Accomplished student flutist started at the top

Hinano Ishii_Flute
Photos: Jeff Miller


Many musicians aspire to play at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center during their careers, but for flutist and UW–Madison student Hinano Ishii, these venues were just the beginning.

Ishii gave her solo debut performance at Carnegie Hall when she was 17, after winning the Concert Festival International Competition. The next year, as the Discovery Competition Winner, she made her concerto debut at Lincoln Center — playing a solo with the Children’s Orchestra Society.

During the seven months she prepared for her appearance at Lincoln Center, Ishii says she was nervous the entire time. Although she remembers being backstage, she can’t recall being onstage until after she finished her performance.

“After the last note, I saw a standing ovation in the audience,” Ishii says. “It was really the best day of my life. It was just very satisfying, because everything I did for the past several years — all the hours of practicing, lessons, summer programs — paid off.”

Among those applauding was Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, who invited Ishii to perform at the U.N.’s VIP Benefit Luncheon. Ishii played a duet with violinist Yeou-Cheng Ma, executive director of Children’s Orchestra Society in New York City and cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s sister.

Photo: Hinano Ishii holding flute
Ishii at the Mosse Humanities Building, home of the School of Music.

Ishii, a junior pursuing a major in musical performance and a certificate in entrepreneurship, started playing the flute in fourth grade, choosing the instrument because her next-door neighbor played it. However, she says, she did not get serious about flute until high school, when she began to apply to colleges.

Before she became invested in music, Ishii was following her initial childhood dream of becoming an Olympic show jumper, having been a competitive horseback rider for more than a decade.

Describing herself as a “horseback riding artist,” she was also interested in visual art and, in middle school, won second place in the same international competition twice. Her artwork, made in a Microsoft Paint document, was featured in the Louvre and other museums throughout the world.

During this past summer, Ishii returned to horseback riding as a volunteer with HorseAbility, a horse-riding center for children with disabilities. During summer and winter breaks, she also teaches elementary and middle school children how to play the flute, and she plans to take up teaching this fall.

“I like teaching the fun of music and how to be a teacher yourself, because in music, you can’t only be taught by someone else; you have to teach yourself,” she says.

Ishii also works as manager with YouTube sensation PROJECT Trio, which consists of a cellist, double bassist and a beat-boxing flutist. The group’s videos have garnered more than 77 million total views. Ishii met the group when the members visited campus, and then sent an email to them the next day, asking to work with them. She manages their social media accounts, produced flyers and built a new website for them, as well as websites for other New York musicians.

On campus, Ishii is president of UW Arts Enterprise, an organization providing career guidance and networking opportunities to students pursuing art-related fields. She performs with the UW Symphony Orchestra, as one part of the UW’s Wind Ensemble Collage concert and with the new UW Woodwind Quintet.

She plans to work in arts administration after graduating, allowing her to combine the three fields that interest her most: business, art and music.

“I like promoting other people’s work that I believe in,” Ishii says. “As much as I love the flute, I want to continue playing, continue teaching and also continue supporting other artists like me.”

For more information about UW Arts Enterprise, visit its website and Facebook page.

October 9, 2013 By Sean Kirkby

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