Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, March 4, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Jerre Tanner agreed to offer a symphony
as an auction item.


Composer 'sold' his
skills at auction

Maestro Wong to extend contract

By Tim Ryan


Assignment: Compose a musical piece for the former adopted daughter of billionaire Doris Duke that reflects her Hindu beliefs and spiritual connection to her multimillion-dollar Big Island ranch.

Composer and Big Island resident Jerre Tanner filled his assignment with "Postcards from Chandi," a 13-minute, three-movement visual and musical image. The Honolulu Symphony will premiere the work in performances Sunday and Tuesday.

Do It Electric In 1997, Tanner, a composer of symphonic and operatic music, was approached about offering his services as an auction item at the annual Symphony Ball. Chandi Duke Heffner bought it for $5,000.

Interestingly, composing the piece took the least amount of time, while defining the subject matter required several months, Tanner said.

"Chandi wanted me to make all the decisions as to what to write, but I felt very strongly that she had to be involved," he said.

Tanner visited Heffner at her ranch on Mount Kohala a half-dozen times over nine months.

"It's a place of tremendously strong winds where trees are stunted and twisted, rolling grasslands, ravines with streams and waterfalls," Tanner said. "It's violent and yet quite beautiful."

Tanner and Heffner discussed the Hindu faith and how it steers her life. He found the conversation intriguing and along with the beauty of her ranch it sparked his creative juices.

The three movements are:

bullet "On the Storm and Rage": A dynamic and dissonant piece where "an orchestral wind constantly blows"

bullet "On the Mist and Meditation": A reflection on Heffner's ranch

bullet "On the Dawn and Revelation": That point in the Hindu spiritual life where a person is completely open "to truly experience the world and love of God in a much fuller sense."

Heffner has only heard the piece in the form of computer synthesized music and is not expected to attend the world premiere here, said Tanner. After the symphony performs "Postcards," it will be performed by the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra in Iowa.

Also performing Sunday and Tuesday is pianist Helen Huang, 16, who joins Maestro Samuel Wong for her Honolulu Symphony debut in two performances of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major.

Huang has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, National Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Israel Chamber Orchestra.


Honolulu symphony

bullet World premiere: Jerre Tanner's "Postcards from Chandi"
bullet Also: Pianist Helen Huang
bullet When: 4 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
bullet Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
bullet Tickets: $15-$50
bullet Call: 538-8863

File photo
Samuel Wong launched his career with
the New York Philharmonic.

Maestro signs three-
year contract

Samuel Wong is also a finalist
for positions in Hong Kong
and Boston

By Tim Ryan


Honolulu Symphony music director Samuel Wong signed a three-year contract extension today to continue leading the orchestra through the 2001-2002 season.

Wong, the symphony's music director since the 1996/97 season, currently is paid $125,000 a year. His new salary was not yet available.

Wong arrived in Honolulu yesterday from Hong Kong, where he's a finalist for music director with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. That position reportedly pays more than $300,000 a year.

Under Wong's new contract, the Honolulu Symphony board of directors must approve any outside directorships before Wong, who was born in Hong Kong, can accept, said Bob Levy, president of the symphony's board of directors.

But Levy isn't worried about Wong leaving the Honolulu Symphony any time soon, saying, "Sam intends to stay here for a long time."

Wong, unavailable for comment, in other recent interviews has said he intends to remain with the Honolulu Symphony for several more years.

Wong, considered a hot property internationally and in the United States, also is being considered for the music director position with the 35-member Boston Chamber Orchestra.

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