July 8, 2011

One final ingredient in the recipe for excellence. ~ Amy Ippoliti & Tina Park

Her hands: like creatures from other planes of existence — first a pair of praying mantises, then seaweed lolling to the ocean’s current — captivating and alive.

She pretty much rocks.

Pianist Yeol eum Son (pronounced Yadum Son) was born in 1986, in Wonju, South Korea. A prodigy since the age of three, she has been awarded both the Silver Medal and the Steven De Groote Memorial Award for the Best Performance of Chamber Music in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009.

Just a few days ago, she was awarded another silver medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. At only 25, she has already reached the gold standard for international piano competitions.

Yep.  If you looked up the word “excellence” in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Yeol Eum there.

She even text messages excellently. You should see her fingers hitting the buttons full throttle!

Recipe for Excellence

What is striking about Yeol Eum and her dynamic, ecstatic performances is the way she combines the following two ingredients:

  1. Extreme technical prowess (thanks to the 10,000+ hours she has put in at the piano)
  2. Complete enchantment: as if possessed by the sound, she becomes a vessel — a wide open channel to Source.  Nothing veils this channel. Nothing holds her back from expressing her deep emotional connection to the music.

Her 19-minute, silver medal-winning performance in Moscow was recorded a few days ago.  You need only view the first minute to witness the spark of true excellence.  But, watch the whole thing. It will rock your world.


Excellence: it takes two.

There is one final ingredient in the recipe for excellence: believe in yourself.

Often belief in oneself requires someone else’s believing in you first. Growing up, Yeol Eum was blessed to have a patron who recognized her talent.

This person, Korean philanthropist and businessman, Dr. Seong-Yawng Park, believed that the young musician deserved the finest training, the finest instruments and the opportunity to perform with the greatest orchestras, in order to bring her skill and passion to the highest level.  And so he connected Yeol-Eum with the industry heavyweights. Park’s support of Yeol Eum and many other young Korean artists was and is motivated by his love for classical music and its remarkable ability to transcend barriers, but also by his passion for helping children to realize their dreams.

What can you do to make this world an even better place today? Marry your passion with someone else’s dreams. Believe in someone. Foster excellence.


New York City transplant Amy Ippoliti travels the globe extensively, helping people bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Tina Park is the author of “Vinyasa Yoga: a moving meditation,” as well as co-owner and -director of Korea’s premier yoga studio, JAI.  She enjoys bridging cultures, artforms and perspectives to bring an enhanced interconnectedness and presence to modern day global citizenry.

Tina and Amy have been collaborating, laughing, growing and making mischief together across multiple continents since 1996.

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