Celebrating a decade of performing arts

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Ignace “Iggy” Jang performs as part of the Hawaii Performing Arts festival in 2012. (FILE PHOTO)

According to Confucius, China’s most famous philosopher, music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. Beginning June 30, Hawaii’s Performing Arts Festival brings string quartets, opera, musical theatre, and jazz concerts throughout the area. Everyone is invited to this month-long series of performances that celebrates 10 years of Hawaii Island’s internationally renowned summer music festival.

Genette Freeman, cofounder and executive director of HPAF said, “It’s our tenth anniversary, and we’ll be celebrating and reminiscing. It’s a milestone for us. I love when all of the hard work comes together. The blood, sweat and tears is worth it when I see the artistic productions. They move me, as almost every one of our productions does. I know that I have a part in it and I’m very grateful for that.”

The performances, many of which are free, are offered throughout the island. The first event kicks off at 4 p.m. June 29 with Opera on the Rocks at Huggo’s in Kona. Other venues from Kohala, Waimea, Honokaa, and Hilo are also in the lineup.

The performance lineup includes favorites such as Liane Carroll, Davies Chapel, Lotte Lehmann Lieder, Chee-Yun, Gary Washburn, Ricky Ian Gordon, and more. Musical Theatre and opera performances are also on the schedule.

“The production on July ninth at the Four Seasons is a musical called ‘The Last Five Years’”, said Freeman. “Jason Robert Brown is the composer and he is very well known. There will be various other musical theatre events throughout the program as well. One that comes to mind is July 22 at The Blue Dragon. We’re having an event called the Blue Dragon Cabaret. It will be a variety of music and there will certainly be a lot of musical theatre pieces being performed that night.”

New this year, the HPAF String Program will be debuting in Honolulu. “It’s nice because usually these kinds of things start in Honolulu then extend to neighbor islands,” said Ignace (Iggy) Jang, String Program Director. In this particular case, it’s nice to see something that started on the Big Island, in Waimea, and we are going to Honolulu to be ambassadors of the festival.”

The festival is a classical music study and performance program for young artists who are interested in a college degree in music or a career in music - specifically vocal music.

“Every year we have about 10 percent repeat students that come from all over the world,” said Freeman. “Students from the states, Asia, Europe, and this year a student from South Africa will be attending. Students come to study together for three weeks with people that they’ve never met before to produce over 25 concerts. Many of those concerts are free to the public and they are all really different and very incredible.”

Jang described the satisfaction derived from working with the students.

“It’s a lot of work during the off season and you never think you’ll get to the end of it,” he said. “But when summer comes and you finally get to day one and you see faces and you hear voices it’s a lot different. It makes all of the work worthwhile. Making music together and sharing meals together - there’s a great bonding aspect to it. That’s very gratifying.”

The festival will produce more than 25 concerts in venues as diverse as farmers markets, resort ballrooms, intimate church settings and theatre stages.

“It’s a chance to come out and enjoy some world class music that is always entertaining, always fun, sometimes very dramatic, but always unforgettable,” said Freeman.

HPAF is supported by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, as well as the Richard Smart Fund and FLEX grant funding through the Hawaii Community For more information and for a full schedule of events, visit the festival’s website at www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org, or call 808-333-7378.