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Approximately 5,000 Hawaiʻi students had the opportunity to see and hear the diversity of Hawaiʻi’s native birds as well as feel the loss of extinction and the urgency for conservation at the Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds. The Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra performed four concerts that brought together science education, art and music at the Neal S. Blaisdell concert hall October 31–November 1.

“Working with children is a great way to go for training up the next generation of people who can have the toolsets and the passion to solve the really big problems like we’re facing with endangered species in Hawaiʻi,” said Melissa Price, project co-coordinator and assistant professor of natural resources and environmental management at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The performances were the culmination of a multidisciplinary collaboration between faculty from the UH Mānoa Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Music Department, College of Education, UH West Oʻahu, Windward Community College, UH Academy for Creative Media System as well as the Bishop Museum and Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s a project that brings together all these different kinds of arts and sciences to education all these kids about birds and also show them what new music, new art looks like,” said Takuma Itoh, associate professor of music.

Prior to the concert, the students grades 4–12 learned about Hawaiian bird biology, ecology and conservation efforts through a program developed by the UH Mānoa College of Education, and UH music education students went into classrooms to teach a hula and demonstrate instruments in preparation for the concert.

“Students got to learn about the native species, specifically the native birds like the iʻiwi, and their adaptations. They adapted to our trees and now they’re going extinct,” said Waiʻanae Intermediate School science teacher Brigitte Russo, whose class attended the concert. “I just wanted to thank UH for giving us this opportunity. They gave us a free field trip, which a lot of students aren’t able to get.”

The Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds will have its first public performance on November 14, 7 p.m. at the Blaisdell concert hall. For ticket information on the ʻOhana Concert, see the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra website.

—By Heidi Sakuma

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