Golden oldies of Hawaii’s past fill repertoire
It's no secret that Hawaiian music is a living legacy, one of countless things that visitors carry with them forever as souvenirs. From images of flowing tropical flowers to brightly colored ocean life to beautiful views, Hawaii offers every visitor enduring memories.
There was a time when only a few people could travel to Hawaii, an era before the relative ease of air travel made it possible to visit for just a couple of days. This was a time when Hawaiian music -- and songs inspired by Hawaii -- traveled the world over the radio. It was the golden age of Hawaiian music, and this is the music we'll present this weekend at our Honolulu Symphony Pops concerts.
The golden age dates from the 1930s through the 1960s, when Hawaiian music became increasingly popular on the radio. Think "Princess Poo-Poo-Ly Has Plenty Pa-Pa-Ya." Many songs of the era were arranged for orchestras or big bands, and it's these songs that we'll enjoy at the concerts.
During the first half of the show, guest conductor Aaron Mahi and the Pops will be joined by singer Marlene Sai, slack-key guitarists George Kuo and Martin Pahinui, steel guitarist Bobby Ingano and the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Glee Club. They'll perform vintage songs like Alfred Alohikea's "Pua Lilia" and compositions by Charles E. King, including "Palolo" and "Beautiful Kahana." Listen for special renditions of beautiful songs by the glee club, such as "Hole Waimea," composed by Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku II, and "For You a Lei" and "Those Hula Blues," composed by the "Hawaiian Jazz King," Johnny Noble.
If some of these titles have you reaching for the phone to ask your aunties about them, don't worry -- we'll take time to share the history behind the compositions. For instance, did you know that King also taught school in Honolulu? Or that Alohikea, who grew up on Kauai, couldn't read or write music? He played by ear.
During the second half of the show, singer Mihana Souza and singer-guitarist Nathan Aweau will join us to explore contemporary Hawaiian music, from hapa-haole favorites right up to today's most popular songs. It's an immense pleasure to welcome Mihana and Nathan for their respective debuts with the Pops.
Remember, the golden age was well before most Americans had access to television. Before television became mainstream, families gathered around the radio in the evening to listen to music and "travel" the world together. In many ways it was like going to a symphony concert.
This weekend, we'll blend the golden age with the finest of today's local artists and music as we continue the legacy of bringing Hawaii to the world.
'Golden Age of Hawaii'
» In concert: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
» Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
» Tickets: $14 to $79; with 20 percent discount for seniors, military and students. Call (877) 750-4400 or visit www.ticketmaster.com
» Call: 792-2000 (days) or (808) 524-0815, ext. 245 (evenings) or visit www.honolulusymphony.com
Matt Catingub conducts the Honolulu Symphony Pops. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org