Samuel Wong, who helped bring some of classical music's biggest stars to Hawaii, is stepping down as musical director of the Honolulu Symphony after the 2004-05 classical season.

Samuel Wong, who helped bring some of classical music's biggest stars to Hawaii, is stepping down as musical director of the Honolulu Symphony after the 2004-05 classical season.

Wong, who has led the orchestra since the 1996-97 season, plans to make several guest appearances through 2007, the symphony said Monday (May 31).

The conductor says he wants to spend more time with his wife and two children in New York and pursue other projects.

"It's time to shift my musical focus to the mainland and to Europe," he says. "My priority is to spend more time with my family and do something big in science."

A licensed ophthalmologist, Wong said he plans to work on an Institute of Music and Healing.

Stephen Bloom, the symphony's executive director, praised Wong for helping the orchestra grow.

During Wong's tenure with the symphony, concerts have included appearances by Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, Deborah Voigt, Andre Watts, Midori, Peter Serkin and Emanuel Ax. He led the symphony to its first mainland concert at the Hollywood Bowl in 1997.


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