Matt Catingub, shown fronting his band The Copa Cat Pack in 2001, has attracted world-class talent to perform at Honolulu Symphony Pops concerts since 1998.

Conductor drew
top-notch talent

By Tim Ryan

He's Hawaii's one name music man. Say "Matt" in the same sentence as music and people know you're talking about Matt Catingub, Honolulu Symphony's always smiling principal Pops conductor since 1998.

Ten who made a difference
The Star-Bulletin is spotlighting 10 people who have made a difference in the community during 2002. This year's 10 is a diverse group but all have one thing in common: Each had a devotion to their cause and made a profound impact on Hawaii.

One of Catingub's goals when he became Pops conductor was to upgrade the program to include major mainland performers. The enticement was Catingub writing the orchestra arrangements.

That program began in 1999 with Kenny Loggins and since then Catingub has attracted world class performers to his Pops, including Michael McDonald, Michael Feinstein, Christopher Cross, Dave Brubeck, Toni Tennille, Michael Paulo, and Dave Koz.

Earlier this year Catingub with the Honolulu Symphony recorded an album with Rosemary Clooney - "The Last Concert" - marking the orchestra's first major commercial recording.

That helped make Catingub one of the Star-Bulletin's "10 Who Made a Difference" for 2002.

On stage, Catingub, 40, seems everywhere: conducting, playing saxophone, woodwind, or piano, singing, and bantering with audiences in a talk story style. Backstage, Catingub, who began guest conducting the Symphony's Pops concerts in 1996, usually stands in the background waiting shyly for his chance to ask artists like Michael MacDonald, Christopher Cross, and Kenny Loggins to have his picture taken with them.

The youngest son of the late great jazz vocalist Mavis Rivers, Catingub in 1997 wrote arrangements for the initial "Christmas with Friends and Nabors" concert starring Jim Nabors at the Hawaii Theatre, which just completed its sixth annual concert series.

Under Catingub's direction the Honolulu Symphony began the Music and Artists of Hawaii program that provides local musicians and entertainers the opportunity to perform with the Symphony as opening acts for mainland artists, and as headliners for Pops concerts, including Brothers Cazimero, Na Leo Pilimehana, Don Ho, Jimmy Borges, Gabe Baltizar, Kapena, Jake Shimabukuro, Amy Gilliom, Hapa, Kealii Reichel, and Sista Robi Kahakalau.

Through Catingub's contact with Disney, the Honolulu Symphony last year provided the musical backdrop for the "Pearl Harbor" film premier aboard one of the world's largest floating vessels: the aircraft carrier USS John Stennis. Joining the orchestra were Faith Hill and Lee Greenwood.

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