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A celebration of Heather Parker: “Music has simply felt like my purpose”

Heather Park with the JMMT Community Award

Heather Parker, Co-ordinator of the Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury, received the 2019 Joan Mantle Music Trust Community Award at the International Dinner and Silent Auction in support of the Trust on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Musical entertainment showcased talented students from Rainbow Schools, including a violin solo by Elizabeth Arrowsmith, a Grade 3 student at Alexander Public School. The evening marked the 11th anniversary of the Joan Mantle Music Trust which has raised more than $250,000 since its inception. The menu featured a wide variety of foods that represented Sudbury’s multicultural heritage.

“Heather Parker works quietly and effectively behind the scenes to ensure that musicians of all ages have an opportunity to perform before adjudicators and live audiences, be acknowledged for their talent, and grow in their musical abilities and aspirations,” said Ralph McIntosh, Chair of the Joan Mantle Music Trust Steering Committee. “The Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury is a much anticipated annual event that has a positive and powerful impact on its participants long after the final curtain has closed.”

Heather Parker, who was extremely honoured to receive the 2019 Joan Mantle Music Trust Community Award, sang the praises of music and music education at the dinner. “Music is a gift that keeps on giving,” she said. “It’s a universal language that can break down barriers and heal deep wounds. It can quietly stir the delicate corners of your soul and has the power to energize masses of people in joyful celebration.” She added: “The effects and benefits of music are endless, and music has simply felt like my purpose. I am forever grateful for it.”

About Heather Parker
A graduate of Levack District High School, Heather Parker participated in music festivals and theatre productions while growing up in Onaping. A talented pianist, organist and vocalist, she earned her teaching credentials from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Throughout the years, Heather Parker has shared her love of music with infants, children, young people and adults. She has provided oustanding musical leadership at St. John’s United Church in Levack as organist, hand chime director, music director and adult choir director. She has accompanied school choirs at Larchwood Public School and Levack Public School, provided musical leadership at St. Gabriel’s Villa in Chelmsford, and been a valued member of the Bel Canto Chorus. She has also been a piano instructor, vocal coach, and Kindermusik educator.

“When I was six years old, my parents bought me a piano and asked if I was interested in taking lessons,” says Stéphane Ostrander, a music teacher at Sudbury Secondary School. “Heather Parker became my piano teacher and every week for the next 13 years I went to Mrs. Parker’s house for a lesson. I didn’t just learn about music and the piano, I learned about communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, determination and discipline.” He adds: “Heather Parker inspired me to be the musican and teacher I am today.”

“Heather Parker has spent her life encouraging students to discover their talents and to grow in their musical accomplishments,” says Sylvia Carscadden, the inaugural recipient of the Joan Mantle Music Trust Community Award. “The Kiwanis Festival, as an educational event, has a high profile in our community and provides a venue for learning through performance and adjudication. Participation in the Kiwanis Festival is an experience that promotes growth and confidence for young people and adults.”

As Co-ordinator of the Festival, Heather Parker ensures the 10-day event runs smoothly from start to finish – preparing the syllabus, hiring adjudicators, scheduling performances, producing the program, recruiting volunteers, liaising with musicians, organizing the final concert, and making arrangements for musicians who qualify for other levels of competition. She also raises an impressive amount of money for scholarships, an important component of the Festival.

Kiwanis Club of Sudbury Treasurer Susan Ross says: “Heather tackles all this with poise and a calm demeanor.” She adds: “Heather believes passionately that people from all walks of life be included in the musical experience. She encourages school bands and choirs which include children who may not otherwise have an opportunity to receive some musical instruction. The delight on these children’s faces when they perform at the Kiwanis Highlights concert in front of family and friends is a joy to see.”

Adds Sylvia Carscadden: “Heather brings a high standard to the festival. She is undaunted by the potential complications than can befall the event and by the complexity of the juggling act that must take place to provide a positive experience to students and their families. Her hard work is her personal commitment that makes the Festival an outstanding musical contribution to the life of our community.”

About the Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury
The Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury has supported the development of the performing arts in Sudbury for 74 years and is preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2020. Students of all ages perform for accomplished adjudicators from across Canada, and some have the opportunity to attend master classes. Many participants have earned the honour to compete provincially or nationally.

From six-year-old soloists in piano, strings or guitar, to school choirs or bands, to university or college students who are honing their musical abilities, participants enjoy the experience and fondly remember the festival for years to come.

The Kiwanis Music Festival believes that music education instills in students habits that last a lifetime – critical analysis skills, problem-solving skills, perseverance, the ability to rise to excellence, creative skills, increase in self-esteem, strong communication skills, time management skills, and skills in focus and concentration, all of which are valued job and life skills.

About the Joan Mantle Music Trust
The Joan Mantle Music Trust was established in the fall of 2008 to help refresh, modernize and revitalize school music programs in the Rainbow District School Board. The Trust allocates funding for musical instruments and equipment to selected schools on a rotating basis. The Trust also accepts the donation of new and used musical instruments and allocates them to schools in need. This ensures that there is an ongoing improvement in the condition of musical equipment throughout the Board, allowing for students to achieve more in their musical studies together.

For more information about the Joan Mantle Music Trust, visit rainbowschools.ca.

Donations to the Joan Mantle Music Trust are always welcome. Cheques should be made payable to Rainbow District School Board. Receipts will be provided for all donations of $25 or more.


Media Contact:

Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171, ext. 7217.

International Dinner Contact:

Ralph McIntosh,
Chair, Joan Mantle Music Trust Steering Committee,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-662-0115

a photo of a student playing the violin
Elizabeth Arrowsmith, a Grade 3 student at Alexander Public School, played a piece on the violin as part of the tribute to Heather Parker, Co-ordinator of the Kiwanis Music Festival of Sudbury. Heather Parker received the 2019 Joan Mantle Music Trust Community Award.
two students singing
Sudbury Secondary School students performed a medley of songs from Fleetwood Mac at the Joan Mantle Music Trust International Dinner and Silent Auction, including Madison Parsons, left, and Raija Walli.