‘Iolani Orchestra has twice won the National Championship in the American String Teachers Association National Orchestra Competition (2010, 2013) – the only orchestra from the State of Hawai’i to win this national competition.
Additionally, ‘Iolani Orchestra was chosen to perform at the 2011 Midwest Clinic International Conference; their performance included the American premiere of Balzene Suite by contemporary Hungarian composer György Orbán and a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition arranged by Brazilian composer Clarice Assad. They were chosen to perform again at Midwest in 2017.
Other accolades include being awarded the Live from Lincoln Center Award (2012), an unusual and prestigious recognition. In 2013 the Orchestra was invited to perform at the London Invitational Concert Series, and was invited to play at the Vatican in December 2016.
Mexican-American violist, Alexander Peña, recently moved to O’ahu to join the team of Orchestra Directors at the ‘Iolani School, a position he assumed after working as Director of the ROCmusic ‘El Sistema’ Collaborative and as Senior Leadership Viola/Conducting faculty-member at the Eastman Community Music School in Rochester, New York. A regular performer with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and Hawaii Chamber Music Festival, Peña also enjoys working as a conductor, clinician, and chamber musician with programs on the island including the University of Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Music Institute, and Hawaii Youth Symphony.
Mr. Peña is a founding-member and Section Violist with the Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra where he also directs the Explore Music! program, a day camp for youth that is now celebrating its 11th year in Northern Minnesota. Alexander earned an Arts Leadership Program Certificate, the Robert Oppelt Viola Prize, Bachelor and Master of Music from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. In 2019, he also received an Executive Graduate Certificate from the Global Leaders Music Program, where he was awarded the Global Humanitarian Entrepreneur Prize from the Hildegard Behrens Foundation.