Robert DeMello, associate principal percussionist with the Honolulu Symphony, is retiring after 50 years of service.
DeMello boasts the longest tenure in the history of the orchestra, according to Milton Carter, president of union Local 677 of the American Federation of Musicians.
DeMello began playing at 15 for then mastro Fritz Hart; at 16, he was playing for George Barati and became the youngest guest conductor to lead the symphony.
He has witnessed the evolution of the orchestra from a community volunteer organization to a professional unit presenting world-class music and guest artists. He played with the orchestra in the historic opening of the city's two main concert venues, the Waikiki Shell and the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
"As principal and associate principal percussionist, personnel manager, production manager and orchestra librarian, Mr. DeMello has contributed to the Honolulu Symphony on many different levels," said Samuel Wong, current symphony music director. "We are grateful for his record-setting service and wish him the very best in his retirement."