The Pacific Music Institute team works hard all year to put together the perfect summer music intensive for keiki near and far. It’s a labor of love that culminates in a week-long, music-filled camp for students in middle and high school. PMI 2023 came and went in a flash, and we hope you had as much fun as we did! If you missed the fun, relive it with us as we do the 3-2-1 of PMI 2023. 

3 Highlights

We’d like to note that we had WAY more than three highlights during PMI 2023, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll try to prioritize.

1: A New Program - Freestyle String Ensemble

PMI 2023 brought with it a new and exciting option for our Strings Program participants: Freestyle String Ensemble! Led by Duane Padilla, an accomplished violinist, concert artist, and educator, this multi-styles creative orchestra featured a wide variety of genres and techniques. From American bluegrass to Hawaiian, Jazz to Rock to J-Pop, from critical listening skills and understanding of lead sheets to composition and arranging, FSE shows students that string instruments aren’t just for playing classical music.

2: Hawai‘i, USA, and Beyond!

We loved welcoming students and faculty from Honolulu, the state of Hawai‘i, the continental U.S., and beyond! Having diverse attendance at PMI is a unique learning opportunity for our students, and we’re grateful to expose our students to a variety of perspectives. 

In PMI 2023, our Oʻahu students represented 45 unique schools, with 23% coming from private schools, 71% from public schools, and 2% from home or other schools. Overall, 10% of our students represented the neighbor islands (from Maui and Hawaiʻi island counties), and 5% visited us from the continent U.S.! 

SSQ Director, Ignace Jang, thinks the diversity of experiences is a big reason students should consider signing up for PMI. “[Students] get to meet so many new friends, older friends – like myself, teachers – we come from different places, we bring different experiences, it’s a hodgepodge of wonderful artists, performers, educators,” he says. “But you also get to meet new friends, not just from your own school, but other places like the neighbor islands, the mainland. And the strength of your friendship – because it comes through music –  is very, very strong.”

3. Concerts and Community Outreach

Our students and faculty were proud to share what they learned at PMI with our local community through concerts and outreach! 

Always a fan favorite, the PMI concert series began with the Faculty Concert, where our world-renowned instructors perform together and play…whatever they want! That’s right, they can perform any piece or genre that moves them, which results in a fun, diverse, and inspiring concert experience for our students, families, and community. 

Throughout the week, student and faculty string quartets did several community outreach performances, visiting Craigside Retirement Community, One Kalakaua Senior Living, and more! And, our NOI+F team was able to visit Moloka‘i for a second year, performing at the St. Damien of Moloka‘i Church and Home Pume Hana Retirement Community!

PMI 2023 culminated in a series of four concerts featuring all of our ensembles. We are so proud of the progress each student made during the course of just one week! PMI parent, Nadine Shrivastava, echoes this sentiment: “[PMI is] more than worth it! How much your child will learn is astonishing!” 

Artistic Director, Joseph Stepec, loves seeing the progress students make at PMI. “One of the things I really enjoy about PMI is progress,” he says. “I see the students go from staring at their music like, ‘Oh my goodness, what is this hieroglyphics stuff!’ to really delving deep into it and pushing themselves. For all of the ensemble programs at PMI, much of this music is really difficult and students have really shown an amazing work ethic and attitude which is really great to see.” The improvements each student makes at PMI is clearly evident when comparing their first day to their concert performances! Bravo! 

2 Goals for PMI 2024

At Pacific Music Institute, we are constantly iterating to make our programs better. Through feedback from our students, families, faculty, and other stakeholders, we hope to make PMI the best it can be through continuous learning and improvements.

1. Location, Location, Location

Prior to the COVID pandemic, PMI had a long history being held at McKinley High School. From 2020-2022, we were very fortunate to hold PMI at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, and loved seeing our programs grow in a new space. This year, we returned to McKinley High School and, to many, it felt like a return home.

[Our school] hosted PMI for several years prior to the pandemic.  So when our band director Joseph Nakamoto was asked if McKinley could be the host site again, the answer was yes as long as the facilities were available,” says McKinley High School Principal Ron Okamura. “We view it as an opportunity for students to get more live, hands-on experiences that would only enhance their love and playing of music.”

We loved the classroom setting (we’re here to learn, after all!), auditorium with ample seating and great acoustics for our performers, and central location. Aside from these nice-to-have amenities, McKinley brought a warm feeling to many that stood out as a highlight. Richard Scerbo, NOI+F Director, said, “My favorite part of PMI so far this year was the first day. We arrived on Friday night and right away on Saturday morning we were at McKinley High School. It was really special to be in a public school here in Hawai‘i; it brings back a lot of memories of how I first participated in experiences like PMI and to be in a beautiful old building like McKinley. So to be there on Saturday morning and see the presence of all the students and faculty that were there, it was a really special start to this year’s festival.”

We’re so grateful to McKinley High School for having us in 2023, and our goal for 2024 is to continue to grow this and other partnerships to provide the best possible experience for our students and faculty. 

2. Dorms

2023 was the first year since the pandemic that PMI offered dorm options. We were happy to provide a place for students to stay! In 2024, we are striving to solidify dorm options earlier in the year to allow families the necessary time to plan their summers. We would love to have many students who do not live in Honolulu the opportunity to attend PMI and hope to see more of you in 2024!

1 Big Mahalo

Ok, this is a bit of a cop out; we have WAY more than one mahalo, as it takes so many people to make PMI a success! 

First, our incredibly caring faculty and staff! Repeat Strings Program student from New Jersey, Faith, comments on the impact PMI faculty have on the students. “All of the PMI teachers I’ve had were super enthusiastic, not only about music but also our journey; they really care,” Faith recounts. “I’ve had a lot of great and personal conversations with a lot of the teachers about what I can do to better myself as a musician in this modern day world.” By far what makes PMI a special place starts with our faculty and staff, and the amazing learning environment they create for our students. Mahalo!

Next, our supporters, including Halekulani, Pagoda Hotel, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, and many others. As a nonprofit organization, we greatly appreciate the support of our partners who share our vision and want to help create a world-class music intensive in Hawai‘i. Siblings, Alena and Mathayus Scherling, attended PMI 2023 from Moloka‘i and expressed their thanks in a heartfelt letter to our donors. “We both would like to express our gratitude and appreciate everything that you all have done,” they wrote. “This program will greatly improve our musical abilities, expand our knowledge in these fine arts, and will truly be an investment as we accomplish our future goals as excellent musicians.” 

Last but not least, our students! You are all part of what makes PMI so great, and we hope you had as much fun at PMI 2023 as we did. SSQ and violin clinician, Clara Kim, notes how the students make PMI what it is. “One of the things I really love the most about PMI is the people,” she says. “The students are so engaged and so open minded and willing to try things. I think that atmosphere is really important for a festival like this that’s one week and a really immersive experience. I think it’s really special to be able to do that together in a community and to create a very memorable and special experience.” So, to our students who put their whole hearts into PMI, a big mahalo to you! 

We had such a blast at PMI 2023 and will be working hard behind the scenes to start creating an even better PMI 2024. If you can’t wait for PMI 2024, be sure to follow us on social media for fun content and announcements and join our email list for registration updates.