UW-River Falls: Professor retires, named artistic director for Seoul City Concert Choir

January 28, 2022 – University of Wisconsin-River Falls Music Professor JW Park is headed home.

Park, who has been the director of UWRF choral activities since 2003, retired on January 28 from the university. Park is moving to his hometown in Korea to become the artistic director and conductor of the Seoul City Concert Choir, a professional choir, on Monday, Feb. 7.

Park said he is honored to join the Seoul choir but is also saddened to leave his students and colleagues at UWRF.

Park decided to accept the position because it is an opportunity to work with a superb professional choir. He also wanted to move to Seoul where his spouse, Leonie, has been living since September, caring for a family member. 

“I love teaching,” Park said. “My heart is in River Falls. It’s difficult to leave the students.”

Park said UWRF students are honest and a joy to teach, and he loved watching students grow and mature in their musical abilities while attending the university. Many of his students have gone on to teach in high schools and other colleges, he noted.

“I am very proud of the students I have taught from River Falls,” Park said.

Since he has been at UWRF, the choir has traveled seven times to sing and tour Thailand, Japan, China and Korea, Park said. 

He will also miss his colleagues, noting they have always been supportive of his work.

Park, of Richfield, Minn., taught private voice lessons, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and conducting. 

In a message to students, David Milne, chair and music professor, Stage and Screen Arts Department, congratulated Park on his appointment to a prestigious position and his retirement.

“We are deeply grateful and appreciative to Dr. Park for his distinguished teaching, service and contributions to UW-River Falls, and for his exceptional leadership of choral music at UW-River Falls for over two decades,” Milne wrote. “Dr. Park’s exceptional musicianship, teaching, mentorship and leadership will continue to be a great influence on our UW-River Falls students and alumni.” 

Dean Yohnk, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said UWRF was “blessed to have had Dr. Park’s outstanding choral conducting capabilities for over 20 years. Many of us as lovers of music and as audience members have benefitted from his outstanding talents and skills.”

A retirement reception was held January 27 for Park.

New faculty have been hired and will be announced soon to teach Park’s classes, Milne noted.

An active lecturer and clinician, Park has given presentations throughout the United States, Korea and Japan. He has presented his lecture, “Breathing Without Breathing: Incorporating Tai Chi into Choral Warm-ups,” at the American Choral Directors Association Regional Convention and the Wisconsin Music Educators Association Conference. His article on the same topic was published in the ACDA Choral Journal. He founded the group JW Chorale in Seoul, a festival choir that rehearses for two weeks and performs in July. In addition, he formed a female semi-professional choir composed of selected UWRF students and alumni called the Lumina Cantorum. 

Park earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, a Master of Music in Voice degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music in Conducting degree from Cleveland State University, and his Ph.D. in music from Michigan State University. 

He was a member of the Robert Shaw Festival Choir and performed many times in France, as well as Carnegie Hall in New York City.

For more information, contact Yohnk at dean.yohnk@uwrf.edu or 715-425-3777.