March-April 2011 | Parenting

Top Teens 2011

Bethesda Magazine's 2011 Extraordinary Teen Awards.

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The Percussionist

Emily Park

Senior, Walt Whitman High School

What sets her apart: Once an avid soccer player, Emily Park changed her focus to music after attending Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan two years ago. “We played a famous piece called Carmina Burana, and…the people in the crowd were going crazy,” she says. “You don’t expect that in a classical setting. I was like: I have to do this. I have to become a musician and have this feeling all the time.”

Today, the 17-year-old Bethesda resident is the principal percussionist in the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras’ philharmonic orchestra and the principal timpanist in the Peabody Youth Orchestra in Baltimore. She’s also one of 20 Youth Fellows studying and performing with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Other accomplishments: She’s first chair in the Maryland All State Senior Band and a volunteer teacher for Strathmore’s interPLAY, an educational program for adult musicians, some of whom have cognitive and physical disabilities.

What others say: “Despite a demanding academic load at one of our best high schools—Whitman—not to mention a hectic schedule filled with sports and all of her other musical involvements, Emily committed her time and talent to working with this special nonprofit to share the joy of music,” says Cheryl Jukes, executive director of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras at Strathmore.

What her future holds: Emily wants to major in performance and music education and continue a liberal arts education. Her goal is to perform professionally with an orchestra while starting a program like interPLAY.