From his orchestral debut at age 12, Derek Parsons has been performing for appreciative audiences in a career that has spanned four decades. Critics have hailed him as “a wonderfully sensitive musical artist” “…[possessing] extraordinary technique” (The Brantford Expositor) and his performances, “…a drama of epic proportions”, “…in total command” (The Evening Telegram), and “the range of colors is impressive…” (American Record Guide). Active as an orchestral soloist, recitalist, and collaborative artist, he has performed throughout the United States, in Canada, Spain, Italy, and China, and has been heard on South Carolina Educational Television, South Carolina Educational Radio, and CBC Radio and Television in Canada. His repertoire encompasses a wide spectrum of styles, genres, and periods. Since joining the faculty of Furman University in 1988, he has performed concerti of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Grieg, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and Gershwin with several local and regional ensembles.
Parsons is a member of The Ambassador Duo with saxophonist Clifford Leaman. Their performance repertoire ranges from early transcriptions to the most avant-garde original works for the ensemble. They have performed several world premieres of new works and their critically acclaimed recordings are available on the Equilibrium label.
While in South Carolina, Parsons has enjoyed a long and productive association with the South Carolina Music Teachers’ Association. He has given performances on several SCMTA conference programs, and has held many officer positions within the organization, including his current position of President. In addition to his teaching duties at Furman, Parsons serves as Director of the Furman University Summer Keyboard Institute. He is best known in the Greenville area for his annual performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue at Furman's Concerts by the Lake series.