Colby Parker’s senior year wasn’t spent within Statesboro High School’s halls, but on Georgia Southern University’s campus, where he’s been joint enrolled for two years.
A gifted tubist, he plans to become an orchestral musician. “These jobs are few, pay little, and are highly competitive, but everything I do now is about music,” said Parker. “It’s difficult, but I believe the arts are important to our society.”
Gifted academically and musically, this 18-time Science Olympiad medalist and GSU Writing Contest and Mathematics Tournament champion has given up all other extra-curricular pursuits for music.
“He could have been a physicist, but he chose the tuba,” said Holly Lloyd, his former Langston Chapel Middle School band director, whom he selected as his STAR teacher earlier this year when he was named both the SHS and Bulloch County STAR Student. Though an audition for the University of Michigan’s music program kept him from receiving his award in person, he continues to receive additional accolades.
For instance, he was recently named a 2011 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, an honor that will take him to Washington in June to be honored in a White House ceremony and perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Parker also received an unprecedented third offer, to attend the nationally renowned Interlochen Music Camp free this summer. He humbly declined to accept a scholarship to study with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Parker had received Interlochen’s coveted Emerson Scholarship for the past two summers.
Traveling for music is becoming second nature. He’s been on the road non-stop since January for auditions at the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, Oberlin College and the University of Michigan. He’s been accepted by all of these prestigious music programs, but he’s yet to make his final decision.
Parker is the son of Carolyn Altman, director of the GSU Botanical Gardens and Mark Parker of Portland, Oregan.
“I’m most proud of Colby’s great and expansive spirit that he couples with everything he does,” said Altman. Parker’s dad casually plays the organ, and his mom was in band growing up, but Parker pointed out that a good musician is 99 percent practice, not inherited talent. “However, my 12-year-old brother does play the trumpet disturbingly well.”
“Parker is first in most everything he undertakes,” said SHS Principal Marty Waters. His former teachers predict that he’ll be a member of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra one day.