Do It! Hula halau, Mission Houses concert, Poetry titan Snyder, Musicians’ Union Hall

Mar. 16, 2012 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
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--Courtesy photo

Hula halau to dance at Hawaii Theatre

Kumu hula Mapuana de Silva, pictured, has taken her Halau Mohala ‘Ilima to the Merrie Monarch for five of the hula festival’s six decades, starting in 1979. Her program Saturday at Hawaii Theatre, “Holomua ka No’eau” (“To Advance the Arts”) will reflect that historical span.

“We are bringing back dances and some of the costumes from various years,” de Silva said.

De Silva’s halau, which she calls “very traditional,” from its inception has gone with a distinctive look, with either the skirt or blouse being a solid color. The colors were bold and dramatic, from gold to red to black or navy to a clean-looking solid white. No flowery designs, just straightforward patterns like polka dots, if that.

“The first year was just very experimental, but when we realized that we were going to keep going back, we wanted to establish our look,” she said. “Because I was just a young kumu — I’d only been teaching for three years — my husband and I decided we wanted to establish a very solid look.

“In the ’90s we started to do more monarchy-type hula … and during that period we used more black and white in geometric patterns because those were the kind of costumes that were used in the mid-1800s, from the fabrics that came in on ships.”

De Silva also said the changes in music over the years have also changed the dances she created, and Saturday’s performance will reflect that as well. She’ll have Chad Takatsugi and Zach and Nick Lum on hand to provide music, including tunes played “during the very early years of Merrie Monarch” and others composed by her family, de Silva said.

Where: Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $25-$35

Mission Houses concert to cheer royal birthdays

Once you have a stage, you might as well use it. And what better way than to celebrate not just one, but two royal birthdays?

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That’s partly the thinking behind a new music series at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (formerly Mission Houses Museum), which debuts Saturday with three giants in Hawaiian music — George Kuo, Aaron Mahi and Martin Pahinui — performing in celebration of the birthdays of King Kamehameha III and Queen Kaahumanu.

The performance will be at Mission Houses’ outdoor stage, called Kahua Ho’okipa, which was built from coral blocks that date from the construction of the old state courthouse more than 60 years ago. “They actually took the blocks here … and dumped them out in back,” said Christopher Wong of Mission Houses. “So it’s been underutilized or not utilized at all.”

Last year, community volunteers used the blocks to build a garden and performance area. Mission Houses held a few programs there last year and has concerts planned there in April and May, as well as events in September, with more events possible, Wong said.

Wong said it is especially important that Mission Houses honors King Kamehameha III and Queen Kaahumanu, alii who embraced the Christian missionaries. “Queen Kaahumanu was one of the first aliis who was the biggest advocate of the missionaries here,” he said.

Eat the Street will provide food for the event. Parking is available for $5 at Kawaiaha’o Plaza. Reservations preferred but not required.

Where: Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (formerly Mission Houses Museum), 553 S. King St.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday (gates open at 6)
Cost: $30
Info: 447-3912 or

Poetry titan Snyder will read at UH-Manoa

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, pictured, will read his poetry and meet with the audience Sunday at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

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Snyder, whose collection of poems under the title “Turtle Island” won the Pulitzer in 1975, last appeared in Hawaii almost 15 years ago, improvising some poetry on the spot with two friends. “It was very magical,” said Victor Kobayashi of the UH Faculty Retirees Association, a co-sponsor of the event. “He’ll probably talk about connection with the ecosystem, because he was a pioneer in giving voice to it through his poetry and his essays.”

Snyder has said he started writing poetry after he became interested in mountaineering and “couldn’t find another language to describe what it was like to be up that high and how it felt.”

Born in San Francisco and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Snyder worked with poets like Kenneth Rexroth, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and others who led a renaissance of poetry and writing in San Francisco starting in the 1950s. Snyder also became interested in East Asian cultures, studying East Asian languages at the University of California, Berkeley, translating Chinese poetry into English and studying Zen Buddhism in Japan for 10 years. He has won several poetry and literary prizes and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in California.

Where: Orvis Auditorium, UH-Manoa
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Cost: Free (donations requested)
Info: 732-1360

A pair of top bassists are set to perform at the musicians’ union hall

Two notable bassists will pay tribute to Hawaii’s legacy of excellent bass playing Tuesday at Studio 909. Local favorite Bruce Hamada, at right, who has played with the likes of Cecilio & Kapono and Don Ho, will perform with award-winning bassist John Clayton.

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“(Clayton) is one of the most renowned bass players in our country,” said Fumiko Wellington, who organized the recital.

Clayton’s resume ranges as wide as bass strings are long: artistic director of jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival; composer-arranger for Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones and Gladys Knight, among others; Grammy Awards; recipient of a platinum record for arranging “The Star-Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at the 1990 Super Bowl; and principal bass in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

The performance is supposed to be a surprise birthday party for legendary bassist Francois Rabbath, who, along with Wellington’s father, the late George Wellington of the Honolulu Symphony, put Hawaii on the map for bass players by establishing a bass festival here, attracting many of the world’s top artists on the instrument.

Rabbath is a virtuoso who developed a technique for bass that has become a standard method. He will celebrate his 81st birthday in the islands and has his own concert scheduled for March 30 at the Doris Duke Theatre.

Where: Studio 909, Musicians’ Association of Hawaii, 949 Kapiolani Blvd.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Cost: $15
Info: 596-2121

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