And now, something different: Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra adds pop culture to upcoming concert

  • The Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing their first-ever pops gala at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. (Steve Roby/Courtesy Photo)

KAILUA-KONA — Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra is setting aside the old school sheet music for modern sounds.

“A symphony orchestra has gotten a bad rap over the years with the average music listener,” the orchestra’s conductor and artistic director Brian Dollinger said. “Many think of symphony music only being classical music like Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc., but in reality, everywhere you go you will hear symphonic music, or should I say, music being performed by a symphony orchestra.”


The orchestra’s turn at familiar symphonic music from popular culture begins 4 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Waikoloa Village for “Pops Goes the Philharmonic.” The concert is the first gala of its kind for the orchestra, who will be performing music by composers such as John Williams of the “Star Wars” franchise, George Gershwin, Henry Mancini, Richard Rodgers and others.

“Turn on your television and your favorite shows have music performed by an orchestra, and then, even during commercial breaks, there’s more orchestra,” Dollinger said. “Turning to the big screen of cinematic movies, some of the most well-known music by all ages comes from movies.

“Look no further than the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. For over 40 years, one composer — John Williams — has given listeners around the world some of the most recognized melodies ever.”

Invited to perform alongside the orchestra are Hawaii Island pianist Cheryl “Quack” Moore and vocalists Beth Dunnington and Kat Reuss. Dollinger said adding local talent from outside of the orchestra would add a “sparkle” to the concert.

“Collaborations are key to any performing arts organization. Bringing in amazing talent to perform with the Kamuela Philharmonic is very important to me as the artistic director,” Dollinger said. “Many of the works on this ‘Pops’ concert are medleys or songs originally written for voice, so incorporating beautiful voices into these tunes was a no-brainer for me.”

Also on the schedule Saturday is a pre-concert for VIP “gold selection” tickets, and will feature performances by Dollinger, Moore, Dunnington, and Reuss.

Proceeds from both the VIP and general admission tickets directly benefit the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, a nonprofit organization that strives to bring quality orchestral music to Hawaii Island.

“The Philharmonic has become a pillar in the performing arts cultural scene here on Hawaii Island. Its continued growth and success is of paramount importance to the island as a whole,” Dollinger said. “With our collaborations with Hawaii artists, musicians, composers, and youth, we continue to not only bring history to life for the island, but also continue traditions important to the Hawaiian culture.”

Dollinger cited the orchestra’s performance in March of a suite of the Hawaiian opera, “The Battle of Kuamoo” by orchestra cellist Herb Mahelona, and the orchestra’s January concert, “En Pointe Brilliance,” featuring young, local musicians and dancers, as examples of the group reaching out into the community.


“To hear their excitement and engagement is contagious and we, as adults, should not only feed off of them but continue to provide these opportunities to our children,” Dollinger said. “So, it’s not only the Beethovens and Tchaikovskys that I believe have a future here in Hawaii — it is also the connection to our ohana here, now, and into the future.”

Info: Tickets for “Pops Goes the Philharmonic” at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton Waikoloa Village are $100 for VIP tickets and $50 for general performance tickets. They can be purchased online at

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