Composer and Painter Seek and Find Valuable Expression as Park’s October Artists in Residence

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, HI, September 15, 2016 --( Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s welcomes a pair of noted artists who will spend October as Artists-in-Residence at the Park. Byron Yasui, a composer and professional jazz musician, enthusiast and champion of the ‘ukulele as a serious instrument, and Professor Emeritus of Theory and Composition at the University of Hawai’i, and his partner, Noreen Naughton, an accomplished cellist and painter.

The two will hold public workshops in their respective mediums. The residency is brought to the park by the National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF), a non-profit that has been building these programs all over the US. These residencies are generously sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Byron Yasui is a professor emeritus of Music at the University of Hawai’i and Noreen Naughton is an arts educator, painter and cellist. They are both residents of Hawai’i.

Byron Yasui is a noted Composer and musician, born in Honolulu of Japanese ancestry. After graduation from the University of Hawaii, he furthered his studies in composition at Northwestern University. He began teaching at the University of Hawai’i in 1972. He has written hundreds of pieces for ensembles of different sizes and his works have been performed around the world. He has also worked as a professional stand-up bassist with various noted Jazz musicians, and is also a classical guitar duo partner to Carlos Barboso-Lima, the influential Brazilian virtuoso.

Most recently, Mr. Yasui has been steadily working on increasing the serious repertoire of ‘ukulele music. He says, “I’d like to establish a repertoire of notated music for the 'ukulele (solo and ensemble), for which there is so little, in anticipation of the day when 'ukulele players — speaking generally here — learn to read music.”

The ‘ukulele, though always a popular instrument and quite resurgent today — has always suffered from its very popularity. Mr. Yasui sees this composition work as active teaching, as interesting music demands more from both the instrument and the player, and thus works in a dynamic interaction with the larger musical world. Says Yasui, “Hopefully, the creation of a body of work could motivate 'ukulele players to become literate musicians so that serious scholars and top flight jazz and classical musicians can begin to take the 'ukulele seriously, on a par with symphony orchestra instruments.”

Though Noreen Naughton went to Art School and learned and explored many types of modernist art, she is also a musician, and music remains very much a part of how she approaches art. Says Ms. Naughton: “In my early 20’s I was a professional cellist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra as well as a graduate student in the visual arts. As a cellist with the HSO, I played under Igor Stravinsky who was invited to conduct a performance of his music with the HSO in November 1966.”

She also has taught art at different levels over a varied career. But her two passions interact in a pretty unique way, she feels. There is an elemental dynamism in the medium of paint that resembles the play of centers and rhythym in music, almost to the point of a synthetic (the linkage of the senses) awareness. “I am a modernist painter who uses the landscape motif as an inspiration for abstraction. I seek configurations and imagery that goes beyond the subject matter, thus my painting style exists between representation and abstraction. I believe because of my background as a symphony musician, I experience the visual elements of line, color, shape, movement, as abstractions as if they were music elements - sound, movement, rhythm, interval, intonation.”

Gala Lecture Presentation October 18th, 2016 at 6 pm at the Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium at the Park.

Byron Yasui will hold music workshops for the public on Saturday, October 1st and Saturday October 15th, at 10 am.

The first on October 1st, is geared to ‘ukulele players of moderate or advanced skill or composers who are interested in writing music for the ‘ukulele. The second on October 15th, is open to ‘ukulele players of any skill level. Bring your ‘ukes, and have fun with a master of the instrument.

Noreen Naughton will hold painting workshops for the public on Saturday, October 8th and Saturday October 22nd, at 10 am.

In these Ms. Naughton will talk about her process of discovering the subject and how she arrives at abstraction while painting out in the Park.

The National Parks Arts Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 supported by all sorts of donations from the public. To help fund upcoming artist-in-residences in a number of parks, please call 505-715-6492 or send an email to Visit for more information.
National Parks Arts Foundation
Cecilia Wainright