Hawaii Youth Symphony

A Musical Marathon with HYS

As we head into 2024, we are still reeling from the excitement of a jam-packed end to the year. Our Hawaii Youth Symphony team facilitated TEN concerts in just two weeks. One of our primary goals as a music education organization is to give our keiki with different types of performance opportunities, while providing our community with free concerts and access to music! 

Kicking Off Our Annual Winter Concert Series

Our annual Winter Concert Series marks the halfway point for our school-year music programming. They are an opportunity for our students to showcase all they learned during the fall semester for family, friends, and the community. These concerts are open to the public and free to attend!

Click to see the concert programs!

HYS Director of Orchestral Activities opened the concert series with wonderful sentiment:

“Every year we begin with a new ensemble—new faces, new ideas, new concepts. It takes quite a bit of work to coalesce all these pieces to come together to express the meaning and the spirit of the music. As exciting as our performances will be tonight, note that at present, we are only at the half-way point! The new semester brings along with it new repertoire and new challenges, and we will only continue to grow together from the strengths we’ve already built—strengths that we are proud to put on display for you tonight!” – Maestro Joe Stepec

Our Symphony Program students were first to perform at Moanalua High School’s gorgeous Performing Arts Center. This audition-based program has three orchestras of increasing level, and each ensemble played 3-4 pieces. The result: an incredible concert program featuring 11 symphonic pieces of all genres! From fun and recognizable tunes like Music from Disney’s Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean, to moving classics from Bach and Tchaikovsky, we heard it all and loved every second of it. For our Concert Orchestra students, the Winter Concert is their time performing in a symphony! One student said of her first CO performance:

“It was a surreal feeling, exciting and satisfying. A lot of hard work, practicing, learning, and it all came together so brilliantly. Thank you to HYS, Mr. Wayne Fanning (Conductor), teachers, and so many parent volunteers, for making this perfect, and a great first experience for many of us!”

Conductor Wayne Fanning and the Concert Orchestra

We always invite families with keiki to come out to one of our concerts. Hearing a full symphony perform for the first time is so magical, and our Youth Symphony plays fun music that appeals to younger audiences. They’re a great introduction to the symphony!

Less than a week later, we held another huge concert at Kaimuki High School Auditorium. Our four Academy String Program ensembles each showed off their talents, and we heard everything from BSE’s favorites from Strings Basics Book 1, to Lauren Bernovsky’s “Double Trouble,” to Claude Michel Schoenberg’s “Selections from Les Miserables.” To cap off the evening, the Academy’s most advanced orchestra played all four movements of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik!”

Listen & Learn Concerts Made an Epic Return

Youth Symphony II Student Conducting a Listen & Learn Concert

Listen & Learn is our annual community concert series made specially for Hawaiʻi’s school children to learn more about the Symphony Orchestra and all the instruments they could learn. On December 5, 6, and 7, we held five concerts at Moanalua High School Performing Arts Center, and schools all over O’ahu transported keiki to come see our concerts. The concerts are interactive, inviting keiki to sing along, or even come on stage and conduct the orchestra. In addition to demonstrating each instrument and section, each of our Symphony Orchestras plays a variety of orchestral pieces for the audience to enjoy. 

This year, we also invited seniors from ʻIlima at Leihano to attend our concert performances. They shared that “ʻIlima is honored to be the first senior living community to participate in this event! Our residents loved listening to and learning about orchestral music.” It was wonderful to have them in the audience and was a testament to the way that music brings individuals of all ages together to make memories.

Nānākuli Strings Clubhouse Showcase

Photo courtesy of Nānākuli Clubhouse. Click to watch their performance!

Our Music in the Clubhouse beginning classes and bucket drummers will take the stage at Kaimuki High School Auditorium during our Spring Concert Series! After picking up a new instrument for the first time, our elementary schoolers spend the fall semester learning the basics and preparing for the Spring Concert. However, this winter our Nānākuli Strings keiki put on a mini concert for their peers at the clubhouse. Look how much they learned in just a few months!

Big mahalo to our partners at the Boys & Girls Club and our violin teacher Dr. Yuseon Nam who made this such a fun memory for all involved! The keiki even enjoyed a pizza party after their performance! Congratulations to all of the students on their hard work; we can’t wait to see their progress in the spring.

TWO Jazz Concerts

HYS Jazz Students Side by Side with Jazz Faculty and 'Ohana Jazz

In addition to our annual HYS Jazz Winter Concert, we also held our first ever Jazz Side-by-Side with ‘Ohana Jazz on November 30. We’re so grateful to everyone who came to see it– our students played alongside local jazz heroes to a FULL HOUSE! HYS Jazz is celebrating its fourth anniversary this year, and we are thrilled by the growth of this program. We have two jazz ensembles this year with instruments including electric & bass guitar, keyboard, drum set, saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, and piccolo! At the Jazz Winter Concert, attendees heard their rendition of music by jazz legends like Charlie Parker, Pee Wee Ellis, Roy Hargrove, and Miles Davis.

Jazz students also get the opportunity to solo, collaborate as a rhythm section, and improvise on stage. Two jazz concerts were double the fun this winter!

How Can You Support Our Concerts?

Offering as many concerts as possible completely free of charge is part of Hawaii Youth Symphony’s vision that music is a right and should be accessible to all. Donations are always welcomed and go a long way in helping us reach that goal! 

We’re also grateful for your support in these (FREE):

  • Be a supportive audience member
  • Invite your friends and family to an HYS concert 
  • Share one of our social media posts @hiyouthsymphony on Instagram and Facebook

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