Community School Spotlight: Claire Park

Claire Park, 18, was born in Los Angeles but spent her elementary school years in Seoul, South Korea. She has been at Colburn since 2013 and is currently an Ahmanson Scholar studying with Richard Naill. Claire recently won the Leonard Bernstein Prize for the best performance of a Bernstein work in the Mondavi Competition and the Los Angeles American String Teachers Association (ASTA) Competition Grand Prize.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

Why did you decide to study here?
Colburn was the closest music institute from my house! Besides that, Colburn is an amazing place with many opportunities to learn in a diverse and focused environment. Talented students from all around the world and learning from astonishing faculties becomes part of your journey of becoming not only a professional cellist, but a true musician.

My family thought it was good idea to come to a place where there are such opportunities. I improved on my individual playing and stage presence by getting performance opportunities here. I broadened my musical and ensemble skills by collaborating with many talented musicians; this was possible because Colburn is a music-focused and friendly environment.

What are some things you’ve been involved with here?
I have participated in the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music program, honors recitals, and the Colburn Chamber and Youth Orchestras. I love being part of chamber music and ensembles because making music with friends and colleagues is very different from practicing alone in your room. It is more interesting than practicing by yourself and there is a lot of good repertoire that you can build up on.

I was scared for every recital I performed in; honors recitals are usually the scariest, but every concert and recital was a big deal to me. I truly enjoyed every moment preparing for the recital and practicing.

What has your most memorable Colburn experience been?
Definitely Musical Encounter, where we perform for young students at public schools. It is arranged by [Community School staff accompanist] Roberta Garten. The purpose is to give them some ideas about music. It is super fun because most of the children have never heard classical music and their interpretation of the piece is very imaginative.

When did you start playing music?
I first started piano when I was four, and switched to cello when I was 10. I would say playing the cello has been the hardest thing I have done in my life. I went through a lot of hardships and made important decisions, but I also have a lot of good memories like playing with my friends and listening to great musicians around the world.

What are your plans for college?
At first, I was unsure if I should continue music for my career because I started cello fairly late compared to other musicians. I also thought it was such a competitive field to be in. However, I realized that music is what I really love and what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am planning to continue studying music in a conservatory for next few years, and want to be a chamber musician later on.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding faculty and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.