Hawaii Tour

At the end of Term Two, from 25 March to 2 April, a group of young musicians from Year 8 – 12 (including myself) went to Hawaii to perform at the Pacific Basin Music Festival in Honolulu. The festival provided the opportunity for different schools from around the world to meet, practise and perform to an audience and adjudicators. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with open arms and a traditional Hawaiian lei of flowers.

To begin the festival, we attended a dinner which included 700 students from around the world. We got to meet each other, make friends and dance. I still keep in contact with the friends I made from that night.

We had an exchange rehearsal with an ensemble from the Philippines (De La Salle Santiago Zobel Symphonic Band) and were given gifts from their country. We also went to Pearl Harbour and had the experience of travelling out to the USS Arizona memorial monument, to see first-hand where it sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. We swam in the cool waters at the lovely beach of Waikiki, and experienced the diverse local cuisine.

Prior to our adjudicated performance, we had the opportunity to work with educators. Our Rock Band worked with Dr Gabriel Arnold (Associate Professor of Bands at the University of Hawaii) and our Concert Band worked with Mr Bert Aalders (Adjudicator for the Festival and Senior Advisor at Rijnbrink in Rheden, Gelderland, Netherlands). These sessions gave us some insight into what the adjudicators were looking for during the performances, as well as tips on how to improve our own performance. Our adjudicated performance was at The Sheraton in Waikiki, where we performed Jubilance by James Swearingen, Whiteleaf Hill by Benjamin Tucker, Serengeti by John Higgins and River of Dreams by Victor Lopez.

The Pacific Basin Music Festival experience includes the opportunity to witness and to workshop with a resident composer. This year, Dr Brett Abigana conducted workshops with students wishing to learn the skills of composing. We were lucky enough to be part of one of these workshops, and Dr Brett chose Blaike Klok as the centre of his ideas to write about. Since arriving home from the festival, Brett is going to continue the piece he started during the workshop, for us to play at the Spring Concert in November.

Another exciting experience at the festival was the Command Performance, where all the ‘best’ ensembles played, along with the Festival Mass Choir, which Mishen De Silva was also a part of. At this concert we were awarded the Silver Award! World Projects (the organisers of the festival) also arranged for the Pacific American Army Band to perform at this concert. This was an incredible performance to witness, and one I’ll never forget.

Following this concert, our tour took us to the other side of Honolulu, to Kapolei High School in Kapolei. Here we did another exchange rehearsal with the music students. We also had a workshop with the conductor Mr Alan Salvador, and supervisor Ms Jenna Eggering. A few of the Senior students gave us a detailed tour of the campus and again, we made so many friends.

That afternoon, we had our ‘Outdoor Performance’ for the festival, which was at Ala Moana Shopping Centre. This was our Rock Band’s time to shine. Josh Fernando on piano, Billy Drakopoulos on bass, Liam Hatt on drums and Mishen De Silva on vocals rocked the house with Treasure by Bruno Mars, Superstition by Stevie Wonder, Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran, Happy by Pharrel Williams and Geronimo by Sheppard.

Overall, the tour was a wonderful experience, and a trip that I personally will never forget. I am grateful for the opportunity that Salesian College Chadstone has given me to be a part of this tour.

Matias Gonzalez-Jara