The Violin Channel recently sat down with violinist Grace Park — a distinguished graduate of the Colburn Conservatory and New England Conservatory — on the eve of her performance at the iconic music venue.
After winning the Naumburg Violin Award in 2018, you are about to perform your second recital at Weill Hall. Particularly after the difficult year and a half we’ve been through, how does it feel to know you will be performing a recital again in a few days time?
I can't tell you how much I've missed the sound of a beautiful hall and that energy of a live audience. This past year and a half has only made me appreciate it that much more, so to be able to present this recital in the gem of Weill Hall is especially exciting.
Can you tell us more about the program that you will be performing with pianist Joseph Liccardo? What led you to this French theme?
The conversation of programming started with Faure's A Major Sonata (which is in the program); this is a work that Joseph and I have played together since the beginning of our collaboration years ago. Messaien's Theme and Variations is a piece we've always wanted to work on and thought it was the perfect time to do so. Naturally, this led to the idea of creating a program that spans the French language and seeing how that developed through the centuries. The program also includes Leclair and Saint- Saens, which both display an approach of national styles and virtuosity.
Since winning in 2018 how has the Naumburg Foundation assisted you and your career? $25,000 plus two recitals at Carnegie. What does this mean to a young artist, such as yourself?
Winning The Naumburg Competition has meant and done so much for me. It's given me opportunities and platforms that would normally be difficult to access, and most importantly, given me more chances to just go out and perform- something every artist needs in order to gain experience and comfortability.
What are some of your favorite memories of the competition?
To be honest, most of my memories of the competition are stressful. Obviously, finding out I won was a nice moment and memory to keep. Performing the final round was surprisingly enjoyable rather than just nerve wracking - aside from the concerto, they let you choose your repertoire for the recital portion, so it felt like an opportunity to show who I am not just as a violinist, but as a musician.
Your prize included a newly commissioned work written for yourself by Mason Bates — tell us about this experience of working with a living composer?
I love the process of commissioning works and working one on one with living composers. You get to see how one interprets you and your thoughts, and how they meld it into their own. The back and forth dialogue is fascinating and can be profound.
What projects and events are you particularly looking forward to in the coming months?
I'll be performing the Barber Violin Concerto in Stern Auditorium in March with the New York Youth Symphony. This is my first time performing in Stern Auditorium, and my first time performing Barber with orchestra- I can't wait! I'll also be performing a completely different recital program in February at Merkin Hall, which I'm very excited about.
I also just recorded my very first album, and am in the process of putting that together now. I can't wait for the final product and to be able to share it with people!
Why would you recommend musicians to apply for the Naumburg Competition?
The Naumburg Competition demands a lot of music for the rounds, but what's great is that you can create your own programs. It gives you an opportunity to really show who you are not just as a technician and player, but an all around musician.