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On the Air: A Podcast Conversation (ft. Wes Parker)

Department of Performing Arts and Technology's Wes Parker joins Howie Ledford on the NCMEA Podcast to discuss the value of music at NC State.

Instructor conducts a student jazz orchestra.
Dr. Wes Parker (left) directs the NC State Jazz Orchestra student members (right) during a concert.

It isn’t every day that you hear a familiar voice on a podcast. Hosted by Howie Ledford, the North Carolina Music Educators Association’s NCMEA Podcast examines various topics relating to music education. The podcast’s most recent episode features none other than Wes Parker.

Parker is a teaching professor, director of jazz studies and conductor of jazz ensembles in North Carolina State University’s Department of Performing Arts and Technology. Throughout the interview, he shares about his student-musician experience and his role in expanding NC State’s jazz music programs. At the episode’s core is a discussion about music’s presence and impact at NC State, which does not offer a traditional music performance degree. Still, the Department of Performing Arts and Technology is a thriving arts community, offering numerous resources, academic courses and performance programs. Parker discusses the department’s dedication to inspiring a lifelong passion for music in students of all majors.

“To say that I’m proud of that is an understatement,” says Parker. “If I were still a high school band director, I would be ecstatic to see my students going off and being involved still—even if they’re not majoring in music.”

Trombonist performs in a recording studio.
Beerel, tenor saxophonist Carter Harris and jazz director Wes Parker record tracks for the album in May 2018 at Osceola Studios—photo courtesy of Robert Davezac.

The Department of Performing Arts and Technology recently unified music and dance faculty under a single academic department and introduced a new B.S. degree in music technology. As the department continues to evolve, it remains committed to supporting students as they deepen their connection with their art form and their fellow performers.

“For these students to leave their high school programs and…be in a great program, where they’re accomplishing some hard things…and having musical connections with other student-musicians is important,” Parker explains, “and I’m really glad that we’re able to have that kind of a landing spot for these musicians.”

Parker’s full interview is available on the platforms listed below. New episodes of the NCMEA Podcast air every month.