Steamboat’s Nissa Parker celebrates the next step with senior cello recital |

Steamboat’s Nissa Parker celebrates the next step with senior cello recital

Nicole Inglis

Cellist Nissa Parker, a senior at The Lowell Whiteman School, will perform her senior recital at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

— In less than six months, Nissa Parker will be a on a plane hurtling toward halfway around the world. She doesn't know yet where her home will be in Italy, where she's participating in a 10-month Rotary Exchange program after she graduates from the Lowell Whiteman School this summer.

But she knows that somewhere among the Alps or down by the Mediterranean, she'll find a cello to borrow and play.

"It has this huge range, the sound is so rich and deep," she said about the instrument she's played for 6 1/2 years.

Parker, a quiet, artistically minded senior, began with violin in elementary school, but when she laid hands on a cello for the first time, she sat there and played the low, resonant notes over and over.

On Friday she'll perform seven pieces in her senior recital accompanied by pianist Mary Dardanis. The event is at 7 p.m. at St Paul's Episcopal Church and there will be a dessert reception after the show.

Her cello teacher, Elissa Greene, a member of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, oversaw a dress rehearsal Wednesday afternoon.

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"She came to me with what a lot of high school students don't have, which is a sense of musical maturity," Greene said.

For the last year and a half, the pair have been working on how to portray that sense through technique. But Parker had something that Greene said is difficult to teach.

"It's the feeling, the innate feeling of how something is supposed to sound," Greene said.

While classical music is a passion, Parker also gravitates toward improvisation in pop, rock and jazz music.

"It's my favorite part of playing," she said. "It's a whole different vibe when you're writing your own songs and jamming."

At the performance Friday, she'll play alongside guitarist and singer-songwriter Henry Howard in a song called "Diamonds and Pearls and Girls," an original song and the first the two played together about four years ago when they started an informal, after-school jam session that's become a weekly tradition for several local high school musicians.

It was at those jam sessions where she played with local high school graduate Katie Ross, with whom she recorded a simple and beautiful song for graduation last year, garnering praise and hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. The pair went on to professionally record the song, called “Sailing Ships,” in Boulder.

Parker said she'll miss home when she leaves to study abroad, but the wide-open opportunity ahead of her also is a boon.

After her trip, she aims to go to college, but not to study music. Still, she wants to play in an orchestra and pursue her love of improvising, composing and freely jamming.

"It's not something I want to give up," she said.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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