HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra has announced that it is welcoming its first new music director in 10 years.

Dane Lam, a Chinese-Australian conductor will begin his five-year contract and launch the 2023-2024 concert season.

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“It was clear from the start that Dane and the symphony shared the same vision in growing what an orchestra can mean to its community. His forward-thinking personality builds on the vision and commitment of our symphony as fiscally sound, artistically innovative and a cultural pillar of our community,” said Paul Kosasa, the HSO’s board chair.

Lam’s new role will be to provide overall creative leadership for the 84-member orchestra. He will expand and fulfill HSO’s mission to enrich Hawai’i through live music and by serving the Pacific region as the premiere provider of the symphonic art form.

“Dane’s curiosity, his creativity and his willingness to ask ‘what is next?’ will strengthen our commitment to excellence and access and guarantee an exciting journey and future for the HSO,” added Kosasa.

He will oversee the selection of music for HSO’s repertoire for the concert season. He will also organize performances with guest artists and conductors, and he will shape the artistic identity of the orchestra.

“From my first visit to Hawai‘i, I was completely beguiled by the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, by the community and by these islands that bookend the Pacific with my native Australia. I am constantly moved by the musicians’ vibrancy and commitment to the sound, their collaborative nature and willingness to plumb the emotional and technical depths of the music,” said Lam.

Lam will also act as conductor for 10 of the 18-week season. He will oversee the Masterworks and HapaSymphony concerts, including a 2023-2024 season closing reprise of Michael-Thomas Foumai’s Raise Hawaiki, a monumental work for chorus and orchestra celebrating the return of Hōkūleʻa from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage in 2017. 

“Every moment on the podium, I felt a meeting of minds and hearts as we rehearsed and performed great masterpieces in a way that connected with our audiences. I believe an orchestra, at its best, should reflect and define its community; and I am proud to be joining an orchestra that embodies this philosophy,” added Lam.

HSO’s new community engagement initiatives will be coordinated by Lam. This includes working to expand the orchestra’s education programs.

  • Conductor Dane Lam leads the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra in January 2023 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra)
  • Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra's new music director poses with Paul Kosasa, the HSO’s board chair in January 2023 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra)
  • Conductor Dane Lam leads the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra in January 2023 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra)

“Over the years, I’ve come to know Dane as someone not only gifted with incredible artistic insight and conducting prowess, but also someone who understands the power a symphony orchestra can have in positively shaping a community,” said Dave Moss, president & CEO of HSO.

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“Dane is the right choice for Hawai‘i’s orchestra because he is committed to engaging our diverse community in the power of music making and exploring what music and storytelling means for our identity as a Pacific people,” added Moss.