The 700 Club
WORLD CLASS EXCELLENCE
Christopher Parkening has attained some of the highest honors in the world of music. He is celebrated as one of the world's preeminent virtuosos of the classical guitar, recognized as heir to the legacy of his mentor, the great Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia. The Washington Post cites him as, “the leading guitar virtuoso of our day, combining profound musical insight with complete technical mastery of his instrument.” He has performed around the world, including such prestigious places as Carnegie Hall and the White House.
Though he has attained much, Christopher is not looking back. He looks forward to what he can do to impact the lives of future musicians and leaders. Excellence is what he has accomplished, what he pursues and seeks, and is a quality he seeks to instill in his students. Success and excellence are often two competing ideals. Success seeks status, power, prestige, wealth, and privilege. Excellence is internal-seeking satisfaction in having done your best. Success is external- how you have done in comparison to others. Excellence is how you have done in relation to your own potential. “For me,” he says, “success seeks to please men, but excellence seeks to please God.” Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes. Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few. Success engenders a fantasy and a compulsive groping for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Excellence brings us down to a reality with a deep gratitude for the promise of joy when we do our best. Excellence cultivates principles, character, and integrity. Success may be cheap, and you can take shortcuts to get there. You will pay the full price for excellence; it is never discounted. Excellence will always cost you everything, but it is the most lasting and rewarding ideal.
At a solo concert at the Kennedy Center in 1994, Christopher reflected on the fact that this event took place through an act of God. At the very height of his career, in 1977 Christopher chucked it all for a fly-fishing paradise. But paradise turned out to be less than he bargained for. “The shock of finding that having everything you ever dreamed of is a hollow experience is indescribable,” he says. Within a year of getting all these things, “I felt completely empty inside. I had it all, but something was missing.” Christopher always planned to make it big and then walk away. His father was a real-estate broker who retired at 46 and built a house in Idaho overlooking a magnificent trout river. “He’d always told me if I was going to play the guitar, I should ‘play it beautiful,’” Christopher says. “But he also always told me to make a lot of money and retire at an early age to enjoy the good life.” Fishing and the guitar are Christopher’s two passions.
About a year after attaining these lifelong dreams, Christopher realized he was missing something – and that was a deep relationship with God. Raised in a Christian home, Christopher had a profound renewal of his faith in 1978 after attending a service at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church. “I was just tired when I quit,” he says of his stunning decision to give up the guitar. Christopher decided to rededicate his life to God. He also decided he wanted to return to music, but this time for God. He is a Professor of Music at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he chairs the guitar department and “helps students pursue the highest for the glory of God.”
JOURNEY TO SUCCESS
Christopher started playing the guitar at the age of 11, inspired by his cousin Jack Marshall, who was staff guitarist at MGM Studios. Jack recommended that Christopher learn classical guitar to learn technique and to listen to the music of Andres Segovia. Christopher would get up at 5:00 am and practice an hour and a half before school and again in the afternoon. By the time Christopher was 15, he was invited to attend Segovia's first United States master class held at the University of California at Berkeley – the youngest of nine chosen for the class. Segovia encouraged Christopher to work very hard and it was Christopher's good fortune to continue private study with Segovia later. At 18 he signed a recording contract with Columbia. By his twenties Christopher was playing 90 concert dates a year - and turning down 200 others. He’d become an international superstar, the finest classical guitarist yet produced in this country and in the eyes of many, heir apparent to Segovia.
Christopher was nominated for a Grammy in 1987, the year he made a recording with renowned soprano Kathleen Battle. It was also the year he won the prestigious Islamorado International Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament in the Florida Keys.
Jubilant has been lauded in the Wall Street Journal s one of “the next major stars.” He’s won kudos from the world’s finest symphonies, orchestras, and opera companies including Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Met, the Cleveland Orchestra, the LA Philharmonic, etc. He has appeared at premiere concert halls, on stages across the nation, and at festivals across America including the Grant Park Music Festival and Tanglewood. He and Christopher have been in high demand across the country for the 2006-2007 season, both in concert and performance. Jubilant lives in California with his wife and three young sons. For more info: www.jubilantsykes.com.
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