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William Kent Parker ’65

Published in Sept. 15, 1993, issue

WILL PARKER, son of Harold (Hank) Parker '27, died Mar. 29, 1993. Born and raised in Butler, Penn. Will's early academic interest was in language and literature. He learned German while a high school exchange student and studied German literature at Princeton. He was also a member of the Glee Club, where he first sang and learned to love classical composers such as Bach, Schubert, and Brahms, whose works he later helped to interpret so gloriously. However, it was not until he joined the U.S. Army Chorus that he seriously studied voice and began a career as a lyric baritone.

Will's subsequent recordings and performances took him across this country and through most of Europe and what was then the Soviet Union, where he performed a diverse repertory of opera roles and European art songs. One of his prizes allowed him to take the songs of American composers to other countries, and he did so with enthusiasm and pride.

Not until he was stricken by the AIDS virus did Will notice that "No one ever said the word 'AIDS' " benefit performances. So he asked the many American composers whose work he had sung to set to music poetry written by, for, and about AIDS victims. The response was overwhelmingfrom composers, poets, singers, and audiences. The "AIDS Quilt Songbook" was born, and proceeds from its performances and recording will be used to assist people with AIDS for many years. One of Will's last performances was of the "AIDS Quilt Songbook" at Princeton in Oct. 1992, and he regarded it very much as a homecoming.

Will loved Princeton. It was there that he first learned what language could do and was introduced to he great masters of song. His professors nurtured him as an undergraduate, Throughout his career, faculty and classmates supported him. Will eagerly and earnestly returned the favor and went to Princeton as often as he could to sing. We miss him already.

The Class of 1965

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1 Remembrance posted for William Kent Parker

Chelsey Jo Blum Says:

2010-05-27 10:38:45

Bill and I went through high school together. He was also a very close friend. He played opposite me in "South Pacific," a musical we did in high school. We wrote to each other right before he died. He was and always will be my greatest friend.
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