Annual competition resounds with melodies of youth
March is here, and one of the Honolulu Symphony's most popular spring rituals returns: the annual Hawaii Youth Concerto Competition. This cherished tradition has offered generations of children the chance to win a rare opportunity to perform with the orchestra. It's our chance to celebrate each child's gifted musicianship. What's more, it offers all kids a huge incentive to keep practicing. This concert is what dreams are made of!
'Hawaii's Young Stars'
» In concert: 7 p.m. March 17
» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
» Tickets: $13
» Violinists: Angeline Chang, 'Iolani School; Mary Elizabeth Keller, Michael Lim, Edward Vause and Austin Au, Punahou School
» Pianists: Noel Lee and Anne Kwok, Punahou School; Kolomona Wilson-Ku, Kamehameha Schools
Every year, the orchestra welcomes the eight winners of the Concerto Competition to solo at a special concert, "Hawaii's Young Stars." These gifted children become our guest stars in one exceptional night.
The kids will perform movements from such masterpieces as the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Gershwin's Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra, Saint-Saëns' Third Violin Concerto, Liszt's "Fantasy on Hungarian Folk Themes" and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12. These virtuosos will amaze you with their grace under pressure, artistic integrity and pure joyfulness.
This year, the winners range in age from 10 to 18 and attend Punahou, 'Iolani and Kamehameha schools. They devote endless hours to practicing and study with esteemed teachers such as Ellen Masaki, Ann Tanabe, Deven Kono and Renie Wong Lindley.
Two other symphony musicians, violinist James Stanford and associate concertmaster Claire Sakai Hazzard, and myself are also among the teachers of winners. Thank you to all of these teachers who have helped guide our young musicians to the concert stage. Those of us in the orchestra will have the special honor of performing beside our young pupils.
With a week of rehearsals under their belts and conductor Henry Miyamura on the podium, the children will perform in tux and tails and ball gowns. Don't expect kids' music, though. These youngsters often undertake works that would challenge even great virtuosos.
Many of the families in the audience have also traveled a long path to arrive at the concert hall. Parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, siblings and cousins have helped nurture the dreams of the young musicians. They've sacrificed to pay for lessons, chauffeured kids and instruments around town, listened to endless (and sometimes earsplitting) practices and served as cheerleaders for years. That's why it's such a pleasure to offer Hawaii's children the ultimate reward of starring in a full-orchestra concert.
The Honolulu Symphony has a long tradition of providing educational opportunities such as the Concerto Competition because we know how important it is to inspire children to learn and to give them exciting goals to work toward.
We understand how challenging it can be for parents to convince a child to study. With a real concert experience as a goal, children are more likely to dedicate time to learning. As a result, they will reap the lifelong rewards of music education.
Ignace "Iggy" Jang
is the Honolulu Symphony's concertmaster. His column will appear on the Monday prior to each concert of the season to illuminate works to be performed. E-mail comments and questions to Jang at firstname.lastname@example.org