Chung Park  

An Interview with Conductor Chung Park

Chung Park
September 14, 2019

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In this interview, conductor Chung Park shares his path to becoming an orchestral conductor. Chung talks about the importance of having enormous respect for his orchestra players, and how he has balanced the importance for musical excellence and administrative savvy early in his career. He discusses his influences, his inspiration, and what drives him. In an age where conductors are being called upon for more than just musical direction, Chung represents the next generation of conductors who see and embrace the many responsibilities of their profession.

- Stephen Danyew

An Interview with Conductor Chung Park


Why did you decide to become a conductor?

I became a conductor because I’ve always felt that I had something unique to offer. Even when I was in my teens I felt I could convey things that were extra-musical, things that got beyond black dots on a page and at the heart of the music. I always feel that there will be people out there who are better musicians than I am in myriad ways, so I have long since given up on living up to the old ideal of the conductor as superhuman musician. It is belief in the uniqueness and value of my musical ideas and my ability to convey these ideas effectively, not the fact that I am a better musician in any absolute sense, that gives me the fortitude to get up in front of what is invariably a well trained and highly intelligent group of musicians and lead them.

I am a strong believer in aggregate intelligence, or what writers like Malcolm Gladwell or James Surowiecki call the “Wisdom of Crowds.”Even an orchestra comprised mostly of amateurs, like the group I conduct here in Pocatello, Idaho, is full of tremendously intelligent people. They may not know musical jargon or conventions as well as a group of professionals in Rochester or San Francisco, but I’ve always found that putting this many intelligent people in a room together creates a collective wisdom that is greater than the sum of their parts. This wisdom demands respect, and it’s amazing to work in a field where one should appeal to people’s intelligence to get the best results. It is an honest and forthright way to go about life. There are very few paths we can follow where we can truly be principled about what we do and share these principles with others.It’s a privilege very few people enjoy.

Who have been some of the most important influences on your life as a musician?

I’ve been lucky enough during the course of my education and career to be trained by

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