Is the Honolulu Symphony conductor leaving?

Jimmy Borges
Jimmy Borges
Matt Catingub
Matt Catingub

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Does the name Matt Catingub ring a bell? It should. He's the Honolulu Symphony's pops conductor credited with bringing internationally renowned musicians to perform in Hawaii.

But is he leaving? Rumor has it he's accepted a job on the mainland, and he's packing his bags.

The Blaisdell Concert Hall is where Catingub has called home for the past eleven years. The symphony is on break until late August, and he is California right now.

And to answer that question, yes, Catingub has accepted a job in New Mexico, but that rumor is only half true.

Matt Catingub is one of the most respected conductors in the business, helping the Honolulu Symphony earn a world-class reputation. He's also a multi-faceted musician.

"He knows every one of those songs completely," said Jimmy Borges, a local entertainer who has worked with Catingub as well as artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Mel Torme. "When he's conducting, I'm singing, 'They call her lady luck.' Whoomp! And he's not looking at the score, he's looking at them. He knows all these stops, and all these things because he knows the music."

Eleven years ago, he made an instant connection with the Honolulu Symphony musicians.

"Matt came in, they saw what they did, and they respect him like this because they knew that he knew what he was doing but he treated them with equal respect," said Borges.

Catingub's also managed to earn respect from some of the top names in the music industry.

"We have had stars come here to Hawaii to play in a pops series because they wanted a Matt Catingub arrangement," said Borges.

Catingub's rumored to be leaving the symphony to accept a job elsewhere, but is it true?

"People have been talking about that possibility, but that is absolutely untrue," said Catingub in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

He has accepted a job with the New Mexico Symphony, but he says he plans to do both jobs since the schedules don't conflict.

"As a matter of fact, I have plans to continue everything I've done at the symphony and as long as the symphony would like me, I will be there," said Catingub. "There are no issues whatsoever."

"Basically he's still going to be our pops conductor, he's not giving up the pops conductor because if that was, I'd move to New Mexico," added Borges. "I mean, I would cry."

Borges can cry tears of joy because Catingub's going to be around for a while.

"Hawaii is my heart," he said. "The pops and the musicians there and the artists I've dedicated my life here and I plan to continue to do so."

"We need our orchestra," added Borges. "Our symphony orchestra is the core of our cultural basis."

Catingub's commitment with the Honolulu Symphony is seven weekends a year, so he has plenty of time for the New Mexico job and other guest conducting gigs. The symphony starts back up with Matt Catingub late summer.