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Hawaii Youth Symphony

OF NOTE June 2016

Hawaii Youth Symphony Alumni Now Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians and Leaders


he gift of music must be shared with others. Many HYS alumni are doing just that. They are now teaching music in public and private schools throughout Hawaii as band and orchestra directors, inspiring the next generation of musicians. Many of them are accomplished teachers today because of their early, positive experiences with HYS. We reached out to several alumni whose careers mirror HYS’s mission: to advance the critical and positive links between music study, academic achievement, and social and emotional development. The following are excerpts from their responses. What is one of the most valuable life-lessons you learned from being a part of the Hawaii Youth Symphony? Derek Fujio: “Without a doubt, the single most important lesson I learned from participating in the Hawaii Youth Symphony was the pursuit of excellence. In every step of the process — preparing for an audition, starting out in Concert Orchestra, working my way up through the different groups, and finally arriving at Youth Symphony I with Mr. Henry Miyamura­— we were always taught and expected to not only do the best we could, but

to continually strive to do better the next time. It didn’t matter which orchestra you were in or what school you came from ­— when you came to Youth Symphony, all of the students were there for the singular purpose of creating the best music we possibly could.” Craig Young: “I was most fortunate to work under the directorship of Peter Mesrobian. Through him, I learned that mediocrity was not an option. Striving for excellence through disciplined preparation and awareness of (continued on page 4)

Clockwise: Craig Young, a 1970 Iolani graduate who was an HYS Concertmaster and is now Orchestra Director at Punahou School; Kristi Kusunoki, a 2001 Maui High School graduate who played the clarinet in HYS, and is now the Band Director at Kailua Intermediate School; Derek Fujio, a Mid-Pacific 2000 graduate who played the oboe in HYS and is now Music Department Head at Kaimuki Middle School; Ira Wong, an 1980 Castle High School graduate who was a percussionist in HYS and has recently completed his 21st year as Director of Bands at University Lab School; and Jeremy Lawi, a 2007 Iolani School graduate who played percussion in HYS and is now the Band Director at Mid-Pacific institute.

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A Message from HYS’s Leaders President and Hawaii Symphony Orchestra board member.

Board of Directors President Richard K. Ing Vice Presidents Roy E. King, Jr. Malcolm Lau Tina Lau Les Murata Michael Onofrietti Secretary Patti Look Treasurer Jean Tsukamoto Directors Alan Arizumi Gladys Hirano Nathan Hokama Martin Hsia Dan Momohara Alan Okami Joseph Rothstein, Ph.D. Marjorie Tanoue Chris Yuen

Richard Ing


Randy Wong

e recently had the opportunity to partner with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra to bring Midori in the Islands to share her expertise. Over a whirlwind schedule of 26 different events over a four-day period that included onsite visits on Oahu and Kauai. Altogether, Midori taught 1,100 students, and touched the lives of 3,000 individuals through her performances. In addition to YSI concert, here are some of the highlights of Midori’s recent visit:

HYS Staff Executive Director Randy Wong Music Director Henry Miyamura Finance Manager Carol Tsang Programs Manager Ann Doike Programs Associate Janet Morita

Midori met with State Senator Brian Taniguchi, left, and Jonathan Johnson, Executive Director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, right, both of whom have championed classical music and have supported public funding for HYS. Also in photo: Randy Wong, HYS Executive Director, second from left; Midori; and Richard Ing, HYS

Midori and GaHyun Cho also visited the HYS program at the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii’s program, “Music in the Clubhouse.” They introduced “The Art of the Violin” to students, who learned about the instrument’s history and different techniques used to produce various sounds. The students also were encouraged to use their imagination to unpack the imagery behind the music.

The two musicians also visited students at Kuhio Park Terrace, who participate in El Sistema Hawaii, the Hawaii outpost of a Venezuelan philosophy that uses music for social equity and change. The program, called Kalikolehua, is directed by HYS alum Louise Lanzilotti. We appreciate Midori and our partnership with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra to bring talented musicians to our islands to benefit Hawaii’s youth!

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Dedicated Volunteers Keep HYS on the Move


reat concerts do not happen by magic. It takes hours of practice and rehearsals. It takes just as much dedication by volunteers who work behind the scenes. Although HYS has changed over the years, volunteers always have and will continue to make a big difference. Many of the volunteers are HYS parents who help to create a warm, welcoming environment for students, families, and staff. Their volunteer support also helps to keep HYS costs down. Merle and Steve Shimabukuro started volunteering in the early 1990s when their daughters Laurie ‘98 and Stacie ‘01 started in HYS as violinists. These dedicated parents jumped in without hesitation, taking on multiple roles. Today, nearly 20 years since their daughters graduated, Merle and Steve return to HYS each year to assist at auditions. Their longevity with the organization is highly appreciated! Merle fondly recalls some of the activities: “Parent in charge of YSII and YSI, neighbor island tours, moving percussion instruments for rehearsals and concerts, coordinating and scheduling quartet gigs, picking up and dropping off neighbor island students, assisting the conductors, phone tree to keep students informed of our schedules, coordinating and supervising parent volunteers, coordination among orchestras, conductors, and the office, preparing meals and snacks for annual auditions.” Like many other parents, Merle and Steve initially volunteered to


Volunteers support their daughters, but found it rewarding to see all “students mature musically, physically, academically, and mentally...It always amazes us how wonderful the orchestras sound every year.”

Merle encourages others to volunteer: “It’s an extremely rewarding experience for everyone. Get involved. It’s truly worth all of your time and effort!”

Save the Date:

Na Mele Concert on November 20

He Makana O Na Mele: The Gift of Music, featuring Youth Symphony I and guest artists Kalapana, will be at the at Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom, on Sunday, November 20. Kalapana became a popular band during the Hawaiian music renaissance in the 1970s, and more than 30 years later, their music remains island classics in contemporary Hawaiian music. Na Mele is HYS’s only fundraiser of the year. Save the date for this evening concert and watch for more information on ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities!

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Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians (continued from page 1)

musical details were and still are some of the keystones to measure success for me as a musician. A successful symphony is a collaborative effort of every member and this was made most clear to me as a member of the Hawaii Youth Symphony.”

Talent can only take you so far... Discipline and hard work will trump talent any day. Ira Wong: “More than anything, I learned that talent can only take you so far. Let’s face it, in most cases, discipline and hard work will trump talent any day. When I look back at my experiences playing in school music programs and with the Hawaii Youth Symphony, I had the opportunity to play with musicians who were far more talented than I ever was. However, what I gained from those experiences was the inspiration to work much harder. I just kept plugging away at it, carving a niche for myself in the local music scene and eventually managing to make a career out of it.” Kristi Kusunoki: “One of the most valuable life-lessons I learned from being a part of the Hawaii Youth Symphony was that music can facilitate the connection and building of relationships between people. “Since I was raised on Maui, I barely knew any of the other students in HYS, who were mainly from Oahu. Despite this, I grew surprisingly close to some of the other

students as the years progressed. I believe that this can be attributed to the fact that we shared the same interest and wanted to play music together. “

A Love of Music Inspires Quality Learning Why did you choose to teach music? What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching students for you? Jeremy Lawi: “I chose to teach music because of my passion for music and education. I love performing, but even more so, love spreading that joy to others. The most rewarding aspect of teaching students is seeing them develop their own unique passion and pursuit for music.”

The most rewarding aspect of teaching students is seeing them develop their own unique passion and pursuit for music.

“The most important quality I like to emphasize with students is the value of respect. To be successful they need to respect their instrument, peers, teachers, process of learning, and most of all the music. A challenge I face as a teacher is convincing students that practice shouldn’t be viewed as a burden. Although I’m sure we’ve all experienced our share of frustrations while practicing our instrument, we can’t forget that we are still playing music. I can think of a lot

more painful things than picking up an instrument and playing music with friends. Music is a joy!” Craig: “I find great joy in music. Music by itself covers the five major areas of education as it is an art, it is science, it is physical education, it is mathematics and it is even a foreign language. I teach music so I can awaken and inspire these areas and create an appreciation and awareness of how music functions and is expressed. I want students to realize that music is hard work, it is discipline, and it is working together. The joy of music comes from the students’ faces – a look of total concentration as they play, excitement in their eyes, and the smile and contentment they show at the end of a performance.” My experiences from playing in ensembles taught me that I was a part of something bigger than just myself.

Relationships Paramount to Musical Success Kristi: “I chose to teach because I enjoyed helping others learn to play music. My experiences from playing in ensembles taught me that I was a part of something bigger than just myself. I practiced with the goal of preparing for full band rehearsals and the betterment of the entire group. My classmates and I understood that we had to work as one team so our parts could fit together and in turn, ensure our ensemble’s success.” (continued on page 5)

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Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians (continued from page 4)

The most rewarding aspect of teaching students is when my students put others before themselves. It’s noticeable in their actions toward each other, but it’s also apparent in their performance. They start to listen more to each other than to themselves in ensemble settings. This leads to increased awareness of and improved tone, balance, blend, and intonation within the group.”

Students Face Competing Priorities What are some of the challenges you face as a teacher in encouraging students to be disciplined with practicing, etc.?

The students grow up with the idea that their grades in other non-music classes are a reflection of their individual progress; it has no impact on anyone but themselves. Playing in musical ensembles teaches us the complete opposite of this: if one person fails to proficiently play their music, we fail as a group. Kristi: “A challenge that I face is teaching students that their individual progress in developing their musicianship affects the entire group. The students grow up with the idea that their grades in other non-music classes are a reflection of their individual progress; it has no impact on anyone but themselves. Playing in musical ensembles teaches us the complete opposite of

this: if one person fails to proficiently play their music, we fail as a group. I’ve tried to overcome this challenge by emphasizing the fact that students should practice not only for their own betterment, but also for the sake of improving their band. It helps students to realize the importance of their role in the ensemble and how their choices or actions could potentially lead to the group’s success. Sometimes this experience in collective success is more rewarding that individual accomplishments because connections are made, relationships are built, and students give of themselves for a greater good that results in their personal development.” Derek: “Students are increasingly divided with many different extracurriculars and obligations. To make the most of a student’s total effort, I try to teach targeted and mindful ways to practice. The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is not only misleading, but often harmful. Repetitive practice makes things reliable and permanent - if you are practicing something incorrectly, you’ve made it reliably and permanently incorrect! Shorter sessions of targeted practice with clear, attainable goals are much more likely to bring about real improvement in less time. This allows students to productively free up some of their time for other endeavors.”

If you are practicing something incorrectly, you’ve made it reliably and permanently incorrect!

Much More than Just Music Performances What is the most important quality you like to emphasize or instill in your students? Derek: “There are many qualities and skills and habits that lead to success in music, but if there is one that I would want all of my students to say they learned from me, it is to care. This concept of care can apply in so many ways. It takes increasingly more care to play all the right notes, to play with beautiful tone, or to play a musically convincing line. “On another level, if we care for the music and we care for our fellow musicians, we will put forth our best effort to do justice to the work we are performing and to not let down the other members of the orchestra or our conductor. “Some teachers would argue that teaching music is about notes and rhythms and the technique around that, but I think if I can teach students first to be care-full, that is, full of care, they will then work their hardest with their mentors to figure out all the rest.” Find more responses under the Alumni tab on HYS’s website!

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YSII Conductor Derrick Yamane Retires Welcome New “There are many who will credit Derrick for being their inspiration and reason they pursued music as a profession or hobby,” Randy Wong, HYS Executive Director, said. Photo by Natalie Nakasone Congratulations to Derrick Yamane, who retired after serving as HYS’s YSII Conductor for the past six years. Over the years, he has touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of HYS students and will be missed. Derrick was a retired music teacher, who taught music at various public and private schools on Oahu since 1971. He received a Master of Secondary Education and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from the University of Hawaii–Manoa. Derrick began conducting with HYS in the ’87-’88 season as conductor of Concert Orchestra, and served 17 seasons with the organization. The Youth Symphony II program blossomed under Derrick’s direction. He formed an annual collaboration between YSII and Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, which resulted in joint concerts at Kawaiahao Church. Under his leadership, assistant conductor Elton Masaki was hired. Derrick credits Hajime Kuwada and James Uyeda for encouraging him to pursue music as a profession.

In addition to serving HYS, Derrick was a guest conductor of the Colorado All-State Honor Band, Oahu Band Director’s 8th Grade Select Band, and Maui District Massed and Select Band. HYS will miss Derrick’s cheerful nature, humor, and most of all, his passion for his students! We wish him well in his retirement! Mahalo, Derrick! With the Derrick’s retirement, experienced HYS faculty are taking on new roles. •

Susan Ochi-Onishi, formerly Conductor of Concert Orchestra will now serve as Co-Conductor of Youth Symphony II.

Elton Masaki, formerly Assistant Conductor, Youth Symphony II, will now be Co-Conductor of Youth Symphony II.

Hannah Watanabe, formerly Associate Conductor for Concert Orchestra, will now be the Conductor of Concert Orchestra.

Wayne Fanning, formerly Conductor for the Clubhouse Band, will now serve as Assistant Conductor, Concert Orchestra.

Board Member Welcome to new HYS board member Joseph Rothstein, CFP®, CFS®, CRPC®, a private wealth advisor and Certified Financial Planner practitionerTM with Azure Wealth Advisors, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Joseph provides personal financial planning for retirement; investments; tax management strategies; and estate planning strategies. He has been with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. since 1998, and previously was the owner of Hanahoa Consulting, from 1980 to 1998. Joseph earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bennington College, in Bennington, Vermont; and Master of Arts and doctoral degrees from the State University of New York-Buffalo. He is married to Ann Yoklavich, an architectural historian, and enjoys ocean kayaking, SCUBA diving, and hiking, as well as weekly kanikapila with Hui o Na Leo Hawaii ukulele club. In addition to his work on behalf of Hawaii Youth Symphony, he serves as an Ambassador for Windward Community College, a Board member of Hawaii Council for the Humanities, and a volunteer with the Prison Dharma Project.

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A Unique Opportunity!

Entire YSI Orchestra to Perform on NPR’s From the Top


awaii Youth Symphony is on the musical map in a big way. From The Top, the nationally syndicated show by National Public Radio that features young artists will be coming to Hawaii this year!

HYS students who have been featured on From the Top in previous years included Asia and Aris Doike, Zoe Martin-Doike, Evan Lin, and Kiyoe Wellington, all of whom have gone onto fantastic colleges and careers.

Youth Symphony I, led by Maestro Henry Miyamura, will have the opportunity to perform for the national broadcast, providing HYS and Hawaii students exposure to a vast audience.

From the Top will also be on Hawaii Island. Hawaii Public Radio is presenting this two-island tour of From the Top in celebration of its 35th anniversary, with collaborating partner Hawaii Youth Symphony.

Live Performances

In addition, From the Top will provide residency activities the week before the show to serve the broader community. Watch for more details!

Randy initially contacted From the Top producers a few years ago and suggested the idea of including performances by the whole orchestra. The broadcast will also feature individual rising stars in classical music, from ages 8 to 18, and their performances will be taped in the evening at the Blaisdell Concert Hall on Friday, December 2, 2016. Christopher O’Riley, a pianist, educator, and supporter of young people in the arts is known for his warm rapport with young performers as host of the show.

National Exposure “This an exciting opportunity to provide national exposure for our local youth and a platform to let the nation know we have accomplished musicians in Hawaii,” Randy said.

Local Talent The last time From the Top was in Hawaii was in 2010, so we’re glad to welcome the show back to the Islands.

From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley is recorded before live audiences in 16 cities each year. Each recording is about 90 minutes and gives audiences a firsthand look at how a radio show is created. Children 7 years or older are welcome to attend.

From the Top airs on Hawaii Public Radio (HPR-1) on Saturdays at 10 am. Visit

For more information, visit

HYS Receives Two Generous Grants Hawaii Youth Symphony is always grateful to receive generous financial support from organizations that believe in HYS’s mission and programs. HYS recently received two grants for program support. The June Olson Fund, managed by the Hawaii Community Foundation, gave HYS a $10,000 grant to support the performance of symphonic music within the City & County of Honolulu. In addition, the Friends of Hawaii Charities awarded HYS a $5,000 grant for the FY 2017 program. HYS was among the 150 nonprofit organizations that were recently selected to be a beneficiary of the Friends of Hawaii Charities. The Friends of Hawaii Charities’ signature fundraising event is the Sony Open in Hawaii PGA TOUR.

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Honolulu, HI Permit No. 1177

Hawaii Youth Symphony Association 1110 University Avenue, Suite 200 Honolulu, Hawaii 96826-1598 Phone: Website: Facebook: Twitter & IG:

808.941.9706 HawaiiYouthSymphony @HiYouthSymphony

Our Mission: The Hawaii Youth Symphony advances critical and positive links between music study, academic achievement, and social emotional development with programs that service youth through orchestral music education, performance opportunities, and community engagement.

Our Vision: HYS envisions a Hawaii

where every young person can experience the timeless value of music, learn to play a musical instrument, or otherwise embrace a lifelong appreciation for musical learning.

Mahalo to Kurt Muroki for the Double Bass Masterclass Esteemed HYS alum Kurt Muroki returned to Honolulu in January for a Honolulu Chamber Music Series recital, and while in town, graciously gave a double bass masterclass for HYS students at Iolani School. Kurt, a professor at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, instructed students from all levels, and shared how music has made a difference in his life. Kurt grew up on Maui, was involved with HYS, and later attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, where he studied with pedagogue Homer Mensch. “What is the greatest sound I can possibly get every time I pick up my

instrument?” Kurt asked. “Music is a way of communicating without words. It allows us to express how we feel. Seek rich, resonant, round

sounds. Find a way to say, ‘this is my sound, this is controllable, this is the sound I want.’ Capture the audience and never let them go.”

Mark Your Calendar for Events in Our New 52nd Season!

Sunday, Nov. 20 , 2016 4:30 pm

He Makana O Na Mele: The Gift of Music Featuring YSI with guest artists Kalapana. This annual fundraiser will be at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom.

Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 8 pm

From the Top, featuring Youth Symphony I at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 4 pm

Symphony Program Winter Concert Featuring winners from the Aloha International Piano Festival, Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Monday - Tuesday Feb. 20-21, 2017

MusicAlive Community Service Tour at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii campus in Hilo, Hawaii.

Profile for Hawaii Youth Symphony

HYS Of Note Newsletter: June 2016  

HYS Of Note Newsletter: June 2016