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A taste of strings

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Connie Uejio would like you to meet Nora. Nora is tall, heavy, and rather tightly strung, with what you might call a plucky personality. Give her a chance, however, and she’ll lift your spirits like a helium balloon.

"She’s my first harp," said Uejio, principal harpist for the on-hiatus Honolulu Symphony. "My parents bought her for me when I was little. They cashed in their insurance policy to buy her for me."

Uejio, with Nora, and three string players from the symphony will perform Sunday at Studio 909, the new performance facility at the musicians’ union, in the latest installment of a series called "A Taste of Music."


Free concert and chat with Connie Uejio, harp; Mike Gorman, bass; and violinists Maile Reeves and Tim Leong of the Honolulu Symphony, performing music of Boccherini, Grieg, Joplin and Saint-Saens

Where: Studio 909, 949 Kapiolani Blvd.

When: Sunday at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: 596-2121,


The performances are intended to serve a community hungry for classical music since the symphony abruptly canceled its season and filed for bankruptcy last year.

Symphony musicians have organized on their own, raising funds to sponsor concerts and keep the public informed about efforts to revive the symphony.

"We’ve given 20 or 25 of these events so far, in schools, private homes, hospitals and senior centers, and we’ve always been well-received," said Jonathan Parrish, vice chair of what is being called the Honolulu Symphony Musicians’ orchestra. "People are really excited about having us there."

The informal nature of the performances encourage the audience to get up close and personal with the musicians and their instruments. Uejio enjoys explaining how her instrument works and how complicated it is. "It has over 2,000 moving parts. People are always amazed by that," she said.

Violinists Maile Reeves and Tim Leong, and bassist Mike Gorman will join Uejio in a concert that they have frequently performed for students. The program will feature works by Boccherini, Grieg, Scott Joplin and Saint-Saen.

"There’s no music written for this combination, so these are things we just came up with," she said. "The Boccherini is very familiar, and we like to have the kids try to remember where they’ve heard it before, like on a commercial."

Nora is one of ‘ four harps, and she’s named them all (the others are Elizabeth, Rachel and Deborah). Uejio said she named Nora after her grandmother, who, in the way that grandmothers can be, "was always a very reliable part of my life." One could say the same of music.


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