Every semester I require all my music students to attend an approved concert and write a review. The review must demonstrate they actually attended the concert. They can write about the concert-going experience, their impressions, feelings, thoughts, and anything else that resonated with them and for which they wanted to share. I then select the most relevant passages from their written reviews and write a so-called “Review of reviews” on this blog.
At the beginning of each semester at University of Hawaii Maui College, I usually see just one concert on the calendar of Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) that I could approve. I tell all my students to mark the date on their diaries. As time goes on, other concerts get announced. Not everyone is able to attend the concert. I cross my fingers and hope other concerts get organized. Meanwhile, I invite the performers to come to our class. Violinist Martin Beaver and pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald did just that, the evening before their concert. Meanwhile the Boom Booms from Vancouver participated in our Earth Day Jam and other festivities a few days AFTER their concert at the MACC.
All the concerts reviewed here took place between February and April 2014 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (MACC) which consists of the 1,200-seat Castle Theatre and the smaller McCoy Studio.
What is universal in all the reviews I’ve read is the following observations:
- It’s their first time attending a classical concert. My second semester students would say it’s their second time.
- The concert is not what they expected. It’s different from other live performances they’ve attended.
- They are impressed by the dedication of the performers.
- They are intimidated by the environment — majority of the audience being much older than themselves, the posh venue of the MACC, the formality of the occasion.
This is actually my first time going to a classical concert or any kind of concert. I feel so lost actually once I enter the stadium. – Macy
As I entered the hall I couldn’t help but notice the huge age difference. I must admit it was very intimidating. Everyone was very well dressed and amongst all the noise I managed to decipher that the audience was very familiar with the “subject matter”. - Dayton
I noticed that the audience were generally of caucasian race and a much more older and mature crowd. I felt that I stood out greatly as I was dressed more casually compared to some of the other people in the audience and I was definitely one of the younger ones. along with the other of my classmates that came out to watch as well. I also noticed that it was a very quiet crowd. I felt that it was best appropriate that way anyway as the type of music being played didn’t call for a loud vibrant audience, but a more quiet and observant vibe. I realized that we didn’t need to clap after every performance, but knowing Maui, of course we would. – Byron
Going to the concert was an interesting experience for me because I had never been to a classical music performance before. It was different to see everyone dressed up and silent during the show. In the concerts that I am used to attending, everyone is loud and definitely not in button-up shirts like most were in this concert. I appreciated how respectful everyone at this performance was and there were no outbursts or interruptions. – Levi
February 9th, 2014
Hawaii Youth Symphony
I was blown away by what I heard. The Hawaii Youth Symphony is the only statewide youth music education program. Their mission is to create critical and positive links. They serve about 650 students from all over the Hawaiian Islands. Conductor Henry Miyamura has been conducting for nearly three decades and joined the HYS in the early eighties and has been a conductor ever since. I am honored to have been able to experience their art through the form of music. – Kisha
Thursday March 6, 2014 @7:30 PM
Kevin Fitz-Gerald, piano and Martin Beaver, violin
I liked their trance-like state when they played. I also liked how Mr Fitz-Gerald swayed with the measures as he played. – Pope
The pianist, Kevin Fitz-Gerald, had told our class that he started playing piano at the age of 10; I started playing at the age of 6 which should put me at an advantage if I had stuck with piano from the start. It helped me to realize that if I put my mind to it and work really hard, I, too, could be a great pianist one day, maybe not professionally as my career, but for fun. - Richel
I like the way that the music does all the talking for the performers, they do not need to hype up the crowd or do too much interacting other than play the pieces and let the music do all the talking. They obviously played together a lot, they did not need to make eye contact with each other, they knew when to come in and out of each piece and the transition was smooth and seamless. – Josh
They played all of the music equally beautiful. But, there was something in Mozart’s Sonata K. 526 in A Major first movement and Grieg’s Sonata #3 Op. 45 in C Minor second movement that made me want to listen to them again. Sonata K. 526 in A Major first movement is a lively piece not like the others. It has the power to make me smile. Sonata #3 Op. 45 in C Minor second movement is a peaceful one. It could have made me sleep there if I just let myself. Somehow the beginning of the piece reminds me of my childhood days with my mother’s love. - Mary Ann
Martin plays a 1789 Nicolo Bergonzi violin. Beautiful instrument! It’s amazing to see an instrument that continues to pass the test of time, as it is some 225 years old to date. I was honored to hold it as he offered. – Anna
I heard the audiences’ breath catch when the strings of his violin snapped. I lost track of time listening their music. When the concert was done, it was already 9:30pm. – Misako
There were only two instrumentals, Piano and Violin, but I could imagine an orchestra around them. The tempo of the melody was smoothly moderate, and changed to fast as song changes. There was a break time however I actually didn’t notice it was already break time. - Hide
By carefully listening to the sounds their instruments made I felt like I was taken to a completely different world. I was moved by the music and the atmosphere of the concert hall. This concert was the second I’ve ever been to in my life and I had a blast even though I’m not a big fan of classical music. While I was listening to the music I had remembered something an old teacher of mine had told me “To be an expert in music you must experience music in all of its forms.” A piece of wisdom I still hold on to whenever I experience a different form of music. – Eric
As soon as FitzGerald placed his fingers on the keyboard, Beaver was armed with his bow, and at that moment I knew they would be taking their audience on a journey with them. Magic began to flow. With every enthusiastic stroke, I felt their vision, their passion for the music they were creating. It was as if they were pouring their very soul on the stage and we watched them, exposed. – Vanessa
Fire and water, their chemistry can only be described by the relationship between fire and water. Two conflicting elements working together to create something beautiful. FitzGerald was the water. His fingers danced across the keyboard with each note falling like droplets of rain. He created the perfect backdrop. He remained consistent throughout, never overpowering nor faintly drizzling behind. Beaver was the flame, the fire burning brightly amongst the rain. It was as if he drew a spark as soon as his bow hit the strings. Each slide only caused the flames to to grow. He was the lead, the melody, the soul to FitzGeralds beating heart. Existing together in perfect harmony. Never did I feel like the two were disconnected. Here water did not douse the flames nor did the flames evaporate the water. - Dayton
I noticed how Kevin would nod to the page turner when he was ready for the next page, and this made me realize he was reading a bit ahead of what he was playing. I was worried each time she was about to turn the page that she would accidently (sic) turn two pages instead of one. I cringed at the thought of that happening and the resulting disaster that might have occurred. Like with Kevin, there were moments when watching Martin caused me to fret. The hairs that snapped from his bow at one point landed on his left hand, and I feared they would get tanled in his fingers. He responded quickly by snapping them off and dropping them to the stage floor. – Saxon
One thing that got me all worked up is that the man that was playing the violin. When I saw the horse hair got loosed, I was like all worried, thinking the concert might be over because of it. I almost stand up from my seat. If I see something that makes me nervous, I can’t keep still at all. - Macy
Saturday April 5, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
Hawaii Pacific University Symphony with Makana
They introduced Streetlight Cadence which is a group formed by four young men. They are composed of UH Manoa and Hawai’i Pacific University students. They began four years ago as a sidewalk group in Waikiki. I never expected these four men to have played how they did. They blew the crowd away and even got an encore at the end of their performance. This concert was not what I expected. The people were talking during the performances and babies were crying. I could not enjoy the whole concert with all the distractions and aromas. I would love to attend one concert on the mainland just to get the real feel of a great concert. – Sunny
When Makana and the HPU Symphony Orchestra played together, the room was full of musical vibrations that anyone in their right mind would appreciate because they were so magical. I definitely wish I could play guitar like Makana! That was great. He had a good voice too. I feel like I’m constantly learning when I am listening to music like this because I saw all of the different techniques, postures, and attitudes on the stage that effect each and every part of the music. It was a fun experience to get to see the Symphony Orchestra, and the first concert was great too! – Ben
Saturday April 19th, 2014
The Boom Booms
What is so great about this band is that they started out with an environmental friendly goal which was planting trees and then used their music (sic) talents to help further their cause. The Boom Booms also got the audience involved, which was superb. They had us clapping our hands to the beat. Singing along with vocals that we were hearing for the first time. Their energy made everything flow smoothly. They also incorporated some nice choreography in a song as well which caught me by surprise. By the end of the night, there were people dancing right below the stage, mainly consisting of women showing off their impeccable dance moves all through the night. – Aurthur