Willie K out of his comfort zone with Maui show


POSTED: Saturday, February 14, 2009

WAILUKU » Entertainer Willie K is venturing beyond his usual repertoire of Hawaiian and American songs, by singing with the Hawaii Youth Symphony.





        Willie K and the Hawaii Youth Symphony

When: 7 p.m. Monday


Doors open: 6:30 p.m.


Where: Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theatre


Seating: Available on a first-come, first-served basis




The Hawaii performer, who has received numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, is planning to sing some traditional Italian songs along with contemporary tunes, backed by a more than 95-piece orchestra.

The free concert will be held Monday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theatre.

“;It's going to be very exciting and definitely a high-charged performance,”; said symphony Music Director Henry Miyamura. “;He's a super talent, a versatile tenor.”;

Miyamura, a University of Hawaii music professor, said besides Willie K's wide voice range, he has the ear to pick out and sing musical notes and inflections.

The songs include Puccini's “;Nessun Dorma,”; the Neapolitan song “;O Sole Mio”; and “;Mama,”; made popular through the singing of the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Willie K said he's had an interest in Italian songs including opera arias for some time and has admired Pavarotti's work.

Willie K said the Hawaii Youth Symphony was accommodating and scored the songs to his vocal range within a month.

“;They actually worked with me a whole lot quicker than most,”; he said.

Besides the public performance, Willie K will be performing with the youth symphony at two free educational “;Listen & Learn”; concerts for Maui children Tuesday at the Castle Theatre.

Willie K said he finds volunteer work personally rewarding.

He's been involved in a number of community benefits on Maui, including his annual golf fundraiser for cancer patients and heading fund drives to build a double-hulled sailing canoe.

“;I like serving as much as I like playing music,”; he said.

Willie K said he learned music fundamentals from his father, the late Hawaiian entertainer Manu Kahaiali'i, who also served as a state Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.

But he said other parts of his music, such as how to play bass notes while also playing lead guitar, were self-taught, and he enjoys sharing what he's learned with youths.

Miyamura hopes Willie K's work is well know among young people, and he hopes his performance on Maui inspires some young people to turn to music as an activity.

“;He has an immediate identification with students,”; Miyamura said.