Getting to Know 2020-21 Rising Star Chaeyoung Park

October 12, 2020

On October 18 at 4 PM EDT,  Rising Star Chaeyoung Park will perform our second live streamed concert of the season! In order to get you ready for her performance, we had a virtual “Q&A” with the 22-year-old pianist to learn more about her.

You’re currently a student at the Juilliard School. What does a normal school day look like for you?

Chaeyoung Park: This year, everything is different due to COVID, but usually, I will be in NYC attending classes and seeing everyone in-person, which I dearly miss! As a graduate student, I have fewer classes, so most of my time is spent practicing— or trying to. 

I like to have the morning completely open to practice, as I’ve found that I focus best in the morning and evenings. In the afternoon, I will usually have a class, lesson, or rehearsal, or a combination— or if I’m free, then I run errands (I love grocery-shopping!) or take care of homework/emails/work. I try to leave evenings cleared of schedule to practice as well, but I am also easily swayed to get dinners out with friends or bubble tea. 


You were the winner of the 2019 Hilton Head International Piano Competition and have played performances across the United States. What has been your favorite venue you’ve performed at so far?

CP: Different venues have been memorable for different reasons. There have been halls that are absolutely stunning, with high glass windows out to a garden behind stage or with a huge chandelier in the middle and paintings all around a giant circular hall. There have also been not-so-great venues that are then memorable for not-so-great reasons. But, I think, if I had to pick one, my “favorite” venue has been the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. It is beautiful and intimate, but it’s not memorable for me only for the looks or the great acoustics of the hall, but the fact that so many people who are important to me were able to be there and share the evening with me. I was also happy with how I played, and it helps that it was Carnegie Hall, too, of course!


You’re going to be releasing an album of the complete Musica Ricercata by Ligeti sometime this year. What has the experience of making your first recordings looked like?

CP: It has been really, really exciting but also a little bit daunting. Recordings are different from live performances in that they are permanent, and anyone can listen back to them years from now. Our profession, as it started, is not a fixed art, but rather performed art that exists only in that moment. So, as someone who is used to that platform, it is scary to put out something to the world that is permanent, still as a relatively young pianist. Nevertheless, it is also special and really wonderful that we have the technology to capture that moment and relive it. I certainly would have missed out on a lot without the access to a wealth of recordings from current artists as well as the past that we have now! I think it will also be really interesting for me and for any listeners to hear how I felt music as a 23-year-old artist versus next time I record. I’m also really excited that I have the opportunity to share fantastic music that is less well-known, but unquestionably deserving of more widespread attention- Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata- along with a time-tested and beloved work, Brahms’s Third Sonata. 


You’ll be performing works by Debussy, Ligeti, Brahms, and Chin for your October 18 concert. Who is your favorite composer to play in concert?

CP: Ah…. It is impossible to pick. I put the program together for its diversity in the sound world, emotional content and language. It would be impossible to pick one composer without dearly missing a unique character of another. I’m sorry, they’re all my favorites!


This is becoming our favorite question to end on: if you had any advice for young pianists just starting out, what would it be?

CP: I don’t know if I am fully qualified to answer this question, as I am still young and trying to find my own path. But, if I were to share things from my limited experience, I would say that finding a teacher that you can trust is important beyond words. As this path is not really something you can research and get answers online, having a mentor to guide you and lead you towards the right direction career-wise, musically, and pianistically, is so incredibly important. 

But, also equally important is that the teacher and people around you are your support groups. It is not an easy path (which I know, as I’m on it right now), and there have been more times than I’d like to admit when doubt has come in about my playing and whether it is worth sharing. But if you have people around you who believe in what you are doing, who see what music means to you and support your journey, then you will be able to get back on track and keep going. And I hope you do because I’ve looked back and thanked God that I didn’t quit then! 

A huge thank you to Chaeyoung Park for her candor! Make sure you get your ticket for her live stream concert, happening Sunday, October 18 at 4 PM EDT. A Live Q & A will follow with our Director, Pierre van der Westhuizen. We hope you’ll be there (virtually)!

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