Randy Wong, CFRE, Ed.M, is an arts administrator, professional musician, published writer, and music educator. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mr. Wong was selected to be Executive Director of Hawaii Youth Symphony in 2012 and became its first alumnus and musician to serve in that capacity. In 2018, Wong was promoted to President.
As Hawaii Youth Symphony’s President, Mr. Wong oversees all strategic and administrative aspects of the organization, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit.
With HYS, Randy has championed the vision to “make music a right, not a privilege,” and has helped to build partnerships with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Hawaii Public Radio, National Orchestral Institute + Festival, Carnegie Hall, and others, to fulfill HYS’ mission to develop youth to their fullest potential through orchestral music.
Mr. Wong was one of nine executive directors and senior administrators selected by the League of American Orchestras for its 2016-2017 Emerging Leaders Program and was initially the only participant to represent a youth orchestra organization. He has since participated in executive education programs of the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders, Class of 2017) and the American Express Leadership Academy (Class of 2017). He is one of just two dozen CFREs (Certified Fund-Raising Executives) in the State of Hawaii and is an active member of the Association for Fundraising Professionals.
Mr. Wong also serves on the Music-in-Education faculty at New England Conservatory, and for over a decade, was Faculty Advisor to the Guided Internship Program. In 2010, as a joint project of the MIE department and the Prep/SCE Division, he co-founded MusicLaunch. MusicLaunch was a community-based program initially partnered with the Wang YMCA of Chinatown, and later, the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. It simultaneously served as an education laboratory for pre-professional teaching artists and served urban children, ages 5-13, with free music programs that taught literacy, culture, and language. Through its 8 year run, the program reached over 200 children and was a launching point for 30 interns’ teaching careers.
Prior to his work with Hawaii Youth Symphony, Mr. Wong was a program director for the Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC) and led professional development, grants & community partnerships for teachers and teaching artists in 15 markets. As Researcher for the Center for Music and Arts in Education, Wong contributed to research in music learning & cognition, music-language literacy, pre-professional teacher training, technology in education, and professional development to programs by CAPE, SF Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Guild, and others. He was also Associate Editor of the Journal for Music-in-Education. As the Information Architect for the MIENC, Wong directed the development of an online Digital Portfolio System, a documentation and assessment tool.
Owing to his broad range of experience, Mr. Wong has been cited in Amy Nathan’s books, Young Musician’s Survival Guide: Tips from Teens and Pros, and the follow-up, The Music Parent’s Survival Guide. He wrote the foreword to Steve Treseler’s Creativity Triggers for Musicians, has written for Teaching Artists Journal, and has served on a non-profit advice panel for Pacific Business News. He serves in a volunteer capacity on the Generation Listen board for Hawaii Public Radio. He has served on adjudication panels for educational programs of Carnegie Hall, the LA Phil, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the NEA, and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Classically trained as a double bassist, Mr. Wong is a member of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and has attended festivals at Domaine Forget, Round Top, Tanglewood, the National Orchestral Institute+Festival, and others. He is an AFM member of Local 677. He has taught general music, Solfege, violin, arranging, and double bass in community, school, private, and El Sistema settings. He is an active member of ASTA and ISB.
He also leads the exotica group The WAITIKI 7, whose recordings of ‘midcentury modern/world music have been acclaimed by outlets such as NPR, Mother Jones, and JazzTimes; and have topped CMJ and JazzWeek charts. While still a niche genre, Wong’s advocacy and championing of exotica led to profiles of his work by NPR’s Morning Edition and PRI’s Global Village. Subsequently, the Music Foundation of Hawaii created an Exotica category in its Hawaii Music Awards, and exotica musicians have been recognized with lifetime achievement awards.
Mr. Wong’s entrepreneurial spirit has resulted in diverse, and sometimes surprising, adventures. His orchestrations have been performed by civic and youth orchestras, in genres ranging from Klezmer to Hawaiian. And the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Network profiled Wong for a public service announcement on Americans in the arts, titled America: Who We Are. With friends Abe & Eric Lagrimas, Wong co-founded Pass Out Records & Pass Out Music Publishing. His music has since been licensed for TV, film, and Muzak. In 2018, world-renowned ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro invited Wong to perform a duet for the feature film, Go For Broke.
In his free time, Mr. Wong has written about food, beverage, music, and culture for Honolulu Magazine, Tasting Panel Magazine, HanaHou, and SUMMIT. He’s been consulted by Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, NPR, Public Radio International, Teaching Artists Journal, and others. He has been listed as a reference in multiple books, academic journals, teaching syllabi, and was even the inspiration for an Archie-style comic book!
In 2019, he had photographs published in Mark Jonathan Davis’ book, “Fonts in Paradise,” performed with the Orquesta Nacional de Jazz de México on leona (a folkloric Mexican instrument), and released a Waitiki 7 track on the Modern Harmonic record, “Songs of the Sun-Ra Cosmos.” He is currently working on two books; one, an autobiographical choose-your-own-adventure, and a book on nonprofit organizations.
- When Steve Jobs debuted the first video iPod (October 15, 2005 at Macworld 2005), he used his favorite podcast, TikiBarTV. Wong’s music (performed by WAITIKI) was frequently used by TikiBarTV and was part of one of the episodes that Jobs referenced!
- In 2009, Wong performed at one of President Obama’s inaugural balls. George Clinton was scheduled as the next act, but his rhythm section bus went to the wrong Marriott. Guess who got to play bass with George Clinton!
B.M., New England Conservatory. Ed.M., Harvard University. Graduate Studies, Carnegie Mellon University. Education studies at Harvard with Howard Gardner, Steve Seidel, Jessica Hoffman Davis, and Larry Scripp. Double bass studies with Todd Seeber, Jeffrey Turner, and Cecil McBee. Additional jazz studies with Michael Cain and Keala Kaumehiewa.
- Also: faculty bio from New England Conservatory