Joseph Parr, ‘Flexibility to Learn’

Joseph Parr graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Organ Performance and will attend the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music this fall.

As an aspiring musician, Joseph Parr ’24 looked for one thing during his college search: flexibility.

“There’s not a lot of music programs in the country that are at the scale that Stetson is,” he said. “The School of Music gives you the flexibility to do what you want. I would not be able to play four instruments at a conservatory school, but Stetson allows you to do that. A lot of that flexibility that Stetson offers, while encouraging academic and musical rigor, was what really attracted me to this place.”

Timothy Peter, DMA

Parr, a native of Vero Beach, obtained a bachelor’s degree in Organ Performance in May with a 3.8 GPA. However, he not only is literate in organ but also in viola, piano and the harpsichord.

“Joseph has uniquely stood out as one who is interested in many things,” said Timothy Peter, DMA, professor of music and director of choral activities. “Along with a spirit of adventure, he’s inquired in so many areas of music as a singer, conductor, organist, violist and scholar.”

Recognition and Involvement

Through his years as a Hatter, Parr was recognized with a couple of different awards. He received the Outstanding Second Year Music Major Award in 2021-2022, and with the New Student Leader of the Year Award in 2022 when he was an adviser for Title IX. During his last year at Stetson, Parr received the William M. and Nina B. Hollis Scholarship, the Tinsley Music Scholarship and the Thomas A. lngui Endowed Organ Scholarship.

Parr recalled that his best performance was his junior recital back in Spring 2023: "Everything was really clicking that day last year."
Parr recalled that his best performance at Stetson was his junior recital in spring 2023: “Everything was really clicking that day last year.”

In 2023, Parr was accepted into the Yale Organ Week summer program, a prestigious weeklong session hosted by Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, which featured 16 of the best undergraduate organ students in the country. There, he received daily lessons, participated in workshops related to organ literature and church music, and was immersed in an environment that displayed organ playing and teaching of the highest caliber. He also was selected to conduct in a choral-conducting workshop and concluded the week with a performance of the Bach Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542.

Boyd Jones, DMA

“Joseph has distinguished himself as an organist and organ major while still studying viola, piano and participating significantly in both, orchestral and choral ensembles,” said Boyd Jones, DMA, Stetson’s organist and John E. and Aliese Price Professor of Organ.

As a junior, Parr was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda — an American honor society that welcomes students and professors of music. He also was a member of Mu Beta Psi, a national music honors fraternity.

Being a student of many instruments provided Parr with the opportunity to be actively involved in different areas within the School of Music.

“I was able to work with three professors and take lessons on four instruments,” he said. “I was able to explore the full type of musician I want to be. Here, you are perceived as a person within the institute. You are perceived for yourself.”

A Hatter Moves On

Despite learning from countless lessons and growing in all aspects of his life at Stetson, Parr realized there is one thing he will always take with him wherever he goes.

“This place has taught me a lot about how to really care for people,” he said. “Especially within the School of Music, it truly is a community. It taught me that everyone must really be there for each other in ways that other majors may not be. Music is a very communal thing, and it’s very critical that we remember that.”

Moving forward, Parr will attend the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. There, he will pursue a Master of Music with a double major in Organ and Sacred Music. Parr was awarded a full-tuition scholarship and a departmental assistantship position.

Parr: “This place has taught me a lot about how to really care for people.”

Parr’s Q&A

What is your favorite memory at Stetson?
My favorite memory definitely is the Apgar trip to Germany, England and Wales. The School of Music took a chamber choir and orchestra to various places where Bach and Handel lived, and we got to perform at some of the places they lived and worked. Me and the other organ majors on that trip got to play on some of the same instruments that Bach played on. It was a really amazing trip to go on where I became close with a lot of the people, and it greatly enhanced my passion for sacred music. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?
My advice would be, especially for music students, to not load yourself too early. That was a mistake I made. I was looking at all these different organizations, and I was like, “Join, join, join!” That was back when we had time because COVID-19 zipped out any ensemble opportunities and stuff. So, I signed up in a bunch of different things, and then my sophomore year I was like “Oh no, I have done too much.” Just pace yourself in the first couple of years to really determine what you want to be involved in and what you have time to be involved in.

– Andrea Mujica