Hawaii's classical music groups tune up for upcoming shows

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Steven Mark, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
·3 min read
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Apr. 4—Honolulu's classical music lovers can look forward to live performances again, with in-person concerts possibly starting as early as next month.

The Hawai 'i Symphony Orchestra, which has been posting a number of online chamber music events, plans to launch a "Starlight Series " at the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell running from May to August, said Dave Moss, symphony executive director. "At 30 % occupancy, you could basically get 2, 000 people there with enough distance (for safety ), " he said.

Although the plans are contingent on a construction project being completed in time, Moss said the concerts will feature the works of local composer ­Michael-Thomas Foumai. "We're doing a piece of his on every single performance this summer, so it's a 'Foumai Festival, '" Moss said.

The symphony has agreements with three guest ­conductors to lead the ­orchestra, including Sarah Hicks, a Punahou School graduate who conducts the Minnesota Orchestra. Other planned concerts will feature Honolulu concert pianist Lisa Nakamichi performing Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue " in August, the rock tribute band Windborne, film score and video game music concerts, and concerts starring local youngsters.

While a return date to Blaisdell Concert Hall is in flux, the great violinist Joshua Bell has agreed to perform there on Jan. 2, 2022, Moss said. Bell was supposed to open the Masterworks Series last fall.—RELATED :

Hawaii Opera Theatre has two short video productions left in this year's "HOT Digital " season : "Hometown to the World, " based on the aftermath of the 2008 crackdown on immigrants working at a kosher slaughterhouse in Pottsville, Iowa, streaming in May ; and "Mana Wahine, " a new project by mezzo soprano Blythe Kelsey that focuses on six female alii, including Queen Emma and Queen Lili 'uo ­kalani, "telling their stories through song, " said HOT executive director Andrew Morgan. "Mana Wahine " is scheduled for an early fall release.

HOT also has its return to the stage scheduled, with its usual three productions. In October, the season opens with "If I Were You, " with Kelsey starring in a "Faustian story of selling your soul to live forever, " Morgan said.

Morgan said the production might be scaled down somewhat, from reducing the size of the cast to using simpler sets and costumes, to lower the number of people involved in the production. "We're digging into plans, which will probably be A, B, C and D, " he said. "But it will be some version of the opera that we will feel proud of."

HOT also plans to present "Orpheus, " in February, which Morgan called a "very funny piece, " and in April 2022 the ever-popular Puccini masterpiece "Madama Butterfly, " featuring a "racially sensitive " cast led by Taiwanese soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho and directed by Aria Umezawa, who Morgan called "one of the most creative people I've ever met."

"I'm kind of glad we're waiting until April for the biggest production we're doing, so that we have the most time for safety, " he said.

For the near feature, the Honolulu Chamber Music Series will stay online. It will host a Zoom concert by the acclaimed violinist Midori on Saturday, which will include an audience Q &A. The series is looking to present live events in 2022 "with the hope we'll be able to do something live in the fall, " said series president Jonathan Korth in an email.