Director and conductor Henry Miyamura has been teaching music at schools and institutes for 50 years, and it is the give and gain between himself and the students that keeps his passion to teach at a high plateau.
“When I give to a student, they give right back to me,” he says. “It is rewarding to see that type of reciprocal interaction. It is a circle, and in turn that motivates me to continue.”
Miyamura, a distinguished clarinetist, spent 14 years as McKinley High School band director, was assistant conductor of the Honolulu Symphony and holds membership positions in the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Hillel Chamber Concert Orchestra and Rochester Philharmonic. He currently is a professor of music at UH and is the conductor of the UH Symphony Orchestra. Miyamura also has been the Hawaii Youth Symphony music director since 1984, and says he loves inspiring and teaching Hawaii’s young musicians.
“The students at HYS are not only talented musically, but also academically. They are so bright, so sharp,” says Miyamura. “It makes me feel young to work with those types of students. They are eager to learn, and it is a challenge to see how far we can get to in terms of musical goals.”
Miyamura, who was on the MidWeek cover in 2008, works most closely with Youth Symphony I at HYS. He relishes working with a new group of students on a yearly basis. The development of the orchestra and its sound depends on the personalities of those students.
“Some years the orchestras will be a little more aggressive, and other years a little more placid. I decide what is going to happen, but the final analysis depends on the overall dynamic of the orchestra,” he says. “Even though each orchestra changes, you still have this incredible verve and drive - some are just a bit more sensitive while others come off like gangbusters.”
Even though Miyamura still loves working with students, he knows eventually he will step down, and he’s beginning to prepare for that next step.
“I’m always searching for someone to take over, someone who has the same drive,” he says. “It is all right if they see a different future. It may actually be better that way. As long as they have the best interest of the symphony in mind, I will be 100 percent supportive.”
HYS recently wrapped up its winter concert series, but the 2011 season will open Feb. 21 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
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