Hawaii Youth Symphony

Behind the Scenes of Nā Mele

One of our favorite long-standing traditions is our annual fundraiser, He Makana O Nā Mele: The Gift of Music, where we celebrate our organization’s mission and vision, students, and the joy music brings to our lives. Since the pandemic in 2020, Nā Mele has been a televised program, and we’ve loved the broad reach and opportunity we’ve had to share the talent of our keiki with those near and far. 

Na Mele 2022

Each year, at the conclusion of our programming, we are sure to thank the village of people who helped make Nā Mele a reality. But, it’s difficult in such a few words to express all the effort that goes into this production, and the amount of pieces that need to fit together, in order to make it possible! As we approach our third year of this on-screen Nā Mele, we want to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the process of this true labor of love. From scouting locations and artistic planning to writing the script and filming the show, Nā Mele takes months of time and many dedicated teams to produce.

Pacific Music Institute 2019

Each summer, students come together to participate in Pacific Music Institute by Hawaii Youth Symphony, a week-long instrumental music intensive camp for students from Hawaiʻi, the mainland, the Pacific Rim, and beyond! At PMI, we strive to provide a collaborative environment, where students can work closely with our faculty- a team of rockstar musicians and music educators.

In short, our programming takes advantage of all the amazing things that can happen when music students and music teachers get together in a room with some instruments.

Scout Locations

This isn’t a ballroom fundraiser! With a broad reach and great potential to share the beauty of our islands, we always want to prioritize the best filming spot for our program. We’ve been so fortunate to film at the Royal Hawaiian Center in 2020 and Halekulani in 2021. This year, we’re excited to showcase more amazing locations, including the Waikiki Shell, Blue Note Hawaii, and Mission Memorial Auditorium. 

Waikiki Shell

Each filming location requires its own logistics, and it takes the expertise of many to bring a vision to your living room screen! Our operations team and partners at Hawaii News Now are integral to ensure a location can be successful.

Artistic Planning

From finding magical guest artists to planning music, artistic planning is a key part of making Nā Mele happen! Our Director of Orchestra Activities, Joseph Stepec, leads our team in this creative process. After artists are solidified and music has been chosen, our student ensembles and guests rehearse diligently to prepare for the big performance.

Ginny Tiu

This year, we can’t wait for you to see our three special guests: Raiatea Helm, Ginny Tiu, and Ignace “Iggy” Jang, perform with our talented keiki. You’ll get to enjoy music from Youth Symphony I, HYS Jazz, Concert String Orchestra, and Music in the Clubhouse: Nānākuli Violin Class. There will even be a piece arranged by HYS alumnus, Michael-Thomas Foumai

You can read more about our guest artists and student ensembles here.  

Write the Script

With motivating musical pieces in place, it’s time to craft a story that weaves them into a cohesive program. Together with Becker Communications and other creative partners, we work to tell the story of our nonprofit that moves viewers to learn more about our vision to Make Music A Right and goal to provide keiki in Hawai‘i with access to quality music education. 

During this stage, we identify HYS stakeholders who can help us share this story throughout segments in Nā Mele, from faculty and staff to students, volunteers, and community members. 

This year, you’ll hear from HYS Jazz Director, Dean Taba, Board Member and Nā Mele co-chair, Collin Hoo, HYS Jazz & Symphony student, Dena Brennan, and many more. We hope their experiences inspire you! 

Film the Show


“Quiet on set!” 

With so much preparation to this point, the anticipation on filming days is tangible. Film days are chaotic, exciting, beautiful, and (above all) FUN! The entire Nā Mele team is activated, from the Hawaii News Now film crew to HYS’ operation team, our guest and student performers, conductors, creative partners who help to promote the tv special, and even parent volunteers!

Our favorite part is hearing “that’s a wrap!” Why? It means we’re one step closer to seeing Nā Mele on our TVs! 

Marketing & Promotions

All the hard work and dedication that goes into televised Nā Mele would be for naught if we were the only ones who watched it! Promoting our program is an important part of the process so we can share our vision with as many people as possible. We work with marketing partners like Vibe Creative Marketing and Becker Communications to get the word out through many channels, from social media ads and emails to newsletters and PR outreach. 

We even consider pick-up meals for our sponsors and fun swag for purchase. We’ve been lucky to work with local designer, Geoffrey Siu, on our event logo and annual t-shirt! Have you seen this year’s design? 👀 Buy it here!

MMAR 2022 Shirts

You tell us – how many times have you seen a Nā Mele promotion? (We hope the answer is A LOT!)

Watch the Show!!!

After months of preparation, can you guess how excited we are when the day of the Nā Mele premiere arrives? VERY is an understatement. Some have even said it’s more exciting than Christmas. 

Our operations team gathers at the HYS office, eager and ready to answer the phones for those inspired to give. 

Our sponsors enjoy delicious meals from MW Restaurant, TVs tuned to K5. 

Our students and their families proudly watch the product of their hard work and practice. 

This televised Nā Mele program is about celebrating the joy of music, yes. To us, it also represents the dedication of so many volunteers, partners, students, staff, and faculty giving their creativity, effort, time, and excellence to our vision. 

On behalf of everyone who makes Nā Mele a success, we hope you’ll tune in on December 8 (8pm on K5 and HNN streaming platforms!) to support our keiki and support our vision. Let’s Make Music A Right!

Post a Comment