Alex Park ’21 Builds a Tight-Knit Music Community Through Storytelling and Experience as an Artist

Playing the oboe helped Alex Park ’21 not only become a better musician, but also a better leader and storyteller.

On the stage of Cochran Chapel, the “A” note from oboist Alex Park ’21 resonates through the orchestra, unifying the intonation of different instruments and signifying the commencement of the concert. According to Park, leading the orchestra with the tuning note is a responsibility and significant indicator of what he identifies as a deeper meaning in music.

“It’s a good metaphor for how I want to view my own self in terms of music. As an oboist, I always try to find some sort of harmony, not just within myself and music, but with everyone else in my section, or in the winds, or just in the orchestra in general. I like having that sense of unity and I try to strive to do that,” said Park.

In middle school, Park’s friends introduced him to the musical community built by his band director, who was also an oboist. Largely inspired by her, Park decided to pick up the oboe and instantly felt a connection to the instrument.

“She was actually the person who sort of kept pushing me to pursue music because at first, I didn’t really know why I was playing. I was just kind of playing just to play. But she was an oboist throughout her entire life and she had a lot of passion for her playing, and so she tried to impart that [passion] on her students as well,” said Park.

At Andover, Park serves as the principal oboist in the Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, and Concert Bands. But in the process of playing the oboe at Andover, Park has also learned valuable lessons on becoming a well-rounded artist, and more importantly, a storyteller.

“I think every form of art, every medium of art, whether it’s music or writing or drawing or painting that I do, the thing that I like most about it is the story behind it, the stories you make with the people that you play with. You’re building stories in real life together with others, and I think all of those aspects of the story coming together is what I really appreciate and is how I sort of integrate my different areas of art,” said Park.

His devotion to storytelling can be felt by his peers throughout the music community at Andover, according to Adrian Lin ’22, Park’s friend and fellow oboist. Lin admires Park for his control over the contour to his musical phrasing, which he identifies as a key aspect of an oboist’s expressivity. According to Lin, Park excels at conveying his desired style and interpretation of a piece, which comes from his strong foundation in visual art.

“His proficiency in the visual arts carries over to his passion in music. I don’t want to speak for [Park], but when I hear him play, I can picture in my head the image that he wishes to convey. I feel like while he plays oboe, he conjures a beautiful image, and he conveys this image to the audience really well. It’s a very three dimensional, visual component of his music,” said Lin.

Emphasizing the importance of community building at Andover, Park believes that once an orchestra becomes a tight-knit community, its music gains a new sense of synchrony and meaning. Evan Tsai ’21, a friend and double bassist who received Park’s warm welcome as a new Lower, expressed that Park’s leadership and welcoming nature makes him a role model among the orchestra community.

“A lot of younger people look to him for advice, for mentoring, and stuff like that. He’s really good with working with younger kids and making sure that they feel included and they don’t feel awkward in rehearsal,” said Tsai.

Going forward, Park does not see himself ever parting from the oboe. In college, he will search for the same sense of music community that he found during his time at Andover and preserve the joy that he finds through this form of storytelling.

“What I found most valuable about music is the community I found and the friendships I formed. I love that it’s an art form that you can use to express yourself and find stories, and I love that you can take that and then bring other people into it as well and share your own experiences,” said Park.