Park Myung-hoon, the Chief Composer of Korean Symphony Orchestra
Leading the field in contemporary music
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The Korean Symphony Orchestra is one of the most renowned orchestra in the country with a history of about 30 years. Many talented musicians have been a member of it to represent Korean classical and modern music. A position in the Orchestra is highly coveted by young musicians. Last month in October, Park Myung-hoon (Department of Composition ‘05) has been appointed as chief composer in the Korean Symphony Orchestra (hereafter “the Orchestra”). As his first, the gifted composer will receive an honor of creating a song that will be played by the Orchestra between 2018 and 2019. It is truly a point of pride for Hanyang University (HYU), especially for the college of music and News H interviewed Park to celebrate the great achievement.
Q1. How do you feel about being appointed as the chief composer in the Orchestra?
Park: “In various Korean orchestras, the system of having a chief composer did not exist until, recently, like 2-3 years ago. It has been difficult for orchestras to fully assign a chief composer in terms of financial and management issues. So, it is an honor for me because there are not many chances to create a song on my own with no holds barred. I think it is a wonderful opportunity in my career and I am very happy about being appointed as the chief composer.”
Q2. Can you tell the readers about your specific role as the chief composer?
Park: “It is quite simple to be frank because all I have to do is compose a song for the Orchestra to play. It is like a contract where the symphony gives me about one year to complete a song and the orchestra must play the song however I want it to be played. I was given about 30 minutes of time; therefore, my goal would be to concentrate on producing two songs, one song being about 15 minutes, that the Orchestra can perform on stage.”
Q3. Are you currently in process of creating the music for the Orchestra? What kind of music do you compose?
Park: “I usually compose contemporary music, which is a trend of classical music that started in the early 20th century and continues to this day. It is different from classical music because it adds on the elements of modern music into it. For the Orchestra, I have only mapped out the basic sketch of the two songs. For now, I want the first song to be a piano concerto, music of a piano solo. Other than that, I am still in progress of basic outlining. I have a year given to me, but it is not a long time to create a perfect piece of music, so I need to work harder to complete the song.”
Q4. We know that you also work as a professor at HYU, what are other works that you do outside of being the chief composer?
Park: “Yes. Currently, I give teach “Composition Workshop” at HYU. The lecture is for the seniors and it is mainly about how contemporary music is composed and played in Europe and analyzing why some of that music are not played in Korea. I enjoy teaching the students because I believe that supporting young talented musicians is important in booming up the success of Korean modern music. I also serve as the Artistic Director and Composer in the Ensemble Eins which I have established to promote new contemporary music and give other musicians opportunities to play music in an ensemble. Even though I am extremely busy due to these various work positions, I still enjoy taking part in marvelous groups as a chief composer, director, and professor.”
Q5. Can you tell the readers about how your music career began?
Park: “I was first involved in music when I was four years old. Like other Koreans of that age, I went to piano school as well as art school. My father was an artist and he wanted me to pursue music because he didn’t want me to go through the difficulties as an artist. While I was playing piano, my interest was more into how the song was made so, I gained composing experiences by participating in music competitions and concours.”
Q6. What was it like when you attended HYU? What about when you studied abroad in Germany?
Park: “One thing that pops into my head right now is when my friend and I first established a college music club called the Free Composition Group (FCG). It was a club within the college of music to promote song composition and hold annual recitals for the students. We thought active experiences would help the students gain more confidence when all of us step outside the university. The club still exists to this day and it is a strange feeling to see the junior students maintained it for such a long time. After graduation, I studied in Köln, Germany for about 9 years. I really enjoyed the time there because the environment allowed me to freely develop my ability in composition. The friends and professors I have met there encouraged me to find my own color in music.”
Q7. What are the most important elements in composing a song?
Park: “In any form of art, including music, I think individuality is the most important element. I use the phrase, ‘making it mine,’ a lot with students because a song has innumerable value if it has the composer’s uniqueness imbedded into it. For me, my father’s paintings are my influence for composing a song. This results in a music that only I can create with my own personal experiences. Furthermore, communication is also key in developing the musicians through community connections, peer evaluations, and higher growth. This can produce a piece of work that can not only satisfy the public but also bring out the best in your individuality.”
Q8. What is your goal in the future?
Park: “I think utmost goal is to simply produce good music for the public to enjoy. I am completely satisfied with where I am now because I want to improve continuously. I remember one my professors in Germany describing one song as being “just you.” I think that is exactly what I want to achieve.”
Q9. Do you have any last comments for the readers?
Park: “I hear from my students that they are having a tough time with figuring out what to do with life. It is necessary to worry about the financial issues, but I strongly believe having too much concerns on life is not good. One cannot know what it is to work in a field without actually going into the field. Therefore, even though life is difficult and work seems hard, why not try and experience before having too much concern? It will certainly lead you to someplace that you have not expected with more experience.”
Some of the songs Park have composed include: “Monta,” “Mach Kein,” and “Seeds”
You may listen to his music through videos on YouTube. (←CLICK)
Park Min-young email@example.com
Photos by Park Min-young
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