Dane appointed Music Director of Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra

HONOLULU, HI – Jan. 17, 2023 – The Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra (HSO) announced the appointment of Chinese-Australian conductor Dane Lam as the HSO’s music director. Lam’s appointment was ratified unanimously today at a special HSO board meeting. Lam will serve as the first music director in the HSO’s 10-year history. His five-year contract will begin with the launch of the 2023-2024 concert season.


“It was clear from the start that Dane and the symphony shared the same vision in growing what an orchestra can mean to its community,” said Paul Kosasa, the HSO’s board chair. “His forward-thinking personality builds on the vision and commitment of our symphony as fiscally sound, artistically innovative, and a cultural pillar of our community. Dane’s curiosity, his creativity, and his willingness to ask ‘what is next?’ will strengthen our commitment to excellence and access, and guarantee an exciting journey and future for the HSO.”


As the HSO music director, Lam will provide overall creative leadership to the 84-member orchestra in service of HSO’s mission of enriching Hawai‘i through great live music and serving as the premier provider of the symphonic art forms throughout the Pacific. Functioning as the chief artistic director of the orchestra, Lam will oversee selection of the HSO’s performance repertoire for each concert season, organize performances by guest artists and conductors, and shape the artistic identity of the orchestra both on and off the stage.


“From my first visit to Hawai‘i I was completely beguiled by the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, by the community, and by these islands that bookend the Pacific with my native Australia,” said Lam. “I am constantly moved by the musicians’ vibrancy and commitment to the sound, their collaborative nature and willingness to plumb the emotional and technical depths of the music. Every moment on the podium I felt a meeting of minds and hearts as we rehearsed and performed great masterpieces in a way that connected with our audiences. I believe an orchestra at its best should reflect and define its community and I am proud to be joining an orchestra that embodies this philosophy.”


Lam will spearhead existing and new community engagement initiatives, including working to expand HSO’s music education programs such as the Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds and Symphony of the Hawai‘i Forests. By becoming the leading orchestral program in the Pacific, HSO will strive to bring the transformational power of music to hundreds of thousands of keiki (children).


“Over the years, I’ve come to know Dane as someone not only gifted with incredible artistic insight and conducting prowess, but also someone who understands the power a symphony orchestra can have in positively shaping a community,” said Dave Moss, president & CEO of HSO. “Dane is the right choice for Hawai‘i’s orchestra because he is committed to engaging our diverse community in the power of music making and exploring what music and storytelling means for our identity as a Pacific people.”


In addition, as conductor, Lam will be on the podium 10 out of the 18 weeks of the HSO’s 2023-2024 concert season. He will conduct some of HSO’s most anticipated upcoming performances in both the Masterworks and HapaSymphony concerts, including a 2023-2024 season closing reprise of Michael-Thomas Foumai’s Raise Hawaiki, a monumental work for chorus and orchestra celebrating the return of Hōkūleʻa from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage in 2017.


Lam will continue to serve as associate music director and resident conductor at Opera Queensland, a post he has held since December 2020. He is also principal conductor and artistic director of China’s Xi’an Symphony Orchestra. Hawai‘i was first introduced to Lam and his spirited conducting in March of 2022 in his American debut in a performance of Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 at the Hawaii Theatre. Lam was immediately reengaged and opened the symphony’s Masterworks series this past October at Moanalua Performing Arts Center with Dvorak’s New World Symphony.


In March 2020, a committee made up of HSO board members, musicians and staff was convened to embark on a global search for its first music director. “Our search was exhaustive and thorough,” said Jason Kravitt, chair of the search committee. “We recruited representatives for the search committee from our many constituencies and considered every dimension of numerous candidates with a diversity of background and experience. However, from the start Dane’s candidacy stood out and we quickly reached a unanimous and enthusiastic conclusion.”

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