Star-Bulletin Features

Madrigals remember
a colleague

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin

When Kavin Higa died last year, the other members of the Honolulu Madrigal Quartet wanted to do something to commemorate his passing. Delores Mark, leader and manager of the group, is a persistent woman. It took almost a year of planning by Mark and her fiance, Jerry Chambers, but Higa will be remembered Sunday with a concert, "Christmas in Paradise" at the Hawaii Theatre.

Willie K and Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, the Society of Seven, Jay Larrin, Randy & Gay Hongo, and the Honolulu Madrigal Quartet are among the 16-plus acts that will perform. One-third of the ticket revenues will go directly to the Life Foundation.

"You have to pay attention to the details," Chambers said Tuesday. "Like, if you put up a sign about the show, you can't assume that it'll stay up there." He was fielding calls at the couple's office while Mark took care of last minute details elsewhere.

Chambers and Mark met several years ago when he was helping organize a benefit concert for another organization. They clicked as a couple and discovered a shared interest in charity work. After successfully producing several small charity events, they took a deep breath and started on "Christmas in Paradise," their biggest production by far.

"We want to give people as much variety as possible, so every seven minutes or so there'll be something different," Chambers said. "We're opening with Pico Payne and the Punahou tap dancers doing 'It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.' The second act is Delores' quartet singing a capella, and then Dita Holifield singing country songs. There will be some big changes in tempos and styles -- like the Ed Sullivan Show when I was a kid."

Chambers adds that producing a charity event isn't as simple as it looks in those old movies where Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland start with nothing and end up staging a Broadway revue in an old barn. Local charities are naturally cautious about working with unproven promoters. Entertainers hesitate to block out a date without assurances that the sponsors are legit ("We're paying everyone a nominal fee, no one is being asked to perform for free," Chambers says). Venues, sound and light companies, and the advertising media generally want the money up front when working with concert promoters; Mark and Chambers have put up a lot of their own money to cover the start-up costs of staging the show.

Some things are beyond their control. There are only so many December concert dates. The couple discovered that Jim Nabors and the Honolulu Symphony are doing shows at the Hawaii Theatre the same weekend.

Chambers and Mark remain undaunted. He says ticket sales have been satisfactory thus far.

"We've got all of our advertising coming out this week and we're hoping for a (last minute) rush. People in Hawaii usually wait until the last minute.

"It's a lot of work and a lot of stress but we still enjoy doing it."

Christmas in Paradise

What: Concert presented by the Honolulu Madrigal Quartet and Gerard Chambers in association with Fox 2
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Hawaii Theatre
Tickets: $20 - $37.50
Call: 528-0506

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