“E Kani Mau (To Resound Forever),” the Royal Hawaiian Band’s exquisite freebie one-nighter last night (Oct. 14) at the Hawaii Theatre, was a major, significant event on the entertainment calendar.
With bandmaster Clarke Bright at the helm, the concert was everything you might have expected — and more:
- It marked the first time the municipal band was able to perform, en masse, since the pandemic shut down operations.
- It was chicken-skin feel-good, to hear Hawaiian songs, in a parade of stars that included Danny Kaleikini, Karen Keawehawai‘i Nathen Aweau, Augie Tulba, Keauhou, Kala‘i Stern, and Amy Hanaiali‘i …. and the evening’s favorite act, the Kamehameha Schools Children’s Chorus.
- It was all about ‘ohana, as singer Keawehawai‘i earlier shared with maestro Bright, since her family of dancers (including Pi‘ikea Lopes), singers and chanters (Traci and Keawe Lopes) were part of the show, and his wife, Linell Bright, was the night’s heroine who has shaped and nurtured the young Kamehameha of chorus members, the lone troupe to earn an impromptu standing ovation. Bright also said his ‘ohana, including mother Mo, was in the audience (plus brother, sister-in-law, grandkids) with his late dad Ron Bright watching and spiritually applauding from Up There.
Emcee Kimo Kahoano stuck to his script, introducing each act, with the performers’ names, the dancers’ identities, and composers and arrangers all properly credited in projections. Those credits thus identified a corps of historical greats not physically part of the show, but present and accounted for via their contributions. The names included Jack de Mello, John Almeida, Queen Liliuokulani, John Keawehawai‘i, Jennie Napua Hanaiali‘i Woodd, Harry Owens and Willie Kahaiali’i.
The theme of the event, “E Kani Mau,” also was a musical premiere, with composer Michael-Thomas Fourmai in the house to hear his creation, and the audience able to see him and applaud him. How cool was that?
There was a lot to swoon over:
- Hanaiali‘i’s signatures, “Palehua” and “Hale‘iwa,” never before staged and supported by the grand band, with roots from the Hawaiian monarchy. And boy, she was at her career best, following a European fashion tour and trek to trace Hawaiian monarchy leaders who made pilgrimages to Britain. Her finale, “Queen’s Anthem,’ was also astounding, with the Kamehameha chorus joining her in the premiere of a video in front of Iolani Palace, with the video sound muted so that the band and the chorus, featured in the clip could give the tune a historical multi-media debut.
- Keauhou, the trio comprising Zachary and Nicolas Lum and fellow Kamehameha Warrior of music Kahanuola Solatorio exhibiting delicate, swooning voices, including falsetto via melodies including “Na Ali‘i” and “Dancing Under the Stars.”
- Nathan Aweau, not often visible in recent years, continues to display depth and breadth in his vocals; his “Ho‘olana” and “I Ka La‘i ‘O Kahakuloa” connected with the audience.
- Danny Kaleikini, also not commonly on stage, remains an active ambassador of aloha, though his “Mapuana” had a brief moment of uncertainty. Always great, however, to see him performing again.
Tickets were free to those who requested them, online at the Hawaii Theatre site, and the show was virtually a sell-out, with some no-shows.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi, a booster of this gig, was away on mayoral business, but his wife, Karen Chang Blangiardi, supported the concert as founder of The Creative City.
Fittingly, there was a crowd singing, with hand-holding wherever possible, of the traditional “Hawaii Aloha.” It had a resounding flavor and tone, attuned to the show’s theme. …
And that’s Show Biz. …