Conductors & Teachers

Symphony Program

Joseph Stepec

Conductor, Youth Symphony I

joseph-stepec-2016Mr. Stepec is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Music Department. He has recently been featured as music director for various collaborations with the Indiana University Opera-Ballet program and Cinema. He recently gave the North American premiere of Neil Brand’s score to Hitchcock’s silent film, Blackmail, to great acclaim. As a ballet conductor he has collaborated with Michael Vernon and Constance Dinapoli in productions featuring the work of Balanchine and Paul Taylor. Mr. Stepec has worked with the Rochester Philharmonic and has served as assistant to the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia and the Indiana University Philharmonic. In 2011, he was chosen as music director of the Euclid Symphony Orchestra and oversaw successful collaborations with the Lakeshore Ballet and various soloists throughout his tenure.

As a violinist, Mr. Stepec has participated in festivals in Maine, Texas, Vermont, and North Carolina. He has performed recitals in Cleveland, Nashville, Cincinnati, and abroad in Slovenia. He was the featured soloist for a celebration of Slovenian Independence in 2013 in Cleveland’s City Hall and has extensive experience as a freelance musician in that city. He has worked with and assisted Arthur Fagen, David Effron, Carl St. Clair, Andrea Quinn, and Daniel Boico. Mr. Stepec studied violin with Gregory Fulkerson at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and conducting at the Eastman School of Music with master teacher, Neil Varon. He studied additionally with Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and pursued doctoral studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

B.A. Oberlin Conservatory. M.M. Eastman School of Music. DMA Indiana University (in progress)


Elton Masaki

Co-Conductor, Youth Symphony II
Elton Masaki holds a Bachelors of Education Degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in music from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master of Music in Education Degree from Boston University.  He is currently working on a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education with an emphasis in technology from the University of Hawaii.  Mr. Masaki is the current orchestra director at Mid-Pacific where he has been conducting since 2005.  He has also been the associate conductor of the Hawaii Youth Symphony II since 2012.  He has also taught orchestra at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus and with the Hawaii Youth Symphony Strings Program.  Mr. Masaki also serves as an orchestra clinician for a number of a different camps and workshops both on and off island and manages the A Major Quartet.  He is also active as a community violin/viola player with performances in over 15 musicals around the different theaters on the island, and with other community orchestras such as the Oahu Chamber Orchestra, Allegro Chamber Orchestra, and Hawaii Chamber Orchestra.  He has also subbed as a violinist with the Hawaii Pops and Maui Symphony.

M. Ed. (Music), Boston University. B. Ed (Secondary Education, Music Emphasis), University of Hawaii. 

Susan Ochi-Onishi

Co-Conductor, Youth Symphony II
Susan Ochi-Onishi has been with Kaimuki Middle since 1993, directing the Beginning and Advanced Concert Bands. Mrs. Ochi-Onishi graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1984 and a PDMUS Secondary Music Education degree in 1987. She received a Master of Music degree in 1985 from Northwestern University, where she studied the oboe under Ray Still (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and the English horn under Grover Schiltz (CSO). Mrs. Ochi-Onishi is a member of the OBDA, HMEA, MENC, and is presently serving as President for the Hawaii Chapter of the American School Band Directors Association.

Hannah Watanabe

Conductor, Concert Orchestra
Hannah Watanabe is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she received a bachelor’s degree in music education. She is also a former member of the Hawaii Youth Symphony, in which she performed while a student at Kalani High School. She is currently teaching orchestra at Moanalua Middle School, and also taught at Hawaii Baptist Academy,Moanalua High School and Kalani High School. Mrs. Watanabe is a member of the Music Educators National Conference and the Hawaii Music Educators Association.  

Wayne Fanning

Associate Conductor, Concert Orchestra Wayne Fanning
Fanning  has performed with the Honolulu Symphony, Royal Hawaiian Band, Kamuela Philharmonic, Kona Chamber Orchestra, Maui Symphony, and the Hawaii County Band.  He has served as a clinician and guest conductor for various middle and high school bands in Hawaii.  He has conducted several middle school honor bands as well as the Maui District High School Massed Band.  He has been teaching band and orchestra at Niu Valley Middle School since 1998, where the musical ensembles have performed for the Board of Education, the State Legislature, the Inauguration of Governor Abercrombie, and local and national conferences of the Hawaii Music Educators Association and American School Band Directors Association.  He is a graduate of Hilo High School. 

M.A. (Music Education), B. Ed. (Secondary Instrumental Music) University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Academy String Program


Chad Uyehara

Conductor, Concert String Orchestra & Intermediate String Ensemble
An alumnus of HYS, Chad Uyehara conducts the Intermediate String Ensemble and Concert String Orchestra. Mr. Uyehara received his Master’s of Music in Viola Performance and Music Education from Northwestern University. He earned his Bachelor’s of Music in Violin Performance, Bachelor’s of Arts in French, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Hawaii. He is also a graduate of Punahou School. Mr. Uyehara has performed on violin and viola with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Desert Springs Chamber Orchestra, and the Honolulu Symphony. He has taught orchestra with the Clark County School District in Nevada, the Las Vegas Youth Philharmonic, and the Hawaii Department of Education at Kalani High School, Kaimuki Middle School, and Moanalua Elementary. Mr. Uyehara served as interim conductor for the University of Hawaii at Manoa Symphony Orchestra during the 2014-2015 school year. Currently, he teaches orchestra at at Saint Andrew’s Priory and Hanahaouli School, and maintains a private violin/viola studio of thirty students. Professional affiliations include American String Teachers Association, National Association for Music Education, Suzuki Association of the Americas, Music Teachers National Association, and the American Viola Society.

Joan Doike

Conductor, Beginning String Ensemble & String Orchestra Ensemble Joan Doike directed orchestras in the HYS program for fourteen years prior to moving to Indiana. While in Indiana, she taught at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Pre-College String Academy. Ms. Doike currently teaches the HYS Beginning String Ensemble, and gives private lessons. As a student, Ms. Doike was a violinist in HYS while at Kaimuki Intermediate and Kalani High schools and she continued on to receive her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Hawaii. Her two daughters, niece and nephew are also HYS alumni and are currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in music.  



Music in the Clubhouse

Joy Waikoloa

Joy WaikoloaMusic4Kids General Music Teacher
Joy Waikoloa was born and raised in Honolulu.  As a vocalist, she is known for versatility in her song selections, but her deepest passions lie with blues, R&B and jazz.

Ms. Waikoloa graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in Education and Music. Prior to owning Hawai’i Audiology Consultants in 2009 and entering the hearing conservation profession, she taught music for fifteen years with the DOE and now continues to teach children through the Music4Kids program with the Hawaii Youth Symphony.

Matt Momohara

Clubhouse Band Director

A saxophonist, violinist, and guitarist, Mr. Momohara brings nearly 15 years of music education experience to the program He has taught at Aiea High School, Kalani High School, and Niu Valley Middle School. He has also performed in the UH Saxophone Choir. Mr. Momohara is a graduate of UH Manoa and Kauai High School. 


Artistic Expansion Programs

Ignace Jang

Program Director, PMI Solo & String Quartet

A dedicated educator, Jang is on the faculty of the University of Hawaii and Punahou School. He spent much of his time ensuring the success of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival String Program before joining the Hawaii Youth Symphony. “It is the time you have lost for your flower that makes her so important”, says St. Exupéry’s Little Prince. Jang tries to follow that motto in his teachings year-round, to students of all ages, of all places.

As a violinist Ignace “Iggy” Jang is known for his sparkling technical fireworks, his sumptuous and enticing tone, and for his ability to forge personal connections with his audiences.


Dean Taba

Program Director, The Combo

A highly regarded studio and freelance musician, Dean Taba began his musical studies on the piano at the age of 6 and played french horn in the Hawaii Youth Symphony. It was a desire to play in the high school jazz band that introduced him to the bass and improvised music. After extensive studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and a refinement of his skills on both the acoustic and electric bass, Dean relocated in 1984 to Los Angeles to become one of its most in demand musicians.

Also a respected clinician and educator (Los Angeles Music Academy, Musician’s Institute, Cal-Poly Pomona, Grove School of Music) Dean has recently performed/recorded with Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Mark Murphy, Jake Shimabukuo, Andy Summers, Sadao Watanabe, The San Francisco Symphony, Hiroshima, Rick Braun, The American Jazz Institute Orchestra, Dave Koz, Jeff Richman, Pauline Wilson, The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Daniel Ho, Bill Watrous, and many others as well as playing on countless CDs, TV shows, and movie soundtracks.