HONOLULU SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
'06-'07 CONCERT SEASON
STAR-BULLETIN / MARCH 2006
Maui residents Pat Benatar, above, and husband and guitarist Neil Giraldo will be joining the Symphony Pops for Oct. 6 and 7 concerts.
Pops conductor Matt Catingub is high on this season's popular lineup that includes mainland and local headliners
Stability at the Honolulu Symphony is paying dividends in a meatier musical season, according to Pops conductor Matt Catingub, including the season's worth of popular artists who have never played with a symphony before.
Season opening concert, with pianist Horacio Gutiérrez:
In concert: 8 p.m., Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $12 to $65
Call: 792-2000 Or visit www.honolulusymphony.com.
"There's a whole lot of good stuff on the bill this year. Pat Benatar is a good example," said the tireless Catingub, in Tennessee working on another musical project. "In Pops, we sometimes look for people who haven't necessarily performed with an orchestra before. Or somebody who's a local favorite or somebody you haven't seen in a while. One of our interim managers suggested Pat Benatar -- she and her husband (guitarist and arranger) Neil Giraldo live on Maui, so they've gone local -- and we went yeah, perfect. That's just the sort of artist we're looking for.
"When we approached Pat Benatar and her husband, it turned out they had been thinking along the same lines -- they were very interested in doing it so it worked out great.
"That settled, what about the show itself? Pat and Neil have not done this before, so we had to discuss the situation. It depends on the artist. Sometimes they want to step totally out of the box and do something they've never done before, or sometimes they want to do what's familiar. It all depends on the artist and what works best. In this case, Pat and her husband decided to do their regular show with symphony backing. That's fine!"
On the other hand, there are artists who simply can't make it, or their material is so familiar it almost plays itself. That's the case with the last show of the season, next April, when the Honolulu Symphony pays homage to the Beatles and their classic "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.
"We'd done the Beatles before, some years ago, and so it's familiar to us," said Catingub. "This is music people grew up with! And this is the 40th anniversary of the 'Sgt. Pepper' album, and we'll be going through it front to back."
WHETHER IT'S Beethoven, Bach or the Beatles, the Honolulu Symphony "is still an orchestra that can play anything," said Catingub. "You try to match the music to the symphony -- some things simply work better as symphonic arrangements, others better in a more pop approach."
Such as ukulele. Jake Shimabukuro originally played with the symphony some years ago as a member of Pure Heart, opening for a Pops concert featuring Toto. Now he's become the headliner, and just "doing fabulously," said Catingub. "We also have Wynonna -- what a catch that was! -- and the Temptations. It's been a long time since they were in Hawaii, I think. And the local acts fill it out nicely."
In chronological order, the Pops shows this year feature Benatar, a Broadway tribute, Shimabukuro, the annual Christmas concert featuring Na Leo, the Temptations, Wynonna and "Sgt. Pepper" (see accompanying schedule). The mix must be working, Catingub said, for Pops tickets are selling briskly. "We've been rotating Na Leo and the Brothers Caz every other (Christmas), because they're both such wonderful shows. The first time, we had them both on, and that was almost too much of a good thing!"
Good thing, indeed. In 2004, Catingub and the Honolulu Symphony were nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy award for "Rosemary Clooney: The Last Concert," to date their only recording.
And yes, the search for a permanent musical director for the symphony proper goes on.
"The people we've had temporarily in place have been godsends," said Catingub. "I'm just the Pops conductor, so I focus on the creative side, while the symphony's committee does the searching. But I think it's narrowed down to three or so really talented candidates."
So you're not in the loop?
Catingub laughed. "I have 10 to 15 arrangements to prepare for most shows. I'm keeping busy!"