Look forward to diverse season with orchestra
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor
With its finances under control, the Honolulu Symphony expects to go "multi" in the 2002-2003 season, which starts in September at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. The schedule, embracing multi-media technology and multi-cultural artistry, is intended to reflect Hawai'i's cultural diversity.
"We want to be the kind of organization that reflects the community," said Stephen Bloom, orchestra executive director. "Nowhere else can you do hula to a traditional classical piece of music. We want people to know that our orchestra is for the people of Hawai'i, not for New York, not for Chicago, not for Los Angeles."
For the first time, there will be a hula component in the classical roster. No, maestro Samuel Wong won't be donning hula skirt, but a halau has been enlisted instead.
There will also be a new Friday "opening night," eliminating Tuesday performances.
The Friday shows, with an 8 p.m. curtain, will enable patrons to dine before a performance and enjoy a day off following opening night.
The season formally begins Sept. 13, with Hilary Hahn, an American violinist and a Grammy nominee, in the first Halekulani MasterWorks concert featuring works by Bach and Brahms. It closes with "Dances Around the World," paying tribute to hula with a new interpretation of Ravel's "La Valse," complemented by the hula artistry of Ka Pa Hula O Kauanoe O Wa'ahila. Charles Teo, a tap dancer from China, also will participate, in Gould's "Tap Dance Concerto."
In between, there will be cross-cultural enticements, including programs with film clips and guest narrators.
Wong, music director and maestro of the orchestra, said a few surprises are yet to be announced.
With a 2002-2003 budget of slightly more than $6 million, virtually the same as the current season, the orchestra is trying to get more bang from its bucks. Admission will go up $2 in most ticket price ranges, the first increase in years, but the $15 low has been retained. "We wanted to be sure to make it affordable and accessible for the audience," Bloom said.
The orchestra size also remains stable, at 63 core musicians, with another 20 available. The musicians are in the midst of a contract that expires June 30.
Season subscribers this week are receiving renewal brochures that outline some specifics for the programs ahead.
Some of the masterpieces of the classical genre, such as Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and Mahler's Symphony No. 5, are on the schedule. And an all-Mozart program will accompany the Island debut of Stanislav Iodenitch, Gold Medal winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. (The Honolulu Pops Series program won't be divulged until March.)
An opera weekend marks a first for the orchestra apart from the Hawai'i Opera Theatre season, made possible by a grant from the Arthur and Mae Orvis Foundation.
"The quality of playing and sheer talent of this symphony has never been better," Wong said.
One of the most visible changes in programming philosophy is a rigorous new emphasis on paying tribute to the cultural roots of the people of Hawai'i, with concerts involving international and local artists.
The orchestra will join the Korean community to celebrate 100 years of Korean immigration to Hawai'i, with a program of traditional Korean folk instruments and the world-renowned South Korean cellist, Han-Na Chang.
Kenny Endo, Japanese taiko (drum) master who is a Hawai'i resident, will join the orchestra in a program that synthesizes traditional Japanese drumming techniques with Western jazz percussion styles, backed by the orchestra.
Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun, whose original soundtrack to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" won an Academy Award, will bring his original cinematic compositions from this and other films.
Bloom said the multi-cultural aspect of the year's program "speaks directly to our diverse audience."
Also, two theatrical classics, Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and Henrik Ibsen's "Peer Gynt," will reflect the orchestra's expanding vision of shaping a multi-media, multi-cultural experience. Both programs will include narration; "Dream" pairs Shakespeare's classic lovesick characters with the music of Mendelssohn, and "Peer Gynt" (with music by Edvard Grieg) showcases familiar classical selections including "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in retelling the story of a Norwegian Don Juan.