Meet the band

Summit + Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra

Text Summit Staff
Art Will Caron
Thread music

The Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, formerly known as the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, was founded in 1900. The symphony is the second oldest orchestra in the United States west of the Rocky Mountains. Originally housed in a clubhouse on the slopes of Punchbowl, the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra now plays from the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall in downtown Honolulu.

Paul Barrett

Paul Barrett has been the principal bassoonist with the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra (HSO) since 1977 (when it was the Honolulu Symphony), and has served as lecturer in bassoon at the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Mānoa since 1978. He also played full-time with the Royal Hawaiian Band during the mid 1990s. Activities as a lecturer have included bringing guest clinicians, such as the famed French flautist Marcel Moyse, to UH to give masterclasses, as well as numerous solo faculty concerts and appearances as a soloist with the UH Symphony. For many years he was the lecturer for the double reeds methods class. Most recently, he facilitated bringing the Bocal Majority program for oboe and bassoon players to UH.

Barrett attended the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Eastman School of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. His teachers include George Goslee, Norman Herzberg, K. David van Hoesen, Gerald Corey and Leonard Sharrow.

Summit (S): What’s the best part about being an orchestral musician in the HSO?

Paul Barrett (PB): The quality of our performances. The HSO has always been an excellent orchestra with fantastic musicians.

S: What would you be doing if you weren’t
a musician?

PB: I can’t imagine not being a musician. For better or for worse!

S: What do you think is the greatest misconception about classical music?

PB: Some people confuse classical music with music written during the classical period (late 1700s to early 1800s). In this case, classics is more the ‘golden oldies’ sense of the word. Another way to put it would be that we play the best music from many styles, from baroque to pops.

S: Do you have any performance rituals?

PB: A nice hot shower before the concert helps keep my neck comfortable.

S: What is your favorite Hawai‘i Symphony moment?

PB: My third concert with the HSO in 1977 was an all Khachaturian program, with the composer himself conducting shortly before his death. He was ill when he was here, so he stayed across the street at Straub and conducted rehearsals in hospital garb. The concerts were amazing.

S: What was the first piece of music you fell in love with?

PB: My parents played a lot of recorded music in the house. I have fond memories of listening to Brahms symphonies, Handel organ concertos and An American in Paris.

Claire Sakai Hazzard

Born and raised in Honolulu, Claire Sakai Hazzard is a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of Hawai‘i where she received a B.A. cum laude in Psychology. She was a member of the Hawaii Youth Symphony for five years and served as concertmaster during her senior year. After several years as a violinist with the Don Ho Show, she joined the Honolulu Symphony in 1975 and has been Associate Concertmaster since 1987.

A founding member of the Galliard String Quartet, Hazzard was also second violinist with the University of Hawai‘i faculty string quartet and has participated in the Grand Teton, Peter Britt, Rome, Kapalua and Maui Chamber Music Festivals. Apart from private teaching, she has also been a chamber music coach at various private schools and local music associations including the Hawaii Youth Symphony. Her teachers have included Honolulu Symphony violinists Arthur Loventhal, Betty Deeg and LaVar Krantz, as well as southern California-based violinists Joachim Chassman, Miwako Watanabe and Yoko Matsuda. After 35 years, Hazzard recently retired from the Galliard String Quartet and Chamber Music Hawaii.

Summit (S): Who is your favorite composer?

Claire Sakai Hazzard (CSH): Perhaps Mahler and Prokofiev touch my heart most profoundly with their extraordinary melodic lines. In particular, Mahler’s slow symphonic movements and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet plumb the depths and extremes of emotion.

S: What do you think is the greatest misconception about classical music?

CSH: The stereotypical image of classical music as formal, even staid, is far from what most of us advocate; natural and spontaneous responses to live performances transcend convention. As a performer, a giggle or a sigh from the audience can enhance the entire music experience.

S: What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?

CSH: If I weren’t a musician, I’d still want to be involved with some form of creative expression: I’d want to work in a restaurant kitchen or do flower arranging, perhaps.

S: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

CSH: This may come as a surprise, but I do enjoy food [laughs]; dark chocolate in particular. I just can’t eat very much.


Summit is Hawaii's global magazine of ideas, style and smart living. We're named for Queen Kapiolani's motto, "kulia i ka nuu," strive for the summit. Summit is available on fine newsstands throughout North America and the Asia-Pacific region.

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