Band leader draws
respectful testimony

Opponents question
the selection process for
the band director

The City Council heard testimony yesterday about the appointment of Royal Hawaiian Band Director Michael Nakasone -- but even the opponents had nothing bad to say about him.

Nakasone, who had directed bands at Pearl City High School, was tapped by Mayor Mufi Hannemann to replace longtime bandmaster Aaron Mahi.

City & County of Honolulu "I don't have anything negative to say against Mr. Nakasone," Paul Gordon told the Council. "The reason why that I feel that Mr. Nakasone should not be appointed is because Mr. Mahi is a distinguished person who should have been retained."

Mahi supporters were opposed to Nakasone's confirmation, questioning the selection process because there were no experts on music or Hawaiian culture on the search committee.

People testified during the public hearing as Nakasone's appointment was formally introduced at the Council. His appointment now moves to the Parks Committee.

Supporters of Nakasone included Pearl City High School students, faculty, administrators and members of the Royal Hawaiian Band who said he has already made a difference in his first week on the job.

"Mr. Nakasone puts value on people and what they do. When people feel valued, they want to perform," said band member Noel Okimoto. "The morale and spirit of the band has been high and palpable this past week."

Band members had signed a petition asking Hannemann not to reappoint Mahi, criticizing Mahi's abilities as an administrator and musical director.

Mahi spoke in favor of a bill that would require that the bandmaster be fluent in the Hawaiian language because he said proficiency in the language would help to better interpret the music for an audience.

Others speaking against the bill said the requirement would limit candidates for the post.

Nakasone said he is taking Hawaiian-language classes and trying to learn as much as he can about Hawaiian culture. The bill would not apply to Nakasone, if he is confirmed.

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