Music professor shines at faculty recital
Dr. Hyunsoon Whang —national performer, Juilliard graduate and Cameron professor since 1992 — proved she was no stranger to the stage as she made her way to the piano with a smile and began the CU Spring Faculty Concert Series at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Cameron University Theatre.
Whang’s concert series titled “Scenes from Childhood” incorporated famous composers’ pieces such as Mozart, Schumann, Debussy, Chopin and Villa-Lobos. Whang said one composer in particular — Schumann — inspired most of the songs for the childhood theme.
“I have always loved Schumann,” Whang said. “I am performing 12 pieces written by him — they are very short — but the titles are very descriptive.”
Whang encouraged the audience to reflect on the memories they held growing up or relive the young moments of their children throughout the concert.
“The idea of this concert is not designed to entertain children or listen to children’s music on the piano,” Whang said. “It is for the adult’s eye. It is a reminiscing kind of work, to reflect on childhood.”
Music filled the theatre as Whang began her evening performance with “Ah, vous dirari-je Maman” by Mozart. “Kinderszenen” (Scenes from Childhood) by Schumann followed. Each of the 12 pieces incorporated a childlike theme but the mood and tempo of each song differed.
Whang not only performed each piece by heart but also with her heart as she informed the audience she has been reminded of childhood often because her daughter, who is a senior in high school, will soon to be leaving home to attend college.
Debussy’s piece, “Children’s Corner Suite,” contained six movements.
“Each piece, he wrote for his three and a half year old daughter,” Whang said. “These pieces were written to observe children.”
The first, which Whang explained poked fun at childrens’ piano exercises —was “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum.” The second piece, “Jimbo’s Lullaby,” Debussy wrote after he heard his daughter singing a lullaby to her toy elephant, much like the third piece, “Serenade for the Doll.”
“The Snow is Dancing,” the fourth song performed by Whang, filled the theatre with staccatos and a rapid tempo — quite the opposite of “The Little Shepherd”— a quiet, short and simple piece that broke the constant consonance previously portrayed in the earlier pieces.
The final piece of “Children’s Corner—“Golliwogg’s Cakewalk”—Whang described as humorous.
“Golliwoggs were a popular childrens doll at the time,” Whang said. “This piece made fun of another famous composer, Wagner, and it was meant to be comical.”
Once Whang completed each movement from “Children’s Corner” the lights brightened to signal the break for intermission. Dr. Whang exited the stage.
After intermission, the audience greeted Whang with applause as she took center stage once more. She began with Chopin’s “Nocturne in C-Sharp minor, Op. 27,No. 1” and continued with “Nocturn in D-Flat major, Op. 2, No. 2.” The third piece performed by Whang by Chopin was “Berceuse, Op. 57.”
The recital concluded with “From a prole de bebe No. 1” (The baby’s family) written by Villa-Lobos. The piece contained four movements: “Branquinha” (The Little White Doll), “Moreninha” (The Little Burnette Doll), “Caboclinha” (The Little Copper Colored Doll) and “O polichinelo” (The Punch Doll).
Dr. Whang not only performed for the audience but also educated them in the art of music. Carole Neptune, longtime friend of Whang, said she most enjoys the education aspect of Whang’s recitals.
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