Music Accompanies Life
Name: Nicole Hwang
Class Standing: Junior
Majors: English, Music (Pre-Medicine)
In addition to a busy class schedule, Hwang plays violin in the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra and on a praise team. In a brief interview, I was able to learn about what significance music has to her.
How does music fit in, not just to your career, but also your life outside of that?
Music does a lot for me personally, in helping me...to relax myself and to give myself perspective. So it’s not directly linked to medicine as a career, but medicine is practiced by people, and music helps people. As a practicing doctor, I guess it’s like any interest people have that helps them to not concentrate so hard and not overwork themselves.
What is it about music that relaxes you and helps you get that perspective?
Part of it is the actual sounds themselves, the emotional effect that those have, as well as the physical aspect of actually playing a violin. It takes a lot of self-control and discipline and you have to be relaxed to do it well.
What genre or perhaps a specific composer do you go to if you’re too stressed out?
I guess it depends if I’m trying to relax or if I’m trying to express my frustration. If I’m trying to relax myself I guess I would go to someone who has a very peaceful soul, essentially, like Chopin or Debussy—somebody who composes more poetic pieces.
And what type of music would you use to express your frustration?
I’ll listen to non-classical music. I listen to a lot of Indie and Alternative (music), and I think having the lyrics along with the music helps, because they help to process. Because music is super abstract, if you have words, you can connect the dots.
After covering Hwang’s relationship with music, discussion turned to the Senior Recital, an extensive project that all Music majors must prepare and perform in their final year of undergraduate studies. Since Hwang is a Junior, she is already brainstorming about what pieces to play. Two of the compositions she’s considering are The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams and a Violin Sonata by César Franck.
What about those pieces makes them special to you and something you’d want to work on for your Senior Recital?
I guess part of that would be the people that I associate them with. The flip side of that would be the emotion that they spark (in me)… You would want to choose pieces that express some core quality of yourself. In the way that I understand these pieces, I find that connection to each of them.
How would you describe their emotional qualities?
The fourth movement of the Franck sonata I would describe as peaceful. It almost describes the effect of sunlight coming through a window…For The Lark Ascending, it becomes more free as the piece progresses. I identify with that idea, of transcendence into a broader or greater perspective on reality…A lot of what makes music relatable to me is that it describes life. If you can hear that and appreciate it in classical music, (I think) that’s one of the main reasons why people still love it.