Hawaii Youth Symphony

HYS Announces New Leadership for Organization’s Educational Programming



Joseph Stepec Named Director of Orchestral Activities and

Chad Uyehara Promoted To Academy String Program Director


HONOLULU (July 16, 2019) – Hawaii Youth Symphony (HYS) is pleased to announce dynamic new leadership for its educational programming, effective today. Joseph Stepec joins the HYS faculty in the newly created position of Director of Orchestral Activities. Stepec will oversee the artistic and educational aspects of the three orchestras in the HYS Symphony Program, as well as conduct Youth Symphony I, the organization’s finest high school ensemble. Chad Uyehara, recently serving as an HYS Academy String Program Conductor, has been promoted to Academy String Program Director, and will have supervision over Academy faculty and administrative staff, as well provide direction for outreach initiatives. Uyehara will continue to conduct the Concert String Orchestra and Intermediate String Ensemble.

“As we ready for an exciting new season of HYS, we couldn’t be more delighted than to have such talented and passionate educators like Joe and Chad in these vital directing roles, inspiring our students and furthering the important mission, vision and values of our organization,” said Randy Wong, President of Hawaii Youth Symphony. “We greatly value and appreciate their tremendous commitment to Hawaii’s youth and the work of HYS throughout the community.”

In addition to his position as Director of Orchestral Activities, Stepec will also serve as HYS’ Artistic Director of the prestigious Pacific Music Institute (PMI). The role was recently held by John Devlin, who resigned the post and his position as HYS Music Director at the conclusion of the 2019 PMI summer program.

Joseph Stepec came to Hawaii from Cleveland, OH in 2016. He is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Music Department. Under his direction, the University of Hawaii Symphony Orchestra has premiered works of new composers, represented underperformed masterworks, and has collaborated with ensembles as diverse as the United States Marine Band and the choir and orchestra of Weber State University. In 2017, Stepec, together with Dr. ChetYeng Loong of the University of Hawaii, began the Hawaii All State String Orchestra which serves local students in an effort to promote string performance and education. During the 2017-18 academic year, Stepec also served as the Interim Conductor of Youth Symphony I for HYS. He is an active clinician that has guest taught many ensembles visiting Hawaii, and maintains an active relationship with the Global School of Music youth orchestra program in Shanghai, China.

Stepec studied violin with Gregory Fulkerson at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and conducting at the Eastman School of Music with master teacher, Neil Varon. Stepec additionally studied with Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and pursued doctoral studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. As a conductor, he has been featured on numerous programs with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. In 2017, he was a conducting Fellow at the Menuhin Gstaad Music Festival where he worked closely with Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and noted conducting pedagogue, Johannes Schlaefli. In 2019, Stepec premiered a new translation of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat set in colonial Hawaii with members of Chamber Music Hawaii to very favorable reviews.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead HYS’ symphony program. HYS’ mission and its goals are ones that I deeply resonate with from my own special and formative years playing in a youth symphony: the opportunity to learn to make music together at the highest level and with the greatest commitment is one that shapes lives and forges unbreakable friendships and memories. I am thrilled to be fulfilling this new position alongside my incredibly talented colleagues at HYS and PMI,” said Joseph Stepec.

An alumnus of HYS, Chad Uyehara received his Master’s of Music in Music Education and Viola Performance from Northwestern University where he studied viola with Roland Vamos. He earned his Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance, studying with LaVar Krantz, from the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he also earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in French and held membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Additional studies include the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute and Festival, the Conductor’s Workshop of America, Mimi Zweig’s Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers, and many Suzuki Association of the Americas teacher training courses.

Uyehara has performed on violin and viola with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Desert Springs Chamber Orchestra, and the Honolulu Symphony. He currently performs with the Maui Pops Orchestra and as part of a violin-piano duo/piano trio. He has taught orchestra with the Clark County School District in Nevada, the Las Vegas Youth Philharmonic, and the Hawaii Department of Education at Kalani High School, Kaimuki Middle School, Moanalua Elementary, and at Hanahauoli School. Uyehara served as interim conductor for the University of Hawaii at Manoa Symphony Orchestra during the 2014-2015 school year. In addition to HYS and PMI, he also currently directs orchestras with St. Andrew’s Schools – The Priory. He is a registered Suzuki Violin/Viola Teacher, and maintains a studio of about thirty students. His professional affiliations include the American String Teachers Association (of which he is the Hawaii chapter president), Suzuki Association of the Americas, Music Teachers National Association, National Association for Music Education, and the American Viola Society. He has been honored with the 2018 Teacher of the Year award from the Hawaii Music Teachers Association.

Said Chad Uyehara, “Our students exude a wonderful enthusiasm for learning and performing. As a HYS educator, I am fortunate to share that joy of music with the students and happy to give back to the organization that helped nurture my own passion for music. I’m looking forward to furthering our incredible program in this new role.”

About Hawaii Youth Symphony

Established as a non-profit organization in 1964, the Hawaii Youth Symphony promotes and celebrates the importance of music study on academic achievement and social-emotional development, through its mission to develop youth to their fullest potential through orchestral music. Its programs service youth through orchestral music education, performances and community engagement. Each year, the organization serves more than 700 students ages 7 through 18 from over 100 schools statewide. For more information, call (808) 941-9706 or visit