By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

When people think of Hawaiʻi, they usually visualize sandy beaches, rainbows, and the occasional coconut tree.

Unbeknownst to them, the islands are also home to many talented music groups. From the Hawaiʻi Youth Symphony to the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, each symphony has something unique to offer and contributes to the liveliness of the community. However, there is a lesser known orchestra that also has much to share.

The University of Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, for which I play the viola and have been a part of since August of this year, is one of the most skilled music ensembles in the state. UHSO is open to students of all majors and community members who demonstrate the ability to read and perform music of all genres proficiently. Today, the symphony has approximately 50 members and with auditions for the next semester just around the corner, its numbers are likely to grow. Rehearsals typically take place in the evenings on Mondays and Wednesdays every week. They can run for up to two hours and are held with the full ensemble as well as specific sections.

Previous works performed by UHSO include Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, and Respighi Pines of Rome. The current works for this semester are Brahms Symphony No. 1 Movement 4 and Sibelius En Saga, Op. 9. These pieces are especially challenging because of their rhythmic complexity and challenging key changes, yet the UHSO has been rehearsing for only two months and are nearly ready for the first concert of the year.

As a member of UHSO, it is difficult at times to practice certain passages, but being able to rehearse with the entire ensemble makes it worth it. Prior to COVID, many musicians took the joy of performing with others for granted and conducting rehearsals through virtual meetings was almost impossible. Now that we are able to meet in person it is much easier to organize sound and play in harmony again.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being in UHSO is the camaraderie between musicians and the conductor. We have time to get to know each other and laugh when we mess up occasionally. Though the most rewarding part is seeing how far we progress and come together. It takes more than practice alone to be able to play well in an ensemble and at the end of the day, sharing that experience with others is something unforgettable.

The seating auditions for the spring semester will take place from Nov. 12-14 and our first concert is on Nov. 28 at Kawaiahaʻo Church. For more information visit this link or email Professor Joseph Stepec at