Hayes School of Music welcomes new orchestra director

Ryan Morris

This semester, the Hayes School of Music welcomed Chung Park as the new director of orchestral activities. Park conducts the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra, Appalachian Philharmonic and Appalachian Opera Theatre.

The Appalachian Philharmonic Orchestra – for which both students and faculty perform – is, according to Park, very special, as it allows students to play their instruments on a near-professional level with professional musicians.  A viola and violin player by trade, Park also plays piano with considerable skill, or as he puts it, “badly.”

He cites a wide variety of personal influences for his music, including classical composers, more modern, living composers and popular bands like The Beatles and The Jackson 5.

“I’ll put on old Jackson 5 albums for my students sometimes,” he said.  “Michael Jackson has a perfect human natural vibrato.”

As a graduate student in Miami Park and a friend created Project Copernicus, a large-chamber ensemble that focused on works by both living composers and by ‘old-old’ ones.

“We focused on living composers and old-old baroque-era composers; the works that most orchestras ignore,” he said.

Parks continues that focus in his work at Appalachian State today.  His students play the standard Tchaikovsky, Bach and Beethoven, as well as more modern sets.

“My ears are always opening,” Park said, referring to his eclectic assortment of influences. “I’m always listening.”

Before moving to his current home in Valle Crucis to work at Appalachian, Park was the music conductor and director of the Idaho State-Civic Symphony.

An ‘avid road cyclist,’ Parks feels at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“It’s like living in a national park,” he said.

For Park, the transition to the high country has been a very smooth one, which he credits in large part to Appalachian’s music faculty.

“I think if I had gone to school here I would be a much better musician,” he said.  “Great musicians and great people have made this not feel like a transition at all.”

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, Senior A&E Reporter