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An Interview Siwook Hwang, First Violinist for the Kalamazoo Philharmonia

By Viola Brown, Staff Writer

First year student and first violinist for the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Siwook Hwang discusses his experiences playing the violin, his time in the Philharmonia and the challenges he’s faced so far.

The Index: How long have you been playing the violin and when did you become serious about it?

Siwook Hwang: I’ve been playing for ten years, but for six or seven years I didn’t really practice and I wasn’t really serious about it. It wasn’t until I got into high school that I became seriously into it.

The Index: What experience in high school made you more serious about it?

S.H.: There was this one teacher who was serious about fundamentals and practice, and studying with her really helped. Then I went to Canada for high school and I joined two orchestras: a school orchestra and a community youth orchestra [The Ottawa Youth Orchestra]. The community one had lots of great players and I learned a lot about general playing, and expressions.

The Index: How is being in the Philharmonia different from your experiences in other orchestras?

S.H.: The Ottawa Youth Orchestra was mostly students of my age. Kalamazoo Philharmonia has a lot of people outside of school which I think is pretty cool because of all the other people you get to meet.

The Index: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced so far and how are you overcoming them?

S.H.: I’m not the most advanced player in orchestra; we’ve had three rehearsals so far and I’ve struggled to catch up. After high school, I had stop playing violin after three or four months and I came back. I went straight into orchestra and it’s difficult to catch up and get back into that mindset. One of things I really love about this school is that they have the practice rooms open until 1 a.m., so I can just go in there and start practicing.

The Index: What is your favorite piece to perform?

S.H.: I always just like whatever we play, I just really get into it I listen to it all the time. The 2nd Symphony of Checkosky, I played that last year with the youth orchestra and that was really fun. Not only is it a great piece but I was in the 2nd violin section, which is less pressure.

This is the second interview in a series of interviews with Philharmonia members and faculty. Their concert “Regeneration” is on November 16th at 8pm in the Dalton Theatre.