Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hawaii International Music Festival: In Performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall (August 10, 2016)

(image: Carlin Ma Photography)

Amy Shoremount-Obra, soprano (image: Dario Acosta)
The Hawaii International Music Festival had its Oahu premiere performance on Wednesday August 10th 2016 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. The show promised an evening to "thrill the senses". And it did just that from the beginning. Chocolate farmer Will Lydgate lead the audience through a chocolate tasting. A free sample packet was given to each guest at the door.

Mikayla Sager, soprano (image: Dario Acosta Photography)
It was a very different kind of start to a live music performance. I may not be much better at recognizing the nuances of flavors but it was interesting to learn about the subtle differences of finely made chocolates. (Visit for more information)

Then it was onto the main event. The program looked short even with the listed 15-minute intermission. But it turned out to be an exquisite two-plus hour evening of fine live music and singing. Of the vocal performances, Amy Shoremount-Obro (Soprano) offered a silvery rendition of the rarely performed "Ch'il bel sogno" from Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Rondine".  It was a song that I have long loved since I first heard it over twenty-five years ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber's then wife Sarah Brightman. Webber produced an album with Brightman singing songs from unsuccessful musicals ("The Songs That Got Away").

Ian Parker, pianist (image: North Shore News)
Mikayla Sager gave the audience a crowd-pleaser with melody of "Csardas" from the opera 'Die Fledermaus' by Johann Strauss Jr.

Now if you asked anyone in the audience tonight if George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" could still sound grand performed by a solo pianist there would have been likely many doubters. But Ian Parker delivered the familiar composition with cheers from the audience to close out the first part of the show.

Kenny Endo, taiko master (image: Darian Wong)
Opening the second portion of the festival, renowned taiko master drummer Kenny Endo was joined by Shormount-Obra, Parker, violinist Eric Silberger and cellist Daniel Lelchuk for "Tears of the Earth" and "Jugoya (Crystal Clearn Moon)". It was an unusual combination but the melding of talents was fascinating that somewhere down the road this should be saved as a recording.
Eric Silberger, violinist (image:

Silberger whose elegant violin performance of the baroque "Chaconne" by Tomaso Antonio Vitali pulled and prepared the audience for the upcoming musical delights. Lelchuk and Silberger again delighted the evening's attendees with cello/violin duo of "Passacaglia" by Handel Halvorsen.

Daniel Lelchuk, cellist (image:
Most of the numbers performed this evening were unfamiliar to this viewer which should be part of the purpose of the festival to help the audience discover these pieces. Balance them with the familiar and it's a way to draw in the audience into each number.

Silberger, Shormount-Obra and Carlin Ma founded and organized the festival's inaugural year. This is no small feat and I was glad to be in attendance that night. Ma served as a partial host for the evening. Perhaps an addition for future concerts would be short presentations to talk about the music or the artists while crew is preparing the stage for the next performance. It is with hope more people will discover the festival in its annual incarnations and that the organizers can keep the tickets affordable (tickets at the Blaisdell were $30) and the program varied with such talented and invested artists as the ones who shared their music that night.

More info at Visit these sites to learn more about the festival's artists:
Carlin Ma, festival co-founder (image:


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