When Pacific Music Institute launched in 1987, string players had the opportunity to play in a single symphony made up of local students. 36 years later, as our 2023 program approaches, we’re excited to present our string players with the broadest learning experience yet. Are you getting excited for PMI 2023? 

PMI 1987 Students in Maui. Photo courtesy of Ira Wong.

Small Ensemble Experience

String students in 2023 will partake in chamber music ensembles, which provides them with more individualized instruction and performance opportunities. One of the most collaborative forms of making music, small ensembles teach students to listen and watch each other closely, and develop a deeper confidence in their craft.

“It’s a really unique experience to be playing in a chamber music setting, and I got the opportunity to play without the conductor and just have the five or four instruments. I think it definitely challenged me as a musician to listen to the other instruments rather than following the conductor. By participating in this program and comparing it to the school orchestra experiences I've had in the past, I think chamber music has really helped me improve as a musician."

Our top-notch string faculty is composed of the best teachers from our own Hawai‘i community, the mainland United States, and beyond. String students are able to learn from multiple faculty members, further broadening their educational experience. Their hands-on approach and love of teaching and fun makes PMI a special experience for all of our string students.

Spending time with a smaller group of peers in a chamber music ensemble allows our string players to get to know each other well; we love seeing our chamber music students build strong friendships over the course of PMI!

Symphonic Experience

String players will enjoy participating in OLA Symphony Orchestra, the centerpiece of PMI. Playing in our Symphony Orchestra broadens our string players’ PMI experience as they learn more complex music, work with a variety of teachers, and play and perform as part of a section. Allowing students to be a part of something much bigger than themselves can be an inspiring part of PMI. 

Symphony Orchestra also allows strings the opportunity to play advanced pieces along with wind, brass, and percussion students, and learn from world-class conductors including PMI Artistic Director Joe Stepec and NOI+F Director Richard Scerbo. 

Within the Symphony Orchestra, Joe Stepec emphasizes the value of patience. “You can’t just one day wake up learning to play the hardest piece on the instrument. It takes time, and you have to make little steps along the way until you can get to your goal.”

Freestyle String Ensemble

While some string students will partake in the Symphony Orchestra, others will be assigned to the Freestyle String Ensemble. This group, led by Duane Padilla, is a new multi-styles creative orchestra that will open students’ ears to a broader musical experience. Using a combination of critical listening skills, understanding of lead sheets, and creativity to create their own original arrangements, Freestyle String Ensemble will touch a wide variety of genres, including American bluegrass, Hawaiian, Jazz, Rock, Funk, J-Pop, K-Pop, and more!

Performance Opportunities

Performing is a valuable part of the PMI experience, and we strive to provide as many performance opportunities for our string students as possible. Performing in concert with both small and large groups allows string students to showcase what they’ve learned throughout the course of PMI to their family and friends, and our Hawai‘i community. It also gives them a fun goal to work towards! 


Strings–are you interested in spending your summer in Hawai‘i furthering your craft? Sign up for our email list to get program updates, enrollment information, and more!