Yeoman Interview – Eunsley Park

Rising British/South Korean violinist, Eunsley Park, is a former student of the Yehudi Menuhin School and current winner of the Musicians’ Company Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship. A keen chamber musician and soloist, London-based Eunsley has performed at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Warsaw Philharmonic, Rachmaninov Hall Moscow and Wigmore Hall, where she will perform a recital next year, plays regularly at international festivals and has worked under the baton of world-class conductors. She currently studies with Itzhak Rashkovsky at the Royal College of Music on the artist diploma course.

Did you grow to love the violin or was it love at first sight?
I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. My mum was a pianist and so I would sit on her lap as she played or gave lessons, before taking up the piano myself from the age of two. I do love the piano and the repertoire but I felt an instant bond when picking up the violin a couple of years later for the first time. Whether I’m playing the piano or violin though, playing music has always felt very natural to me.

What was your greatest concert experience?
What is most important is my feeling on stage, regardless of the audience’s reaction. What matters to me is that I feel connected to the music and free while performing. I think that the most special moments occur when I am totally true to the music and to myself; that’s when the magic happens! Some of my best concert experiences include a performance last year at the Wigmore Hall concert as part of the Royal College of Music String Showcase and a recital I did recently at the French Embassy in Vienna.

What are your favourite pieces of music?
I absolutely adore anything by Schubert; his music really speaks to me, and Franck’s Violin Sonata which is just a masterpiece and a very personal work to me. I also really like listening to the big symphonic works like the Mahler and Bruckner Symphonies and to other instrumental works like piano sonatas or chamber music works.

Do you prefer playing solo or in an ensemble?
I think to be a soloist you have to be very strong in your personality and secure in how convincing you are in an interpretation of a work. I do like playing solo, but even as a soloist, most of the time I will be joined on stage with a pianist, as a duo, which is still very much a team work process. I love collaborating and working with great musicians. It’s great to feed off each other’s energy and discover how every musician has something different to say. Learning how others approach a piece of music can be so inspirational and revelatory. I find that aspect of collaboration really fascinating and helpful to my learning.

Who have you most enjoyed sharing the stage with?
I really admire the conductor Bernard Haitink, who’s worked with the world’s major orchestras. Every movement he makes is so convincing and elegant. I also consider myself very lucky to have had an opportunity to perform for Maxim Vengerov at a public masterclass. Daniil Trifonov is another genius who I really admire; hearing him do all Rachmaninov piano concertos was so inspirational. Just sharing the stage with these great musicians is such a privilege, and are treasures in my musical memories.

What is your favourite recording?
One of my favourite recordings ever is the Brahms 2 Songs for contralto, viola and piano sung by Marian Anderson and played by William Primrose and Franz Rupp. It’s just so beautiful and impossible not to be touched by it.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?
The advice I live by is to focus first and foremost on the music. To chase music and not to chase career, fame or success. The fundamental reason for being a musician is for the music itself. That it speaks to us and touches us and for the passion we have for it, regardless of anything else. I think it’s important to stay true to the purpose of why you’re a musician and not get swayed or discouraged too much by other factors.

What advice would you give another musician?
To constantly stay curious, to simply be content by the music in itself and most importantly to enjoy the process of music making. It should be a gratifying, fulfilling, fun experience! It’s normal to get stressed and feel under pressure sometimes, but if there’s no inherent joy in music-making, I think music is a rather difficult profession to live with!

What have been the highlights of 2017 so far?
I played a recital at Manchester’s The Bridgewater Hall recently and performed at St John’s Square as part of the Park Lane Group series. I also played a recital at Drapers’ Hall London, and the French Embassy in Vienna, both of which were just the most beautiful settings. One of my big achievements so far this year, however, has to be curating a project at the Royal College of Music as part of my Junior Fellowship award. It involved putting together an orchestra and 15 soloists to perform all five Mozart violin concertos and was performed at the college and broadcast live in May.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2017?
I’ll shortly be going to Tenerife to lead an ensemble organised by the Korean Embassy and each year I travel to the South of France for a recital tour with a pianist. This year we’ve made it slightly more thematic by performing concert programmes which have a coherent motive: an all-Beethoven concert, a Russian themed recital and a Viennese night too. My dream is to expand this into a festival with cross-arts and multi-dimensional perspective. Music is such a rich and demanding art, and it’s easy to not look beyond the instrument, when there’s so much more in life to discover and be amazed by!

You can find out more about Eunsley and her upcoming concerts at eunsleypark.com.