Melody of Sincerity
A harmonicist and a conductor with a throbbing heart
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"How will you financially be successful in that path?" was the question Park got most frequently after becoming determined that he would become a harmonicist. Since he was a young boy, Park Jong-seong (Department of String and Wind Instruments majoring in Orchestra Conducting, Master’s program) had many opportunities to encounter music and learn various instruments thanks to his pianist mother. The one that enchanted Park the most was not the piano, the violin, or the flute, but the harmonica. Having studied harmonica and composition since high school, Park became a talented harmonicist player and song-writer who is dreaming of becoming a conductor in the future.
Park first encountered the harmonica when he was in elementary school. He only considered the instrument as a good hobby and something he could have fun with, until his harmonica teacher suggested him to participate in a harmonica contest held in Japan. Park agreed to the suggestion and ended up receiving the grand prize, which brought his teacher to tears of happiness. “The teacher is someone who is so precious and valuable to me. He is a great person of wonderful personality who was so loving and dedicating. After receiving the grand prize and seeing him crying, I felt like I repaid for all the love I’ve received from him with music. This is when I decided that I would become a harmonicist.”
Moreover, lucky for Park, the contest was also a concert for professional harmonica players, the performance which further inspired him to become a harmonicist. Park saw an old Japanese harmonicist who stepped onto the stage with a walking aid due to his weak legs, his harsh breaths clearly audible during his performance. “The sound that man produced was simply mesmerizing. It was so touching that it even made me feel jealous of his professionality. At that moment, my dream became solidified,” reminisced Park. The thrill that vibrated Park’s heart that day was the pivotal event that set his path toward becoming a harmonicist.
Park proved his skill by collecting about 10 prizes from various contests. The most memorable one of all was the pivotal contest in Japan and some others include the Asian Pacific Harmonica Contest held in China, in which Park got the first prize in three different sections and the world’s harmonica contest in Germany. Park likes to perform his own songs in the contest because he wants to express himself through the song he composed, which he believes could best convey his color and feeling. The song he feels the strongest attachment is called ‘Run Again,’ which Park composed after his mother passed away. Park was going through a great emotional slump and could not prepare for the contest. However, he suddenly encouraged himself and brushed off the dust. This song won him a grand prize!
A clip of Park's performance
“If I have to choose one thing to do for the rest of my life, I thought it would be the harmonica because it’s what makes me happy.” The instrument is charming to Park in its smoothness in playing. “Just with the breaths I’m taking right now, the harmonica can be played. Unlike other instruments where you have to use energy or some power, the harmonica can be played very naturally.” This is what enables Park to express and convey his emotions through his songs, as the sound comes from his natural breaths. “There is one thing I want to change about the instrument. It is the fixed idea people normally have with the harmonica. Unless they see me performing, people tend to underestimate the sound the instrument can produce. I want to change such a simple understanding about the harmonica by becoming a better player who can produce greater music.”
Just as Park wanted to study music composition to compose songs for the harmonica, he wanted to study orchestra because he wants to become a better harmonica player. He was seeking further studies above composition that would guide him to enhance his skills as a player and came across the idea of studying orchestra conducting. After studying conducting at Hanyang with his professor, Park became more ambitious to carry on his studying and move on to the Doctor’s degree. He not only thinks his studying will ultimately help him to become a better player but also found another goal for himself. “I wish to be an orchestra conductor who can also participate in the performance,” envisioned Park.
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Jin-myung
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