Portrait of a young organist

Discover Joonho Park, an organ young talent

At the age of 15, Joohno Park began organ playing and got enrolled in the pre-college program of the Korea National University of Arts (KNUA) in the class of Prof. Jakyung Oh, from which he graduated with the degrees of Bachelor in 2007. Joonho has been studying under tutelage of Prof. Jon Laukvik at the University of Performing Arts and Music in Stuttgart, and has completed his Master degree.
Currently, he is pursuing further studies in Toulouse with Michel Bouvard. He will play during The 20th International festival Toulouse les Orgues for The Organ Night, on Sunday, October, 18th.
This is the occasion to meet him.

1/ Tell us your story with organ. How and why have you choose this instrument ?

Actually I didn’t know reasons clearly for playing organ until teenager, it just attracted me much very naturally and instinctively. When I was 15, the French organist with huge fame, Jean Boyer visited Seoul, Korea. Now I can not explain the details of his performance but still remember that his musical aura/-spiritual-energy perfectly worked with the instrument, “the organ”. I think that moment was the first impression which motivated me strongly to play organ.
This moment, I think I could tell you why I choose this instrument: First of all, organ has various characters of sound: very high and lower tones; dim and huge; thin and massive sounds etc… It has lots of “shapes” of sound and immense range of sound. Through it, we could experience the varieties of sound, just in “one instrument”.
Secondly, organ is possible to be played continually for ever, if wind is being supplied and the key is being pressed. I am existing in this world as one of human being and our lives have temporal limits. Don’t we? But it seems that the organ exists beyond our boundary to me. The third thing is: the organ has its own story. An organ, which has been existing for hundreds years, contains historical evidences. It shows us the aesthetic standards of the time and let us to hear what they wanted to listen to at that time.

2/ What is the place of organ in South Korea ?

Korea was very effectively influenced by missionary works of european countries and the america in 19th century. And christianity is one of most important parts of our society. But organ is an instrument of long tradition and history. Now we -in Korea- have more organs than decades ago, but we still need many organs with good qualities.
Anyway the Place of the organ is, I would say, “It is the church”.

3/ Why are you come in Toulouse for your studies ?

I could tell you two reasons:
- Because of the beautiful instruments in Toulouse. Specially the Cavaillé-Coll organ of St Sernin was my dream. So I am dreaming now in Toulouse. Besides, I heard that there are numbers of various organs which have good qualities in this city and the students could practice on those organs. Actually I have been desiring to experience divers instruments day by day. Although I do like french music, I have never been taught under french organ teacher. I think I don’t need to tell how wonderful Prof. Michel Bouvard is.
- I was very interested in French language. But here, I spend most times for the organ. It is very piteous that I can not have more hours than 24 hours per a day. Learning a language needs continuos efforts. I should learn it quickly, I am so driven by impetuosity.

4/ Which is your favorite organ in Toulouse and why ?

It is really difficult question.
I would answer it is Saint Sernin.
I think that you and many toulousains might know better than me about the organ-for example, the histories and quality of the organ so on…
To me, the organ has really wonderful balances: between each manuals; between manuals and pedal. So it sound perfectly with acoustic of the Basilica of St Sernin. So high quality of horizontal Trumpets. The clarity of the sound -although the huge acoustic- is so wonderful.

5/ Had you heard about the festival Toulouse les Orgues before you came in Toulouse ?

Of course. Before I came here, I also heard that Toulouse has many numbers of good organs. Though I have not been all the cities in Europe, now I think I know why people describe Toulouse “the city of organs”. People of Toulouse, travelers and organists from all around world can enjoy the spectacular organ music with those instruments. This “Les Orgues Toulouse” is very ideal organ music festival to all the organist in the world.

6/ Tell us your best memory with the organ ?

Playing the organ, sometimes I perceive the reason why I breathe.
“For this moment, I have been living. For now, I am alive” such things…
That is the best moment with the organ, I would say.
It is not when I play on very good organ in famous concert venue, but just during my practice time in everyday life.
“Better moments” certainly exist every time I play the instrument, but I don’t know when was/is/will be the best.

7/ What are your wishes for the organ for the years to come ?

This answer could be concerned with the question before (no.6) I desire to let many people know the beauty of organ music, specially in Korea. I want to let the public to be motivated through the messages which music contains, when the music in being performed, it is “encouraging” and “consolation" to our lives through music. This things are what I experienced and I thought it is the why the music is so worth.

8/ Tell us about your next concert or project ?

Yes, some concerts are fixed from this summer to next summer (2016) such as: in Westminster Abbey of London / UK, Stiftskirche in Stuttgart, in Buxtehude, Berlin / Germany, Toulouse Les Orgue, Saint Tropez, Cannes / France, Tokyo / Japan, Seoul / Korea etc…