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Dave Olson, Published December 19 2010

11 to Watch in 2011: Everything’s in tune

About this series

Starting today and running for the next 10 days, The Forum is featuring area people to watch in 2011. We expect these people will make news in the coming year.

Eunhae Park is 18 and a senior at Moorhead High School.

She is also the finest violinist that Jon Larson, the director of the Moorhead High School orchestra, has ever worked with.

If Park decides to become a professional musician, she could be one of the top soloists in the world, according to Larson.

While she enjoys playing music, Park said she’s also interested in academics and is thinking about becoming a doctor some day.

“I guess I’m not completely sure where I’ll end up in 10 years,” Park said.

She has applied to colleges and says her top choices would be Harvard or Princeton, “just because they have a lot of scholarships, and I kind of need those.”

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Park moved with her family to the United States and to the Twin Cities area when she was 7.

The family moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area around the time Park entered fourth grade.

By then, she was already well versed in the violin, having started taking lessons when she was 4.

Her teachers quickly realized she had perfect pitch, a rare ability that gives a musician – especially one who plays a stringed instrument – an edge.

“I gave her lessons when she was in middle school and noticed that her intonation, playing in tune, was impeccable,” Larson said.

“To have perfect pitch is incredible. It’s a terrific asset for her to have,” he added.

Park also takes direction well and is keen on finding out all there is to know about playing the violin, Larson said.

“She wants to know the finer points of what we’re learning, much beyond the average high school student,” he said.

In conversation, Park sounds older than her 18 years.

Park said she gets that a lot and believes the reason for it goes back to her early years and why she began playing the violin.

When she was small, she helped her parents, Sang and Eunhi Park, care for a younger sister who is disabled.

She would become upset at times by the way people treated her sister, and Park said her mother decided that steering her toward music and the violin might provide an outlet for her stress.

At first, it only added to her pressures.

“I’d practice for like an hour every day. It was so tiring. My fingers would hurt; my neck ached,” Park said.

“But then as I got older, it was a part of my life, so I didn’t see it as a big chore, and I started enjoying it more. When I think back, I guess I did a lot. But that just became who I was,” Park said.

In recent years, Park has participated in a number of highly selective music programs around the country, including the National Symphony Orchestra National Trustees’ Summer Music Institute at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

“They choose about 60 kids from across the nation and some international students as well,” said Park.

She was also accepted to the Interlochen Center for the Arts summer music camp in Michigan with the help of a scholarship awarded to only about 50 students from across the U.S. each year.

When playing music, Park said her goal is to communicate the composer’s story as creatively as possible.

“Whatever piece I’m playing, there’s a message behind it,” she said.

One of Park’s duties with the Moorhead High orchestra is serving as concert master.

That involves making sure other musicians are staying in tune.

Does that mean she can she pick out sour notes and who is playing them?

“Yeah, usually,” Park said with a smile.

But, she added, “I don’t like to be super imposing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555