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Featured Faculty: Rachel Park

Rachel Park, Assistant Professor of Piano, was born and raised in Incheon, South Korea. She studied English and music for ten years in several locations across the United States before coming to Jacksonville. She has been playing piano for over thirty-two years, and since 2009, Park has performed in over 1,000 concerts.

Park teaches Basic Piano Skills, Classical Piano, Accompanying, and Primary and Secondary Applied Lessons. She also serves on an International Programs Advisory committee, where she provides assistance and support to advance international engagement at JSU. She accompanies and collaborates with other music ensembles on campus, and she performs in individual recitals around the area. Though Park is very accomplished (and busy) now, when she first came to the United States, she didn’t know exactly where her music would take her. 

“I just wanted to be a person who could play piano better,” Park stated. Her main goal has always been to grow as a musician. “I love to play the piano and wanted to keep pursuing a profession in that field.” 

Her pursuit brought her to Jacksonville in 2017, and she officially joined the JSU staff in 2018. She said that getting to work with the people at JSU is a huge blessing in her life. “I am so grateful that I can meet these great students, colleagues, friends, families, and community members in Jacksonville,” she shared. She relishes the opportunity to get to know others and “make music together.” 

Last summer, Park visited universities and schools in South Korea. While performing in concerts on different campuses, she took pride in representing and introducing JSU to students there. 

“I would love to be a bridge person and make more international connections for JSU faculty and students,” she expressed.

Last semester, she performed in several concerts which benefitted the school. “In September, I performed at a special piano concert with other JSU pianists at Birmingham Steinway Gallery,” she said. The concert raised over $1,000 in tornado relief for the music department, and it brought positive attention back to the school. 

In October 2018, she played with Mark Brandon and Jeremy Benson in concert, and in November 2018, she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Jacksonville Community Orchestra. 

“Those concerts were great opportunities for me to greet to our community and JSU families as a newly joined piano faculty member,” she said. She looks forward to more off-campus recitals this spring, viewing them as chances to influence prospective music students. 

Park is currently working on her terminal degree as a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate. “I am writing my dissertation about Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109 by Ludwig van Beethoven and Troi Mouvements de Petruouchka by Igor Stravinsky,” she explained. She plans on giving her lecture recital in the fall of 2019 in both Fort Worth, Texas, and Jacksonville, Alabama. 

When she isn’t playing piano, Park enjoys reading, cooking, crafting, writing calligraphy, and playing with her children. She has two sons and a daughter on the way. When playing piano, Park enjoys many different genres of music, from jazz to theatre music to contemporary styles. One of her favorite composers is Chopin, but she appreciates any kind of musical performance. 

“Performance creates such a momentum for both performer and audience,” stated Park. “Both concentrate their minds on the music, and we celebrate the great joy of the music together.” She reveals that she loves the tension, expectation, energy, and joy that flows between audience and performers at a concert.

While earning her Master’s Degree and travelling the United States, Park performed over 100 concerts a year. At the same time, she was raising children and working various part-time jobs. “Those years were very busy years,” she reflected. 

Though she still performs multiple concerts throughout the year, she says that now she spends more time creating curriculua, meeting students and other people, making connections, planning scholastic activities, and getting to know about the university system. However, she plans to increase her number of yearly performances as time goes on. She is also interested in doing piano arrangement and recording music, both of which she hopes to pursue as she completes her doctorate. 

Park certainly lives by the advice she gives her students—to get out of one’s comfort zone (and even hometown). To her, this means participating in off-campus conferences, festivals, and programs as well as being an active member in organizations. She especially recommends getting involved with International Programs at JSU. Park encourages students to travel and study outside of the U.S. in an effort to broaden their world views and open doors for their futures. 

“Also,” Park stated, “always remember that you are not the only one who is wrestling with many issues and struggles in life. Try to be positive in every situation, and ask for help and advice when you need it.”

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