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Posted on Sun. Nov. 04, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Piano takes student to Carnegie Hall

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Jiwon Park says she entered Homestead High School with “three dreams for piano.”

Park is a classically trained pianist so these were no humdrum dreams.

On Oct. 27, the 17-year-old Park achieved the second of three.

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on New York City, Park performed at famed Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The Carnegie Hall gig came about as a result of Park having won second place in the piano division of Cincinnati 2012 Young Artist Concerto Competition in February.

Winning second place came as a surprise to Park.

“My goal was just to make it into the final round,” she says. “I thought that would be honorable. I think I got lucky.”

This achievement earned her a spot on one of Carnegie Hall’s stages.

The existence of multiple stages at Carnegie Hall came as another surprise to Park.

“It is actually much smaller than I expected,” she said. “There are a lot different halls in Carnegie Hall. I played in the recital hall.”

Park performed Franz Liszt’s Concert Etude No. 1 on a nine foot Steinway concert grand piano.

“The piano was extremely nice,” she said. “The hall itself was very beautiful. I think the sound carried through the hall very well.”

Park appraised her performance as merely OK, owing to some nervousness.

Her mom agreed.

One thing that never comes as a surprise to Park is honest assessments of her playing from members of her family.

“They usually give me a lot of criticisms,” she says. “I have gotten used to it.”

Park says playing at Carnegie Hall was exciting but it wasn’t quite as exciting as the fulfillment of her second piano dream: debuting with a major orchestra.

In 2011, Park won first prize in the laboriously titled Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Michael Ben and Illene Komisarow Maurer Young Musician’s Contest

Park subsequently performed as a soloist with the orchestra on June 25 of that year.

“I prefer playing with an orchestra,” she said. “I like concertos more than sonatas. Playing in front of a larger crowd is always more exciting.”

The fulfillment of Park’s third dream may fall victim to a change in plans.

She entered high school hoping one day to be accepted into a conservatory. Now, music has a rival for Park’s occupational affections: science.

“I’m actually really interested in bioengineering, neuroscience and math,” she says. “I hope to do both (science and music). I am not sure I can do both. I am stuck in a dilemma.”

Park was supposed to visit Yale University in New Haven, Conn., last week, but she assumed the trip would be canceled due to notably inclement weather.

“I would really like to be at Yale because there I can study both piano and science,” she says. “They have great programs in both areas.”

Asked what she hopes to have accomplished in 10 years’ time, Park mentions a doctorate in performance, a “complete solo concert” at Carnegie Hall and more guest appearances with more orchestras.

She also says she wants “to develop more of (her) musicality.”

“I think I am technically capable but everybody’s technically capable,” she says. “I would like to distinguish myself and become more musical.”

Park defines greater musicality as “more maturity in my interpretation and more depth in my emotions.”

Steve Penhollow is an arts and entertainment writer for The Journal Gazette. His column appears Sundays. He appears Fridays on WPTA-TV, Channel 21, WISE-TV, Channel 33, and WBYR, 98.9 FM to talk about area happenings. Email him at A Facebook page for “Rants & Raves” can be accessed at

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