Holiday CD supports Royal Hawaiian Band
The fundraising drive signals a split with the Friends group
The Royal Hawaiian Band's new Christmas compact disc, which includes two tunes sung by Mayor Mufi Hannemann, signals the split with a longtime fundraising group and the start of a relationship with a new organization.
Even though the relationship has soured between the band and the nonprofit Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band, both are ready to move forward and help the band, officials said yesterday.
"(The band) has gone through many different periods with many different bandmasters, and sometimes everything was wonderful and sometimes everything was not so wonderful, and we have the long-range view, so perhaps the most important function right now is to be guardians of the history of this very glorious institution," said Niklaus Schweizer, chairman and a charter member of the Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band.
The CD, "Christmas with the Royal Hawaiian Band & Friends," is the first project done with the new Royal Hawaiian Band Music Society, a nonprofit group, which according to state records was incorporated in July to do fundraising for the band. The 16-song CD is being sold for $16.98, with proceeds going to the new support group.
On the CD, the mayor sings "Christmas Time Again, Aloha" with entertainers Nephi Hannemann, his brother, and Iva Kinimaka, and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" with the group Pali.
"The band is performing really well. At every place we go, we try to set the standard really high so that the public, when they listen to the band, has a great appreciation of the great music from the monarchy until today," Bandmaster Michael Nakasone said. "That's what our goal is."
Founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III, the Royal Hawaiian Band also prides itself on being the only full-time municipal band in the United States.
Organized in 1979, Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band, which has been raising money for the band by selling band recordings, T-shirts and other items, supported former Bandmaster Aaron Mahi's effort to be reappointed to the post.
But when Hannemann took office, he decided against rehiring Mahi and named Nakasone last year to lead the band. That was when the relationship began to deteriorate.
Friends members opposed Nakasone's confirmation, not because of Nakasone, but because of the selection process to pick the new band director.
About seven months later, Hannemann's administration asked the City Council to approve an anonymous donation of nearly $10,000 to pay for part of the cost of a trip the band was taking to Japan.
The donation was needed, officials said, because the Friends group declined to fund the amount.
The mayor called the funding refusal by the Friends group "foolish" at the time and suggested the city reassess its relationship with the group. Friends officials said they felt the trip was too much of a commercial venture.
In May the band asked the City Council for a funding transfer to cover a $26,199 shortfall in expenses. Nakasone told the Council that the Friends denied that request for financial assistance, too.
"We have not been working together since last October (2005) -- they haven't called me to a meeting. It just stopped," Nakasone said yesterday. "In the meantime, people interested in supporting the band formed the support group to help with the band activities. So it's nice to have a group to support the band."
The Friends' Web site continues to sell recordings of the band, too. Schweizer said he was not surprised by the formation of the new support group. "Different approaches, different ideas. I think anything that helps the band is good."