Since 2019, we have been grateful to partner with the National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F). Together, we created the Orchestral Learning Alliance, nicknamed OLA in part due to the Hawaiian meaning of ola: life.. “Playing together in an orchestra fosters lifelong skills, habits of mind, and intelligence,” says HYS President Randy Wong.  “We love working with partners who share our view that music is life and are passionate about bringing that joy of music to our youth.” 

What is the National Orchestral Institute + Festival?

NOI+F nurtures the development of America’s most gifted young orchestral musicians. Their musicians strive to forge a bright path for the future of orchestras through a month-long festival of on and off stage performances. 

Through rehearsals, masterclasses, and seminars, NOI+F participants are able to work closely with world-renowned faculty. Members are also active in the community, engaging with new audiences and performing in non-traditional venues. 

NOI alumna and PMI string faculty, Dr. Helen Liu, raves about quality of education string students receive from this partnership:

OLA is one of the most inclusive and intensive orchestral music programs one can find during the summer in Hawai‘i. As an NOI alum, it’s thrilling to see the impact of the partnership in Hawai‘i: students experience high-level coaching expertise from the NOI faculty, engage with world-class musicians during rehearsals, and see live chamber music performances performed by these top professionals. OLA at PMI helps students become the best musical version of themselves in just a short amount of time. I’m proud and excited to see the partnership continue to grow between PMI and NOI in this community.

Orchestral Learning Alliance

OLA is the strategic partnership of PMI and NOI+F where NOI+F’s students (teaching fellows) and faculty join PMI’s faculty to create a robust learning experience for our students. Through this collaboration, our students are able to expand their views on music by learning from world-class faculty and talented mentors. Richard Scerbo, NOI+F Director, describes the OLA experience: “The students [at PMI] are absolutely tremendous. The focus, the energy, the intensity that they bring to each rehearsal and to the performances has just been off the charts. And to add on top of that, we have this world class faculty with aspiring students from the National Orchestral Institute serving as mentors.”

We appreciate the culture of learning that is fostered by our partnership with NOI+F. Jordan Watt, an OLA Teaching Fellow in 2022, describes his favorite part of PMI being the positive learning environment: “The positive vibes from both the faculty and students really makes it [special] for me. Sometimes we fall into the pit of getting too negative when playing music and thinking, ‘oh, this is horrible, it sounds horrible.’ That’s not what it is here. We’re all focusing on improving in one way or another, so there is a healthy amount of criticism and growth that comes out of this for the students.”

A Teaching Fellow’s Perspective: Diversity and Inclusion

Our OLA Teaching Fellows each bring unique perspectives, broadening the diversity and inclusion to which PMI students are exposed. We love the variety of perspectives and experiences these fellows hold and share with our students. 

An amazing example of this is Marza Wilks, founding member of the Adelphi Quartet. This quartet was born as a partnership between NOI+F and Sphinx Organization and consists of Black and Latinx musicians. The Adelphi Quartet produces high quality, world-class concerts while focusing on community engagement and education. Marza shares, “What really drew me to education was when I started realizing what kind of an impact I could make. I grew up in a community where there were no other Latino musicians around, I didn’t see anybody that looked like me…So for me to be able to make a difference in a child’s life, especially if they are not able to see other musicians that look like them, that’s what it’s all about for me.”

Photo credit: Marza Wilks

What each teaching fellow brings to PMI, and what they take away, is unique. That’s why we appreciate having new teaching fellows – to provide our students with new points of view about music education and beyond!

Another former OLA fellow from the Adelphi Quartet, Julian Maddox, loves the diversity and inclusion PMI offers from its location in Hawai‘i, an international hub that appreciates and boasts a variety of cultures: “Bringing people from all sorts of different backgrounds and all sorts of levels together in one place and giving them access and giving them a lot of great energy and music making is just the best.”

Giving Back at Home

While we’re fortunate to work with OLA fellows and faculty from the continental U.S. and beyond, we also love when we have fellows with Hawai‘i roots. Taiga Benito, a OLA fellow who is also an alumnus of Hawaii Youth Symphony, returned home to teach at PMI. “In the summer of 2021, I had the great opportunity to participate in NOI+F as a fellow, where I received intense orchestral and musical training from some of the best professional musicians in the world,” Taiga recalls. Having alumni return to PMI to teach our current students creates a unique community of passionate musicians and world-class instructors who care about our culture of learning. “When I was invited to help out at HYS’ Pacific Music Institute as a teaching fellow, I did not hesitate to say yes as both NOI+F and HYS have done so much for my development as a musician,” Taiga shared. 

Kisa Uradomo, an HYS alumna from Maui, returned to Pacific Music Institute as an OLA Fellow in 2019 to give back the lessons she learned while studying in the continental U.S. with local students. “In Hawaiʻi, there’s a special spark, I feel. Especially when I watch these students. They are so engaged; they are very invested in what they’re doing, whether they know it or not.” Kisa loves the remarkable characteristics of PMI so much that she hopes to return when she has finished her education. “As now a college student, I hope to eventually come back here as often as I can and spread the importance of music education,” she says.

Distinguishing PMI’s OLA from Other Festivals

There are many summer music programs for young musicians out there. PMI offers many unique value points, from its tropical location that bridges international destinations to its amazing faculty of musicians. Ultimately, its culture of learning and openness from both students and faculty is what separates it from other programs.

Daniel Scoggins, OLA Teaching Fellow in 2022, aptly summarizes the difference between PMI and other summer music programs: “Everyone at PMI has come to work hard and learn, and both faculty and students are all open to new ideas.” In his experience, it’s a rare experience to come across a group so passionate about learning music and learning new things, and it’s an atmosphere truly unique to PMI.

Meet the Pacific Music Institute 2023 Fellows

This year, we were excited to welcome our two new OLA fellows, Yani Quemado and Daniel Guevara

Violinist, Quemado, earned a B.Mus degree from Vanderbilt University and has studied with a wealth of storied musicians. His experience ranges from orchestral to new music and he has received international acclaim for his performances throughout North America and Europe.

Violinist and Violist, Guevara, is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Viola Performance at Lynn Conservatory of Music. He has a plethora of orchestral experience and is an active chamber musician.


OLA is an integral facet of the Strings Program at PMI, adding depth to the education of our string students. Our Artistic Director, Joseph Stepec, sums it up by explaining that the intensive music experience PMI students receive, in part due to OLA, helps push them to new heights they may have not imagined for themselves. He says, “All along the way, [students] are guided by expert, passionate, devoted faculty who give their whole hearts to PMI. The memories made at PMI and the friendships last a lifetime and the musical lessons learned continue to vibrate through each student’s life, in music or otherwise.”

Learn more about this year’s OLA fellows and the rest of our world-class PMI faculty and follow us on social media to see snapshots of our 2023 summer camp!