Let the music flow.
Clarke Bright, who proudly holds the baton as bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band, is assembling one of band’s biggest concerts yet.
“E Kani Mau” (“To Resound Forever)” will be staged at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Hawaii Theatre.
The event is free (you have to secure reserved seats from the Hawaii Theatre) and will showcase a panorama of island entertainers — from soloists to trios, from hula halau to a children’s chorus – which will represent a spectrum of island musicianship.
“The city covers the cost for our regularly scheduled concerts,” said maestro Bright, who has led the Royal Hawaiian Band for 12 years. “This is a larger, celebratory concert, that requires a sizeable cost.”
Thus, funding has been provided by Karen Chang Blangiardi, wife of Mayor Rick Blangiardi, from The Creative City.
“I selected the guest artists based on who I thought would be a great representation of our Hawaiian musical community, and who were excellent artists,” said Bright. “We are also using some of our regular day-to-day performers, who are equally gifted and respected.”
The slate of participating entertainers includes Amy Hanaiali‘i, Danny Kaleikini, Nathan Aweau, Karen Keawehawai‘i, Keauhou, Andria Tupola, Augie Tulba, Makanani Sala, Malia Ka‘ai, Kala‘i Stern, Michael-Thomas Foumai, Kamehameha Schools’ Children’s Chorus, Halau Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, Kanani Oliveira, and Ku‘ulei Hazelwood. Kimo Kahoana will emcee
“Yes – we are celebrating our resilience in continual service to the community and as the RHB – I wanted to go all Hawaiian,” said Bright. “ Yes, we have to create charts of varied styles. We basically take their songs and arrange it for the RHB. Our two arrangers, Todd Yukumoto and DeShannon Higa, have put in heroic efforts to allow us to accompany these artists. They are brilliant musicians who are making this concert a reality. Can’t do it without them.”
The Royal Hawaiian Band has roots in Hawaiian history; it was created by King Kamehameha in 1836, and thus has been in existence for 186 years, serving the monarchy (and now the city) in state functions, ranging from funerals to parades.
Now an agency of the city, the band is the only full-time municipal band of its kind in the United States, performing in 360 events, large and small, annually.
When its musical “voice“ was silenced during the pandemic, the focus turned to assisting city initiatives, like food distribution, vaccination support, and call center. It became a healing ambassador to Queen’s Hospital during the vaccination process at Blaisdell Concert Hall.
“The adjustment to little or no music was very different for us,” Bright recalled. “ Being a city agency, we needed to continue to remain viable while doing our best to stay safe and healthy. We started by doing some much-needed work on our music library – organizing, filing and creating digital copies. We then started to serve the community. As the pandemic continued, we reverted to chamber ensembles – primarily because of the gathering limits (crowd sizes)/ As the community continued to get healthy we eventually returned to our normal full band status. But that also changed as the community went back and forth with restrictions. We spent several seasons going back and forth from small ensembles to full band. We have gratefully maintained our full band status since March of this year.”
The band has 38 fulltime members — with Don Hutchison (38 years) as the senior musician, Colton Hironaka (eight months), the newest — and Bright calls the RHB “a gem of an organization, one of the only remaining links to the monarchy.”
Consequently, the program will honor Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch, who “had to stay strong for her people during a pandemic and resilient though an overthrow of her kingdom.”
The concert will also feature the world premiere of a piece by Michael-Thomas Foumai, entitled “E Kani Mau,” that is the theme of the freebie. Musically, it tracks the story of the Royal Hawaiian Band “as we made our way through the pandemic. We can’t wait to share it with the community,” said Bright. “It will become part of our regular repertoire, going forward.”
And that’s Show Biz. …