Orchid Isle Orchestra on HPR tonight

  • This is the Orchid Isle Orchestra, pre-pandemic, in June 2019. A holiday recording by 11 members of the group will be aired tonight on Hawaii Public Radio.

Get into the holiday spirit with the Orchid Isle Orchestra by tuning in to Hawaii Public Radio, 98.1 FM, tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

During the orchestra’s 10-minute time slot, you’ll hear “I’ll Be Bach for Christmas, “a medley of Bach music and Christmas carols (arranged by Michael Hopkins), “Brandenburg Concerto No. 1” by Johann Sebastian Bach (arranged by Steven H. Brook), “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “This Little Light of Mine” (both arranged by Cathy Mulligan Young).

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Since March, OIO has been rehearsing primarily online — with the exception of a few summer rehearsals at East Hawaii Cultural Center before gatherings of 10 or more were canceled.

“The in-person rehearsals felt very special; just to be together and to actually work on ensemble issues,” said Cathy Young, artistic director of OIO and Young Music Studio, where she teaches children and adults a range of string instruments.

The nature of meeting online hinders the group’s ability to play together, and Young has been playing and editing together tracks of every part so the group can play along to the piece as if they’re all playing together.

“I used to do orchestra in Hawaii, and it was really nice,” said 14-year-old Beatrice Kim-Lee, who moved to South Korea in May with her mother and sister, where the rest of their family lives, and where COVID-19 cases are lower.

“In person … it was kind of like a bonding experience with all the other orchestra performers, but when I came to Korea it really went through the internet, and I was kind of sad.”

Kim-Lee, like many of Young’s private students, has been “Zooming” into her lessons.

The recording that will play on HPR was created with the efforts of 11 orchestra players (ordinarily, about 20 players make up OIO), who went to Young’s house to record their parts individually in a large room Young has been using for lessons since March.

Sliding glass doors on either side of the room remained open before, during and after recording; wipes were used when touching surfaces; and each participant wore masks and socially distanced during the recording sessions.

Young then edited the tracks together, similar to the practice tracks she’s made for rehearsals.

“That became my new job… to make it sound like we’re playing together,” Young said.

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Since March, a number of OIO performances have been canceled, including its traditional spring concert, the UH-Hilo Jazz Concert (a collaboration with the UH-Hilo Jazz Orchestra), the Hilo Orchid Show and a tentative performance in September. Being able to send some music out has been an exciting prospect for the group.

“We feel overjoyed that HPR wants to air our recording,” Young said.

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