top of page
Screen Shot 2022-09-27 at 1.15.01 PM.png

HSO 2022-2023 Back to Black Gala Speech


Aloha and Good Evening,


I'm here to talk about music and our symphony in the community. Music can change the world.


Let me show you how. I have a gong [Foumai lift's gong]. When I strike it, it will vibrate. [Gong is struck]


Did we hear that? We heard it because the vibrations it creates have traveled through the air at the speed of sound, vibrating air molecules, creating a wave-like chain reaction that has touched all of you. It vibrates the tiny hairs in your inner ear, thereby sending electrical signals to your brain, which turns this electricity into sound. It is a beautiful, instant, analog system of communication. Our world is built on communication; the propagation of our species depends on relationships forged by communication. 


Music is the ultimate mechanism that can communicate something as vast as our universe to something as intimate as one's desire to be home. All without words, without language barriers—instantly.


This was just a gong that may have communicated, "dinner is served." Imagine what message the 64 musicians of our Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra can amplify to our community and the world in their unified sound.


Last week, we heard Maestro Dane Lam conduct Dvorak's New Word Symphony, music 129 years old tonight. Is there anyone 129 years old in this room? None? This music is our direct link to the past and reminds us that our nation was and still should be one of inclusion. 


In Dai-Keong Lee's First Symphony, music of a Hawaii-born composer rediscovered, we know there are stories to be told from our islands, and we are the voice to tell them. In his music, we experienced the horrors, sorrows, triumphs, and loss that come with global war, all from the safety of our symphony orchestra, a perspective we should remember when we are faced with war today.


Our principal timpanist, Brad Davis, stole the show with music drawing upon the many cultures found in our nation. A celebration in much the way Dvorak saw his "New World" in the 1890s. Some things never change, but some things do, and we must change with it.


As a species, our appetite to consume our natural resources is quickly changing our world. Scientific consensus projects at the end of the century, we will have a global temperature rise that is either dangerous or catastrophic. There's not much choice there. But we have a choice now to send a message in the most powerful form of music through the ultimate storyteller of our symphony, to our kūpuna, to our keiki, to our ʻohana, that we can change the world for a better future. 


Our symphony is a connector, and we see it in the partnerships in this room tonight. 


We are telling the stories of our home–the stories of you and me, we are learning from our kūpuna in the music of the repertoire, and we are creating a space to listen together as one so that we may communicate with each other on pathways future-forward.

bottom of page