Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra performs and reviews student work


University of Hawaii In Mānoa, students of musical composition must compose several original pieces covering different genres, including orchestral works. Having a live orchestra performing these works is an integral part of the learning experience, however, some students do not hear their creations performed by live musicians, let alone a professional orchestra.

At the end of June 2021, four EUH Mānoa students and a student from Leeward Community College were selected by their faculty to receive a valuable learning opportunity to gain worldwide fame Hawaii Symphony Orchestra (ASS) play their songs and give their opinion.

By the time the ensemble started playing, it was truly magical.

Justin uyehara, a spring of 2021 EUH Graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Mānoa and a new Master of Music student, he composed “Yard”, a piece dedicated to his late dog, Ehu. “Yard” depicts the time that Euu spent playing in the backyard, the rhythm of the music mimicking that of a clock, indicating years gone by.

“For me, working with the ASS was amazing, ”Uyehara said. “It was the first orchestral work I had ever done, so of course I was pretty nervous and really didn’t know how the music on paper was going to translate into an actual performance. But by the time the ensemble started to play, it was really magical. “

Professor Thomas osborne led the ASS and associate professor Takuma Itoh helped organize the valuable workshop on June 29-30.

“It is a real pleasure to work with a world class orchestra,” said Osborne. “Our students put a lot of effort and care into their compositions, and the ASS the musicians responded in the same way by bringing all their energy to these new pieces.

Itoh added, “Our music department and the ASS has always had a strong relationship, but we’re so grateful that they included orchestral readings from student composers as part of their comeback. What a pleasure for our students to come back from a year and a half of virtual concerts to suddenly be able to work with a professional orchestra live on stage! Summers are usually a quiet time for our schedule, but once ASS tell us about this opportunity, our composers jumped at the chance.

Student composers

In addition to Uyehara, the following students had their pieces performed by ASS.

James finamore, EUH Master of Music Student in Mānoa – “The Death of Shuten-Dōji” is based on a Japanese legend set in the capital Heian-kyō, where young men and women have disappeared. Finamore said: “I felt extremely honored to have the opportunity to work with the ASS and learn from first-hand experience. It’s one thing to write a composition in your head and have friends in the music department give you feedback on individual parts, but making adjustments and trying out ideas in real time with a professional orchestra has been helpful. a great learning experience.

Hayden hawkins, downwind CC student and private student EUH Where is Oahu Lecturer Michel-Thomas Foumai– “Leviathan Ascendant” is intended to evoke a tale surrounding a legendary primitive sea beast, the Leviathan. Four main sections describe a dark and tense intro, a rushed “attack” and “chase”, a little lull / pause in the action, and a sudden, fiery finale. Hawkins said: “This is the first time my music has been performed by an orchestra, and the experience was surreal and exhilarating to say the least. During the actual reading session, hearing which parts of my music worked, and what didn’t quite work for that matter, was extremely useful as a learning experience for a young composer like me.

William watson, EUH Manoa Doctorate music student – “Courtyard Dialogues” is inspired by the various sounds heard in the EUH Mānoa Music Department, which includes the gamelan, the koto ensemble and the orchestra. Watson said: “To hear the excellent musicians of the ASS bringing the composition to life was exciting. Working with the conductor and each section of the orchestra to evoke the different moods of the room has been an invaluable experience.

Dalen Wuest, EUH Manoa Doctorate from a Music Student – “Faded Memories (of a Dream)” explored the idea of ​​being so deeply affected by a bad dream to the point of waking up with an anxiety attack, for not being able to remembering the content of the dream. Wuest said: “Hear the ASS reading my work was fascinating. It is very difficult for a composer to really “know” what a piece will look like until live musicians bring it to life off the page. “

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with these talented young composers from EUH! The variety of styles, the complexity of the works and especially the openness to learn from the musicians of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra gave me great hope for the future of symphonic music. We look forward to further collaboration opportunities with EUH and the professors and students of the music department, ”said ASS Executive Director Dave Moss.

This work is an example of EUH Mānoa’s goals to improve student achievement (PDF) and Research Excellence: Advancing the Business of Research and Creative Work (PDF), two of the four objectives identified in the 2015-25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

-Through Marc Arakaki

a conductor in action and two people sitting on a chair

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