Talk Story with Victoria Aiu
Victoria Aiu is a junior at Kaua‘i High School and the only representative of the Garden Isle in the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony, which held a performance Feb. 10 at the Kaua‘i Community College Performing Arts Center.
First tell us a little about yourself. Are you originally from Kaua‘i?
Victoria Aiu: I was born in Honolulu and I have lived on Kaua‘i all my life. I currently play with the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony — Youth Symphony I, the Starlighters under Danny Hamada, the Kaua‘i Community College Jazz Band under Barry Toy, the Kaua‘i High School Band and the KHS Jazz Raiders under Darryl Miyasato.
When did you first start playing music? What was your first instrument?
VA: My first instrument was the violin and I started playing when I was 6 years old with Frances Ohman. I also studied violin with Helen Sina and Kaycee Parker, who helped me with my first audition for HYS. I played under Larry McIntosh and Nina Saraos with the KCC Orchestra and have been privileged to play at various events, including Taste of Hawai‘i and the Waimea Town Celebration.
I understand you recently switched from violin to trombone? What prompted that decision? Do you like one better than the other?
VA: When I started high school, I really wanted to join the Kaua‘i High School Band. I showed up at the band room and when asked what I could play, I said “Nothing,” because all I could play was piano and violin. Mr. Miyasato told me to play the xylophone, which I did for about two months. One of the students on trombone offered to teach me to play. Instead, he had another trombone player teach me a basic scale, how to hold the instrument and how to make a sound on it. I was not very good at all. So, I went to see Sarah Tochiki at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. It’s really hard to say which instrument I like more. I really love playing the trombone, but I also love playing my violin.
How did you first get involved with the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony? What do you like best about the program?
VA: Ms. Tochiki taught me a great deal, encouraged me to join the KCC band and helped me with my first audition for HYS. I succeeded in getting in, but I also auditioned for violin that year. This year, I auditioned for the top level of HYS — Youth Symphony I — with the help of my current teacher and trombonist Dennis McGraw. I made it and decided to play trombone this year. What I like best about the HYS is playing great music with great musicians and with a great conductor. We work really hard but feel very rewarded with the music we make.
Is it hard having to travel to Honolulu several times per month for rehearsals?
VA: I’ve gotten used to the traveling for the rehearsals in Honolulu. I’m very grateful to the HSY for the financial assistance they’ve given me to be able to participate in the program.
How do you feel about being the sole representative of Kaua‘i in the HYS?
VA: I’m very honored to have been chosen from my auditions. I’m proud to be the sole representative from Kaua‘i, but I do wish students from Kaua‘i were in the youth symphony, too.
Do you ever get nervous before a performance? How do handle making a mistake in front of an audience?
VA: It may be unusual, but I’m never nervous before a performance. If I make a mistake in front of an audience, the thing to do is just keep going and act like nothing happened.
What is your favorite musical memory or performance?
VA: My recent performances with the HYS on Kaua‘i are some of my favorites. I enjoyed the selection of music, which included classical tunes and selections from the Broadway hit “Les Miserables.” It was great to play for my friends, my family and the people of Kaua‘i. They were one of the best audiences we’ve had.
Who are some of you favorite musicians? Groups?
VA: My favorite musicians are Jascha Heifetz, Il Volo and Jay Chou. I also like Frank Sinatra.
Musically, where do you see yourself in five years?
VA: I want to go to college and study music. I would love to perform in a major symphony and teach others what I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot and I would like to spread the joy of music. It’s wonderful to see the interest and enthusiasm of the kids who have come to our HYS “Listen and Learn” concerts.
What is one thing most people don’t know about symphonies that you would like them to?
I would like people to know that every part and every instrument is important to the music we play. All the musicians in the orchestra have to play their music very precisely in order to make the symphony musicians sound as one. This is actually very difficult to do. It takes a lot of practice, but once we accomplish it, it’s fantastic.