Alumna returns for Doudna performance


Molly Dotson

Marina Hwang, Eastern alumnae, plays “Spring Sonata” during the “Guest Artist Recital Series” in the Recital Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center Friday.

Angelica Cataldo, Entertainment Reporter

The music of Ludwig van Beethoven and Edvard Grieg could be heard coming from the recital hall in the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Friday.

Alumna Marina Hwang returned to take the stage, performing her prepared piano pieces from Beethoven and Grieg with violinists James Calderon and Sharilyn Spicknall. The trio played two pieces that Hwang selected and prepared before the show. Each violinist individually performed his and her own prepared pieces with Hwang on piano.

Calderon played with Hwang on Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Op. 24 “Spring.”
“I remember listening to it made me filled with happiness. The sound of piano and violin together touched my heart every time I listened,” Hwang said. “It is (a) very communicative piece that (is like) each instrument is talking to each other. (Each) movement has different characteristics, but the general feeling of the music to me is delightful and full of warm hearts and love like spring.”

Spicknall played with Hwang on Grieg’s Sonata No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 45 as the second program of the recital.

“I just loved it very much, collaborating (with them),” Hwang said.

Spicknall, 66, has been playing the violin since she was 10 and was familiar with the pieces Hwang prepared.

“She’s marvelous and a pleasure to work with from beginning to end. She knows the parts, not just her parts,” Spicknall said.

Spicknall is a freelance musician who also plays the viola and piano. She is a violinist of the Downstate and Indiana State University string quartets and a section first violinist of the Evansville Philharmonic in Indiana. She is also a concertmaster of the Eastern Symphony Orchestra.

Hwang is a former Eastern graduate student with a master’s degree in performance piano. She is currently studying at Michigan State University in East Lansing to earn her master’s degree in collaborative piano.
“I knew James (Calderon) in my last year here at EIU. I accompanied him for his composition works and classical works. Remembering how talented he was and how fun it was playing together, I contacted him,” Hwang said.

Hwang received Spicknall’s contact information from music professor Richard Rossi.

“I needed somebody who has played (a) wide range of classical repertoires. Fortunately, Mrs. Spicknall knew the Grieg violin sonata, and it was possible to put it together in such a short period of time,” Hwang said.

Calderon is also an Eastern alumnus who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in music composition in 2014 and his master’s in music composition in 2016. He and Hwang performed on stage together back in his junior year of his undergraduate education.

“We’ve played together before, so it was nice returning to that environment,” Calderon said. “(Hwang is) a fantastic pianist, and it was a great time getting to play with her.”

Spicknall said the hardest part of the concert was waiting to play.

“That’s part of the joy of it, being able to bring something that has been so meaningful,” Spicknall said. “(It’s) just a wonderful piece of music, but it’s not just about me or her. It’s about the music.”

All three musicians practiced only a few days during the week of the recital, with rehearsals lasting anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour and a half.

“In my opinion, we respect each other enough as musicians to know that the other person knows what they are doing,” Calderon said.

Hwang said it had been a very challenging, but rewarding, week.
“I feel grateful to work with great, passionate musicians, and I couldn’t enjoy playing with them more,” Hwang said.

Angelica Cataldo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]