Published, EAC Communiqué, October 1985
udith Crocker admits to having a somewhat“polyfrantic” personality and, although she has been led in a multitude of artistic directions, the one constant has been her passion and dedication to music. Having moved from Toronto only three years ago, she has found her home in Fergus to be a more tranquil place in which to further establish her career. It is from here that Ms. Crocker has been able to pull together all of her varied interests and talents and offer a touring programme with which she can identify.
She was born in London, Ontario and, although her parents were not musicians, they passed on to their children a love and appreciation for music that is the basis for her life today. She demanded piano lessonsat age four and by age seventeen had added cello, flute and classical guitar to a list of instruments that continues to grow. In 1971, restless and tired of academia she “ran away” to the musical/theatrical Perth County Conspiracy group based in Stratford. Four years of touring Ontario and the Maritimes and a Perth County Conspiracy recording led to what was intended to be a three month acting job with Toronto Workshop Productions. Her three months evolved into two years and were spent not only acting but composing, arranging and directing. She made the decision during this time to devote herself to music full time and after touring Eastern Canada and Europe, Judith returned to Toronto and her studies at the Royal Conservatory. In 1977, she married Jim Anagnason (a member of the internationally acclaimed piano duo Anagnason and Kinton) and in 1980 Judith tied for first place in the Piano Performers Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory. Feeling secure enough professionally, the couple made the decision to leave the city and come to Fergus.
Ms. Crocker has made music her life and although the pace is intense and exhausting both emotionally and physically, she cannot imagine doing anything else. “I consider it a real privilege in this society to be able to live the way I do and still do something that means so much.” She adds that despite the incredible amount of energy that goes into her work, what she gets in return makes it all worthwhile.
Judith and her husband are involved in the same Community Concert series that has been set up to bring high quality performances to small towns in Ontario, where access to the arts is limited. She is hoping in this age of specialists there is room for at least this one generalist. The touring programme she has designed is an assemblage that unites her talents on flute, piano and Celtic harp with her knowledge of international music.
From Gershwin Preludes to a Bulgarian dance piece by Bartok, South American and Chinese flute to traditional Celtic folk music, jazz by Oscar Peterson and back to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, the programme is a marriage of sound and emotion thoughtfully arranged to attract a wide audience. Her hope is to introduce or to stretch someone’s musical interests, to perhaps listen to a work they might not have considered before.
It is the work by Gershwin that Judith sees as one bridge between jazz and classical music.
It is the work by Gershwin that Judith sees as one bridge between jazz and classical music. Her performance of Rhapsody in Blue at this year’s Three Centuries Quarry Concert was called a “surprise success” by Pauline Durichen of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. “Guest pianist Judith Crocker sent out a svelte, sassy Rhapsody in Blue that sparkled with glittering – and wonderfully audible – fingerwork…..She exuded an air of complete control that seemed to captivate a rather restless audience.” Judith was pleased that despite the acoustical
problems and the inch of water that settled on the keys, the “svelte and sassy” came across. “Good Gershwin should be sassy”, she insists, though pianists with strictly classical training often play it straight.
Ms. Crocker is a bit like Gershwin, with a foot in all worlds. She has a thoughtful, positive manner and an eager and intense energy that is allowing her to still explore all musical possibilities. In addition to private teaching, performing and duties at the Royal Conservatory, she is experimenting on the synthesizer, and hopes to incorporate it into her touring performance.
by Susan Larrabee, October 1985
Judith Crocker, a bright star in the music life of our community, moved away a few years after this interview.