Changing Lives Through Music

By Mark Conching
Wednesday - June 29, 2011 Share

By Mark Conching, Owner/ Marketing Consultant of MC Consulting
Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus

Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus is celebrating 50 years of performing the very best choral music. Founded in 1961 to provide singers for Hawaii Opera Theatre, HYOC now flourishes under Nola Nahulu, its executive and artistic director since 1986. Its ensembles perform throughout the state, host four choral festivals with up to 1,000 singers annually and administer outreach music education programs. Its DOE initiative project works with five to six schools, 12 to 16 teachers and more than 500 public school students each year. HYOC participants perform internationally, traveling to places including Rome, Japan, Wales, Beijing and Austria and at numerous festivals across the U.S.

Its first CD, Na Leo Hone, earned a Na Hoku Hanohano Award.

It is the mission of HYOC to nurture, foster and develop young people through the medium of choral music. It currently serves more than 200 singers from ages 5 to 18, from 45 public and 25 private, charter and home schools.

More importantly, HYOC strives to make a positive impact in the lives of people they touch, be it a student, a parent or an audience member.

Members of the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus perform at the 2010 Christmas Concert at Kawaiaha‘o Church. Photo courtesy Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus

“How does one describe,” says director Nola Nahulu, “the effects of singing in a community, the strengthening of one’s being by sharing of yourself, the sense of belonging, the development of the whole spirit, the confidence to work hard together to achieve excellence? Okagesama de: We are who we are because of you.”

Tuition and performance fees cover just 40 percent of HYOC’s annual budget. The rest comes from fundraising and supporters like you in the community. To make a contribution and for more information, please call general manager Malia Ka’ai-Barrett at 521-2982 or visit

Mahina O’Neill, HYOC alumna and current parent, puts it: “I was so excited to walk my two stepdaughters to their first rehearsal, all the while having flashbacks of my mother doing the very same thing for me. This year my 5-year-old daughter began her HYOC journey and I’ve come full circle. I am no longer a performer; I am a supporter. I am no longer a participant; I am a witness. Mahalo for providing generations with a safe and nurturing place to grow.”

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