Classical Kids

Siblings Aris and Asia Doike are among the amazingly talented teen muscians in the Hawaii Youth symphony, conducted by the demanding Henry Miyamura.  They preform in concert Sunday evening

Friday - November 02, 2007
By Alice Keesing
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Aris and Asia Doike
Face of talent: Aris and Asia Doike, with maestro Henry Miyamura. In addition to Sunday’s concert, Asia will play on NPR’s From the Top Nov. 14

It’s a perfect Sunday. Light trades and a sunny, cloudless sky.Ideal for teens to sleep in, hang out with their friends, hit the beach. But not so for Asia and Aris Doike. Just after lunch, they arrive at the University of Hawaii music school, violin and cello in respective hands, ready for several hours of rehearsal with 87 of their music-minded peers who make up the Hawaii Youth Symphony’s top orchestra.

They’ve already spent several hours in practice at their Palolo home that morning.And when they finish rehearsal,17-year-old Asia will teach her violin students at home, and 15-year-old Aris will put in some more practice time.

It’s that kind of dedication that you hear when the youth symphony plays.And this Sunday, they’re putting on their best for their annual fundraiser, He Makana O Na Mele: The Gift of Music, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The concert, along with other performances throughout the year, give the Doikes the chance to hone their musical talents in the grand scale of an orchestra while getting a taste of the wider world of music. For this fundraiser, the young musicians will accompany ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro - “Which is so cool,“Asia says with a shy grin.

The fact that the Doikes and their peers can hold their own with professionals of such caliber says all you need to know about their talent. They practice hard, they rehearse hard - but they promise they still find time for the “regular stuff"like movies, friends and the beach.

For more than 40 years, the Hawaii Youth Symphony has played an important role in the lives of these musical teens. One of the country’s finest and largest youth symphonies,its seven orchestras this year accommodate 415 kids from 104 schools on four islands.

Maestro Miyamura is a 'taskmaster,' and the kids say they like it
Maestro Miyamura is a ‘taskmaster,’ and the kids say they like it

“We are the most diverse orchestra and the only statewide youth orchestra program,” says HYS executive director Selena Ching. “Our students range from absolute beginners to the most accomplished musicians.”

In a regular season, these young musicians will put on 24 public performances for more than 16,000 people. And every year about 10,000 school children are introduced to music through HYS’s Listen and Learn concerts.

“These are Hawaii’s only symphony concerts for youth by youth,“Ching says.“When the kids see other kids playing this music, they stop thinking ‘This is my grandma’s music.’ “

While not all will go on to a music career, many HYS alums can be found in the Honolulu Symphony and the Royal Hawaiian Band. Recently,Youth Symphony I played side-by-side with the Honolulu Symphony.

“For those (Honolulu Symphony) members who had never heard the youth symphony before, they were surprised at the quality,” says HYS music director Henry Miyamura.

Miyamura has been conducting YSI for 24 years and he is known - fondly - as a hard taskmaster.

“He demands a lot,” says Asia, who this season took on the added role of concertmaster.“He demands perfection, which is really good.”

And while Miyamura pushes hard, he also acknowledges that he enjoys working with the cream of the crop, with students who strive in all areas of their lives.


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