Guam Symphony Society to celebrate its 50th anniversary

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam

When the topic of music comes up on Guam, hard rock, jazz, and traditional Chamorro music lead the way. However, symphonic concerts are also a big part of the island’s music scene.

For symphony music fans, autumn is the beginning of concert season. The Guam Symphony Society is kicking off its 50th season with the Oct. 15 show, “An Evening with Suzanne Bona” at University of Guam Fine Arts Theater.

“We are overjoyed to be celebrating 50 years of superb musicianship, promoting local talent, and aiding in the development of young artists,” says Guam Symphony Society spokesman, Robynn Glockling. “The beautiful island community of Guam has made this possible through its dedicated support of our organization.”  

The Guam Symphony Society, which will put on 10 shows, has contributed to the greater appreciation of Guam’s rich culture and its different genres of music with concerts highlighting Chamorro music. In 1970, the symphony performed the only original Chamorro opera Likeweake, which was composed and conducted by David Brian Williams. In 1994, the Society performed the Chamorro version of Handel’s Messiah.

The society is the oldest group playing symphonic music on Guam. Since its foundation as a non-profit organization in 1967, it has promoted classical and classic pop music to the islanders through its orchestra, chorale, along with soloists or guest musicians from around the world.

Today, the society is comprised of approximately 70 instrument players and singers under the direction of Dr. Stephen Bednarzyk.

“As the only organization of its kind in Micronesia, it is dedicated to providing opportunities for musicians and listeners to experience quality symphonic music,” Bednarzyk said. “Its performances and activities vary, from small chamber concerts at Agana Shopping Center to full-scale musicals at the U.S. Naval Station’s Orote Point Theater.”

Through collaborations with local organizations, the group provides live orchestral and shares their fervor for music with citizens of all ages. This all-volunteer society inspires and engages the youth in order to keep classical symphony music alive on the island.

Several of its string players are private students, and the society hosts concerts and competitions for local young artists repeatedly to encourage them to develop their talents.

One desire of the founders was to provide a means to develop local musical talent, according to Bednarzyk.

“Today, the Society provides performance experiences for amateur and professional musicians,” he said. “Our orchestra and chorale play an important role in the musical life of the island.”

Although the Society is the oldest, it is not the only group playing symphonic music on Guam.

The military has their own set of musicians and there is also the Guam Territorial Band-among others. Uniquely, the volunteer players on Guam often overlap among the music groups.

If you are interested in playing in the Society, contact Bednarzyk at:

Guam Symphony Society
Location: Hagatna, Guam
Tel: 671-477-1959

Concert schedule

Together Again for the Very First Time!
(in collaboration with Guam Territorial Band & University of Guam Singers)

Nov. 5-6
Hyatt Regency Guam

2016 Holiday Seaside Concert (Free Event)
Dec. 11
Gov. Joseph Flores Park (Ypao Beach Amphitheater)

Young Artists Competition
Jan. 25-26
University of Guam Fine Arts Theater

Mozart, Schumann, & Bruch
(featuring two members of the Korean Chamber Ensemble)

Jan. 27
University of Guam Fine Arts Theater

Young Artists Awards Concert
Feb. 12
Hyatt Regency Guam

Children’s Concert
Feb. 17
Southern High School

The Music of P.D.Q. Bach  
Mar. 31
University of Guam Fine Arts Theater

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Apr. 8-9
Hyatt Regency Guam

That’s Italian
May 13-14
Hyatt Regency Guam

Read more story about Guam Territorial Band kicks off season

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