After being sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Wind Ensemble took the stage in-person for the first time since March 2020. The group live streamed its Fall Concert, which was performed at UH Mānoa’s Orvis Auditorium on October 10. All members and directors of the ensemble were required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“There is something so electric about live performance, even with a virtual audience,” said Director of Bands Jeffrey Boeckman. “I’m so proud of how our students performed, and the lovely music they made. We’re also very fortunate to have a terrific staff, who were able to navigate all the AV issues.”
The 24-member group is the premiere band at UH Mānoa, and rehearses twice a week in the fall and three times a week in the spring. The students performed a variety of works, including pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Astor Piazzolla and more. The program featured several soloists, including saxophonist Kouhei Takakura (pursuing a master of music in saxophone performance), percussionist Kelsey Tajima (bachelor of music education major) and conductor Alan Evans, UH Mānoa Music Department’s first-ever graduate student in wind conducting.
“It honestly feels like a breath of fresh air, being able to perform with an ensemble again,” said Erin Matsushita, a first-year student and oboe player. “I can’t describe how much I’ve missed it. The 20 months were long, but I feel so lucky to be back, creating music!”
Emmanuel Hobro, a trombone player and music education major, added, “This concert felt like a sigh of relief. We weren’t able to play as a full ensemble for nearly two years, so this slow transition back is a hopeful sign of what’s to come.”
UH’s next concert is scheduled for December 4, 4 p.m. at Kaimukī High School, featuring the Wind Ensemble and Concert Band. The program hopes audiences will be able to attend in person, but if COVID-19 restrictions prevent a live audience, it will once again provide a live stream via YouTube.
—By Marc Arakaki