All Hawaiʻi, stand together…

27 07 2019

Our people singing on Mauna Kea

KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona

2 05 2018

On April 28, 2018, at Kawaiaha‘o Church, I was a member of combined choirs performing the premiere of the Hawaiian language oratorio entitled KINOHI composed by Herb Mahelona. He wrote the lyrics and music over a 20-year period. I am excited to share the video with you. It is one hour and 40 minutes long. As the composer remarked upon hearing it sung for the first time in its entirety, “It is exactly as I dreamt it!” Please sit back and enjoy!

Worth watching more than once! – Herb Mahelona

Mahalo, gratitude, to all involved who made this happen.

~ Rebekah Luke, second alto

He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi

29 03 2017

“He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi (The Hawaiian National Anthem),” composed by Hawaiʻi’s Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1866, is her first published song. Our choirs performed it in March 2017 on Prince Kuhio’s birthday at the Ke Ahe Lau Makani Festival of Hawaiian Choral Music, directed by Nola A. Nahulu, at Kawaiahaʻo Church. “He Mele Lāhui Hawaiʻi was the official anthem until “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi” (composed in 1876) replaced it. It was my honor to sing in the choir. The video was first posted on my Facebook page. Mahalo to festival coordinator Phil Hidalgo. Pete Krape (DH to studio fans) was the videographer. Please click on this link:

Moving forward in the new year

16 01 2016

Good morning, studio fans! This is my belated new-year message for 2016. It usually takes a while to get my ʻōkole in gear after the holidays and the lovely celebrations for my birthday in early January. Yesterday I was most inspired by the Royal Hawaiian Band concert at the palace grounds, where I walked after lunching with a friend in downtown Honolulu.

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative public

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative audience.

The program featured the music of Liliʻuokalani in remembrance of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. My friend Malia is the Band’s soloist, and I was glad to hear her sing. She is a phenomenal vocalist. What a gift she has. The entire program was very uplifting. I awoke this morning with the tunes in my head and a vow to keep music in my life; learn or practice something new every day. Reminder number one!

Reminder number two: Take time to socialize with others and make friends, especially as I grow older, to keep my attitude and perspective in check. Besides, it’s fun! Becky, the friend I lunched with (she is like a sister to me)  listened as I inventoried my current health issues (I go in for an annual physical around my birthday). I thought she was being sympathetic, but being younger, she said her interest was in learning what problems she might expect for herself in the future. Humph. We had a good laugh over that one!

Reminder number three plus: Be aware of teachable moments and be kind. In Hawaiʻi, Sovereignty Sunday (remembering the overthrow) coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Miss Marvelous, 6, is in first grade and reads now, lending to interesting conversations between grandparent and grandchild. For example, she reported that she is learning “mindfulness” in school. The other day she asked me, “Am I white?” to which I countered, “What do you mean?”

Big sigh. “You know, a long time ago, maybe the Russians and the Germans couldn’t marry. I’m talking about ancient history,” the child said. “And that King!” Clearly she wanted an answer, and I almost forgot the original question.

I’m drawn to her (my) confusion. King Kamehameha? King Kalākaua?

“Papa, help us out here.”

DH offers, “Martin Luther King?”
Ohhh… (lightbulb)…

“Well, Ayla, if you are asking about the color of your skin or descending from Caucasoids, then yes, you are White,” I said.

Judging the expression on her face, I detected it was a complicated issue in her mind, as she lost interest and ran off to play, as I hoped she would hear me say, “Peoples’ skins on the outside are different colors, but on the inside our hearts are the same.”

As I mused, if she is white, what am I: brown? yellow? beige?

(Copyright 2016 Rebekah Luke)

Harmony and balance

26 02 2015

Aloha, studio fans. Today’s post is inspired by musical harmony and spiritual harmony. I don’t know why so many of us have struggles this season, but know that you are not alone. You are not saying so, because you are not a complainer, but I am aware that many friends are facing challenges now.

In whatever way you or someone you love is sidelined from regular activities and loving relationships, I hope that you will heal and find a way back to harmony, balance, and wellness. Not necessarily back to the former comfortable routine, but perhaps to something better and filled with more joy.

That is my wish for myself, too. It is a time to consider a new direction, perhaps. A reconstruction project at home and trying to age gracefully (oh, my) when inside I feel much younger is why I’m adjusting, but I won’t bore you with all that! 😉

One of the things that gives me joy is good music, or making good music, to be more exact. Singing with a choir for me is like pressing a reset button because of the sounds our voices make, because of the way the singers have to listen to each other to blend in harmony, and because of the “high” we come away with after a good rehearsal or performance. Choral singing requires being in the moment, and for the moment any other worries, anxieties, or fears are put aside. That brings me to:

Travel tip:Ke Ahe Lau Makani” (The Comforting Gentleness of the Spreading Wind)

You are cordially invited to a concert of sacred Hawaiian choral music at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Kawaiahao Church, King and Punchbowl streets in Honolulu. Admission is free.

The concert will be the culmination of “Ke Ahe Lau Makani,” a Hawaiian music festival that takes place from 2 p.m. on the same day. The Royal Hawaiian Band will accompany a new choral number. Kawaiolaonapukanileo, the music ensemble directed by Nola A. Nahulu, sponsors the event.

Anyone who wishes to sing, individual or choir, may participate. Included in the festival fee of $20 per person for March 7 festival are a music packet, rehearsal from 2 to 5 p.m., and a picnic of Hawaiian food on the lawn at 5 p.m. Registration is due by March 2.

Another rehearsal is scheduled for Monday, March 2, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Na Mea Hawaii store at Ward Warehouse in Honolulu. Attendance will give singers an advantage to learning the music—some familiar, others not—written or arranged by Hawaiian composers.

My first exposure to Hawaiian choral music was as a child, with my parents, who took me to Sunday service at Kawaiahao Church. In those days the choir sang from the loft in the back of the sanctuary with harmonious voices, energetic and strong. Hawaiian voices comprised then and now a unique and beautiful blend. My mother, a piano teacher, pointed all this out to me. My father, a Hawaiian, simply came along and appreciated the music.

Some of the anthems on the March 7 program are part of the Kawaiahao Church Choir repertoire. This church choir and other choirs will be singing together, and with you, too, if you come. I hope you will!

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. A plaque describes its construction

Kawaiahao Church is on the corner of King and Punchbowl streets. I’m singing with Kawaiolaonapukanileo here in the March 7 Hawaiian choral music festival.

Copyright 2015 Rebekah Luke



Sweet memories and coming home, part 1

7 09 2009

On Friday I had a date with my friend Vinnie. At long last I would see him perform Aldyth Morris’s one-person play Damien, a story about the Flemish priest, Father Damien de Veuster, who unselfishly spent his life ministering to the lepers isolated at Kalaupapa on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Father Damien will be canonized on October 11, 2009, in Rome.

I first met Vinnie at Maui Community College when I worked in university relations. He is one of those colleagues/friends who you see every five years or so, and with whom you can just pick up where you left off. Vinnie has performed Damien more than 60-70 times since 2000—on Maui, in the United States and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Europe. I emailed him I finally would be in the audience. “Stay afterward so I can see you,” he wrote back.

With opening-season football games townside signaling bad traffic, I decided to get to the church in Mililani by going the opposite way along the North Shore of Oahu and down the middle of the island. The distance is longer, but the traffic moves, and I enjoy the scenery along the two-lane Kamehameha highway versus the freeway. The route I like goes through Wahiawa, the town I lived in until I was 13. When we pass the Kukaniloko Birthstone State Monument, I know I am almost there.

Kukaniloko by Rebekah Luke

Rain hides the Waianae Mountains behind the Kukaniloko Birth Stones among the tall trees. The birthing ground of Hawaiian royalty was established in the 12th century, according to Fornander.

Kamehameha Highway runs for just three blocks through the town. I have a habit of reciting the neighborhood places I remember. Some are still there, others are long gone and replaced by fast food joints and nondescript development. Wahiawa served Wheeler Air Force Base and Schofield Barracks on the other side of the singing bridge, and the pineapple industry. The lively little main street had everything.

Annie Uwi’s (18 cents for Love’s Bread), the tofu factory, Doctor De Harne’s, Bank of Hawaii, Pang’s grocery (2-cent deposit refunds for soda bottles), Island Bazaar (drygoods and gifts), Chow Ching’s (gon lo mein, char siu and roast pork on Sunday), Duke’s Clothing, Happy Fountain (high swivel stools, orange freezes, curly saimin with fresh green onions, and the best grilled hot dogs), Elite Market, the stationery store, the barber shop, the taxi stand, Top Hat Bar, Service Motors, the shoe store, the jeweler, the variety store, Benny’s photo studio, Judy’s Florist (big cattleya orchid corsages).

Sometimes before leaving Wahiawa, and if the people I’m with don’t mind, we turn right on Kilani avenue to see my old house. My parents rented it from Uncle Harry who lived next door. He had nine houses amidst a lychee garden. Folks drove all the way from Honolulu to buy lychee. I remember being a baby and playing with Uncle Harry’s earlobes on the chenille bedspread as he tried to get me to nap while he listened to the story on the radio and Aunty Edna fussed in the kitchen . . .

Where I lived 50 years ago. The front porch has been screened in, the mock orange hedge is twice as high, and there's a gate now. Everything else looks the same, including the mother lichee tree that must be older than I!

Where I lived 50 years ago, the front porch has been screened in, the mock orange hedge is twice as high, and a gate makes it look less inviting. Everything else looks the same, including the mother lychee tree that must be older than I!

So, you see, every so often I recall my childhood.

As I grow older and work on ascension, and as I observe our 4-month-old granddaughter, I think back on what it was like to be a baby and how important it is for adults to create happy memories for children. Some of my memories weren’t so sweet. I remember the adults laughing at me when I crawled from my room bringing my socks after they asked me to fetch my shoes, feeling frustrated that I could not talk yet to explain why I did that. But I certainly could think it!

I remember emotional things and times that woke up my senses such as when my mother took me aboard a President Lines cruise ship to dine with her visiting friend, and I burned myself on the baked potato.

I remember when Momma took me to Honolulu by taxi on her Thursdays off from piano teaching (I could walk now) to buy music at Metronome and Thayer’s for her pupils, and before coming home we would go to Woolworth, and she would give me a teaspoon of her coffee to drizzle over my vanilla ice cream. Coffee is still my favorite flavor.

(Darling husband thinks it’s amazing I can remember that far back. “Well,” I suggested, “try it. Don’t you remember the smell of your mom?”)

One time I was at a Hawaiian civic club meeting in Wahiawa where they served a bento box lunch. One bite took me back. “Where did this come from?” I asked. “That’s from Marian’s Catering.” Ahhh … I wasn’t able to identify the flavoring, but the taste that took me home was unmistakably Wahiawa from the 1950s. It hadn’t changed.

And just this past July at a friend’s memorial breakfast, someone brought prune bread from Wahiawa. When I was a kid it was called prune cake, and I have been looking for it my whole life. I ordered a prune cake from Chef Instructor Walter Schiess at Kapiolani Community College for my wedding cake, and, unable to find a recipe, he decided, “If it has prunes in it, then it must be a fruit cake.” The Old English wedding cake, three tiers tall, was gorgeous, but not prune cake. When the woman who brought the prune bread saw how ecstatic I was, she gave me a whole loaf to take home. Now I know my sweet memory is alive and well at Kilani Bakery!

Damien. Oh, yes, I was on my way to the play.  Not surprisingly, Vinnie (correct name: Vincent Linares) was FABULOUS as Father Damien. He portrays the character so very passionately. What with Aldyth Morris’s script and the venue of St. John Apostle and Evangelist Church, it was excellent theater on every level. To quote the program notes, “The play finds Damien, awakened from his deathly slumber, taking a journey through his turbulent and compelling life while answering his detractors and critics, a journey that eventually takes him home again.” Home.

On Saturday evening I attended for the first time the Ka Himeni Ana (Old Fashioned Singing)  event at the Hawaii Theatre. This concert and competition has taken place annually since 1983 to encourage the singing of Hawaiian music in the old-fashioned manner without microphones or amplification, with the exception of the steel guitar. The production was filled with nahenahe (soft, sweet) sound, the festive sight of musicians and concert goers in the beautifully renovated theatre, and the fragrant scent of hundreds of fresh ginger blossoms.  Sweet memories, indeed. I plan to go again next year.

To be continued . . .

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Special note: Vinnie Linares’s final performance of Damien will be on October 24, 2009, at an old church at Makena Beach, Maui. When available, the event details will be posted in Comments below.

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