Concert Friday benefits Hawaiian kupuna program

Kupuna, a concert benefiting Ho‘oulu Ke Ola O Na Pua (Kaua‘i Hawaiian-studies kupuna) in the Hawaiian-studies-resource program who share their knowledge and wisdom with the keiki of the island, will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Community College Performing Arts Center.

Kupuna need funds as they prepare to embark for an exhibit that many of them will be part of, the 2006 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, “Carriers of Culture,” to be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in July.

It’s been a costly year for the kupuna, many of whom also traveled to New Zealand for the World Indigenous People’s Conference. And they need to continually sharpen their skills and purchase more materials, concert organizers said in a press release.

Their solution to getting basket-weaving materials they need for the Washington, D.C., exhibit, and obtaining enrichment materials and contracting presenters, all necessary to continue growing and crafting, is to raise funds by bringing on the music.

They’re presenting the benefit concert, Kupuna: Pau‘ole Ko‘u Aloha, or “Endless is My Love.”

The evening will open with Halau Papa Laua‘e O Makana (Kumu Hula Victoria Holt Takamine) doing ancient Kaua‘i hula and chants.

First, they’ll offer a welcoming ‘oli, “Pau‘ole Ko‘u Aloha,” that speaks of endless love for the island of Kaua‘i. The kahiko hula include “Ula No Weo,” that tells of Queen Emalani’s journey to Mana, Nohili and Polihale on the Westside of Kaua‘i.

They will also do “E Ho‘i Kealoha Ni‘ihau” a tribute to Ni‘ihau. The last kahiko is “Pua Ka ‘Ilima,” which also talks about Queen Emma.

The halau members complete their repertoire with “He Wahi Ma‘i No Iolani” for King Kamehameha IV, Emma’s husband.

Next will appear ‘ukulele virtuosos Keoki Kahumoku and Herb Ohta Jr.

Fifth generation slack-key guitarist Kahumoku is one of 10 artists who performed on “Slack Key Guitar Volume 2,” the CD that won the first-ever Hawaiian Album Grammy in a stunning musical milestone.

He also recorded on the first volume of that series, and that CD won first place in the Hawaiian Music Awards.

After being inspired by listening to the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau and other local musicians, at the age of 17 Herb Ohta Jr. became a devotee of Hawaiian music and the ‘ukulele. The ‘ukulele is in his genes, and Hawaiian music is in his blood.

His style is reminiscent of that of his father, but is at the same time distinct and recognizable as his own. He has a graceful nahenahe (soft, sweet) quality that is totally Hawaiian, and that reflects the inspirations of ‘ukulele virtuosos Eddie Kamae, Ohta-San, and slack-key guitar great Ledward Kaapana.

Kaua‘i-born Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Kainani Kahaunaele will slide in for a few numbers. Kahaunaele, a teacher, musician, composer and curriculum specialist is a modern-day scholar of old-style mele, of melodic Hawaiian song.

Her CD, “Na‘u Oe,” was the winner in the Traditional Hawaiian Album category in the April 2004 Hawaiian Music Awards. She has strong roots in Hawaiian music. Her mom is Lady Ipo Kahaunaele.

It’s music for a good cause. Hawaiian-studies kupuna do so much for so many in the schools and beyond, with so very little.

“We’re the only body of people other than kumu hula who teach Hawaiian culture, and we do it at all the public elementary and at private schools,” says Sabra Kauka, who is a spokesperson for the kupuna, a Hawaiian-studies teacher at Island School and a resource person for the state Department of Education Hawaiian-studies program.

“For the island, we perpetuate the values of the Hawaiian culture through language, music, arts and crafts.

“If we don’t preserve it, we will lose a way of life that has existed in these islands for 2,000 years. And we see life changing here,” Kauka said.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door, and are available at the following outlets: Hanalei Video & Music; Magic Dragon, Princeville; Bounty Music Store, Kapa‘a; Kmart and Hilo Hattie, Lihu‘e; Scotty’s Music, Kalaheo; and from the Kaua‘i kupuna.

For more information, contact Kauka, 246-8899.

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