HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Hawaii Youth Symphony gave world premieres by two Hawaii composers at its spring concert Sunday afternoon at Blaisdell Concert Hall.
The orchestra, under the direction of Henry Miyamura, performed "Animal Farm," by Michael-Thomas Foumai, and "Fantasia for a Queen," by Byron Yasui.
Foumai (1987- ) holds a bachelor's degree in music composition from the University of Hawaii and a master's degree from the University of Michigan, where he is now a doctoral fellow.
"Animal Farm" takes about 15 minutes to perform. Its three movements, "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad," "Sugar-Candy Mountain," and "Revolution!" are based on three ideas from George Orwell's novel of the same name, which Orwell meant as a commentary on the politics of the Stalin era. The music was dramatic and eventful, with a wide variety of orchestral color and strong sense of forward motion.
Yasui (1947- ) , an active bass player on the Honolulu music scene who doubles on ukulele, guitar, mandolin, harp and samisen, tought composition at UH Manoa from 1972 to 2010.
"Fantasia for a Queen," is based on the Queen's Prayer, "O Kou Aloha No," composed by Queen Liliuokalani in 1895 seven weeks after her imprisonment, and the work ends with an offstage singing of the prayer in its original form. The work starts in a pastoral vein not unlike Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis" but soon becomes more emotional.
The concert, a benefit for Child & Family Service, also included two arias by soprano Bai He, "La Virgen de la Macarena" featuring Stanton Haugen on trumpet assisted by Parker Nakamura and Daniel Sananikone, and a medley of tunes from "Fiddler on the Roof" featuring HYS Concertmaster Roy Nakamaejo, a Punahou 11th grader.