The Kona Choral Society Orchestra is made up of principal players of the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, whose mission is to bring quality orchestral music to the Big Island. The collaboration of these two musical organizations blends our island’s gifted singers and musicians in performances of choral masterpieces for the enjoyment of residents and visitors of Hawai‘i Island.
Ursula Vietze – violin
Ursula is concertmaster of the Kona Choral Society Orchestra and Kamuela Philharmonic. As manager and founder of MAGIC STRINGS, she provides classical music for concerts, weddings and special events. She studied at the Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, and played with many different orchestras in Germany and the US. She’s been a member of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the Johann Strauss Orchestra in Germany, and has played with the Honolulu Symphony and Maui Symphony Orchestra. Since 1989, Ursula has lived in Hawai‘i and teaches violin and piano at her Music Studio in Kona.
Joel Gimpel – violin
Joel has been active in Kona’s musical life since retiring from a law career in Chicago and moving to Kona in May 1996.
He is principal second violin and violist with the Kamuela Philharmonic and the KCS Orchestra, plays violin and viola with the MAGIC STRINGS, and is a member of Kona’s Traveling Jewish Wedding Band. He holds a B.S. in Music Education from the U. of Illinois, and a J.D. from IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law.
On the mainland, Joel was a music teacher, conductor and concertmaster of the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra; principal cellist with the DuPage Symphony, 1st violinist with the St. Louis Symphony, principal second violin with the Highland Park Strings, as well as jobbing violinist and bass guitarist with several dance and show bands.
Joel has also served as music director for local theatre productions of The Fantastics, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Sound of Music, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Urinetown, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Annie Get Your Gun, Anything Goes, King & I, Oklahoma!, and the Wizard of Oz.
Susan McGovern – viola
Principal Viola with the KCS Orchestra, Susan was born and raised in Hawai’i, and resides in Volcano. She holds a B. Ed. from the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Music Education. She has taught in Hawai‘i and Germany and is a founding member of the Volcano Chamber Players, playing both violin and viola. She also performs with the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, UHH Orchestra, Kamehameha Schools, Magic Strings, Chamber Orchestra of Kona, and other groups. Susan also leads Road Scholar and other educational groups throughout the Hawaiian Islands, sharing our unique natural history and culture with life-long learners.