Hawaii Symphony Orchestra prepares for inaugural concert

Jonathan Parrish
Jonathan Parrish
Steven Monder
Steven Monder

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in nearly three years, the sound of a professional symphony orchestra will fill the Blaisdell Concert Hall with the debut of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra was formed after civic leaders like former Hawaii First Lady Vicky Cayetano, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Oswald Stender, and Kaneohe Ranch CEO Mitch D'Olier drummed up community support and millions of dollars.

The symphony's musicians rehearsed Saturday under the baton of conductor Naoto Otomo for their debut. But for many of them, it's a return to the concert stage.

"The vast majority of the musicians are still here. Most of them stayed," said horn player Jonathan Parrish. "A few had to relocate to seek work elsewhere. Some of them will be coming back, either immediately or eventually."

Parrish was a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, which ceased operations at the end of 2010 after disputes between musicians and the Honolulu Symphony Society, which oversaw the orchestra. The Honolulu Symphony last performed in October 2009.

Civic leaders also were able to attract new leadership for the Hawaii Symphony in the form of former Cincinnati Symphony CEO Steven Monder.

"I spoke with musicians and I spoke with civic leaders and (felt) the sincerity and the commitment to make this happen," Monder said. "I felt, well, if I can help, I should. That's why I'm here."

Monder also believes the Hawaii Symphony has a long future. "We have to deal with fiscal issues, and we have, by really reducing our expenses, primarily by reducing the size of the season, the length of the season, which is something we regretted doing, but we have to make sure that we can make this work. This will not fail," he said.

The debut program will include masterworks such as Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, more commonly known as "Beethoven's Fifth," and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, performed with acclaimed pianist Lisa Nakamichi. But the symphony's future includes more than just western music.

"We're also going to be innovative in the kinds of programs that we do that reflect the Pacific Rim, the state of Hawaii, the local composers and artists," said Monder.

"I think the name says it all. It's going to be the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, and it's going to be an orchestra that the whole state can be proud of," said Parrish.

The Hawaii Symphony Orchestra has planned a season of eight programs running through May. Tickets start at $30 and are available by calling 593-9468.

Related link: Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra

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