The American guitarist, Christopher (William) Parkening, is celebrated as one of the world's preeminent virtuosos of the classical guitar. For more than a quarter century, his concerts and recordings have received the highest worldwide acclaim. The Washington Post cited "his stature as the leading guitar virtuoso of our day, combining profound musical insight with complete technical mastery of his instrument." Parkening is recognized as the heir to the legacy of the great Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia, who proclaimed that "Christopher Parkening is a great artist - he is one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world."
Christopher Parkening's rare combination of dramatic virtuosity and eloquent musicianship has captivated audiences around the world from New York to Tokyo. He has played at the White House, appeared with Plácido Domingo on Live From Lincoln Center, participated in Carnegie Hall 100th Anniversary celebration and performed twice on the internationally televised Grammy® Awards. Parkening has appeared on many nationally broadcast television programs including The Tonight Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The Today Show, and 20/20. Parkening was also featured soloist with composer/conductor John Williams on the Sony Classical soundtrack of Stepmom, a Columbia Pictures film. (This album has been on the top of Billboard’s crossover charts since its release.) Voted "Best Classical Guitarist" in a nationwide readers’ poll of Guitar Player Magazine for many years running, he was placed in their Gallery of Greats along with Andrés Segovia, John Williams and Julian Bream.
Christopher Parkening has been a frequent guest soloist with the finest orchestras in the USA, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. His extensive recital schedule takes him throughout the country, with regular appearances in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles. Following a recent performance The Los Angeles Times noted, "Parkening is considered America’s reigning classical guitarist, carrying the torch of his mentor, the late Andrés Segovia."
In 1999, Christopher Parkening performed the world premiere of Elmer Bernstein’s Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra with the Honolulu Symphony as part of their 100th anniversary season. He has recorded this concerto along with The Alhambra: La Vega by Isaac Albeniz with the London Symphony Orchestra, Elmer Bernstein conducting. This anticipated recording will be released in October, 2000 on Parkening’s exclusive label, Angel/EMI Classics. He has also introduced a new collaborative recital program, Braziliana, with baritone Jubilant Sykes. This program for the 2000-2001 season features music of Brazil and the Americas.
Christopher Parkening has amassed an extensive discography on Angel/EMI Classics. He is the recipient of two Grammy® nominations in the category of Best Classical Recording for Parkening and the Guitar and The Pleasures of Their Company, a collaboration with soprano Kathleen Battle. In 1996, Parkening and Kathleen Battle recorded a Christmas album, Angels’ Glory, which was released on the Sony Classical label. Additional recordings of note include Parkening Plays Vivaldi which features a selection of Baroque concertos coupled with the World Premiere recording of Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite with The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the critically acclaimed orchestral recording of Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and Fantasia para un gentilhombre with the world premiere recording of William Walton's Five Bagatelles for Guitar and Orchestra with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In honor of Christopher Parkening’s 25th year as a recording artist with Angel/EMI, a 2-CD collection of favorites, The Great Recordings, was issued in celebration of his prolific artistry. To mark his 30th anniversary, Mr. Parkening is planning a series of new released on the Angel/EMI Classics label. In the fall of 1998 a multi-media CD was released as a tribute to Andrés Segovia entitled Christopher Parkening Celebrates Segovia.
Christopher Parkening's commitment to music extends beyond his demanding performance schedule. He is on the faculty at The Master’s College in Southern California where he teaches a series of master-classes. He also teaches a summer master class at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. He has authored The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method, Volume 1, a basic pedagogy book, and Volume 2, for advanced players. These editions, along with his collection of guitar transcriptions and arrangements, are published by Hal Leonard Corporation.
Christopher Parkening has received commendations honoring his dedication and artistry including an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Montana State University and the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Southern California "in recognition of his outstanding international achievement and in tribute to his stature throughout the world as America's preeminent virtuoso of the classical guitar." In addition, Parkening was given the acclaimed American Academy of Achievement Award for his excellence in his field of music both nationally and internationally. Recently, Parkening was presented with the 2000 Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Classical Guitarist.
Christopher Parkening and his wife, Theresa, reside in Southern California. At the heart of his dedication to performance, recording, and teaching is a deep commitment to the Christian faith. He is also a world class fly-fishing and casting champion who has won the International Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament (the Wimbledon of fly-fishing) held in Islamorada, Florida.