ON THE AIR
COURTESY HAWAII PUBLIC RADIO
Violinist Asia Doike, left, and pianist Irwin Jiang will perform in the Honolulu concert taping of "From the Top."
Student musicians will take it to the top
Whether you're a hip-hopper, rapper, rocker or classicist, it's always exciting to hear yourself on the radio. From the Top, a national organization that encourages young people to play music, sponsors concerts heard on public-radio stations all across the land. This week the program returns to Hawaii to record several of our budding musicians for a future National Public Radio show.
"Oh, I've been meaning to audition for years now, but I finally sent in a DVD audition recording, and they called me up!" said Asia Doike, 17, a home-schooled violinist who trains at Punahou. "They asked me to play the piece I auditioned with, Mozart's Sonata in E Minor. It's very exciting. I had to tell all my relatives."
Doike, concertmaster for the Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra, also scored a $10,000 scholarship from the program.
"I want to go to college and major in music on my instrument," said Doike. "I have a few schools in mind but haven't decided yet."
Is her play-list all classical, all the time?
"Oh no! I like my pop," said Doike. "Also, some rock and hip-hop. As for classical composers -- you know, it's Mozart and Brahms for me, even though they're very different. Mozart, I admire his purity, while Brahms is so emotional and heavy. Technique is good, but you also need feeling to get it across. A balance."
Doike's cousin Zoe Martin-Doike appeared on last year's show. Two will be taped for later broadcast, one on Oahu and one on Maui.
Pianist Irwin Jiang also auditioned via a DVD, and the 16-year-old Saint Louis student also was asked to play his audition number, Prokofiev's Toccata in D Minor.
Jiang, who studies at Masaki School of Music, also listens to heavy metal and got invited to play keyboards in a band with friends. After deliberating -- "I don't much care for the hard-core screaming stuff!" -- he passed on the offer. "Besides, I can really pound on the piano at my teacher's studio."
Irwin might double-major in college, splitting musical and academic studies. "Two halves of the brain," he explained. "I also really like biology, particularly the study of hematology." Maybe it's in his blood.
Jiang and Doike are featured in the Oahu program Wednesday night, along with Na Leo Kuho'okahi, a spinoff ensemble from Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, consisting of 17 teenage girls performing a Chinese folk song. One of the choir members, Kiyoe Wellington, will also perform a double-bass solo at the Maui concert on Friday.
Also featured Wednesday: Ibanda Ruhumbika, a 17-year-old tuba player from Athens, Ga.; and oboist Melissa Hooper, 18, who hails from Portland, Texas.
In addition to Wellington, the Maui concert features pianist Jacob DeForest, 17, from Paia, who's performing a Rachmaninoff prelude; plus a tag-team matchup called "Five Piano Extravaganza." In this corner, playing the "Aragonaise" from Bizet's "Carmen," will be five young pianists. In the other corner, pounding out Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance," are Jiang -- in only his second trip to Maui -- along with four more student players.
As if that weren't enough, the Maui show also features violinist Kaori Matsui, 16, from Cincinnati, and guitarist Joseph Lee, 13, of Bedford, Texas, who also won a $10,000 musical scholarship and who, like Jiang, also leans toward a medical career.
"From the Top" airs 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday mornings on Hawaii Public Radio at KHPR 88.1 Honolulu, KKUA 90.7 Wailuku and KANO 91.1 Hilo, plus more than 250 other public radio stations. Take that, hip-hoppers.