Dr. Michael Pecak
Conductor and Music Director (2017-2022)
Chicago-born pianist and conductor Michael Pecak has performed to great acclaim throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe on both modern and historical instruments. An insatiable curiosity about art and music has taken Michael down numerous paths in his career. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University where he studied piano performance with Alan Chow and orchestra/opera conducting with Victor Yampolsky, Stephen Alltop, and Julian Dawson. A Fulbright Fellowship followed, enabling Michael to spend a year at the Conservatory of Music in Warsaw, Poland, where he explored the music of 20th and 21st-century Polish composers. Building on this experience, Michael was subsequently named an Artist-in-Residence at the Polish Studies Center of Indiana University (Bloomington) where he also earned his Master’s Degree in piano performance, studying with the renowned American pianist André Watts.
A chance encounter with famed fortepianist Malcolm Bilson inspired a turn from the new to the early. At Bilson’s invitation, Michael attended Cornell University as a Graduate Fellow for a concentrated year of study of historical pianos in solo and chamber-music settings. Whether as a soloist or sidekick, the challenges of period instruments present musicians with plentiful opportunities for imaginative, innovative, and rewarding music-making. Michael recently completed a DMA in historical performance practices at McGill University (Montreal) with a dissertation on the music of Fryderyk Chopin. Earlier this year, Michael was a postdoctoral researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, Belgium, where he worked as part of a team of specialists on a project about historical instruments and the music of Beethoven.
As a fortepianist, Michael has performed in the Vancouver Early Music Festival, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and the Festival de Musique Montreal Baroque. His scholarly articles on the music of Beethoven and Chopin have been published by Keyboard Perspectives (of Cornell University) and the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw. An ardent lover of opera and art-song, Michael has long enjoyed working with vocalists as accompanist, coach, and répétiteur. A regular collaborator with soprano Hannah De Priest, Michael has made a special project of Polish art songs by F. Chopin and his teacher J. Elsner. The duo’s upcoming performances in the Midwest include a program of works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Based once again in his hometown of Chicago, Michael teaches piano at the Northwestern University Music Academy, writes about opera for the online blog Schmopera, and is an active freelance conductor, pianist, and collaborator. When not performing or contemplating music, Michael is most likely tuning his own 18th-century Viennese fortepiano.
Chung Yoon Park
Conductor and Music Director Emeritus (1992-2017)
Chung Yoon Park retired in June, 2017 after 25 years as Conductor of the CCWSO, Program Director and music teacher with the Chicago Park District.
Chung Yoon Park was affiliated for many years with the Korean Broadcasting System Symphony Orchestra, the KBS Chamber Orchestra, and Conductor with the Seoul National Opera Company. Among the maestro’s credits are performances of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion, Haydn’s Creation and the Berlioz Requiem in addition to joint Northeastern University, City Wide Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and “do-it-yourself” Messiahs in both Chicago and Detroit.
He conducted the Commemorative Concert for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics and has performed orchestral programs in the Chicago area with the City Wide Symphony Orchestra and the Albany Park Symphony. Also a specialist in Korean classical music, he made his Chicago opera debut in 1983 in the five-act grand opera, Chun Hyang Jon, at the Civic Opera House. A former member of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, the conductor/cellist is Artist-in-Residence at KAES College and Founder & Director of the Chicago Conservatory for Youth.
He studied in Europe, the Seoul National University and at Detroit’s Wayne State University where he took a Master of Music degree. Mr. Park studied conducting in Europe and with Robert Culver (University of Michigan) and Marvin Ravin (University of Wisconsin). Chung Park became the conductor of the City Wide Symphony Orchestra in 1992 where he continues to bring his unique blend of patience, mentoring, inspiration, and passion to the orchestra.