Nakasone To Hang Up Baton

Jessica Goolsby
Wednesday - May 12, 2010
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Former Pearl City Marching Band director Michael Nakasone leads the Hawaii Youth Symphony for the last time at a special concert this Saturday at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Photo courtesy Hawaii Youth Symphony.

Hawaii Youth Symphony bids aloha to retiring conductor Michael Nakasone at its annual Aloha Concert Luncheon this Sunday in Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Coral Ballroom.

“He’s really given a lot to the students over the years,” said Selena Ching, HYS executive director. “He’s a very busy man these days, and he figured it was just the right time for him to leave - on a high note, of course.”

A patron of the organization for some 21 years, Nakasone started his career in 1968 as band director at Wahiawa Intermediate School. He then moved to Mililani High in 1973, only to move on to teach at Pearl City High School in 1977. Under Nakasone’s direction, the Pearl City Marching Band has performed in the Aloha Festivals Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena and the Ginza Parade in Tokyo.


In 1992 he was named director of the PCHS Performing Arts Learning Center and contributed much to the construction of the Pearl City Cultural Arts Center on campus. In 2004, he retired after 37 years with the Hawaii DOE and his position with Pearl City Marching Band to become director for the Royal Hawaiian Band.

This weekend’s concert kicks off with performances by the 96-member Youth Symphony II under the final direction of Nakasone himself.

Jazz greats Gabe Baltazar (saxophone), Dean Taba (bass), Noel Okimoto (drums) and Dale Senaga (keyboards) will then pay tribute to the symphony maestro alongside jazz vocalist Ginai and her musical partner Pierre Grill. Dancers from Isla Tango and a performance by Youth Symphony I under the baton of maestro Henry Miyamura will round out the program.

“The symphony has extremely talented kids, and over the years Mr. Nakasone has helped to ensure that they always have a place to share their talents in Hawaii,” Ching stated. “He’s put together a bang-up program and allowed the kids to work with other local professional talents, and the fusion of these young people playing fantastic orchestral music alongside these other well-known pro musicians at this event is just going to be phenomenal.”

The event opens 10:30 a.m. with a country store, followed by lunch service and the concert program. Tickets cost $50 per person (or $450 for tables of 10).

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 941-9706 or go to

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