PACIFIC HARP PROJECT is dedicated to exploring new realms of music for harp and rhythm section through the combining of traditional harp repertoire with improvisation, jazz, pop, and original compositions. The group consists of Megan Bledsoe Ward (harp), Noel Okimoto (vibraphone), Todd Yukumoto (saxophones), Jon Hawes (bass), and Allan Ward (drums).
Megan Bledsoe Ward holds Bachelor of Music in Harp Performance, Master of Music in Harp Performance and Literature, and Master of Arts in Music Theory Pedagogy degrees from Eastman School of Music where she studied harp with Kathleen Bride. Megan studied with Heidi Lehwalder and Valerie Muzzolini Gordon at the University of Washington where she earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Harp Performance. Megan currently performs with various orchestras, wind ensembles, choirs, and chamber ensembles throughout the United States. She teaches Music Theory and directs the Vocal Ensemble at Pacific Rim University, and teaches private harp lessons. http://www.meganbledsoeward.com
Born and raised in Honolulu, Noel Okimoto has been playing professionally since the age of ten. Noel's primary instrument is the drum set, but is also an accomplished orchestral percussionist, vibraphonist, composer and clinician. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Percussion from the University of Hawaii. Noel has played in Hawaii, the mainland USA, and internationally with Freddie Hubbard, The Woody Herman Orchestra, Stan Getz, Bobby Hutcherson, Richie Cole, Bill Watrous, Ernie Watts, Bud Shank, Barney Kessel, Lew Tabackin, Sadao Watanabe, Wynton Marsalis, Ronnie Cuber, Makoto Ozone, Jeff Richman, Larry Coryell, Nestor Torres, Gene Harris, Take 6, David Benoit, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Steve Allen, Natalie Cole, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, Dionne Warwick, and Jake Shimabukuro, among others. He was also a member of the Gabe Baltazar Group for five years. He is also the percussion section leader of the historic Royal Hawaiian Band. Okimoto recorded an award- winning jazz CD in 2004, entitled 'Ohana, that received a 4-Star review in Downbeat magazine and positive reviews in other national and international publications. http://www.noelokimotomusic.com
Amassing critical acclaim, Todd Yukumoto is establishing himself as one of the preeminent voices on the saxophone. His solo classical release, Blue: New Music from Hawaii has received critical acclaim from national publications and has recently released his second classical CD, “Noctural.” Mr. Yukumoto received a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Music Education from the Universityof Hawaii at Manoa. He subsequently went on to receive a Master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with world-renowned classical saxophonist Harvey Pittel.
Mr. Yukumoto maintains a busy schedule as a performer in a variety of genres including the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music of Hawaii, Ebb & Flow Arts, and the Royal Hawaiian Band. As a soloist, he has been featured with the University of Hawaii Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, the Hilo County Band, the Royal Hawaiian Band, the Anchorage Civic Orchestra and with many educational institutions around Hawaii. He also remains active in the jazz and commercial music scene recording and touring with many of Hawaii’s top groups. Mr. Yukumoto began teaching at the University of Hawaii at Manoa 1995. He has helped to develop performance programs including University of Hawaii Saxophone Choir and the Hawaii Saxophone Foundation; a non-profit organization designed to promote saxophone education in Hawaii. Mr. Yukumoto is a saxophonist and staff arranger for the Royal Hawaiian Band, Conn-Selmer Artist and performs with the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet. http://toddyukumoto.com/
Electric & upright bassist and composer Jon Hawes was born in England and raised in Massachusetts. Since relocating to Oahu in 2003 he has been fortunate to perform, tour, and/or record with a diverse collection of artists such as Henry Kapono, Cecilia & Kapono, Michael McDonald, Makana, Ricky Peterson, Tavana, Eric Giliom & Michael Ruff, Kenneth Makuakane, Paula Fuga, Valery Ponomarev, Paul Carlon, Stafford Hunter, Mykah9, among others. Album credits include the Grammy nominated & Na Hoku winning CD “The Wild Hawaiian” by Henry Kapono. Film score and television commercial credits include clients such as Hawaiian Airlines & First Hawaiian Bank and short films by acclaimed director Brett Wagner. Jon lives in Kailua with his wife and stepdaughter. http://www.jonhawes.com
Allan Ward has earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in performance from Colorado University, Boulder and dual Master of Music Degrees in jazz studies and music education from the Eastman School of Music. Additionally, Allan completed a Master of Science degree in music education through Syracuse University. Before moving to Honolulu, Allan taught music for the Seattle Public Schools. He is now a full-time member of the Royal Hawaiian Band and performs and teaches locally. http://www.allanwarddrums.com