Michael Parker was born in Toronto. He studied violin and viola at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, in Banff and at Michigan State University. From 1972-76 he was founding member, performer and Executive Secretary with the contemporary music group ARRAY (now ARRAYMUSIC) in Toronto.
Parker graduated in 1972 with a Masters degree in Classical Studies (Greek and Latin) from the University of Toronto and completed his Ph.D. in Roman Studies from McMaster University in 1991.
In 1976, Parker moved to Newfoundland where he served as Principal Violist with the Newfoundland Symphony from 1976-77. In 1977 he was appointed to the faculty of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University of Newfoundland in Corner Brook, where he was Professor of Classics and Historical Studies. In September 2007, Parker retired from this post and relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He considers himself to be a very eclectic composer. He is completely self-taught: the compositional skills he has have been acquired by being an avid consumer and performer of all kinds of music throughout his life. Many of his works are traditional in style while others are more avant-garde; but all of his music reflects the established traditions of the various musical periods. His music tends to be well-structured, polyphonic, with unexpected elements.
He has been a prize-winner in national and provincial competitions. Several of his works have been recorded on disc. In 1997, he produced a CD, LYRE, Chamber Music for Clarinet, a recording of seven of his works for this medium. In 1999, this CD was nominated for an East Coast Music Award for Best Classical Album.
Parker's most ambitious work to date is the chamber opera The Visitor. This work was commissioned by Music Canada 2000 and the Newfoundland Symphony to commemorate the millennium of the arrival of the Vikings in Newfoundland in 1000 AD. The Visitor received its world premiere in Corner Brook and St. John's Newfoundland in September 2000.
His music has been performed throughout Canada, and in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Cairo, and throughout France and the United States. He has been performed by such artists and organizations as Lawrence Cherney, Erica Goodman, the Victoria International Festival, the Holland Festival, the Toronto Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Minneapolis Symphony, and the Newfoundland Symphony.