Hawaii Performing Arts showcase runs June 24 through July 21

  • James Harrington
  • Paulina Villarreal
  • Justin John Moniz

WAIMEA — Over the past 15 years, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival has garnered an international reputation as a premiere training and performance program for aspiring young artists worldwide.

Many of those talents have gone on to significant careers as singers, conductors, directors, orchestral musicians, and teachers. Each season, HPAF assembles an exceptional roster of faculty artists that provides instruction and appears in a series of artistic events for the Big Island community.


This year’s festival runs from June 24 through July 21 and will feature nearly 20 public performances at a number of notable island venues from Kona to Hilo, both student and faculty artists.

“The combination of movies and music has captivated people of all ages and walks of life for over a century, and I’m no exception,” said James Harrington, a critically acclaimed bassist who’s performed for the Santa Fe Opera, Nashville Opera and the Boston Lyric Opera. “The program is an amazing lineup of iconic songs, many of which were formative in my own musical development. Getting to sing them with a live band is coming to be a dream come true.”

The season will officially open at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 with Hollywood Hits at The Kahilu Theatre in Waimea. The program includes music of the movies including tunes from “Dirty Dancing,” “Fame,” “Moana,” “Goldfinger,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Lion King,” and countless others.

The one-night-only performance features HPAF executive director and three-time winner of The American Prize in Vocal Performance, Justin John Moniz; Mexican mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal (Opera Saratoga, Boston Pops, Princeton Symphony); and Harrington.

It’ll be directed by Phil Kadet and will be accompanied by a five-piece band, including internationally-acclaimed guitarist, Jeff Linsky.

Fresh off her recent debut with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, guest artist and mezzo soprano Paulina Villarreal said she was excited to take part.

“This program presents some of the most well-known songs that many of us grew up with — songs that I have always loved, but never had the chance to perform,” she said.

Audiences can expect an explosive evening of beloved favorites, Moniz added.

“This entire season is a celebration — a celebration of the stories that have been shared, the artists who have been featured, and the community, which has been our driving force for HPAF throughout the past 15 years,” he said.

HPAF is a nonprofit organization that offers a world-class music training and performance program in Hawaii. It brings together talented young musicians from Hawaii, the U.S., Canada, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Europe to Hawaii Island to study and perform with professional musical performers and teachers.

Three mainstage productions accompanied by full orchestra will also be featured, including Peter Brook’s adaptation of Bizet’s masterpiece, “The Tragedy of Carmen,” Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”

Performances of “The Tragedy of Carmen” and Sondheim’s “Company” will be presented at both the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea and the Palace Theatre in Hilo. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be presented in Davies Chapel at Hawaii Preparatory Academy.


“Our season offers something for everyone. Whether your passion is opera, chamber music, jazz, musical theatre, or art song, I would encourage you to explore this season’s offerings, and even try something new! Bring a friend — show them who we are, what we do, and give them the opportunity to discover the tremendous impact of four simple letters … H—P—A—F,” Moniz added.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Kahilu Theatre Box Office at 885-6868 or by visiting: www.kahilutheatre.org. For a full list of offerings and more information, visit: www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org.

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