Side By Side hso

A Collaboration between Hawaii Youth Symphony and the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra

Side-by-Side programs are joint initiatives of professional orchestras and youth orchestras; a chance for aspiring young musicians to play in the “major leagues” for a night or two. Students and pros become stand partners and sit side-by-side.

Some of the most prominent orchestras across the country host these programs, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, and many others.

We are proud to collaborate with the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra on this special project and invite all to come attend the performances!

Read Our Newsletter About Our Collab!

Our Most Recent Concert!

waikiki shell hys

Our fall 2023 Side-by-Side concert was performed by 150 musicians, which is possibly the biggest orchestra to ever perform at the iconic Waikiki Shell Amphitheater. With 86 musicians from Youth Symphony I and 64 musicians from the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, this multi-generational orchestra includes musicians ages 14 to 70+. 

WHEN: Thursday, October 26, 2023 from 7:00-8:00 PM

WHERE: Waikiki Shell, 2805 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

WHO: Youth Symphony I and the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra

TICKETING: None! Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the Hawaii Youth Symphony and your Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra are pleased to offer these concerts FREE  to the public. No tickets or RSVP needed.

Can’t make it this fall? Save the date for the Spring 2024 Side-by-Side concert. We hope you can join us on March 14, 2024!

October 2023 Side-by-Side Concert Program

MÁRQUEZ—Conga del Fuego Nuevo

BERLIOZ—Hungarian March

TCHAIKOVSKY—Capriccio Italien

We look forward to seeing you at the Shell for a wonderful evening of music. Please invite your family and friends and help us spread the word! View and share the concert press release here. 

Conducted by HYS & HSO Conductor Joseph Stepec

hys joseph stepec

A passionate arts educator, Mr. Joseph Stepec serves as the Music Director of the University of Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, the director of the Hawaii Youth Symphony’s Symphony Program, the Artistic Director of the Pacific Music Institute and as an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Hawaiʻi.

He has worked closely with countless artists and regularly clinics for ensembles in Hawai’i and across the country and abroad in China. He has maintained a close relationship with the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and has been a frequent guest artist in their popular Ohana and Keiki Concert Series. 

As the director of two of the top educational ensembles in the state of Hawaiʻi, he has been featured on numerous broadcasts on radio and television that have reached thousands. 

In addition to leading orchestras, Mr. Stepec also maintains an active and varied teaching schedule. He teaches a private conducting and violin studio at the University of Hawaiʻi. Mr. Stepec studied violin performance at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Orchestral Conducting at the prestigious Eastman School of Music. 

More about the Collaboration

The Hawaii Youth Symphony is fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with our local professional symphony. Many of our HYS conductors, staff members, and alumni are musicians in the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra. 


The History

a taste of symphony program

1977 Side-by-Side Program Book

The HSO x HYS Side-by-Side initiative has been part of our programming for decades. The first Side-by-Side concert, “A Taste of Symphony,” was held in September 1977 at McKinley High School. They continued to be held over the years when possible, but really became a priority during the 2012/13 season. We’ve had annual HYS x HSO Side-by-Sides consecutively ever since. Starting in the 2023-24 year, HYS and HSO are endeavoring to hold TWO Side-by-Sides each season. 

“This is an extraordinary commitment by both organizations to furthering music education and empowering Hawaii’s rising young musicians,” says Randy Wong, President & CEO of Hawaii Youth Symphony, and an HSO musician himself.  “Both organizations are active members in the League of American Orchestras, the governing body of orchestras nationwide, and through this Side-by-Side, we are jointly, and joyfully, leading the nation as music makers.”

The Process

Our most advanced ensemble, Youth Symphony I, participates in a Side-by-Side rehearsal with the HSO the day before the show, and then performs the repertoire in a professional setting for a live audience the following evening. The whole Side-by-Side process is meant to give our students the experience of being a true professional musician. From arriving on time to being expected to sight-read difficult music on the spot, students learn professionalism in a challenging yet supportive environment.

hawaii symphony orchestra

The Why

We love the Side-by-Side initiative because it is a perfect reflection of our organizational values. Our mission is to foster fun and creative experiences for youth that inspire a deep appreciation for music and lifelong relationships within the culture of our islands. What better way to do so than to be mentored by and then perform with local professionals?

Through the Side-by-Side initiative, students gain valuable insights into the world of music, network with fellow musicians, and create memories that will last a lifetime. 

Student List

Students are in order by last name


*Section Leader


Violin I

Preston Chi

Leia Choi

Ymin Guo

Vance Maeshiro

Cody James Nakagawa

Emi Okumoto

Max Shinno

Kaitlyn Sim

Sevastyan Swan

Belise Swartwood**

Gwyneth Tenn

Liliko Ueda


Violin II

Kai Asakura

Ella Cheung

Nicholas Chi

Ashley Jisue Hong*

Coco Kim

Riya Krishnagopalan

Keanna Lau

Aya Okimoto

Christopher Oyama

Alexis Phansaithong

Daniel Yoo



Mana Chun

Rylie Ann Hashizume

Swan Kim

Albert Ko*

Mie Kodama

Hannah Kwak

David Mansfield

Gray Nauwelaerts

Elizabeth Swan

Lulu Wang


Ian Ahn

Anson Akemoto

Dylan Campuspos

Lei Yao Chang*

Cassidy Ibanez

Ashlyn Ito

Emma Newman

Jason Vierra

Bryan Wood

Jodie Wung

Taigo Yuen



Seitaro Kobayashi*

Isabelle Morita

Joshua Wung



Arabella Tan*



Shane Komeiji*

Flora Liao

Noelani Velasco

Jessica-Holly Wiemer



Maya Hokada

Alexis Molina

Kyle Siu*

Ayaka Yoshii


Grace Kawaoka

Leanne So

Aiden Taheri

Chelsea Takushi*



Spencer Lyau*

Jayden Retutal



Gabriel Cole

McKenzee Espiritu

Zhixian Lu

Chelsea Song*

Caleb Tamargo

Nicholas Williams



Jasmine Addison

Dawson Chan

Kyle Ehara

Joel Lee*



Ahren Awong

Jae Koo

Andrew Li

Luke Watanabe*



Daniel Li*



Travis Chen

Mani Kovacich

Carter Nobuhara

Alexa Sasaki

Brady Schultz

Mahalo to Our Schools

HYS is grateful to the many public, private, and home schools that play their part in helping to advance music’s role in their communities. The following schools are represented in Youth Symphony I this year. We are deeply grateful to all the music educators and private music teachers whose expertise, encouragement, and support mean so much to us and our students. Every attempt has been made to publish an accurate list for this 2023-2024 season, and we regret any errors or omissions that have been made.

Castle High School

Hawaii Baptist Academy


Iolani School

Kalani High School

Leeward Community College

McKinley High School

Mid-Pacific Institute

Mililani High School

Moanalua High School

Pearl City High School

Punahou School

Radford High School

Roosevelt High School

University Lab School

Interested in attending more concerts?

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Hawaii Youth Symphony and Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra are both 501(c)3 non-profit organizations that rely on donor support to serve our community with music. If you would like to support your local orchestras, you can make a one-time or recurring donation at the links below, or purchase tickets to upcoming concerts. Mahalo!