Founded more than a century ago, the Honolulu Symphony has the distinction of being the oldest American orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. Great music, however, never gets old. Some longtime patrons, in fact, will tell you that today’s symphony has never sounded better, thanks to the efforts of its tireless music director.
The symphony began in 1900 with a small group of amateur musicians performing in a clubhouse on the slopes of Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. In the ensuing years, the organization endured two World Wars, the Great Depression, financial crises, and changing musical and cultural landscapes. Through it all, the symphony has persevered and continues to meet its mission of providing musical performances at the highest artistic level.
An important turning point for the symphony came in April 1996, when Samuel Wong was appointed Music Director. Hailed as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation, the Hong Kong-born Wong has led orchestras in New York (Philharmonic), Houston, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal, Milan, Rome, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Mexico, Spain, Belgium, and Mexico. A Summa Cum Laude graduate from Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Wong is also the principal conductor with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and has substituted for Leonard Bernstein to conduct the New York Philharmonic.
Led by Wong, the symphony’s stellar Halekulani Masterworks Series spotlights internationally acclaimed musicians, and classical music’s most beloved repertoire. Distinguished soloists who have performed with the symphony include Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, André Watts, Peter Serkin, Sir James Galway, and Midori.
Today the orchestra’s principal conductor is Andreas Delfs who joined the Honolulu Symphony in the 2007-08 season. Andreas Delfs’ energy on and off the podium has made him a model for the next generation of music directors. Know for his commitment to contemporary music, Andreas’ innovative performances are sure to excite and entertain for years to come.
The Pops Series, meanwhile, features fresh presentations on more contemporary sounds, with guests ranging from James Ingram, Kenny Loggins and Toto to Michael McDonald, Lou Rawls, and Toni Tennille. These events are conducted by Maestro Matt Catingub. In 2001, Catingub and the Honolulu Pops performed with popular country music stars Faith Hill and Lee Greenwood at the ritzy premiere of the film Pearl Harbor.
The Honolulu Symphony’s season typically runs from September through May, with all performances held at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu. Check the Honolulu Symphony’s calendar of events for special concerts and for more info.