Piano Professor's Carnegie Hall Recital Postponed


UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, this performance has been postponed to Carnegie Hall's next concert season. 

Carnegie Hall in New York City is one of the most iconic concert stages in the world. Acts from Duke Ellington and The Beatles to Billie Holiday and Led Zeppelin have brought their music to the masses at the famed venue.

JSU’s own Rachel Park will add her name to that constellation of iconic artists when she realizes a life-long dream of performing a piano recital in the Weill Recital Hall there on Monday, March 30.

“As history proves, performing at Carnegie Hall means more than just an honor for artists,” said Park, an assistant professor of piano in the David L. Walters Department of Music, who joined the JSU faculty in 2018. “Debuting at Carnegie Hall can prove the artistry of the performer and provide more celebrated opportunities for future scholarly and artistic activities.”

The idea of performing at Carnegie Hall was born early this year when Park was preparing the lecture recital for her terminal degree. She checked the fees and availability of booking her debut recital. “But the reality was a dream breaker,” she said.

To rent the recital hall alone cost $10,000. Park would also have to budget for travel and recording expenses.

“I thought it would not be worth it to spend that much money,” she said, “since I have a family and many other things to do.”

Three weeks ago, Park received an unexpected phone call.

A professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas., where Park is pursuing her doctorate in piano performance and church music, was asked by a performance art agency in New York to recommend an artist who could perform at Carnegie Hall on March 30.

Another artist cancelled a performance, having already paid the $5,500 non-refundable deposit. That left Park needing to raise $4,800. "I said 'I don't have the budget in my pocket right now'," Park said, "'but I will take the opportunity'."

Park approached Dr. Staci Stone, dean of JSU's School of Arts and Humanities, about available grants. Dr. Stone provided $2,000. To get the rest, Park planned a fundraising concert for Feb. 28, 7 p.m., at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. But that will be unnecessary, as Park has since received generous financial help from a donor.

Now the JSU concert will be a warm-up to her March 30 recital in New York City. During the free preview concert this week, she will perform some selections from her Carnegie performance, with pieces by Rachmaninoff, Liszt and Chopin. She will perform her entire Carnegie recital at Samford University on March 17 at 7:30 p.m., which is also free and open to the public. 

At Carnegie, she will perform the following program: 

First Half (30 minutes): 

  • "Estampes" by Claude Debussy
  • "Etude Tableau Op. 39, No. 6 in A Minor" by Sergei Rachmaninoff 
  • "Etude Op. 10, No. 12 in C Minor" by Frederic Chopin 
  • "Miroirs" by Maurice Ravel

Intermission (15 minutes)

Second Half (41 minutes)

  • "Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109" by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • "Grandes Études de Paganini No. 6 in A Minor" by Franz Liszt 
  • "Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23" by Frederic Chopin
  • "Arirang" arranged by Rachel Park 

“Most of the repertoires are my old friends, what I feel most confident to perform,” Park said. “I wanted to present the most comfortable and confident pieces on the Carnegie Hall stage, but they are not easy listening pieces. They are not only challenging pieces for pianists but also appealing repertoires to the audience. I consider the whole flow of the program when I plan a recital.”

The Carnegie Hall performance will take place on March 30, 8 p.m., in Weill Recital Hall. Tickets are $50 and available online.