Youth Symphony’s Aloha For Japan

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - April 06, 2011
| Del.icio.us
Hawaii Youth Symphony with Henry Miyamura

The devastation that rocked Japan made its way to Hawaii shores - and not just in the form of a tsunami.

The impact also has touched the lives of our Island keiki, who have sought out ways to help Japan’s disaster relief efforts. An overwhelming request by the children of the Hawaii Youth symphony to host a benefit concert for Japan has resulted in the Aloha For Japan concert April 10 at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

“This is entirely a student-driven initiative,” says HYS executive director selena ching. “When the disaster struck in Japan, right away several of our students came out to talk to us and were commenting on Facebook asking to do a benefit concert. We were so pleased with our kids that they found it in themselves to want to use their music to try to help with the disaster relief efforts.

“As a nonprofit, we weren’t sure if we could afford to give up revenue stream, but it was decided that we do it because it’s important for our kids to know that their music can strengthen our community.”

In lieu of an admission fee, HYS asks attendees to make a donation to the Japan/American Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan. One hundred percent of every dollar collected will go toward the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.


Themed “Collaborative Collage,” the benefit concert will feature Hawaii’s premiere 90-member youth orchestra, Youth Symphony I, under the direction of Henry Miyamura. Guest performers include the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and Utah’s award-winning pianist Michael stewart, who recently received top honors at the Aloha International Piano Festival. Also, world-class pianist and part-time Hawaii resident Lisa nakamichi, who was in Japan during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, will perform and speak to audiences about the devastation.

The concert also will serve as the world premiere of Liu-Si, written by HYS alumnus Michael thomas Foumai for violin soloist and Honolulu Symphony concertmaster iggy Jang. Jang’s performance will be accompanied by the Honolulu symphony chorus and the Youth symphony.

The concert begins at 4 p.m., but at 2:45 p.m. the public is invited to attend a pre-concert chat with composer Foumai and media personality and emcee Howard Dicus.

Foumai, a Roosevelt High graduate, went on to UHManoa to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in music composition. He is currently pursuing a master’s in music composition at the University of Michigan.

“Michael is an extremely talented composer,” says Ching. “He started composing music when he was very young, and started his first symphonic composition at the age of 13. When he was a senior, the HYS played work that he composed and it got a standing ovation.

Michael Thomas Foumai /Lyndon Qulenan Empire Photography photo

And it was very interesting because we did not tell the audience who wrote it until after the piece played. He’s absolutely amazing.”

The music of Foumai has been performed across the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. He is a recipient of a Presser Foundation Award, and his music has been featured in a documentary by filmmaker edgy Lee. Foumai is also a violist and founding member of the Honolulu-based chamber music group Ensemble Manoa.

His composition, Liu-Si, expresses the tragedy of loss, bravery, brutality and politics on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese government forcefully ended a student-led pro-democratic protest in Tiananmen Square. Reports indicated that more than 10,000 were killed. The name that has come to identify the event is Liu-Si or 6-4.

Blood Brothers

“He wrote this piece for Iggy because Iggy was his violin teacher,” adds Ching. “And this piece is so hard even Iggy said that this is one of the most complicated concertos he’s played. There’s a lot going on, and it’s a very exciting piece.”

The Hawaii Youth Symphony annually serves more than 700 students, ages 5-18, from more than 100 schools across the state with curriculum for the absolute beginner to the most advanced student musician. Applications are currently being accepted and available online at HiYouthSymphony.org ...

This week Friday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. local rap group Blood Brothers celebrates the release of its debut album One with a CD release party at Blue Ocean Thai.

Everyone 18 and over is welcome. Cost is $15 at the door.

“The album is called One basically because we are all one family ‘cause that’s what we’re about,” says group member sheldon Amoncio. “We come off as rough, raw and rugged, which we are, but everything we do is focuseda on family. The motto we go by is ‘family over everything.’”

The group name also is derived from the same concept. Two of the group’s members are brothers eric (Young gunna) Allagonez and Michael Ryan (Hellrazor) Allagonez, and their longtime childhood friend sheldon (s1da) Amoncio.


“With the name Blood Brothers everyone thinks we’re a gang,” says Amoncio. “But the group is called Blood Brothers because under the blood of Jesus we are all brothers and sisters.”

He adds, “We grew up together and have known each other for about 28 years,” adds Amoncio. “We found that through music we were able to express our views and opinions, and people were listening. We all connected because we have the same sad story growing up: broken home, dad left when we were young. We did a couple tracks and from there we clicked.”

The 17 tracks on the album hold strong messages and deep subjects that Amoncio says “is pretty much our life story.”

My apologies: In a recent column I forgot to mention two important band members of Kolohe Kai, Luke Daddario on drums and Kolomona Wilson-Ku on keyboards, sax and vocals.

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