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Soyeon Park on the Importance of Music with Purpose

For pianist Soyeon Park, performing music is not only deeply personal, but necessary to be a meaningful member of society. As the Foundation’s Artistic Director—and a Si-Yo Artist™—she is guided by the principle of working with musicians “who have vision and purpose, which they accomplish through their music.”

Dr. Park has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in many countries including the United States, Romania, Italy, Czech Republic, China, Japan, and Korea. She has won top prizes at the Simon Belsky Piano Competition and the Mieczyslaw Munz Competition; she also completed an artist residency at the Banff Centre in Canada, where her performances included world premieres of works by contemporary composers. She is currently Assistant Professor of Piano at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, and at New Jersey City University.

Citing Si-Yo’s support of artists as her primary reason for joining the Foundation, Dr. Park has continuously evolved its programming, such as the educational and community outreach concerts that debuted in 2017.

Her participation in the first educational outreach program, alongside Si-Yo Artist™ Carl Patrick Bolleia (piano) and guest artist Raissa Fahlman (clarinet), has been one of her most meaningful experiences at Si-Yo to date. After the group performed in the concert “Dynamic Americas” at La Plantation Hall in Beijing, they traveled outside the city to visit two rural elementary schools to teach and perform classical music to eager young students.

“It’s remarkable to collaborate with artists who aren’t only concerned with performing in concert halls and on big stages, but who are also passionate about educating children in these remote areas who otherwise would not have access to western classical music,” she says.

She hopes Si-Yo can continue this kind of work with its educational Power of Pondering (PoP) series, which the Foundation developed and piloted in 2018. Aimed at children ages 8–13, it seeks to “awaken empathy and imagination with the transcendent power of music.”

The initial program is based on T.A. Barron’s award-winning children’s book “Tree Girl” and combines original music, improvisation, and spoken word. Students are invited to participate by acting out parts of the story and discussing questions posed to them.

Mr. Barron expressed his delight for the project, saying, “I love that my story helped create this experience for these schoolchildren—it’s a perfect example of how creativity inspires more creativity in others!”

“I truly believe in our programs’ ability to open people’s eyes to help them see beyond their material desires and appreciate their many blessings,” Dr. Park explains. “People may not think music is necessary to survive, but I think it’s essential to humankind. It can make us better people to remember that there is a world outside ourselves, and that we should exist not just for ourselves, but for each other.”