Monday, April 12, 2004

Financial troubles don’t
stop symphony

Its new season offers diverse

It's not easy running a symphony orchestra these days.

Across the nation, orchestras are faltering due to weak economies and, worse, a dwindling interest in classical music among younger and ever more diverse populations that have little grounding in the fine arts and music.

2004-2005 Halekulani
Masterworks season

Concert times: 8 p.m. Fridays and 4 p.m. Sundays, except the season finale featuring Sarah Chang, which is at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Tickets: $266 to $756 for the full series. Half-season Great Composers or Platinum series are $143.50 to $413.

To subscribe: Visit the symphony ticket office, Dole Cannery Suite 202, or call 792-2000. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. After 5 p.m. and for group sales, call 524-0815, ext. 245.

Single tickets: On sale in August at symphony ticket office, Blaisdell box office and TicketPlus outlets.

The Honolulu Symphony has not been immune to the changing cultural climate, but with some crucial financial help from an anonymous "godmother" and others, the orchestra -- under its maestro and musical director Samuel Wong -- continues to garner praise from the world-class artists it attracts each season.

"It is always a challenge financially, but what has happened here is happening to symphony orchestras all over America," Wong said. "Endowments have simply tanked and public and government support has never been great."

The symphony's 2004-05 Halekulani Masterworks Season gives no indication of financial hindrances.

The season features such diverse masterpieces as Dvorák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World"; Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3; and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

The Sept. 17 season opener features Taiwanese-American violinist Cho-Liang Lin performing Bernstein's "Serenade," then continues with virtuoso cellist Alisa Weilerstein with the Dvorák Cello Concerto, and not-to-be-missed Chinese pianist Lang Lang in his Honolulu debut, performing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3.

"We have had an enviable record of bringing the biggest names to Hawaii ... and to snag Lang Lang, who is booked five years out because he's the hottest pianist performing on stage today, is a real coup of the symphony and Hawaii," Wong said. "He is a real firebrand and will sweep audiences off their feet, guaranteed."

In the new season, pianist Lisa Nakamichi will perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 and the symphony's concertmaster Ignace "Iggy" Jang will perform Khachaturian's Violin Concerto.

Violinist Sarah Chang, recognized worldwide as one of classical music's most gifted artists, makes her return to perform Shostakovich's Violin Concerto in the season finale.

There will also be a tribute to Hawaii's cultural roots through two "East Meets West" concerts featuring the Chinese pipa (lute) and Japanese taiko drum. A symphony-commissioned "East Meets West Drum Concerto" to premiere in April will pair the orchestra's Stuart Chafetz on timpani and taiko master Kenny Endo.

The season also includes the Honolulu Symphony Chorus performing two of classical music's choral masterworks: Haydn's "The Creation" and Handel's "Messiah."

The symphony will also perform without a soloist in a January concert, to illustrate "the band's" prowess. "This is such a great band that we're just going to let them play," Wong said. "There has been tremendous sophistication and growth in the orchestra during my eight years here. The level of playing has increased steadily."

Although recent budget cuts have been "painful," Wong said the symphony administration is doing its best to maintain a superior level of performance while attracting the "biggest names" and playing "very sophisticated repertoires."


The season

The symphony will be conducted by maestro Samuel Wong, unless otherwise noted.

Sept. 17 and 19: Season opener with Cho-Liang Lin, violin. Bernstein's "Serenade" and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World."

Sept. 24 and 26: "Dvorak and Brahms: A Bohemian Rhapsody," with Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and guest conductor Emil de Cou. Dvorak's "Carnival Overture" and Cello Concerto in B minor, plus Brahms' Symphony No. 4 in E minor.

Oct. 8 and 10: "From Mozart to Jupiter," with Lisa Nakamichi, piano, the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and guest conductor Joan Landry. Bright Sheng's "Tibetan Swing," Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major and Holst's "The Planets."

Oct. 15 and 17: "Russian Masters," with Lang Lang, piano. Selections from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major and Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" (1947 version).

Oct. 22 and 24: "And There was Light," with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and director Karen Kennedy. Haydn's "The Creation (Die Schöpfung)."

Nov. 5 and 7: "Reel to Real," features the symphony.

Nov. 12 and 14: "America's Heroes -- Veterans' Day Tribute," with Thomas Yee, piano. Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" and Symphony No. 3; Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

Nov. 26 and 28: "Celebrate the Season!" with guest conductor Edwin Outwater. Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto" No. 5 in D major and Orchestral Suite No. 3, plus Handel's Water Music Suite No. 1 in F major.

Jan. 7 and 9: "Romeo and Juliet," by Berlioz and Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy."

March 11 and 13: "East Meets West: A Pipa Concerto," with Yang Ging, pipa, and guest conductor Alistair Willis. Minoru Miki's "Pipa Concerto."

March 25 and 27: Handel's "Messiah," with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and director Kennedy.

April 1 and 3: "Thunder from the East!" with Stuart Chafetz, timpani, and Kenny Endo, taiko. Mozart's Overture to "The Abduction" from "Seraglio," the symphony-commissioned "East West Drum Concerto," Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" and Bartok's "Suite from the Miraculous Mandarin."

May 13 and 15, 2005: "Iggy Jang Plays Khachaturian," with concertmaster Ignace Jang and guest conductor Alasdair Neale. Adams' "The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra," Khachaturian's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor.

May 21 and 22: Season finale with Sarah Chang, violin. Rimsky-Korsakov's"Overture to May Night," Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Shostakovich's Violin Concerto.

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