Parsons, Steeves to play Cranbrook concert

Cranbrook pianist and violinist bandmate take the stage at Knox Presbyterian Sunday, Dec. 20

Jani Parsons and Timothy Steeves perform at Knox Presbyterian Church Dec. 20

Jani Parsons and Timothy Steeves perform at Knox Presbyterian Church Dec. 20

Barry Coulter

A top flight pianist from Cranbrook is coming back to town for a special concert this weekend, along with her friend, bandmate and musical colleague.

Jani Parsons, from Cranbrook, and violinist Timothy Steeves from Strathmore, are performing at Knox Presbyterian Church in Cranbrook on Sunday, Dec. 20. Showtime at 7:30 p.m.

Parsons and Steeves are members the Chicago-based new music mixed-chamber group Latitude 49, but are looking forward to performing as a duo, taking advantage of their Christmas sojourn back home to perform a series of shows — in Lethbridge, Calgary, Cranbrook, and Strathmore.

“It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time,” said Steeves. “We already play together in Latitude 49, but we’ve always wanted to do some duo projects by ourselves. This is an opportunity to explore these collaborative projects with each other, but also reconnect with our roots.”

“We’re very excited to be in the Kootenays, presenting a beautiful concert of music that includes a mix of old and new,” Parsons said. “This is a very special concert experience for both of us, as we grew up in Western Canada.”

The concert program includes Johannes Brahms sonata for violin and piano in G major, “a beautiful and deeply touching work that deals with aspects of love and loss,” Parsons said. “We will also be presenting a few flashy show pieces by famous violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler, as well as the Canadian premiere of a new work by the award-winning American composer, Christopher Ceronne, and short works by the French composers Gabriel Faure and Maurice Ravel.”

Parsons and Steeves met at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbour. There, they founded a new music mixed-chamber group — Latitude 49.

“It was a really powerful experience for us to meet,” Parsons said. “The group Latitude 49 has been really exciting for us, to see how it’s grown.”

The name of the group, of course, is inspired by the 49th Parallel. At the time, when it formed, there were three Americans and three Canadians.

Latitude 49, a mixed-chamber ensemble is made of wind players, string players, piano and percussion.

“We focus primarily on commissioning, premiering and presenting works by living composers,” said Parsons. “It’s something that we’re really passionate about, supporting composers of our time, and getting these works heard.”

Latitude 49 is in the process of finishing their first record, and their touring season has taken them around the U.S. Ohio and New York City coming up in the spring.

Parsons is currently a freelance pianist and teacher in the Chicago area, and Steeves is completing his doctorate of musical arts at Rice University in Houston. But the group is in residence at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and the players gather once a month to rehearse prior to touring.

For more information on Latitude 49, check out the website

Parsons and Steeves perform Sunday, Dec. 20, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Cranbrook at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is by donation.