Patrick Park: Hitting the Charitable High Notes

PALM BEACH, FL – When the Lady Gaga of classical piano plays her first notes with the Palm Beach Symphony and guest conductor Jahja Ling, a pianist in his own right will celebrate from the audience.

For Patrick Park, the performance by Ling and Lola Astanova at the Kravis Center caps a plan that has its roots from when he was a boy.

“It will be quite a sensation,” predicted Park, a major supporter of the Palm Beach Symphony and countless other area charities.

Patrick Park

Patrick Park

Ling, Park said, is “one of the top conductors in the world,” while Astanova’s performance is an opportunity to showcase great Russian talent, which was once ubiquitous on world stages but has waned in recent years, having been eclipsed by many Asian musicians. The 26-year-old Astanava, whose on-stage presence has drawn comparisons to the pop diva Lady Gaga, offers another advantage in addition to her skills: Beauty.

“It’s nice to have both,” he said.

Casting a wide net

While Park has supported numerous health-related organizations, such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, the American Heart Association and many others, his passion for the arts runs deep.

Beginning at age 14, he immersed himself in piano studies, though he realized he was getting a relatively late start for someone who aspired to be a world-class musician.

“From day one, I was at the piano every minute I could spare,” he said. “It was hard to do. A lot of great pianists start when they’re 5 or 6.”

After growing up in Interlochen, Michigan, home of the renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts, he studied music and economics at Oberlin College.

“I really went through it for the music,” he said. “The economics part was horrible. I did a couple music festivals there. I continued to study, and went back 10 years later. I’ve always kept my hands in it.”

Support in Palm Beach

Park moved to Palm Beach in 1998 and immersed himself in a large number of wide-ranging charities, from Planned Parenthood and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts to the Humane Society, Palm Beach Opera and numerous other groups.

His outlook, he says, is grounded by a few key principles.

“Never get ahead of yourself. Never develop a super ego and never feel that you’re important. It should be other people who are important,” he said.

When Park isn’t in Palm Beach, he spends time with his family in Portland, Oregon. He visits his daughters, 31 and 29, and in the summer, he enjoys visiting Europe.

Professionally, he serves his family’s company, the Park Corporation, in marketing. The company is involved with numerous manufacturing operations as well as real estate. Park was instrumental in converting a 2.2-million-square-foot manufacturing plant, which once churned out tanks for use in World War II and the Korean War, into a world-class exhibition center in Cleveland, Ohio. Known as the International Exposition Center, it’s adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Power of prayer

Is there an aspect to Park that people would be surprised to know?

“Other than music, I pray a lot. I believe in the power of prayer. You don’t have to be in a synagogue or church. It’s the idea that we always need help from God. It helps us get through the day.”

The great influences in his life, he said, are his parents. “They’ve been tremendous,” he said. And a crucial aspect of his success is the quality of people around him.

“I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of great people,” he said. “I think surrounding yourself with people who have good ethics is important. You are who you surround yourself with.”

For more on the Palm Beach Symphony’s “Redefining the Romantics,” with pianist Lola Astanova and guest conductor Jahja Ling, visit “Inaugural Symphony Gala to Feature Classical Lady Gaga.”

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