Categorized | Entertainment

Orchestra welcomed at its isle debut

Philip Simmons conducts the Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands on its debut Saturday, March 20 at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. (Hawaii 24/7 photograph by Karin Stanton)


After months of planning and outreach to the Big Island community, the Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands had a successful debut concert Saturday, March 20 at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

More than 300 people were in attendance, and they were treated to an outstanding musical presentation featuring some of Hawaii’s leading artists.

The program began with a traditional Hawaiian blessing by Kahu Keahola Kaopua of the Calvary Community Church of Kailua-Kona. He then sang Hawaii Ponoi with the orchestra, comprised of 12 of the principal string players of the Honolulu Symphony.

Led by concertmaster Iggy Jang, they came to the Big Island for the day to rehearse and perform music of Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky.

Featured guest artists for the concert were the acoustic guitar trio Kohala, led by Grammy Award winner Charles Brotman. Kohala’s other members are Charlie Recaido and Rupert Tripp, Jr., who made his concert comeback after a serious automobile accident last September.

Three of the group’s favorite selections, “Highway in the Sun,” “Samba del Sol” and “Deeper Blue” were performed for the first time with orchestra. Tripp also sang an encore and was joined by his wife Kahealani dancing hula.

The Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands is presented by American Music Festivals, a nonprofit with 20 years of experience on the mainland. It is led by Waimea residents Philip Simmons and Jennifer Schack.

Maestro Simmons has conducted orchestras around the world, and brings a fresh perspective to classical music in Hawaii. Last summer his wife Jennifer came to Parker School as advancement director, and the two relocated to the Big Island from Chicago.

A letter of congratulations from Sen. Daniel Inouye was read by Wayne Tanaka, the senator’s West Hawaii representative. Best wishes were also sent by Sen. Daniel K. Akaka and Mayor Billy Kenoi, and were included in the concert program booklet.

Sponsors for the debut included the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Big Island Honda, the Shops at Mauna Lani, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and Hawaii Life Real Estate Services LLC.

The Hawaii Opus 1 Club is a volunteer organization (under the umbrella of American Music Festivals) which will help to support the orchestra and give Big Islanders a voice in the future direction the orchestra will take.

The Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands will next perform Aug. 7 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and is considering several other outreach efforts on the Big Island. The long term goal for the orchestra is to have collaborative partners for performance throughout the state.

Simmons issued the following mahalo:


A big mahalo to all of you who played a part in our successful debut concert on Saturday! To the 300 people in attendance, our wonderful orchestra, Kohala, and all those who supported the event, we couldn’t have done it without you.

The Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands believes that there is a big place for orchestral music in Hawaii. Our Four Seasons Resort Hualalai program was just the beginning.

If you haven’t yet joined the Hawaii Opus 1 Club please consider becoming a member today. If you have any questions or ideas about our program, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Jennifer and Philip

— FInd out more:
Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands: 315-0885,

Phil Simmons and Rupert Tripp Jr. (Special to Hawaii 24/7)

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