The Hawaii Flute Society was founded in memory of Jean Harling (1923-2016). Throughout her decades in Hawaii, Mrs. Harling made it her mission to unite and educate the Hawaii flute community. A founding member of the National Flute Association, she was a flutist in the Honolulu Symphony for nearly 40 years while teaching at her home studio and at the University of Hawaii.

During her tenure at the UH, she hosted legendary flutists such as Jean-Pierre Rampal, Marcel Moyse, Julius Baker and Doriot Anthony Dwyer. The Hawaii Flute Society hopes to continue the legacy of Jean Harling through our musical and educational activities.

Jean was a legend in the music world in Hawaii, both as a flute teacher, and as the principal flutist in the Honolulu Symphony.
— Sue Gillespie, Royal Hawaiian Band Principal Flute (Ret.)

Born in Detroit on July 27, 1923, young Jean McKay took to the flute early, starting on a wooden instrument. One of her fondest childhood memories was her elementary school band's trip to the local penitentiary where they played a concert followed by a treat of exotic blue-frosted cupcakes. The children had never seen blue frosting before and were delighted.

I remember her once, when I had a big performance coming up, using her lunch break between morning and afternoon Honolulu Symphony rehearsals to drive to my school, pick me up, and take me to her studio at the university for a much-needed lesson, then dropping me back at school, before returning to her afternoon rehearsal.
— Gail Gillespie, US Marine Band "President's Own" Principal Flute (Ret.)

As she developed as a flutist, Jean sometimes traveled to New York City during her summer break, where she would work the returns counter at Macy's Herald Square and take lessons from John Wummer, the principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic. In 1946, she was awarded her first orchestral job as the piccolo player in the Buffalo Philharmonic under maestro William Steinberg. At the time, she was one of a handful of women in a highly male-dominated profession.

She was much older than I, much more experienced and accomplished and I was in awe. She was confident and flexible and so musical.
— Joanna Fleming, Honolulu Symphony Cellist (Ret.)

After playing in Buffalo for twelve years, she moved with husband, Tom Harling, to O'ahu and joined the Honolulu Symphony as Principal Flute. She held this position from 1958-1990, when she moved over to become Associate Principal/2nd Flute for another six years. In 1996, she retired from the orchestra she loved so dearly after 38 years of service.

Program from the Jean Harling Remembrance Concert on June 20, 2016 (Click for PDF)

Program from the Jean Harling Remembrance Concert on June 20, 2016 (Click for PDF)

Jean Harling passed away on January 14, 2016 at Aegis Living in Redmond, WA, where she had resided for a short time. Her life and career were remembered in a Hawaii Flute Society concert on June 20, 2016 in Orvis Auditorium at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Former students and HSO colleagues performed in her honor.

Words can not begin to express how much so many of us loved her and were influenced by her (and not just through music). Her smile and twinkling eyes will always be in our hearts. And we will always hear her say to us, ‘Sing!’
— Ginny Atherton, Flute Teacher and Former Student