from Cranbrook in rural British Columbia, Jani studied with Lorraine Ambrose at the Vancouver Academy of Music (B.M. in Piano Performance), before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Michigan under Arthur Greene and John Ellis (M.M and DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy). She holds a performer’s diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music (A.R.C.T.) and a certificate of theory pedagogy from the University of Michigan. An active teacher, she has taught many award-winning students and presented pedagogical research in various national conferences including a recent presentation at the National MTNA conference in Las Vegas. She will be a feature presenter in this year’s Illinois State Music Teacher’s Conference. Jani has given masterclasses across the United States and served on faculty at the Fresh Inc. Summer festival and the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. She served as the president of the University of Michigan’s MTNA student chapter, which was named the “MTNA student chapter of the year” during her vice-presidency, and is currently on faculty at the New Music School in Chicago. 

Jani has had masterclasses with a number of distinguished artists including Jon Kimura Parker, Lee Kum Sing, Marc Durand, Sara Davis Buechner, Janina Fialkowska, Marc-Andre Hamelin, and Volodymyr Vynnytsky. She is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and is a Hambidge Scholar. Jani is based in Chicago where she lives with her partner, percussionist/composer Chris Sies.  

Teaching Statement: I believe that music-making can create within the student a way of self-reflection and a means of expressing themselves that is unlike any other activity. The kind of teaching I aspire to is one that opens doors through which the student can make their own discoveries, offering guidance to the understanding of great music and the skills needed to play. My goal as a piano teacher is to offer a pathway for students through which they can develop a refined physical approach the the instrument, knowledge about the instrument and the repertoire, and inner-confidence and self-exploration. Through this "body-mind-soul" approach, I feel I am best able to nurture the complete student in a meaningful way, encouraging a love for music that is from within, and extends long after the lessons are over.