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Spring 2012 Issue

Retirement Beckons - The Legacy of Dr. Val T. Iwashita ’67
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Spring 2012 - Feature | ‘Iolani Orchestra

‘Iolani Orchestra Honored by Performing at a Prestigious Conference

The ‘Iolani School orchestra and halau traveled to Chicago during the winter break to perform and participate in the prestigious Midwest Clinic. They received numerous accolades for their brilliance and exceptional performances.

The Midwest Clinic is a conference attended by music teachers and administrators at the high school, college and university levels as well as music industry representatives, composers and arrangers, music students at all levels, and professionals. The conference exists for educational purposes exclusively; to raise the standards of music education; to improve the methods employed in music education; to develop new teaching techniques; to disseminate to school music teachers, directors, supervisors, and others interested in music education information to assist in their professional work; to examine, analyze and appraise literature dealing with music; to hold clinics, lectures, and demonstrations for the betterment of music education; and, in general, to assist teachers and others interested in music education in better pursuing their profession.

Members of the ‘Iolani halau performed hula while the orchestra played Ala Pikake
To be honored by performing at the Midwest Clinic is quite an accomplishment. Below orchestra teacher Kathy Hafner chronicles the experience:

The intensity of preparing for our performance at the Midwest Clinic tends to obscure the extent of the process which started over a year and a half ago. In the fall of 2010 we chose our competition music and spent most of the first semester of the 2010-11 school year preparing these challenging pieces; the audio and video tapes were due in March 2011 supported with a wide range of other materials.

We heard from the Midwest Clinic that ‘Iolani had won this competition in late April 2011. Our task was then to develop an impressive, innovative, balanced program of music that fulfilled the many complex requirements of the conference (this included researching and discovering previously unheard works, making arrangements of other music for the orchestra, and coordinating a performance with the hula halau), planning and organizing the trip for the 77 students involved, extensive fundraising, and most important, learning and polishing our music.

Being chosen as one of the featured performing groups at Midwest is an enormous honor which reflects the hard work and commitment, the technical and musical excellence of Orchestra 5 and the excellence of the entire ‘Iolani orchestra program. The orchestra had to prepare (from September to mid-November) more than twice as much music than we usually prepare in one semester. We set the bar high, with a program both technically and musically challenging, and involving three very difficult major works. Our performance back home on November 19 was good, but the following two weeks of rehearsals brought our program to a much higher level of refinement and artistry.

The concert in Chicago demonstrated not only the competence of the members of Orchestra 5, but their determination, persistence, maturity and character. Many groups can play the notes, but few play the music. The standing ovation after our final selection and the personal comments from the many audience members who crowded the stage at the end showed that we had accomplished our goal: musical performance that communicates the beauty, the emotional connections, the verve and excitement of each piece, from our hearts to the hearts of every person in the audience.

Nearly 100 students experienced the art and culture of Chicago during the trip to Chicago for the Midwest Clinic.
Our warm-up concert at Evanston High School helped us settle in.  The concert by the Chicago Symphony brass section in beautiful Orchestra Hall was fantastic, and it was such a treat to be given a tour of William Harris Lee’s violin shop (we saw new instruments being made and older ones repaired and adjusted). Our taste of Chicago also included  visits to the Art Institute, the Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium; ice skating at Navy Pier, the Blue Man Show, and Chicago's famous deep-dish pizza. For some students, a favorite moment of the trip was to wake up Friday morning to snow flurries, and to have the luxury of enough time to go outside and play.

The Midwest experience demonstrated for us the value of focus and hard work, persistence and teamwork; it provided goals on many levels, the accomplishment of which has been tremendously rewarding. Professional colleagues on the mainland now have a firsthand experience of the strength of the ‘Iolani program. We are proud to have been able to share our artistry with a national audience.